Credit Cards - Banks to Start Sharing Information

by : Gill Critchley

Credit card companies are about to start sharing their customers' information with other banks in an attempt to rid themselves of customers who do not make them any money.

Those likely to suffer the most as a result of this change will be people that the banks refer to as 'high risk', which include; those who withdraw money from their credit cards and those who have significant changes in their credit limit.

This proposal has been discussed with industry bodies for a few months now and would mean that banks would be able to recognise those customers who regularly clear their balances in full and those who continuously switch to 0% interest deals, which do not bring in profit for the bank.

This news comes at a very tentative time for customers, as it is not long since the company, Egg, released their news that they were cancelling 160,000 of their customers' credit cards. According to Egg, the cards they were cancelling belonged to 'high risk' customers who had done such things as; missed some payments or borrowed money that they could not afford to pay back.

This contentious decision made by Egg was followed by many customers complaining that their credit cards had been cancelled even though they had not missed a payment or been clearing their balances every month. This news lead to speculation arising as to whether Egg had cancelled the cards simply to rid themselves of their unprofitable customers, and this is exactly what will become a lot easier to do once the credit cardcompanies start sharing information.

Banks have always shared information on customers but only to the extent of when their card was issued, when it was closed, the balance in the account and whether or not there had been any missed or late payments on that credit card. However, come Spring, customers can and no doubt will be checked by other banks to see if they have taken advantage of 0% interest deals and they will also be scrutinised to see how quickly and to what extent their balance is paid off.

This new sharing idea is the result of a two year study conducted by Apacs, the UK payments authority, who claims that it will help lenders to assess risk better. However, consumer groups say that it will mean that more customers are denied credit.

Some credit cardcompanies have already started asking customers, who do not use their cards often, to justify why they need them, whilst another company has issued a ?35 inactivity fee to those customers who have not used their cards for more than a year.

A recent survey, which was conducted before the credit crunch, has found that there has been a 10% increase in the number of rejections for credit cards. The credit-reference firm, who discovered the increase, have said that minor discrepancies, such as paying your telephone bill a bit late, may have been overlooked in the past but may not be any longer.