- On Tuesday morning, FNB released details of pricing and rewards changes coming on 1 July, which showed a big chunk of its clients would lose Slow Lounge freebies via eBucks.
- Holders of FNB Premier accounts would only get access to the airport lounges if they bought tickets via eBucks, the bank said.
- By Tuesday afternoon, that decision had been reversed. Premier clients are now back to the reduced lounge-visit allocation implemented in 2020.
- It had "reviewed the decision against the current state of the travel industry and recent lockdown adjustments", FNB said.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
First National Bank will not be yanking the Slow Lounge benefit for its Premier account holders after all, it announced on Tuesday, reversing a decision revealed just hours earlier.
"FNB confirms its decision to keep SLOW lounge benefits for FNB Premier customers unchanged beyond 1 July 2021," the bank said in an emailed statement, which neither highlighted that it was announcing a reversal nor had anything to say about the reasons behind the volte-face.
"We believe that our decision to retain the current benefits enhances the travel experience for our customers and further supports the growing travel volumes since the start of the risk adjusted lockdown measures."
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, FNB had released details of its annual pricing and rewards changes, which will come into effect on 1 July. The complex changes to how it charges account holders, and what those account holders get back via the eBucks rewards scheme, include the "retirement" of FNB Gold accounts, and up to R30,000 a year for those who buy lots of Apple products.
Rules updates also showed that those on Premier accounts, intended for people who earn between R240,000 and R750,000 per year, would be further squeezed on airport lounge visits, once a trumpeted part of the eBucks offering.
Those Premier account holders would only get free use of Slow Lounges if they bought airline tickets via eBucks Travel, FNB said.
That would have been a continuation of a big cut in 2020, when Premier members across all five tiers of eBucks rewards saw big decreases in their annually allocated lounge visits.
As in 2020, the bank said it was not actually cutting benefits, because Slow Lounge visits were still part of the rewards scheme – not just for anyone travelling on a ticket they hadn't bought via eBucks.
Now it has cancelled the changes, and Premier members on the top tier of eBucks rewards will still get eight annual visits, automatically with no purchase required, as before, FNB said in its statement.
What happened to bring about the reversal?
"We reviewed the decision against the current state of the travel industry and recent lockdown adjustments," said Johan Moolman, CEO of eBucks Rewards, in a written reply to Business Insider South Africa.
"As a result, we've decided to continue offering our Premier customers the complimentary visits."