/ Money

A bit less wallet snobbery, please

As Poundland starts to accept American Express cards to attract the hard-pressed middle-class shopper, is this the start of value winning over misplaced snobbery? Will the contents of your wallet be next?

Which? tests often throw up interesting results. Whether it’s Aldi’s 59p washing up liquid beating Fairy for the first time in 20 years, or Aldi and Lidl beating Marks & Spencer in our supermarkets survey, UK consumers are realising that they can get great value for money from unlikely sources.

In the current economic climate, where budgets are stretched to (and often beyond) breaking point, there’s no place for snobbery when it comes to your financial products either.

Don’t fall for fancy names

Take savings accounts as an example. Banks often give their accounts an expensive sheen. If you’ve got money in NatWest’s Diamond Reserve account, for example, you may feel special. Until you discover the account pays 0.1% in interest.

Halifax goes one step further with its 0.05% Liquid Gold account – that’s just 50p in interest for every £1,000 you save.

Both accounts are now closed to new customers, but existing savers need to switch to a less glamorous-sounding, but higher-paying account. The Santander eSaver Issue 4 doesn’t sound as high-end as the Liquid Gold account, but it pays 62 times more interest.

Credit cards are no different. Black, or even purple, credit cards may sound prestigious, but the high fees and APRs involved mean most people would be better off with a Best Rate cashback card. And while the Harvey Nichols credit card will add sparkle and social cachet to your wallet, it can’t match the rewards offered by good old BHS.

Less bling, more ker-ching

More and more of us are swapping expensive groceries for budget chains and local markets. It’s time we made the same change in our wallets, chasing the best rates and customer service, not a flashy card and a swanky name. A bit less bling, a bit more ker-ching, you might say.

Poundland’s chief executive Jim McCarthy has said that middle-class shoppers are no longer embarrassed about visiting Poundland and that they enjoy boasting at dinner parties about how much money they have saved. Hopefully we’ll soon start boasting about our BHS reward card and our Cheshire Building Society cash Isa.

Have you traded in kudos for cash? And what’s the most inappropriately-named financial product you’ve seen lately?


I can’t work out which company has made the bigger step – Poundland for taking a step up to accept American Express, or American Express for taking a step down to add Poundland to its merchant base. Whilst I’m sure that Amex is always delighted to add more retailers to its historically smaller merchant base, I’m sure they’d rather add the likes of B&Q and Sky than a budget retailer like Poundland.

“step up” or “step down” what are you talking about?
American Express is an outfit catering to “wanabees” and the production of that card scores no points with me.
Personally I’m always more impressed by cold hard cash. If anyone uses an Amex card in poundland to me it says volumes about that card holder, and perhaps something about that card.

Sophie Gilbert says:
8 March 2012

I’m middle class but my salary is below average, so nuts to snobbery. I’ve always been a customer of shops such as £Stretcher, Poundland, Ali’s Cave, Lidl, you name it, and charity shops. I don’t feel the need to boast about it anywhere though (even here in this convo! :0) ).

Having a Harvey Nichols credit card or wearing bling is for some people a way to say, hey, look at me, I care about appearances. Very human. And the likes of Natwest and Halifax know exactly how to exploit this weakness.

Used to have an Amex, joined that outfit for some freebies offered, no
longer use it. Never used it for small item purchases, some retailers
actually asked if I had an alternative credit card instead which
they preferred.

Some thieves including in countries on Pacific rim particularly China
seem to have a predilection for the Amex premium version.

The article forgets to mention that any account with interest lower than inflation (3-4%) LOSES money every year.