Nationwide call it a credit card promotion, we call it profiteering

Avid Bitterwallet reader Helen has been in touch about Nationwide's latest marketing campaign:

My friend couldn’t believe their latest VISA bill from Nationwide; there was a credit of £20 on it!

Bitterwallet - Nationwide £20 offer

How wonderful! Except there was also a note saying they could only keep that £20 if they spent £1,000 on the card in the next month! If they were naughty and didn’t spend all that lovely dosh then the bank would take the £20 back next month.

Spectacular. A whole £20 is yours to spend, but only if you consider racking up a grand on your credit card in 30 days or less. The fact that the bank adds the credit automatically means there's then a fear of loss and so more inclination to consider spending. You would hope that nobody would ever consider so much additional spending for so little reward, but clearly enough people do that Nationwide consider these promotional mailshots worthwhile.

You can read the promotional letter in full here.

When her friends complained in writing, the bank apologised for the fact they "didn't like" that particular form of marketing and deducted the £20 credit from their account.

Nationwide must be aware that a percentage of customers will attempt to take advantage of this offer, and that they will lapse on their payments. For banks to be encouraging such extravagant and unnecessary spending in the current economic climate seems wholly irresponsible.

We've contacted Nationwide's press office for comment; in the meantime, should banks really be trying to suck consumers into more debt, or do you consider this an excellent numpty test for rooting out stupid people? Let us know in the comments, hot stuff.


  • Another A.
    Pretty cynical marketing, I'm surprised such a thing is allowed given how tightly regulated cards are. It may just never have been an issue before.
  • Dick
    If it has already been credited, then what is to stop the card holder paying off the rest of the balance, then closing the account before the next billing period? Of course, they will try to claim that the account is still open and make a charge of £20 to it. But that is where the financial ombudsman might come in useful. Although probably not, as he never is.
  • axisofevil
    Why not just pay off your bill. If they take the £20 back, they would have to levy their penal charges. So again, why not try your friendly ombudsman? Massive amount of damage done (again) for their good(?) reputation.
  • Tom
    Whats to stop you withdrawing £1000 and then sticking it straight back in? It doesn't seem too hard to me...
  • Matt C.
    @Tom Because if you did that, you'd get charged 2.75% (or more) for the cash advance fee.
  • Justin A.
    Buy something online for £1000, say a big TV with surround sound, then return it all within your cooling off period and get a refund on the card. Job done, you earn £20 by accepting delivery of an item and then arranging the return.
  • Andrew
    They are scum....let them burn!
  • Pasty-Face
    That £20 will get me an extra 20 nights of tourist tax in Cornwall. Yee-haw!
  • Bazinga
    Stupid tax. Although very surprised it's allowed.

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