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Four steps to take now if you’ve been rejected for the John Lewis Partnership Card

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Customers continue to vent their anger and disappointment after being rejected for the new John Lewis Partnership Card or having credit limits slashed. Here’s what you can do about it now.

Loyal John Lewis customers continue to email YourMoney.com with their experience of applying for the new Partnership Credit card with provider NewDay.

Emails range from those who are angry at being rejected and having their credit files blemished, to those confused about the move despite being loyal and creditworthy customers. Others have been accepted, but are now frustrated over their slashed credit limits.

In May, John Lewis paused applications for its popular Partnership card which offers points on spends at the retailer, as well as a lesser awards system for spends elsewhere.

In August, it confirmed the current Partnership card would stop working at 6pm on Monday 31 October 2022 following the end of its agreement with provider HSBC in favour of NewDay.

Existing customers are invited to re-apply for its relaunched product – there wasn’t an automatic transfer from one provider to the next.

As such, customers are required to undergo credit checks when applying for the card.

‘Insulting and humiliating’

Julia emailed: “I, like many others it would seem, was denied a new card, despite fastidiously paying off every month and my financial circumstances having improved in the 10 or more years since I had a John Lewis credit card. What I find most humiliating is that I now have to say I have been turned down for a credit card.”

Peter wrote: “Why details from the old card could not just be transferred by John Lewis Finance rather than subjecting their customers to, what turned into, hours of irritation in applying for a new card defeats me and I am very far from happy with the credit limit that has now been imposed upon me – 45% of what I held previously. I have a flawless credit record and an Experian rating of 999 so why I should now be insulted in such a manner defeats me.”

And a couple wrote: “We have been John Lewis cardholders since they were first launched, have always paid off at the end of the month, never been in debt with them or anyone else, lived in the same house for 43 years. Have plenty of income from pensions and self-employment. Been refused a NewDay card, no explanation. What should we do?”

Here are four things you can do now…

1) Check your credit file

Since applications launched in August for existing customers, John Lewis said 96% of customers who reapplied had been accepted. Meanwhile, 84% have been offered the same or a higher credit limit. However, it wouldn’t share customer numbers so it’s difficult to put this into context.

However, the majority of rejections are due to mistakes on the application form, not being able to demonstrate affordability or due to a change in financial circumstances.

Either way, customers should check their own credit file to see what’s on there.

John Lewis told us: “We encourage customers who have concerns that the information held on them by the credit reference agencies is inaccurate, to contact them to obtain a free copy of their credit report from Experian.co.uk.”

2) Contact John Lewis Finance for an explanation

John Lewis told YourMoney.com that customers who have concerns or further questions can contact the John Lewis Partnership Credit Card customer services team on 0330 175 9829. This is for both new and existing customers.

The line is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, while on Saturday, you can call between 9am and 6pm, or 10am to 4pm on Sundays.

Some customers have been in touch with us to say they could only find premium rate numbers or an address.

John Lewis said: “All customer service numbers cost the same as ringing a regular UK landline. And if you have any inclusive minutes in your phone package, either landline or mobile, you can use them to call the numbers within those minutes.”

3) Complain to John Lewis

If you wish to make a complaint, customers can write to the John Lewis Credit Card department at:

Complaints Department
PO Box 700
LS99 2BD.

If you do not receive a response within eight weeks or you feel it is not satisfactory, you can escalate it to the Financial Ombudsman within six months for a free assessment of the case. The outcome is binding on the firm (John Lewis).

One reader told us they will take their complaint further: “I checked my credit card score and it is the highest possible with no adverse comments or history of being late or badly handled. I am retired, own two properties outright with no mortgage, no HP, no car leasing arrangements and no financial dependents. I also have a good income from overseas property owned outright in addition to my pension and so my annual income is healthy.

“My existing credit cards outstanding amount to only 5% of the amount available to me yet they regard me as a risk. I have already appealed by way of a second phone call and a further letter of complaint to their executive and they still won’t budge.

“So, I am likely to take my case to the Financial Ombudsman claiming unfair treatment and being discriminated against despite my good credit history and a substantial sum available in hard cash at the bank.”

4) Take your custom elsewhere

Many customers are telling us they will now shop elsewhere out of principle following their rejection.

Brian emailed: “I will now never shop at Waitrose or John Lewis again, and given that we spend about £3,000 a year with them, that is their loss!”

Marian told us: “I will only shop at John Lewis/ Waitrose when there is no alternative in future.”

Martin emailed: “I’ve been a John Lewis customer and card holder for 20+ years and always paid off my monthly balance in full. In addition, I have a 999 blemish free Experian credit rating.

“Although I have reached retirement age – but continue to run my business, I receive state pension and have a SIPP pension fund – so a potential of three income streams. However, in the letter I received announcing the John Lewis card change, my credit rating was slashed from £13,700 to a mere £1,750.

“As a longstanding Waitrose customer and John Lewis store (in person and online) customer, I will now think twice about shopping with them in future.”

For others, the problem is that they are now forced to find an alternative credit card. Gemma told us: “We were forced to re-organise the way we handle our monthly finance; a complete change, so initially it was a bit unnerving and worrying; and just added time and stress we didn’t need.

“This has all left a very bitter taste and a reluctance to give them business for sure, and since we have decided to use our M&S card in place of the John Lewis one, we will be directing our business there.”

If you are now looking for an alternative credit card which rewards you for spending, M&S Bank offers two points per £1 spend in the first year (one point per £1 after the first year) and one point per £5 spent elsewhere. 100 reward points equals £1, and at least 200 rewards points are required to receive a voucher, usually sent in February, May, August and November. It also offers 0% on shopping for 12 months and has a representative APR of 21.9% APR variable.

The Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday card offers holders 5% cashback for the first three months and according to MoneySavingExpert “is likely the top cashback credit card for most, as it’s fee-free, and has a good introductory rate, with decent ongoing cashback”. It pays 0.5% cashback on spends up to £10,000, then 1% for amounts over £10,000.

The maximum cashback is £100 in the first three months and if you spend less than £3,000 a year, no cashback is offered. However, customers may want to plug their details into an eligibility checker to see their chances of getting the deals.

John Lewis previously told us:“96% of customers who have reapplied so far have been accepted, so while those who are declined represent a very small percentage of applications, we are very sorry to see any customers disappointed. Our desire is for every loyal customer who wants to continue to use the Partnership Credit Card, to be able to do so. Our Partnership Credit Card rewards our customers for shopping at John Lewis and Waitrose, so they are really valued customers.”