Protection for credit card users

A landmark legal judgement gives extra protection to shoppers who use their credit cards to make purchases from abroad either in person, by telephone or online. With Christmas approaching, this is excellent news for consumers...

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Just a few weeks ago I talked about how protection when making overseas purchases with a credit card was under legal review, following a court case brought by a handful of providers. Well, the results of the appeal are in - and it’s good news for consumers.

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act says that when you buy something with your credit card you enter into a contract with both the trader and the card issuer. As long as your purchase is for more than £100 and less than £30,000, both have equal liability should anything go wrong. In effect, this allows you to claim a refund from the card issuer if the supplier refuses to deal with your complaint.

For years, there has been a dispute as to whether this protection also applied on goods bought when abroad, or – as often happens nowadays – bought from an overseas supplier over the internet. Several banks, including Lloyds TSB and Tesco Personal Finance, claimed that the rule should not apply to goods bought overseas.

However, the House of Lords has now dismissed their claims, giving consumers greater protection – and now you can start your Christmas shopping with peace of mind.

As it can take several weeks for a credit card to be activated, there is real urgency to apply for a credit card as soon as possible so you have plenty of time to do the bulk of your shopping.

One of the ways in which you could really save this Christmas is by looking at a cashback credit card. Essentially, these are cards where you receive a certain percentage of what you spend back every month. To make the more attractive, some cards come with a higher cashback deal for a limited period.

Here is my pick of the three best cashback deals:

  • Capital One Cashback – offers a 4% cashback on all spending in the first three months and 1% thereafter. The card also offers free travel insurance for yourself and your family, subject to conditions. The typical APR is 15.9%.
  • Amex Platinum – comes with a 5% money-back offer during the first three months, on spend up to £4,000. Thereafter, the cashback rate is up to 1.5%, depending on how much you spend. The typical APR is 18.9%.
  • Abbey Credit Card – offers a 5% saving on the first £1,000 of supermarket spending before 31 January 2008, plus 0% interest on purchases for the first three months and 0% on balance transfers for 12 months (a 2.5% handling fee applies, with a £3 minimum). The typical APR is 15.9%.

Of course these deals are the market leaders and before you apply for any credit card you should consider your credit rating – if you don’t have a good credit score you won’t receive the best deals and having applications rejected will only further harm your profile.

However, help is at hand thanks to the credit cards SmartSearch tool at moneysupermarket.com. This tool asks you a few straightforward questions to make an assessment of your credit score. Then it returns results based on your profile – meaning you will only receive deals you’re likely to be accepted for.

Once you have found the right credit card for you, you will have peace of mind when you shop online thanks to the protection you receive from the Consumer Credit Act. To sum up, section 75 now applies in the following circumstances:

  • When you use a credit card to buy goods while abroad
  • When you use a credit card to order goods from a foreign supplier while abroad for delivery to the UK
  • When a credit card is used to buy goods delivered to a UK address from overseas by telephone, mail order or on the internet

Of course the key point is that these rules apply to credit cards only – there is no such protection if you make purchases with a debit card.

So with Christmas approaching now is the time to apply for a credit card and shop with confidence.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article applied at the time of writing and may no longer be available/applicable today.

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