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Credit Card Customers Waste £500 Million

Credit Card Customers Waste £500 Million

Category: Credit cards

Updated: 31/10/2008
First Published: 14/04/2008

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

In just six months time, all credit card providers will be obliged to include on statements details of the order of payments they use. Nationwide Building Society urges these companies to act now, lose the "smoke and mirrors" and tell their customers clearly how they allocate their repayments, rather than be forced by regulation in six months time. Nationwide estimates that consumers will have paid up to £500 million in interest payments, in the 12 months since it was announced that providers will have to highlight the order of payments they use.

Nationwide has campaigned for many years to bring about change in the industry and increase transparency on credit cards. The Society welcomed the announcement made in April 2007 by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) requiring providers to display a message on every credit card statement, highlighting how payments are allocated, from October 2008.

Unlike Nationwide, almost all credit card providers allocate cardholders' payments to the cheapest debt first, allowing the more expensive transactions to continue to accrue interest - increasing the cost the consumer has to pay.

As people try to spring clean their finances and look to credit cards with 0% balance transfer deals to help manage their debt, many will find that, if they make a purchase, they won't be able to clear the cost of the purchase until the balance transfer has been paid off in full. This practice is not well understood by consumers and is not in their interests. The new Banking Code highlights the importance of providing consumers with clearer information about products.

Jeremy Wood, divisional director at Nationwide, said: "When BERR made their announcement over a year ago, we hoped credit card providers would do the decent thing and clearly tell their customers how their payments are allocated on their statements. Twelve months have already passed and consumers are still being kept in the dark. We call on the industry to do the right thing for consumers and implement the change now, rather than wait until the October 2008 deadline.

"Most providers apply payments to the cheapest debt first making it more expensive for the consumer and more profitable for them. What seems like a good deal at first can become unnecessarily costly for cardholders unless they clear their balance in full."

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