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New Online Tool Launches to Help Consumers Understand the Cost of their Credit Cards

The UK Cards Association’s new website will give consumers better access to tailored information on their credit card costs

Following a research project undertaken with the Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC) at The University of Bristol*, The UK Cards Association today announces the launch of a new website - www.cardcosts.org.uk with the objective of helping consumers improve their understanding of their credit card costs. The website is built on the findings of the research, which concluded that consumers are struggling with the ‘APR’ as the traditional measure of illustrating the cost of borrowing.

The CardCosts website will allow credit cardholders to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the cost of their current repayment choices;
  • Experiment with different levels of payments and desired periods to pay off a balance;
  • Learn from a range of informative messages which explain what can be complicated terms;
  • Link to other help and guidance, such as credit card statements and summary boxes; and
  • Quickly receive details of sources of free independent debt advice.

The website looks to go further than other similar existing tools by capturing details of different types of Balance, covering not only traditional card purchases, but also balance transfers and cash advances. Furthermore, it allows the user to clearly see the impact of paying just a little more than the minimum payment. These enhanced features will ensure that the indicative costs provided are as tailored to a customer’s individual circumstances as possible.

Jo Swinson and The UK Cards Association Chair, Melanie Johnson discussing the launch of a new online tool giving consumers better access to tailored information on their credit card costs -- www.cardcosts.org.uk

This is the latest in a series of important enhancements to transparency and responsible lending delivered by the card payments industry over many years, which has included the introduction of summary boxes, the delivery of a series of new consumer rights offering greater control and convenience, a contact process to provide advice for cardholders who are frequently paying only the minimum payment and also the introduction of annual credit card statements.

The initiative has received support from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, where the Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer Affairs & Postal Services, Jo Swinson MP, has welcomed the alignment of this work with its own ambitions around ‘consumer empowerment’.

The development process for the new website included feedback from key stakeholder round-tables involving Which?, the Money Advice Trust, Citizens Advice, AdviceUK, StepChange Debt Charity, Money Advice Scotland and with subsequent input from the Money Advice Service.

The UK Cards Association will now be working with its members and other stakeholders to discuss how best to ensure that the benefits of the website are made available to as many customers as possible via various channels.

Melanie Johnson, Chair of The UK Cards Association, commented:

"I am delighted with the outcome of this important research, the result of working closely with the highly respected Personal Finance Research Centre. The research confirmed that customers find it difficult to understand APRs and would prefer to see credit card costs displayed in a way that is more easily understood. This website does just that, allowing people to better understand their costs in a clear, tailored and interactive way. This is another important step in the industry's transparency journey, which has seen a series of initiatives delivered in the interests of customers over many years.”

Andrea Finney, Senior Research Fellow at the Personal Finance Research Centre, commented:

“One of the most striking findings to come out of our research was how strongly the people we spoke to wanted to understand the costs of their credit card in relation to their own spending. A hypothetical balance, such as the one used for calculating the APR, simply wasn’t meaningful. This new website was developed to give users the opportunity to see the cost of their cards as a direct reflection of their actual balance and how they use their card.

The way that credit card costs are calculated and applied can be complicated enough, but when you add in the potential different combinations of types of balance and the many different approaches consumers can take to repay their cards, the picture becomes even more complex. It’s extremely difficult for consumers to navigate this complexity on their own. The key challenge in developing a tool like this therefore lay in stripping back this real-world complexity to make the interface as simple and intuitive to use as possible, while retaining the validity and representativeness of the results.”

Jo Swinson MP, Consumer Minister, commented:

"The Government is committed to helping consumers in financial difficulty. A big part of managing financial problems and debt is knowing how to avoid them, and well informed consumers make better choices and spending decisions. That is why I am pleased that The UK Cards Association and Bristol University have launched the CardCosts website today, which I'm confident will be a welcome aid to consumers seeking more information on credit cards. This website will help consumers take control of their bills and pick the best credit card for their needs. "Consumers who are in financial difficulty can talk to the Money Advice Service on 0300 500 5000, who provide free and confidential debt advice."

To view a short film of Jo Swinson and The UK Cards Association Chair, Melanie Johnson discussing the new website please visit: http://youtu.be/CZepNRj-41w

To view the press release as a PDF, with notes to editors, please click the link below.

For further information please contact The UK Cards Association Press Office on 020 3217 8436 /07767 114703 or email press@ukcards.org.uk

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