The new Barclaycard Freedom: is it an improvement?

barclays bank

In May this year, Barclaycard scrapped their Freedom rewards scheme and promised an "exciting" replacement.

Now that replacement is here and it's called, drum roll please: Freedom.

To be fair, though, the name is about the only thing that hasn't changed.

What's new?

Anyone could collect points under the old rewards scheme, even those with Barclaycard's poor credit option, for example.

The new Freedom scheme is much more like any other rewards scheme in that it's currently limited to holders of just one credit card.

Gone, too, is Freedom's 1% cash back, replaced by a much more conventional system of points.

Here's how cardholders can collect:

£1
all spend
1 point
£1
spent in UK supermarkets, petrol stations
and on Transport for London (TfL) spend
2 points
£1
spent with selected Freedom partners
3 points

At that rate, points are likely to accrue pretty quickly. Although the actual returns are fairly modest.

So, for example, to get a £5 Freedom voucher, you'd have to spend:

Ordinary spend £1,750
Spend in supermarkets or on petrol £875
Spend with Freedom partners £583

When we updated this article, the byline date above, new applicants for the card can get up to £30 in Freedom vouchers within the first three months.

There's a minimum required spend to get that reward but it's a nice little boost.

How can you spend it?

Also new are many of the retailers where you can spend your hard earned points.

By moving to a points and reward voucher model Barclaycard appear to have recaptured many of the mainstream businesses which seemed to have abandoned their over complicated old scheme (although not for earning, see below).

So on the high street, for example, where Freedom used to rely on fairly small or specialised brands such as Blue Inc, Hawes & Curtis and Petroleum now Phillip Green's big hitters - Wallis, Dorothy Perkins and Burtons among others - plus Next, Boots, M&S and more are up for grabs.

Vouchers for days out have had a massive upgrade too.

Sovereign Luxury Travel (us neither) used to be the best travel reward Freedom had to offer. Now, there are triple points up for grabs on a huge range of attractions including all the major theme parks and cinemas and big chains like Premier Inn and Marriott.

In eating out the scheme has gained big names like Starbucks, Strada and Pizza Hut, although it's a real shame that Yo! Sushi, Pizza Express and Spaghetti House are no longer taking part.

All in all, it's become far easier to get high quality rewards through Barclaycard Freedom.

There's likely to be something here for just about everyone, although there are also some problems with the scheme, see the final section below.

What's not new: limited points partners

On the downside, just like its predecessor the new Freedom scheme suffers from a limited number of earning partners which severely restricts the amount cardholders can actually earn.

At the time of writing, spending with only the following retailers will net cardholders triple points:

Unless you're a serious jewellery shopper or Cafe Rouge devotee, it's unlikely you'll actually be able to rack up many points at the tripled rate.

That's a real shame. We assume Barclaycard are working on getting more companies on board but don't hold your breath: we last updated this article in late 2012 and now, in early 2014, the opportunities for triple points haven't increased.

As a result, Freedom compares unfavourably with, for example, Santander's 123 Cashback credit card (cost of credit) which triples points on petrol stations and many forms of public transport, albeit with a cap on earning.

To compare the card with other current deals take a look at our main comparison table here and search by rewards.

Our calculations include initial bonus points and an approximate value of the rewards in pounds and pence.

Comments

1
15 September 2014
Susan

Can someone please list the places you can spend the points at and how you can do this, I'm tearing my hair out going round and round trying to get this information.

2
29 April 2014
Gadget

This is a really useful article. Too many reviews of points-based reward cards fail to convert them into real values like the table above showing how much you need to spend to receive a £5 voucher.

I'm disappointed at how stingy the Barclaycard Freedom card is. Long before that existed, I had a Goldfish card when it was one of the best reward cards. That eventually turned into a Freedom card, at which point they halved the point value.

I then got an Orange Credit Card, which offered points at the equivalent of 1%. That too is coming to an end, and being replaced with... a Freedom card!

The AmEx Cashback and Santander 1-2-3 are both significantly more generous than the Freedom card (the latter with a few restrictions), and they give you cash, so I see little point in having a Freedom card at all.

3
25 September 2013
plorp

Even spending with freedom partners - over £500 for a £5 voucher.

Less than 1% doesn't cut it - I have several no annual fee cards that pay 1%+ as standard (even after the 3 months of 3-5% cashback.)

I'll hit the initial offer but go back to the Sainsburys/Amazon etc.cards once I have the bonus £30.

In reference to limited spending options - did I not see Amazon vouchers as a choice? If so they work nicely for me.

4
25 August 2012
John

By now, you will probably have realised that any outstanding Freedom balance will have been credited to your Barclaycard account as a cash credit.

5
18 November 2011
Richard Skegg

I agree with Frankie - it's easy to earn but there is nowhere to spend it! Seriously, I've never found anyone who redeems on the scheme but it's a doddle to earn good money on it.

In summary, it's an utterly pointless scheme and you'd be better off trading £100 in Freedom money for 100 Nectar points they are that worthless!

18 November 2011
Choose team

We have to point out though for other readers > that unfortunately you can't trade Freedom money for Nectar points.

6
8 October 2011
Frankie Flipflop

Absolute pants............ lots of reward money to gain but very little chance of spending it. I have accumulated over £150.00 reward money on my Barclaycard, but haven't been able to spend it. There are lots of participating companies where you can gain the reward money but too few where you can spend it. Dont be conned into this.
Frankie F.

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