M&S debuts combined loyalty credit card next month

LONDON - Marks & Spencer is to launch its combined credit and loyalty card, which will be branded &more, nationally on October 6.

M&S hopes the launch will win it back former Chargecard customers as it becomes the first retailer to launch a combined loyalty and credit card. M&S said it had lost around 1.4m customers since it decided to accept other firm's credit cards.

M&S customers will be able to use the &more credit card anywhere that takes credit card payments and then redeem the loyalty points earned in the form of vouchers for use in M&S stores.

M&S said that it will offer the card to 2.6m existing Chargecard users during September, and other customers will be able to apply for the new credit card from October 6.

Roger Holmes, group chief executive, said: "The &more credit card launch will provide us with a strong platform for future growth."

The launch is being backed by a massive £60m investment that will include a major advertising and marketing campaign, details of which will be announced later this month.

The launch comes after an 11-month pilot in South Wales, which ran across nine stores. The card was trialled as Visa and Mastercard and shoppers were offered one point for every £1 they spent in M&S and half a point for every £1 they spend in other stores.

Alongside the card launch, Marks & Spencer Financial Services is being rebranded as Marks & Spencer Money.

Laurel Powers-Freeling, chief executive of Marks & Spencer Money, commented: "We will provide our card customers with an upgraded offer, rewarding them for using the &more credit card and their loyalty for shopping at Marks & Spencer, while at the same time developing our position as a responsible and prudent lender."

The card comes with a standard retail APR 14.9% and no annual fee, compared with its Chargecard, which has a rate of 18.9%.

Chargecard customers who do not wish to be upgraded will be able to opt out and retain their Chargecard, on which they will earn &more points from October 6.

M&S is expected to report results of the trial in Wales today, as well as full-year pre-tax profits of £710m, up from £646m last time.

The launch of a loyalty credit card scheme is the latest in a long-running overhaul of the company, aimed at updating the M&S brand and saving it from closure. Only four years ago, it refused to accept credit cards as payment for goods.

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