NatWest is scrapping the benefits it offers to 30,000 customers with its Black credit card at the end of the year, meaning some account holders will have to take out alternative travel insurance for trips booked for 2017.
Customers with the Black credit card have previously been able to make use of a range of benefits, such as travel insurance, extended warranty on some items bought with it and airport lounge access, in return for a £250 annual fee.
However, the rising cost of running the card's added extras has led to NatWest deciding to axe the benefits and the annual fee – essentially turning the 'exclusive' card into a standard credit card.
The benefits will be stripped away in two parts:
- 31 December 2016 – travel insurance and extended warranty will be removed (along with the annual fee)
- 31 March 2017 – the home emergency service, Green Flag European road side assistance, airport lounge access, and the personal assistant concierge service will be removed
Although the card has not been available to new customers since July 2011, there are still around 30,000 customers currently paying to use it and and some havealready been forced to fork out for new travel insurance policies for trips that have been booked for next year.
John, one of the affected customers, told us: "I have booked a holiday for June which would have been covered by the Black credit card policy and now, as the insurance is not effective for travel that starts beyond 31 December, it is necessary to arrange new insurance so as to be covered. This has entailed a lot of effort to answer medical questions and to get a quote."
Is my trip still covered or will I have to arrange replacement insurance?
It depends when you're booked to travel. If your trip is for no more than 90 days and you depart before the end of the year, you'll still be covered under the Black credit card policy.
If you've already booked a trip for 2017, you'll have to find alternative insurance before you jet off. Check out our Cheap Travel Insurance guide to bag a good deal.
NatWest has told us it will consider compensating affected customers "on a case-by-case basis" – if you've had to pay a particularly large premium for your travel insurance then the chances are you'll be compensated.
Customers with aBlack credit card who have concerns about arranging travel insurance for a trip already booked for next year should call NatWest on 0345 300 3699.
What are the best packaged accounts to switch to?
The NatWest Black credit card is part of a dying breed of credit cards that offer packaged benefits. Nevertheless it is possible to get specific perks from other credit cards.
If you're looking for a free packaged current account that includes travel insurance, you could opt for the Nationwide FlexAccount, which comes with free European travel insurance. It provides cover up to age 75, which alone usually costs a fortune. You can also upgrade this to cover additional family members, or trips worldwide.
Read our Top Packaged Bank Accounts guide for more.
Why is NatWest scrapping its Black credit card benefits?
A spokesperson for NatWest explained: "Unfortunately it is no longer possible for us to provide the current range of Black credit card benefits without significantly increasing the price. We don't want to do this, so have decided to remove the card's benefits along with the annual fee.
"We have given customers at least two months' notice so that they can replace these benefits, and clear guidance to ensure they know when their cover will end."
What does this mean for NatWest's Black current account?
NatWest has confirmed that its fee-charging Black and Platinum package current accounts will not be changing.