NEWS & ADVICE : CREDIT CARDS
Banks levy a fee to clear dues via cash
By Ankit Sharma
Jan 13, 2009
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The credit cardholders wishing to clear their dues by walking to the bank branch and making cash payment should give it a second thought as it will cost them more as compared to other modes of payment.

Many credit card issuers in the industry are levying a transaction fee on customers who are settling their bills through cash on the bank counters. Issuers like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank have already started imposing a transaction fee on such payments where as others like HSBC are soon going to follow the suit.

Moreover banks are not even mentioning about this charge clearly. They have neither displayed this information on their website nor in the card credit statements sent to the card holders.

The largest credit card issuer, ICICI Bank is charging Rs 100 against every payment made by the cardholder in cash at a branch. Sources inform this levy is imposed because of the services offered at the branch. Similarly HDFC Bank is also charging Rs 50 each time a customer settles his dues by cash.

Likewise Standard Chartered Bank is also levying a charge of Rs 99 on clearing of credit card outstanding through cash. An executive with the bank said, "Credit card customers normally do not come to the branch. If they intend to use this payment route, they need to pay branch transaction charges as we provide them with other services too at the branch. However, we may consider revising these charges going forward."

An executive with a private sector bank said, "We have kept multiple options for our customers to pay their card dues. We urge our customers to repay their debt through other channels like online payment or cheque. If a customer still prefers to walk into a branch to pay bills, s/he needs to bear a transaction charge as the cost of serving a customer at the branch is higher."

However there are issuers such as Axis Bank, Citibank and HSBC that are still not levying any charge for such payments. But with leaders following such a practice other in the industry are also expected to move a step in the direction.

An executive at HSBC said, "At present, we do not charge customers for settling their card dues in cash. But we are not ruling out the possibility of adopting the policy of charging card-holders for accepting cash. There is a lot of manual work involved in branch-level transactions, and customers need to pay for these services. The charges could be fixed in the range of Rs 50-150." The bank has a credit card customer base of nearly 2.6 million.

An executive at Axis Bank informed that, ""Our credit card base is not significant enough at present to levy charges for clearing cash handling costs at branches."

Presently there are about 27 million credit card users in the country and out of these 25% to 30% make cash payment to clear their dues.

 


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