Chip-based Barclaycard Freedom to launch in March
More than 8 million Barclaycard cardholders in the UK are set to benefit from the forthcoming launch of the 'Barclaycard Freedom' rewards programme in March 2010, which will allow cardholders to earn rewards in over 30,000 retail outlets - including shops, restaurants and online outlets - throughout the UK.
As well as including major household brands, the free-to-join loyalty scheme will also open up the benefits of rewards programmes to many small and medium sized retailers.
Interestingly, the new programme does not require cardholders to collect and save vouchers or coupons, and there is no need to replace their credit card or carry an additional card, and there are no points that consumers have to mentally compare with real currency. Instead, consumers' rewards are accumulated in pounds and pence.
The programme will use the EMV chip that is embedded within the customer's credit card, making the scheme both instant and intuitive for cardholders. Retailers that participate in Barclaycard Freedom can use the system to offer real-time rewards and relevant offers at the point of sale.
All Barclaycard cardholders will automatically earn rewards, called 'Reward Money', when they use their Barclaycard credit card at any participating retailer, at the rate of 1% of spending for most transactions, plus regular special promotions and giveaways that increase the earn rate.
After a transaction takes place, the cardholder can see their new Reward Money balance on the card machine and, next time they use their card at a participating retailer, they also see the value of their Reward Money balance appear on the card machine before they enter their PIN to pay. At that point they can choose to redeem some or all of their Reward Money toward that transaction, or continue to save up for a future purchase at another retailer within the scheme.
Barclaycard has invited more than 30,000 retailers of all sizes to be partners in the scheme, with the aim of creating a loyalty coalition of unprecedented size by the time the programme launches in March.
On average, Barclaycard expects there to be some 200 retailers within five miles of where each cardholder lives. From the retailer's perspective, Barclaycard expects there to be an average of 75,000 Barclaycard cardholders within five miles of each retailer's store.
The programme's launch is being supported by a marketing campaign involving television, internet channels, and print advertising. Consumers can also learn about the programme and the location of participating retailers through the programme's web site.
According to Timothy Chambers, owner of Cobbys the Florist in Northampton, "We have been using Barclaycard Freedom as part of a trial in Northampton and have found it very easy to understand and operate. We know that this scheme will allow many smaller retailers and businesses to give something back to their customers, and it allows us all to be part of a larger loyalty scheme which would not have been possible before."
Barclaycard, part of Barclays Global and Retail Banking division, currently claims some 11.9 million customers in the UK, plus 11.8 million customers in other countries, along with 88,000 retailer and merchant relationships.