Barclaycard makes a comeback (again)
It’s black and blue – not platinum
ABSA IS LAUNCHING the third incarnation of Barclaycard into the South African market this week, about 18 months after the Standard Bank-enforced moratorium saw the product discontinued here.
Barclaycard is something of an international icon in credit card terms. It was the first product of its kind outside the US in the Sixties and was first introduced to SA in 1969. It was withdrawn when Barclays disinvested in 1986 and reintroduced in a joint venture with Standard Bank in 2003.
However, that was short lived and the con- tract was terminated early when Britain’s Barclays plc bought a controlling stake in SA’s Absa in 2005.
The new Barclaycard offering is very different from its mass-market predecessor. Standard Bank issued around 375 000 cards using the brand and made loans of about R1,55bn by the time its deal was terminated. Standard Bank was then forced to reissue customers with cards bearing its own brand and barred Absa from issuing the card until February this year.
The new Barclaycard is being targeted at the upper income bracket.
“It’s going to be an aspirational product,” says Absa head of retail banking Louis von Zeuner. The introductory card will require clients to earn R10 000/month, while the higher end offering – Barclaycard Prime – is aimed at those who earn R500 000/year.
The targets are ambitious. Absa Card head Chris Sweeney says the bank is expecting to issue 100 000 Barclaycards over the next 12 months, with saturation expected at around 500 000. The offerings aren’t cheap: R420/year for the base card and R660/year for its Prime offering.
It pits the top-end card against the likes of Investec, American Express and Diners Club – but unlike those cards it isn’t linked to any reward schemes. Instead, it comes with an array of incentives, including concierge services, elaborate insurance offerings and a flat fee structure, covering cash withdrawal fees (warning: card providers charge interest on cash withdrawals immediately), up to two secondary cards, garage cards and third-party processing fees.
If your wallet or handbag is stolen, and provided your other bank cards and store cards are registered with Barclaycard, they’ll cancel all of those and re-order them on your behalf. Another good add-on is a home key and lock replacement service.
“What you see is what you get,” says Von Zeuner. “We haven’t confused with adding a rewards programme.”
Ambitious targets. Chris Sweeny and Louis von Zeuner