We all know banks are nasty and cunning baskets. Nowhere more than in the world of credit cards, which seems to be the test bed area for devious schemes to grab even more of the unsuspecting public’s money. And here’s yet another. We’ve seen it for a good year or so, but now it’s becoming commonplace, deserving of that hideous name ‘a trend’.
What is it?
They develop a credit card brand, advertise it, but then even though it’s the same card with the same name, the actual terms and conditions you get depend on where you apply. This means if people see an advert for a card and think ‘why aye, sounds a canny one to me’ but then don’t apply in exactly the way specified, you can forget the terms.
Take a look at a few examples.
- Halifax One. Currently apply for the Halifax One card in one of its branches and there’s a balance transfer fee of 2% of the amount transferred capped at £50. Take that leaflet home, and apply for the same Halifax One card on the internet, and suddenly the balance transfer fee is uncapped.
- Barclaycard. Apply for a Barclaycard in a Barclay’s branch and you get 10 month 0% on balance transfers no fee. Apply online and it’s 10 months with a fee.
- Barclaycard (again). As an existing Barclay’s customer, apply for a Barclaycard online at barclays.co.uk and you get 10 months 0% on balance transfers without being charged a fee. Yet do the same at barclaycard.co.uk and you’ll get the same card with a fee.
Transparency, summary boxes, what’s the point?
This makes a mockery of the whole ‘transparency’ movement that the credit card industry tries to pay lip service to. What’s the point of picking up a leaflet with a summary box only to find if you apply for EXACTLY the same card, you may get different terms?
The examples run on and on and on. Currently the top 0% deals on the market belong to a range of charity cards (see Best Balance Transfers article) such as the NSPCC, however this is ONLY if you apply via the right website, otherwise you’ll get different terms that don’t make them the top buy.
It’s already difficult enough for consumers to decipher the myriad of technical terms, and now there’s this trend… ridiculous.
The new golden rule
This sadly means I’ve to include a new ‘never, ever’ rule. I’ve already done it in articles. When I specify a product you’ll note these days it often includes a ‘make sure you only apply in the branch’ type note. However, if you see an advert or a leaflet for a product you think is right for you I’ve a new one.
“Never, ever, ever, ever assume that product will be the same if you apply in any other way!??? Two websites may have different offers and neither is the same as phone, which differs from a branch application, and again still from the direct mail (and that’s forgetting targeted e-mails too!)
Confusion marketing? You can bet your bottom dollar on it (not your top dollar as that one has a fee!)