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Barclays to remove £5 monthly loyalty reward as part of ‘makeover’

Barclays is ditching a £5 monthly loyalty reward for having two or more direct debits, as it gives its Blue Rewards scheme a “makeover”.

Blue Rewards customers have previously paid £5 per month in return for access to high-interest savings accounts and cashback – but they also received £5 per month back for having two or more direct debits.

The bank has now emailed customers to say that from September 4 it is removing the £5 monthly loyalty reward, along with other product cash rewards.

The email, titled “Barclays Blue Rewards is having a makeover”, states that Blue Rewards members can now access an Apple TV+ subscription and watch Major League Soccer matches with an MLS season pass subscription during the season, included within the existing £5 monthly fee.

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Blue Rewards customers can also benefit from Barclays’ Rainy Day Saver account, offering interest of 5.12% AER (annual equivalent rate) on balances up to £5,000.

One Barclays current account customer described the removal of the loyalty reward as “disappointing”, adding: “This felt like a real benefit as a Barclays customer and it’s frustrating that it will now cost money. It feels like a clever way of watering down the amount that I’m getting back from my savings.

“It’s made me think that I could switch to a different bank that won’t charge me to get those rates.”

People can potentially become a Blue Rewards member if they pay at least £800 into a nominated account every month as well as the £5 fee.

Barclays said that, following the change, Blue Rewards customers can receive fixed benefits worth up to £44 per month – an increase from £35.50 previously – in addition to cashback and interest on savings.

The bank said it will undertake reviews to ensure Blue Rewards customers are getting fair value for their £5 monthly fee.

In cases where customers are not receiving fair value, they will be alerted and Blue Rewards and its fee will be removed, leaving customers on Barclays’ standard, fee-free account, the bank said.

James Hyde, of Moneyfactscompare.co.uk, said: “The monthly cash reward payment to qualifying customers effectively paid for the cost of the Barclays Blue Rewards membership: with that guarantee of cash set to be removed, members may re-evaluate whether the deal is right for them.

“The benefits of Apple TV and (an) MLS season pass may be tempting for some, while up to 15% cashback is available when the debit card is used at selected retailers.

“As is often the case with these membership products, the true financial implications of these changes will depend on how exhaustively individuals utilise the rewards available to them, and how much they invest in associated accounts each month.

“These changes will come into effect on September 4, so customers have time to consider their options following this update.”

Manuel Baldasano, head of customer and digital at Barclays UK, said: “We’ve been evolving Blue Rewards based on what we know our customers value and, with entertainment high on their wish list, we’re delighted to introduce top-quality shows from Apple TV, in addition to our best savings rates and cashback programme, all for the same £5 monthly fee.

“Our refreshed Blue Rewards proposition, which sits alongside our fee-free account and premier banking, means that customers can choose what works best for them.”