DEBIT and CREDIT CARDS

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1 1. What is a credit card and how it differs from a debit card? A payment card is a piece of plastic containing essential banking information about the holder authorizing him to pay for goods and services instead of cash. A payment card can be of type Credit Card in which the holder is allowed to pay for a pre-determined amount called credit limit, or it can be of type Debit Card where the amount of purchase can be equal up to the amount in the account of the holder. Both cards have the same look and feel. Depending on the card issuer, credit and debit cards both have a chip in front and/or a magnetic stripe in the rear. Both are used in the same manner in Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and at Points of Sale (POS). When you make a payment by a debit card, you will be asked to enter your secret Personal Identification Number (PIN) in the device at the Point of Sale. The PIN may also be required if payment is made by a chip embedded credit card. However, in Mauritius, many merchants do not request the PIN for purchase by credit cards but they rely on the signature of the credit card holder on the slip instead. If your credit card is used outside Mauritius, the PIN may be requested. In case of a debit card, the amount paid for goods and services or cash taken from the ATM is withdrawn directly from the bank account of the debit card holder. In case of a credit card, the amount paid or cash withdrawn from ATM is recorded in the credit card account of the credit card holder. A credit card statement (generally monthly) is sent by the credit card issuer to the card holder. A credit period is given for payment of the outstanding amount in the credit card account at the end of the credit period. Depending on your agreement with the credit card issuer, you can settle the whole balance at the end of the credit period without interest charges or settle part of the balance (the minimum agreed payment) and interest will be charged on the unsettled portion until payment. Read and understand the terms and conditions provided by the credit card issuer to you before signing the credit card agreement. Once you sign the agreement, you have the obligation to abide by what is stated therein. 1

2 2. What is CVV? CVV stands for Card Verification Value. It is a 3-digit number found on the rear of VISA, MasterCard, and Discover branded debit and credit cards, usually located on the rear of the card, at the far right hand and under the magnetic stripe. The CVV on America Express cards is a 4-digit code on the front of the card. The CVV is used during on-line transactions and helps the merchant ensure that the person at the other hand is not using a computer generated card number, but actually has the physical card in his hands. The CVV number is NOT the PIN of the card and the PIN should NEVER be entered when asked for the CVV. Note that PINs are solely used at ATMs or in-person purchases. 3. Are there other charges, apart from interest charges on unsettled balances on the due date? The following charges are normally applicable on credit cards apart from the interest charges: - Annual Fee This is a flat fee which is payable annually once you accept the credit card. - Cash advance fee This is a fee charged for each cash advance transaction when using the credit card for withdrawing cash from ATMs. - Over limit fee A credit card issuer may charge a fee if the credit limit is exceeded. - Non-payment Fee A non-payment fee may be charged for failure to pay the minimum payment agreed with the credit card issuer. 2

3 4. Is it possible to avoid some of the credit card charges and still enjoy the convenience of using a credit card? Here are some tips to minimise the charges: - Shop around for the best deal. Look up the fees & charges' of the card issuers. There is a direct link to the fees & charges of banks from the website of the Bank of Mauritius. - Take cash advances using your credit card as a last resort. - Make your payment before the due date stated in your credit card statement. Settle the outstanding balance in full to avoid paying interest. Note that the rate of interest on credit card facility is generally high as it is normally an unsecured credit facility. You should therefore be aware of the consequences of paying only the minimum repayment amount by the due date of each month. Not only you will incur high interest charges but also lengthen the time taken to repay your dues. Always remember that overindebtedness can have detrimental effects on your family and social life as well as on your health due to stress. You are advised to adopt a disciplined credit culture. - Limit the number of credit cards based on your needs and payment capacity. - Be alert of changes in policies and rates

4 5. What precautions should be taken concerning credit card transactions? a. Check all the details on the charge slip before signing. b. Keep all your charge slips and check them against your credit card statement. c. Notify your credit card issuer immediately of any possible unauthorized transactions. d. Destroy all your charge slips before disposing them. 6. How to prevent fraud concerning credit card? a. Sign on your credit card as soon as you receive it. b. Keep the card in a safe place. c. Do not lend your card to another person. d. Never give your credit card details (i.e card number and expiration date) to an unknown party. e. Memorise your PIN and do not keep any written record of your PIN together with your card. f. Change your PIN periodically. g. Never use your PIN as a password. h. Always verify your credit card statement with your actual purchases and inform your credit card issuer of any discrepancy. i. Always lodge a dispute with your credit card issuer formally within the prescribed time. Credit card companies have a rigorous dispute mechanism and they do not refund in case of unauthorized debits. j. Always inform your credit card issuer when you are travelling and the countries you are visiting. k. Never accept payment in Card not Present devices such as old slide machines. l. Keep the telephone number of your credit card issuer at hand so that you can immediately report lost/stolen cards. m. Destroy all your expired credit cards. n. Protect your cards as if they were cash. o. Ensure that you get your card back after every purchase. 4

5 7. What precautions should you take when using credit card to pay for purchases on the internet? You should be absolutely confident that you are dealing with a reputable/reliable counterparty on the internet. Never give your credit card number over the phone or via . Sign up for a double authentication with your bank. This means that when the card is used on the internet, you will either have to re-key in your usual internet banking password or token on the website of your bank, or your bank will call you personally to verify the transaction. Use a credit card with low credit limit on the internet. This will save you from heavy damages in case the card is eventually compromised. Sign-up with trusted third parties like PayPal, Google etc so that you do not have to submit your credit card details for each purchase. Moreover, these third parties have their list of trusted merchants and also help in dispute resolution. Make sure that you are in the correct website of the counterparty before inserting your credit card number and providing any personal information. Verify that the website is secure by checking the Universal Resource Locators (URLs) which should begin with https and look for a display of a closed padlock symbol on the status bar of your browser. Always enter the URL of the website directly into the web browser. Avoid being re-directed to the website or hyperlink to it from a website that may not be as secure. Keep your PC secure by using up-todate anti-virus and anti-spyware software and personal firewall. Close other browser windows when transacting on the internet. Avoid using shared or public computers when transacting on the internet. Disclaimer: This pamphlet is intended solely for information purposes. It does not establish or affect legal rights and obligations, and is not, finally determinative of any of the issues addressed therein. It also does not create any rights enforceable by any party in litigation. Issued by the Bank of Mauritius as part of a series in its Financial Literacy Programme Bank of Mauritius 5

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