Visa Card Issued With 365% Interest Rate

By: Sarah Othman

News broke yesterday that a visa credit card with an exceptionally high lending rate has been made available to customers by a leading financial firm. The credit card is being offered to customers who have a poor credit rating and has a whopping 365% interest rate.

This is 10 times the highest interest rate for a credit card available from a high street bank. The company offering the deal is Provident Financial, a company based in Bradford. Consumers are told to pay their bill in weekly instalments which the firm's agents collect from them at their door.

The card is pre-loaded with a loan amount and the financial firm then charges its customers an APR of 183% if they use the card, during a period of 56 weeks. An article in the Times Online revealed that "If the loan [on the card] is ?300 over [the] period, the customer is expected to pay back ?504. However, if he or she borrows the same amount over 31 weeks, the APR can be as high as 365% and a customer can expect to repay ?465." The highest APR for a credit card which is available on the high street is just 35.9%.

Consumer experts have said the reason some people might choose the card is because they would not be eligible for credit from other loan providers due to having? low credit scores or no taxable income. The article by the Times also said "doorstep lending companies require only that their customers have an address where agents can go and collect payments and also have some form of disposable income, even if it is benefits."

Companies like Provident Financial might be seen as preying on those who are more likely to be unable to make repayments and the firm has come under fire for "charging such high APRs to customers who are least likely to be able to afford it."

In the recently published Times Online article the National Consumer Council (NCC) said: "These interest rates are eye-wateringly high. It's unfair that poor people are made to pay more to borrow. This is set to get even tougher with the credit crunch."

On the other end of the spectrum a special low-rate Barclaycard is available for 6.8 % APR which includes perks and a 24 hour helpline. It seems ironic that those who can easily afford repayments are charged so much less interest.? Loans like Provident Financial credit cards are responsible for the current credit crisis which began due to the unreliable nature of the US sub-prime loan market. Consumers who could not afford to keep up repayments were given high-interest loans by irresponsible finance companies.? In the US, it was recently reported that the number of people who are falling behind on their credit and loan repayments is greater now than it has been since 1992.

The Provident Financial credit card's extortionate interest rates come to light at a time when the Bank of England is lowering interest rates for the third time since December. The Bank of England hopes to relieve the pressure which is currently on cash-strapped home owners by reducing interest rates to just 5%. Last year the Office of Fair Trading told UK banks to end irresponsible lending and hidden charges with an emphasis on being fair to those who have a low income.

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