Featured Post

What is CIBIL (Credit Bureau) and why is it so important today?

Most customers in India, who have Credit Cards and Personal Loans are unaware of the existence of CIBIL (Credit Information Bureau (India) L...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Product Review: Timescard Barclaycard Credit Card

This Credit Card was launched in early 2008 as an Entertainment Card. This Credit Card tends to stand out as there are not many entertainment cards in the market right now.

This card has been launched as a partnership between Barclaycard and Times of Money. The first thing you notice about this card is the Credit Card Plastic, which is very neatly designed. It is one of the best card designed in the industry today (my opinion!)

The strengths of this Credit Card are listed below.

(1) Good Offers especially the movie ticket offer at select multiplexes. This single offer of movie ticket discounts is the single largest USP of the Timescard Barclaycard
(2) Other category discounts are good but the movie / multiplex discounts is the best. You can save up Rs.1000 / month if you watch 1 movie / week
(3) Free for Life Card
(4) Rewards program at No Additional Cost
(5) Multiple Payment Options for Barclaycard, hence paying your Credit Card Bill is easy irrespective of the Bank in which you hold an account

The flipside is as follows

(1) Poor Quality Customer Service both at the Contact Centre where complaint resolution and turn around times are not managed well
(2) Barclaycard has got several serious customer complaints on www.mouthshut.com and other such forums
(3) No Internet Banking Platform, so you will need to call the Barclaycard Customer Service Helpline for any details you require (which is not a very pleasant experience)
(4) Offers are concentrated in Mumbai and Delhi and the options for other cities are limited

Amongst the cards I hold, this gives me the maximum value on the movie offer as I watch at least 1 movie a week at Bandra East Cinemax. So I land up saving Rs.1000 per month at the very least. I do not care about the pain they put me through at Customer Service as no other card gives me such a save. If you feel the same way then go for it.

For other useful Personal Banking tips do go to www.simplybank.blogspot.com or you can mail me at Ask.Pranav@Gmail.Com and I will try to respond to your queries at the earliest.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Withdrawing Cash from Shops instead of ATMs

The Reserve Bank of India has recently made public its intent to enable customers who have a Debit Card to withdraw cash from merchant outlets / shopping outlets.

What this means for customers is the following

(1) In addition to ATMs customers can now go to merchants who have Credit / Debit Card swipe machines and withdraw money similar to the manner in which they do so in an ATM
(2) This will result in added convenience as now customers do not need to go hunting for an ATM, they can shop as well as withdraw money at the same merchant outlet itself

However the RBI has not made the fine print of execution clear and several key questions have been left unanswered, which can drastically alter the manner in which banks in India do Business

(1) Can money be withdrawn against Credit Cards or Debit Cards? If RBI permits to withdraw money against Credit Cards, then it will be tantamount to killing the Credit Cards proposition as it will be free money on Credit. My guess is that RBI will restrict the withdrawals to Credit Cards only
(2) Most Master and VISA Debit Cards when used for shopping at Merchant outlets do not require a PIN to be entered for executing the transactions. Will RBI be allowing Cash Withdrawal as well without a PIN validation? This will create a direct security validation conflict across channels and will put a question mark over PIN Based transactions as a whole
(3) Will all Debit Card Merchants be expected to participate in this scheme and what is the level of cash they need to maintain etc. and the guildelines around the same are yet to be examined

Every step taken should address a need. When RBI made withdrawal of cash from all ATMs free of cost, then there was a genuine customer need for the same, however in this case it is unclear why RBI has taken such a far reaching decision without giving due thought to the operational aspects of the same.

While the Indian consumer is fairly smart, we should not come up with convoluted banking guidelines (like the ones on Income Tax) which the customer fails to understand and use to his benefit.

While this will definitely be a customer enabling step, there are several key decisions that RBI will need to take while setting out an execution plan for the same. I am awaiting clarity in this regard before I comment further.
For any questions or queries on Personal Banking practises feel free to write to Ask.Pranav@Gmail.Com

Think before you "Go with VISA"

These days I see several commercials on TV saying “More people around the world, “Go with VISA”. While I am a proponent of the usage of Debit and Credit Cards, I advise all customers to do so with ample caution. After working in the Credit / Debit Cards industry for over 4 years now, I have seen enough Card related frauds where the customers have been cheated for a minor negligence on their part.

There are 2 types of Debit Cards which are issued by VISA as given below.

VISA Debit Cards: When you use these debit cards for shopping at merchant outlets you do not require a 4 digit Debit Card PIN to be used. Just one swipe, and the money leaves your account and your shopping has been paid for.

VISA Electron Debit Cards: When you use Visa Electron Debit Cards you will need to use the 4 Digit PIN for shopping as well as ATM Transactions, when you swipe a card at the merchant outlet, the person at the billing counter will give you a keypad on which you will enter a 4 digit PIN after which your transaction will get authorised. There is an additional security for shopping transactions

The bank you bank with, usually takes the call if the customers are to be issued VISA Debit Cards or VISA Electron Debit Cards (or Master Card Debit Cards or Maestro Debit Cards).

If your wallet has got robbed and you have 1 VISA Debit Card, 1 VISA Credit Card and 1 VISA Electron Debit Card the risk you are exposed to due to each of them are as follows.

(1) The robber can use your VISA Debit Card for shopping and any money that he spends on it is never coming back to you …… no matter what you do, as that money has already left your account
(2) The robber cannot use your VISA Electron Debit Card as there is a 4 digit PIN protecting it and hence your money in the Account is safe
(3) The robber can use your Credit Card, however you can raise a chargeback with you Credit Card company and at the end of the day refuse to pay the money back (at the risk of ruining your credit record)

So the point I am trying to highlight is that, if your bank has issued you a VISA or MasterCard Debit Card and you lose the same the risk is considerable as there is NO PIN based protection for shopping transactions, however if you have a VISA Electron Debit Card you are secure.

So please take care before going with VISA as these are the finer points VISA does not tell you about. If you are a victim of card related frauds, do write to me at Ask.Pranav@Gmail.Com after reading the articles I have posted previously on Card related frauds