Barclaycard challenges Air Miles

Barclaycard will massively upgrade its discount scheme for air travel next week in a move observers say puts it in direct competition with British Airways’ highly successful Air Miles scheme.

Barclaycard holders will be able to use the points-based discount scheme Profiles to fly to 250 destinations worldwide, compared with the previous limit of just 13 European cities. The scheme offers tie-ups with eight leading airlines including American Airlines, Air France and British Midland.

One industry source says: “This massive upgrade in Barclaycard’s service is a direct attempt to steal the successful business that Air Miles has built up over the past few years.”

Barclaycard itself was being more coy about the challenge. “Some people will see this as a challenge to Air Miles, but we do offer a range of other discount products too,” a spokeswoman says.

Air Miles, launched in 1988, says it is not afraid of the competition. Though it only offers 230 destinations, it points out that almost 1.5 million passengers have flown BA flights through it. More than 400 companies take part in the scheme.

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