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This is not just a credit card; this is an M & S credit card!
Marks & Spencer Financial Services
Member Name: ian22
Marks & Spencer Financial Services
Advantages: Excellent loyalty scheme
Disadvantages: Customer service could be better
The Marks & Spencer &More Credit Card is one such card. I decided to apply for one because there is a large Marks and Spencer store near to where I work that I use on a regular basis. It is a great place to buy sandwiches and snacks, and I often pop in after work for things like ready meals (of which they do a superb selection) and wine.
Applying for the card online was a very easy process. I simply went to the Marks and Spencer Money homepage, clicked on the link for the &More credit card and filled out the form. The whole application process took no more than about 15 minutes. You need to be prepared to give details on your occupation and existing bank accounts as well as your basic personal details, as the application is subject to credit scoring. This means that you need to be at least 18 years old to apply.
If you choose not to apply online, you can request an application form by ringing 0800 997 996 and then send it directly to Marks and Spencer Money or post it in store. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am - 9pm, Saturday 9am - 5pm, Sunday 10am - 4pm.
If your application is successful, you will receive a letter in the post congratulating you. This is accompanied by a Credit Agreement form which you are asked to sign and return. There is also information on the importance of having credit card repayment cover, which you can choose to take out or not.
RECEIVING THE CARD
I received my card through the post about a week after I applied, which is surprisingly quick. Obviously the PIN came separately for security reasons. You then have to ring up to activate your card before it can be used. This too is a quick and easy process which took only a matter of minutes.
ABOUT THE CARD
The &More credit card is a Mastercard and is underwritten by HSBC bank. The card itself is black, with the &More logo in the top right hand corner and the Marks and Spencer emblem in the top left. It is a new design and, although quite simple in appearance, looks elegant and stylish....'Simply stunning, yet stunningly simple' as Marks and Spencer put it!
The card offers 0% on purchases until 31st January 2008 and 4.9% p.a. for life on Balance Transfers. The APR thereafter is typically 17.9%. Furthermore, if you transfer a balance from another credit card, you do not pay a balance transfer fee. However, the reason I took the card out was not because of the interest free period or the balance transfer rate, it was because of the reward points that the card offers.
At first glance, the points system does seem a bit stingy. For every £1 you spend in Marks and Spencer stores (or online), you receive 1 &More reward point, equivalent to 1p, and every time you use the card elsewhere, you earn 1 point for every £2 you spend. However, if you use the card often, it's surprising how quickly the points add up. To help get you started and as a thank you for applying for the card, you receive two vouchers - one for 500 bonus points for spending on clothing (from M & S of course!), the other for 300 points to spend on food. So effectively, you are getting £8.00 for free - not bad eh?!
When your points total reaches 100 points you earn £1 in reward vouchers to spend on anything you want instore at M & S. Reward vouchers are sent to you four times a year.
As a &More cardholder, you can also enjoy a range of other benefits, including:
* 10% off your next holiday with over 150 tour operators to choose from;
* Fantastic deals on travel money, with preferential exchange rates and no commission on foreign currency and foreign travellers cheques;
* Commission free buy back of currency;
* An exclusive 0% interest deal for 2 years when you spend £1000 or more on selected furniture;
* 250 &More points for getting a quote for home or car insurance;
and many more.
Bills are sent out every month. You can either choose to pay the full balance or the minimum amount. Upon receipt of the bill, you have around three weeks in which to make a payment.
The statement is very clearly laid out, with a list of all transactions since your previous bill and the dates on which they were done. I like the way there is a box showing your total number of &More points up to the statement date, as it tells you exactly how much you have earned in reward points.
There are also plenty of ways to pay, which is useful. You can pay at any bank which accepts Giro Credits and also at the post office. Alternatively, you can pay by cheque, direct debit or standing order. The other major advantage is that you can now pay online through the M & S Money website using your debit card. This service wasn't available until recently, but is a quick and convenient way to pay. You can also get account and &More points balances by phoning.
IMPORTANT CHARGE INFORMATION
Although there is no annual charge for having the card, there are default charges which can be applied in the event of the credit agreement being breached. These are:
Late payment - £12
Exceeding your credit limit - £12
Cheque returned unpaid for Balance Transfer - £12
Payment returned unpaid - £12
Some other services also incur charges, namely:
Stopping a cheque - £15
Changing statement date - £5 (except first change)
Obtaining a duplicate of statement - £5 per statement
2.5% (minimum £2.50) of the amount of each Cash Advance
PAYMENT PROTECTION INSURANCE
As with all credit cards, there is option of taking out Payment Protection Insurance. This covers you if you are unable to make card repayments, for example if you are unable to work due to illness, accident, involuntary unemployment or in the event of death. The cost is a mere 75p per £100 of the outstanding balance, so hardly likely to break the bank!
I have only had to ring M & S Money once for assistance with my credit card, and my experience was generally positive. I got through to a customer adviser very quickly and my enquiry was dealt with efficiently. However, the Indian lady I spoke to did have some difficulty understanding me and I had to keep repeating my question until she could understand! Apart from that, she seemed very polite and showed good customer service skills.
So overall, would I recommend the M & S &More credit card? You can probably guess that my answer is a resounding 'yes'! The &More card ticks all the boxes for me and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a credit card which allows them to earn reward points. Okay, you could say that I am a bit of a sucker for what is essentially a loyalty card, but receiving money off vouchers is a major incentive for me choosing this card over other reward cards.
Thanks for reading. :)