FAQs

This is the term used for people who have a poor credit rating or history. This may be because they’ve had mortgage arrears or a County Court Judgment against them. If you’re trying to deal with a financial institution that says you cant have credit with them because you have an adverse credit history you need to apply to the credit reference agencies for a copy of the information they hold on you to see if its correct or maybe to try and sort out any problems you have had with money or lenders in the past.

These are credit cards that operate in the same way as other credit cards except that they are linked to organisations such as stores and charities. You may receive rewards from the organisation your card is affiliated to. If you have a charity card, the charity will receive a nominal amount for each transaction.

This stands for Annual Percentage Rate. Any firm that lends money is required by law to quote the APR. The APR takes into account the interest you will be charged plus any additional charges making it easier for you to compare products. In general, the lower the APR the better the deal.

Balance transfer credit cards are usually referred to as a means of moving your debt from one credit card to another which maybe offering a promotional low or zero interest rate. This is to tempt people who are holding credit card debt to take out new credit cards with them. It’s often a good way to save money as many companies offer an interest-free period on balance transfers to new customers.

Some prepaid credit cards do allow you to hire cars with them, but usually only after a period of weeks or months to see what kind of balance is regularly held on the card, and to check to see if the card is being used within its terms and conditions.

Card issuer is the company (usually a bank or building society) that is actually managing the financial side of the credit card. With many companies and brands using credit cards as another way of making money from existing customers, or even for marketing new products or services, it’s quite common for the name on the front of the card to not be the company that’s actually providing you with credit or credit card services. If you have a problem with your card, you’ll normally find the card issuers details in the paperwork that came with the card on sometimes on the back of the card itself in the small print.

Your credit score is something used by financial institutions and credit card companies to assess your credit worthiness.

However, if you went to 10 different banks or financial institutions for a loan or credit card, your credit score maybe totally different with each of them. This is because although they may use the same information you’ve provided on your application form (or held by a credit reference agency) to assess you as a potential risk, the emphasis they place on all this information will be different between each institution depending on their underwriting criteria.

One bank for instance may think that being in the same job for the last 3 years is a sign of your financial stability, and may give you credit for that, whereas another may not.

Prepaid credit cards are credit cards that are available to almost anyone because they don’t actually offer you any real credit. The amount you can spend on these cards is limited to the amount of cash you pre-load onto the card, just like a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go mobile phone.

Providing you haven’t been made bankrupt in the last 3 years, you can prove who you are, and where you live its likely that you can get access to a prepaid credit cards.

This is a complex business. It’s theoretically possible that consolidating credit card debt can save you money long term, but you have to manage the consolidation carefully, and be disciplined about your spending and finances in the future. Any credit card debt consolidation is best undertaken with the advice from a professional adviser from your bank or building society or with the help of The National Debt Helpline or Consumer Credit Counselling Service.

If you carefully manage use of balance transfer credit cards, it’s possible to save yourself money in the long term, particularly if you are carrying a high credit card balance on a card with an above average interest rate. Watch out for “tie ins” with some companies if you try to switch balances during the early stages of any agreement, they may penalise you financially.

These credit cards charge no interest on purchases but only for a set introductory period (normally 3 to 12 months). Watch out for less than competitive interest rates if you hold credit card debt on these cards after the interest free period is over.

Cashback credit cards offer a straightforward cash reward for using them. They give you a percentage of your spending in the form of a cash rebate. Unless you clear your balance every month without fail, you’ll probably be better off going for a credit card that offers a competitive rate of interest.

It’s now common for banks and credit card companies to use a customer’s credit score to apply interest rates when issuing a credit card. This means that people with a poor credit history are offered a higher interest rate when they apply for a credit card.

Some say risk-based pricing is a fair way for those with good credit histories to get cheaper credit card interest rates, but how banks decide their rates isn’t made public so it’s difficult for us to analyse how they do this and see how really fair the schemes are.

The electoral role is a government managed list of people entitled to vote in local and national elections, and where they live. It tends to be managed on a regional basis by your local council and is updated several times a year. To be on the electoral role you have to be over 18 years old, entitled to vote, and a permanent resident at that address. People looking at the electoral role will also be able to see how long you’ve lived at that address.

Many people think that the electoral role is not a desirable place to have your name listed because it means anyone at all (whether they have the right or good reason to do so or not) has access to your full name and exactly where you live. This information is obviously open to misuse, and targeting by unsolicited mail companies.

However, financial institutions like banks and credit card companies rate you being listed on the electoral role as important, and if you’re listed, it will count positively in your credit score.

Concierge services are offered as part of the deal with some luxury credit cards, and offer the card holder access to a kind of personal assistant who can help you manage your life or busy personal schedule. These services are usually accessed by phone or online, and can help with all manner of situations.

If you are having problems booking a flight, or tickets for a show, or maybe finding a present for someone, the concierge service will help. Some credit cards offer the service free for the duration of the time you have the card, some allow you only 3 or 4 uses of the service a year before you pay a charge.

Some times called “Section 75 protection” – when you pay for goods or services with a UK credit card whether in the UK or abroad, you’re entitled to a greater level of consumer protection than if you pay with cash, debit card or cheque. Under the UK ‘Sale of Goods Act’ if you’re unhappy with the quality of the goods or services you bought, the goods are faulty, you actually don’t get them or you don’t think they are as described when you agreed to buy them, you have a right to a refund.

Because of another bit of legislation, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, if you paid for these goods or services with your credit card (whether the retailer is in the UK or abroad) this makes the credit card company jointly liable with the retailer or service provider for the faulty goods or services.

In other words, if you use your credit card to buy something of high value (it has to be between £100 and £30,000) and there’s a problem later (like and air-line or holiday company goes bust) you have a good chance of getting your money back.

As with all retailer or service related problems, you should take up your issues with the company or retailer who supplied you first, and always keep a careful written note and proof of what happened and when.

This is a credit card industry term used to describe what happens when a retailer makes a charge on your card without actually being there to enter your PIN code, or to confirm the transaction with a signature.

The retailer or merchant needs your credit card number, expiry date, security code etc, as well as normally your postcode to process this kind of transaction without you being there.

Obviously this kind of transaction is open to abuse and therefore if someone misuses your card or your information in this way, your credit card company won’t hold you liable.

The Bank of England ‘Base Rate’ is set by an independent committee of experts and is the key interest rate by which all other UK interest rates (for depositors as well as for loans, mortgages and credit cards) are set. The committee meets once a month and publishes its findings about 2 weeks later. The Base Rate helps this team of experts to manage to economy ensuring (in theory at least) that can achieve consistent economic growth, but also that we don’t end up with inflation getting out of hand.

In a bid to speed up the transaction times for low value transactions UK card issuers have introduced Contactless Payment Cards which speed up transactions up to the value of £15. The idea is that your card can be scanned or touched against a secure receiver and the transaction processed without you having to enter a PIN, cutting down waiting times are tills and checkouts.

The EMV Chip and PIN system was introduced into the UK on 14th February 2006 in a bid to cut down fraud at the point of sale (POS). The use of a 4 digit personal PIN code known only to the person the card was issued to (instead of a signature which could easily be forged) is thought to have cut down fraud at POS by 66%. The card holder’s details are stored on a small electronic Chip embedded in the credit card which is then interrogated to confirm the transaction when the PIN is entered, hence Chip and PIN.

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