Friday, November 7, 2008

Which one you like to shop- Ipod or Mp3 player?

Today if you have dollars to spend nobody could stop you from reaching to the luxury world. Apple's iPod line-up is comparatively simple compared to what other companies offer. But it still makes sense to see what each particular model can offer so you can make a well-informed decision.

The iPod Shuffle is the smallest iPod available. It forgoes the display and it's small enough to clip onto a shirt. If all you want to do is listen to music and you don't care about what particular song is playing, then this is the iPod for you.

You can get one in either 1GB or 2GB storage capacities. Each model can hold 240 or 500 songs respectively. Randomness is a key factor in all of this. If you like small form factors and a certain degree of uncertainty in the songs that play, then the Shuffle will suit you fine.

The iPod Nano melds a small form factor with the power of a full-featured media player. Even with its small size, you get a nice high-pixel wide screen display that can display pictures and video. MP3 players are the ultimate device for portable audio and seem to be one of the must-haves today. As the market offers numerous different models and makes it is difficult to make a purchase decision especially if it is your first MP3 players ever.

On first sight an Apple iPod seems to be the most obvious choice. But it's worth risking a second look at other portable audio products to determine whether they might offer more for your individual needs. The most important selection criteria are surely the sound quality, storage capacity, size and the functionality of a portable MP3 player. Apple iPods come from 1GB up to 160 GB and are still remarkably small. However, other manufacturers like Sony and Samsung have in their product range MP3 players with up to 30GB storage which is enough to store an entire music library on one single device. This storage capacity is recommended when playing videos or for those music enthusiasts who could not select a limited playlist from there library but need to have all their music on the go.

Simple MP3 players with less storage like the ipod shuffle are affordable, stylish and small enough to be carried with you at all time. Nevertheless, you might regret the choice soon when you get used to the comfort of having your favourite music at your disposal at any time.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Find the best online educational programs with us!

Nowadays, pursuing a degree through online education is common, and the value of online degree from a proper accredited university or college is equally weight than the traditional campus-based degree. With both campus-based degree and online education you have more options to choose from if you want to earn a degree for you career advancement. Online education has many advantages that can benefit its students, but it may not be a good option for all students; then what makes online education a better option for you?

Amongst the advantages of distance learning, online education, likewise, offline (traditional college) classes have the same course materials, merely one is expected to sign up for an online class. The online course structure is also the same as the normal classes themselves, but students are asked to order books from online book store. Students can entertain the class participation and discussion on problems they encounter in the course in the chat rooms and forums. Most students write their views on the issues. Students who have weak language skills can keep an easy pace with the discussion made and view posted. Online education's major source of face to face interaction is through live video and sound with special equipment.

For many people, in the today's busy world, a face to face class is very difficult. If a person works 8 hours on daily basis he could hardly manage taking regular college and ultrasound school. But an online course can put an ease on the time restriction because the person does the work at their own pace and time.

Career is a site to help consumers find online and offline educational programs to help them get the job they want. As the price of education is attaining its altitudes, the rates of students applying for online educational classes are continuing to get greater. Teachers can also record themselves on the required locations and the student can download the film in case the session is missed. This gives a student the chance to catch up on a class session if s/he missed out on that day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Automotive training schools online!

Nowadays it’s very easy to buy a car but to drive it safely is quite risky so for that just join any automotive school. Online Automotive Training Schools offer instruction on the basic concepts and functions of automotive engines through instruction modules. Online Automotive Training begins with instruction on the fundamentals of electrical circuitry, fuels, batteries, motor functions, etc., presented in written, diagram, and sometimes animated forms.

Automotive Training curriculums must continually be updated to keep apace of rapidly changing technology in the automotive industry. Today electronic systems and complex computers run automobiles while measuring performance on the road. Students can expect to learn the essentials of maintenance and auto repair procedures from tires and suspension to computerized functions through Online Automotive Training modules. Courses will emphasize the development of a solid understanding of functions that will be necessary to effectively diagnose and analyze automotive problems.

Course studies in Online Automotive Training may include good communication skills and techniques in relation to customer service. Other skills that will serve an Automotive Technician are sound reasoning capabilities and a thorough knowledge of the complex components and interactions of auto bodies and motors.

Online Automotive Training programs may take up to a year. Completing an Automotive Technician Associate Degree, which includes laboratory studies, can take up to two years. Certified Automotive Technicians can expect to be subjected to regular review and recertification requisites.

Find out the best automotive schools online and begin your training for a career in automotive maintenance and repair.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Grab the right computer training program online!

Nowadays computer education is must for all age groups and every field whether it is hospitals or mechanical engineering. In order to increase your chances in the job market you have to take up focused training programs, which will enhance your skills and enable you to accept challenges at the workplace. As the entire world is headed towards computerization, a course in computers will certainly brighten your chances to get a decent job. Computer training schools cater to the increasing demand for trained computer professionals in the industry.

Computer training schools can be found both online and near your workplace or home. Before you head towards any computer-training center, it is advisable to find about current trends in the software and hardware markets. Search on the net or talk to some professionals regarding the ‘in-demand’ training programs which will secure your chances to get hired by the employers.

Computer training is not only for students who major in computers. The training centers are filled with busy executives who regularly take courses to keep up with current trends. In this competitive world it is very important for these professionals to know the latest software packages and hardware tools available.

You can choose from an array of programs ranging from basic programming concepts to complex and comprehensive graphics and networking courses. Don’t be surprised to see housewives in a computer-training center near you. These ladies want to help their school going children in their studies and want to be updated in order to ensure a smooth sailing when they start work again. Start your child’s future with the best it schools so that he/she could make a strong base to face the competition.

The businesses have also realized the importance of training their employees on a regular basis. Since the workers find it difficult to take time from their busy schedules, these organizations hire reputable computer training schools to train their people either at their offices or in the specific computer training school. You may also contact at

Build your career in nursing programs!

Are you searching the right nursing program to build your future? What type of nursing degree is best for you? What type of nursing school should you go to?

There are two basic types of nursing degrees: A degree in Licensed Practical Nursing, (called Licensed Vocational Nursing in some states) and a degree in Registered Nursing.

The LPN degree can be a good starting point for your nursing career. You need a high school diploma or GED to be accepted into an LPN school. Many community colleges and technical schools offer LPN degrees. Not many four-year state universities offer them. Some private, for-profit schools in your area probably offer them as well; Galen, Kaplan, Keiser, and the University of Phoenix are all examples of these types of schools.

LPNs earn less than registered nurses and work under the direction of registered nurses. Some hospitals will not hire LPNs and only hire registered nurses.

If you want to progress into a managerial position as a nurse, you will want to become a registered nurse. One way to do this is by becoming an LPN first and then, while you are working as an LPN, taking an LPN to RN program online or at your local community college. The advantage to this is that you will be working and bringing in a salary, and also, your employer will very likely help pay for your continuing education (usually in return for signing a contract that ensures that you will continue working for them for a specificfied period of time.)

So which option is better for you? There are a number of considerations, such as how quickly you want to get your degree and start working. An lpn school degree will get you working more quickly. However, if you know that you want to progress further in your career, possibly into a management position, and you have the time, money and ability to go to school for two to four years, you may want to consider obtaining a degree in registered nursing instead. helps people find the right nursing education program. We have a large directory of nursing related schools and plenty of information about jobs in the health care and nursing industry.

Best online fashion design schools

Nowadays people are crazy about the latest fashion trends which celebrities wear. The world of fashion is one that has the eyes and ears of a vast amount of people; we watch television, read magazines, and stay tuned to see what the rich and famous are wearing from day to day – and we follow suit. Fashion can change perceptions, impact an entire retail economy, and influence a generation. It’s no wonder that more and more people are interested in joining the world of fashion design.

Fashion design entails the creation and manufacturing of clothing styles. Fashion designers work based on seasons – they design, create, and then introduce their line of clothing on the fashion runways. The clothing that is well-received suddenly makes its way to Hollywood where actors and actresses come decked out in the latest fashion to the latest movie premiers. And what happens on that carpet trickles down to the masses making its way to retail outlets all over the country in more affordable forms.

Fashion design can be a fantastic career journey but it requires a vast amount of skill, education, and hard work. Those interested in fashion design should already possess an innate ability to create beautiful design and effectively communicate them on paper. Following a school program – or even in conjunction with a school program – those pursuing a career in fashion design should be sure to involve themselves in an internship or apprenticeship with a reputable design house. The experience gained in this capacity is unmatched and will begin building your portfolio – your most important tool in a fashion design career. offers the best fashion design information which can be a wonderful career filled with adventure, creativity, and a chance to influence clothing choices all across the nation and even around the world.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Best online culinary schools for you!

Nowadays cooking has become crush for many teenagers. Culinary schools where cooking is taught. Today, cooking is an art, rather than just cooking. There are several specialties in cooking who can make you an expert chef, either for professional reasons or just for fun. They teach fundamental and traditional cooking while encouraging innovation and novelty. Getting trained at a culinary school may help you become an executive-chef, sous-chef, saucier, garde manager, pastry chef, or a sommelier.

There are also online culinary schools that provide training in culinary skills. These offer several courses relating to pastry preparation, wine tasting and selecting, knife skills, baking and dessert making, holiday cooking, healthy cooking, regional cooking, style cooking, safety and sanitation, cost management, food handling and identification, food and nutrition, special cuisines, gourmet cooking, catering and more.

Online culinary schools offer certifications that are applicable worldwide. They have good facilities and instructors, food service operations, job placement assistance, good credentials, teaching by experts, hands-on teaching, and so on. There are different kinds of certifications available: diploma programs, associate’s degrees, apprenticeship programs, bachelor’s degree programs, vocational programs and certificate programs. These programs are also offered in different levels, like level 1 for basic introduction, level 2 for more experienced cooks and level 3 for learning professional cooking.

There are many online culinary school that provide courses for beginners, amateurs and professionals. Many professional culinary schools are also offering online courses. Information can be found online or at the websites of these schools. For further assistance you may visit

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Credit card companies may raise fees to skirt rate cap

Many leading credit card issuing banks have started upgrading their credit card customers’ higher range of credit cards i.e. to platinum or titanium cards.

In addition the banks are also making working on a back-up plan in case the Supreme Court turns down their petition against a consumer court decision to restrict the annual interest rate at 30 per cent.

The apex court will be giving its judgment on this matter in a few days time. Leading bankers told they might not be left with no other option but to impose a steep annual fee lest the Court agrees with the consumer court’s opinion.

Earlier in order to grab market share, most banks had waived the annual fee on credit cards. Leading banker pointed out, “We will have no option but to impose a hefty fee if there is a cap on the interest rate. In the process, the business itself would become unviable, forcing many of us to withdraw”.

Although many banks have already started “upgrading” their customers to platinum or titanium cards with a few free offers in return for an annual fee. But the numbers seems to be still too small and banks are taking the move of upgrading the customers very cautiously due to fear of losing customers.

Bankers state that credit-card business is not profitable in India because of high administration costs and the small ticket size of transactions.

“The average ticket size is just Rs 1,500 and the administration costs are too high. Besides, the default rate in this segment is also pretty high. Thus, it doesn’t make sense to cap interest rates at 30 per cent,” a foreign banker said.

Another banker stated that high rates also lead to lower mis-selling and raise the entry barrier. But others are of view that banks themselves are responsible for this mess. At present the default rate on credit cards is 8-15 per cent and this is going up mainly due to the practice of issuing free cards.

“Too many credit cards prompted many borrowers to spend beyond their means leading to delinquencies,” admitted a banker.

A few weeks ago, a group of foreign lenders including Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and American Express Bank had filed a case in the apex court challenging a consumer court’s judgment that a bank cannot charge beyond 30 per cent annually on credit cards, even in cases of defaults.

The banks argued that capping of interest rates on credit card payment is opposite to the Reserve Bank of India policy which gives banks the freedom to fix rates on non-priority sector personal loans, in spite of of the loan size.

The apex court has given the banks three weeks’ time for put forward their explanation and feedback on the high credit card rates, which range from 35 to 50 per cent.

Currently, Citibank is having over 3.7 million credit-card holders in India. HSBC, which manages about 2.8 million credit-card accounts here, charges annual fees in the range of Rs 750 to Rs 4,000 depending on the category of the card. ICICI Bank charge annual fees in the range of Rs 1,500 to Rs 25,000 according to the features of the card. About 50 per cent of the bank’s card-holders hold free cards.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Your mobile phone may soon be able to be used as credit, debit card

New developments are being done in the mobile sector. With the latest development there can be complete liberalization in the mobile commerce, the department of telecommunication (DoT) will soon be putting forward an application to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for seeking guidance on linking telephone networks with banking services.

Recently RBI outlined certain guidelines for mobile banking in India, under which it has allowed only a few basic banking services which can be undertaken through mobile phones. But as per new DoT move the consumers will virtually be able to use their mobile phones as a debit or credit card.

Sources informed Sunday ET that the ministry will ask for RBI's consultation to provide full-fledged mobile banking services to the customers, as per discussions held between the 13th Finance Commission team and DoT officials on September 18, 2008. As per a senior DoT official, the ministry up till now has not taken up any program on linking telephone networks with banking services, but is eager on it as it will help in generating revenues, besides giving more value to telephone customers. "These services can increase the share of value-added services from the existing 7-8% of total revenues from the sector to almost about 25% which is the case in the developed countries," DoT said to the Commission's team. Sunday ET has been provided with a copy of the discussion paper prepared by DoT.

Shetty, director at KPMG India, while explaining how the new initiative will help Indian consumers, said it will change the entire face of banking in the country. "So far, consumers can make only a few basic transactions through the mobile, but this will mean using your mobile as your credit or debit card. All you have to do is to send a message to make a payment,” he said.

In India mobile segment is primarily limited to basic banking transactions, purchase of travel tickets and payment of some utility bills, checking your account balance and last few transactions. Sanjiv Mittal, vice-chairman, Bharti Telesoft, is providing mobile banking facility to the customers in collaboration with Barclays Bank think that both, banking and telecom industry, will have to come together to make mobile commerce a success in India. "There are certain laws to be considered regarding money remittances. Considering the IT security condition, coming together of both is a good sign," he said.

Vodafone is also offering services like querying bank balance, requesting for cheque book, making stop payment etc. These services are being provided in association with banks such as HDFC Bank, ABN AMRO and Kotak Mahindra Bank. "Mobile banking is necessary to create access to the remotest of areas. Any kind of convergence is good for promoting mobile commerce. There is nothing better than both the systems coming together to provide a framework," said a Vodafone official.

The DoT's interest in the subject is sending positive signals to industry. "If the ministry takes up the matter with the RBI, it will definitely speed up the process. It will not only help the mobile users but will boost banks and even mobile operators to grow further," added Mr Shetty.

The DoT has informed the Finance Commission's team that revenues from auction of spectrum for 3G and BWA services approximately can go up to Rs 30,000 cr. The 13th Finance Commission has asked the DoT to give the revenue details from the telecom sector between 2010 and 2015.

Monday, September 15, 2008

State police arrested city’s first credit card ‘skimmer’

Ahemdabad police arrested Kalpesh Patel for credit card frauds worth Rs 1.5 lakh, though police believes that the fraud amount is much bigger.

Kalpesh is a young corporate executive who did purchases at a prominent departmental store on the SG Highway and made payment by credit card for his purchases worth Rs 5,000. By chance, the credit card swipe machine went offline and the transaction was completed to avoid customer inconvenience.

Much after the customer left the store the credit card company realized that they have been cheated. The CVV number used to complete purchase through credit card proved to be fake! Many more fake transactions were done in July, August and even in September and the card swipe machine would be always on the blink.
Satellite police station officials have finally caught the credit card fraudster. He turned out to be 32-year-old, Kalpesh Patel. Satellite police station officials told Kalpesh has been sent to judicial custody on Monday. He was interrogated by police officials and private sector major bank employees to know how he did it.

The cops are now more worried about the technique used by the fraudster. "Kalpesh could actually make the card swipe machines go offline. It is still not clear how. In the online mode, the machine sends transaction information, real time, to the central server which keeps a watch over all transactions simultaneously. Being offline, this interaction with central server did not take place and thus Kalpesh could make the purchases even with a wrong CVV number," said the police officials.

A private bank detected fraud when there was periodical ‘failure’ in the swipe machines of the credit card in several joints including petrol pumps, restaurants and shopping malls. The bank on further investigation found that the cards were used by impersonators.

"The transactions varied from Rs 300 to Rs 5000. As the amount was not very alarming, few of the card owners realized the fraud. In the primary investigation, we came to know that around 11 cards were misused in this fashion," said a Satellite police station official.

JJ Patel, inspector of Satellite police station, told TOI press person that Kalpesh has been booked for criminal breach of trust and fraud and forgery. Cop informed that he has been sent in judicial custody on Monday. "We have called upon experts to understand his modus operandi. As per primary information, he procured credit card database in electromagnetic format and copied it to some other credit cards. He then used these duplicate cards to make purchases," Patel said.

Police suspect there might be more people involved with Patel in this racket. "We are hunting for those who provided him the credit card details of other users, who him the know-how for making duplicate cards and making the swipe machine go offline," said police investigators.

The technique of credit card transaction

Usually swiping machines are connected to a leased line working on GSM or CDMA technology. The telephone line connects the machine to the main server of the bank and the service provider - Visa or Master Card. When credit card is swiped, the machine sends the information to the server that verifies the transaction. If the online mode is not available, the establishment can use offline mode after inserting three digit CVV code. Mostly the offline mode is used only for customers' convenience. In case of offline mode, the data is then sent to the server when the machine is back online.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Corporation bank in tie-up launched prepaid travel card

Corporation bank, Mangalore-based public sector bank has launched prepaid travel card in a tie-up with JP Morgan and Visa. Bank has used JP Morgan’s expertise in prepaid card solutions and its proprietary technology platform. Bank has launched the card in three foreign currencies -- US dollar, British pound and Euro. Corporation Bank has become the second public sector bank, for launching a prepaid travel card, earlier only State Bank of India had launched a prepaid travel card.

Bank is offering the benefits like customers to make a purchase, withdraw cash in local currencies at ATMs when traveling abroad. The card will also be easy to carry and lower the risks of carrying foreign currency and travelers' cheques, B R Bhat, general manager, Corporation Bank said. He said the customers can get the balance amount in the card refunded at any of the designated branches of the bank.

The bank has planned to sell at least 25,000 cards during the first year of its launch. Very soon bank is planning to introduce the card in Chinese currency also..

Sunday, September 7, 2008

RBI reports show increase in credit card spending in 2007-08

According to the latest data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) there has been increase in the card transactions both debit and credit. The number has increased by 42 per cent to Rs70,459 crore during 2007-08. One of the reason for the rise in card transaction can be large number of banks are issuing plastic cards and merchant acquisition business also scoring well with the coming up of retail

By looking at the figures released by RBI clearly testifies that growth in plastic money has gone much higher than the 24.51 per cent as recorded in 2006-07. This is because people have started adapting themselves to banking technology, and, moreover banks are also encouraging the use of cards on account of the lower per-transaction cost.

Plastic money is convenient to carry than cash, but with the ramping up of ATM networks for both cash and non-cash transactions, and the propagation of merchant acquisition points across the country by both new organized retail and traditional retail merchants, card transactions has acquired wider acceptance. In addition to this banks are offering incentives such as cash-back schemes and discounts at certain retailers to popularize the use of plastic money.

Unlike the credit card, use of debit cards is more preferable to the banks as it ensures that more cash stays in customer's accounts. Moreover the card ensures fewer visits to the branch, since most of the account functions such as cash deposit / withdrawal, cheque deposit, ordering cheque books and statements, and even funds transfers can be carried out via ATM. Also, use of cards is more cost effective for a bank, rather than service him at a branch.

According to RBI's data even the number of cards issued has increased by 46.7 per cent to 88.31 million as of March 2008, in comparison to 60.17 million at the end of financial year 2006-07.

There has been increase in the credit card outstanding also. During 2007-08, the total credit card outstanding has risen to 43.6 per cent to Rs 5,843 crore. Till May 23 this year, the outstanding has gone up by 87 per cent to Rs 12,375 crore. In 2006-07, the value of credit card transactions has also gone up by 22.06 per cent.

Another reason for the increase in the use of plastic money is the growth of e-commerce and transactions via the Internet. Booking of airline and railway tickets have added to this segment, and, more and more people use cards as a payment mechanism for utility services.

Bankers are of view that debit card usage can outshine credit card usage mainly because of convenience, which is a primary factor for the adoption of plastic money. Besides, unlike credit cards, borrowings / loan from the bank is not attached to debit cards and in general debit cards do not need a credit review before they are issued, this makes them ideally suited for a larger population of the banked public.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

LIC to launch its credit card in October

The senior divisional manager Bhausaheb Gujar in a press meet at Nagpur told the reporters in October Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) will be launching its credit card.

Speaking at the occasion of LIC’s 52nd anniversary Gujar said that LIC is working on the plans of finalizing the partner and there is possibility it would be introduced in the next month. However he declined to disclose the name of the partner.

Earlier there were reports that LIC is thinking of launching the card in association with GE Money.

He stated, ''We were in negotiations with a firm, but the deal could not be finalized for some reason. We are now negotiating with another partner, and the talks are in final stages. In all likelihood, LIC's credit card will be launched in October 2008''.

Gujar informed by the next year LIC, will start accepting premium through credit cards and currently it is procedure of completing formalities.

''Hopefully, premium payment will start by the next financial year,'' he said.

Meanwhile the insurance giant has authorized Corporation bank and Axis Bank to accept premiums from those who are having account in their banks.

He told that policyholders can use internet, electronic clearing g service, automatic teller machines (ATMs) of Corporation Bank and Axis Bank, online collection at Axis Bank branches and LIC's portal for paying their premiums.

He informed LIC recently has introduced the SMS facility for payment of premium, at present this facility is available for account holders of Corporation Bank only.

Recently LIC has added 375.90 lakh new policies, which collectively assure the sum of Rs2,75,457 crore during the financial year 2007-2008. He added the first premium income attained during the period was Rs43,812 crore.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bajaj Allianz Financial Distribution Ltd to venture into credit card biz

Soon the Bajaj Allianz Financial Distribution Ltd (Bafdal) will be making its venture in credit card business. In Bajaj Allianz Financial Distribution Ltd (Bafdal), both Bajaj Finserve Ltd and Allianz SE of Germany have a 50:50 partnership.

“We are talking to a few players, but nothing has been finalized yet,” said Jitendra K. Bhagat, chief executive officer of the company.

Bafdal, has started mutual fund distribution business. Bafdal has started this business in a joint venture with Taurus Mutual Fund which is distributing life and non-life insurance products as well as consumer loan products of group companies.

“Credit cards are complementary to our consumer finance business. We have not yet decided whether it will be a proprietary or a co-branded card. The card will be launched within this financial year,” Bhagat said.

Regarding the distribution of mutual funds, Bhagat told that the company had short listed five fund houses to sell their products. “In fact, Allianz itself has applied to market regulator Sebi for a license to start asset management business in the country. Given the long understanding and association with the Bajaj group, I believe, the mutual fund business will also be carried out by the Bajaj Allianz alliance,” Bhagat said.

Taurus, the second-oldest mutual fund house in the country after Morgan Stanley, on the other hand, is planning to catch up with its peers.

Waqar Naqvi, has been recently positioned as the CEO of Taurus Asset Management Company said, “The promoters were not focused on increasing the distribution network. Now we want to increase our distribution network aggressively. We are expanding the number of offices and employing more people.”

Currently Taurus is having eight schemes and Rs 400 crore of assets under management. Out of which Rs 150 crore is under debt funds and Rs 250 crore under equity schemes.

The fund has a net worth of Rs 150 crore and will be utilized in its expansion. “Our net worth-to-AUM ratio will be the highest in the industry,” Naqvi said.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Banks allow conversion of credit card dues to loan

More and more banks are encouraging borrowers to convert credit card dues into personal loans with an aim to keep away defaults which can be prompted by inflation and rising rates. All leading banks are giving an option to the investors of making payments for purchases in installments. Some banks are being practical and, others are giving the option as part of a restructuring package after classifying the customer as offender.

As per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), data credit card transactions amounted to over Rs 60,000 crore between May 2007 and May 2008. According to RBI data around 20% of card transactions were rolled over, resulting in Rs 12,000 crore of credit card receivables, which have been classified as loans by banks. In the earlier years, the amount classified as loans was less than 10% of credit card transactions. Banks are fearing the rising interest rates and prices are eating into the disposable income of borrowers, which can increase the chances of default.

Credit card dues after the initial interest-free period draw interest rates of over 18-38%. Thus personal loans can be availed against this at rates starting from 14%. Banks have started becoming more practical therefore, for some time banks have been offering the facility of paying for purchases in installments to their cardholders. In some cases, banks have started giving suggestions to the customers who make large transactions. Otherwise banks give this offer when a customer fails to make a large payment. For instance at present, SBI Cards is offering the EMI scheme on transactions of more than Rs 2,500.

Banks have started keeping a watch on the customers who have not been regular with their payments. “We have an idea about customers’ spending patterns through the transaction monitoring alert system. If a customer spends an average of Rs 8,000 on his credit card every month and suddenly we witness a transaction of Rs 50,000 billed in his name, we call the customer. We inform the customer that he/she has an option to convert it into EMIs, which could weigh lesser on his pocket,” said ICICI Bank head, cards group, Sachin Khandelwal.

Mr Khandelwal added in case customer plans to buy an appliance for Rs 20,000 but ends up spending Rs 40,000 on a higher-end product, then bank offers these options to customers at the store itself. Get all the best credit cards offered in India by all major banks with their attractive rewards points.

With cards the traditional way has been replaced where consumer durables used to be financed through dealerships, which is costly.

Citibank is offering the conversion of the out standings on cards into personal loans. Still these customers will be reported to the credit bureau. “Customers who become delinquent are also offered special installment programs called ‘settlements,’ which ensure structured payments in a timely manner and reduce their overall credit burden. Once again, Citibank works directly with the customer to understand their overall debt and evaluates their cash flows to ensure that this personalized payment plan is affordable on a monthly basis throughout the tenor,” said Citibank business manager-cards Sandeep Bhalla.

Mr Bhalla added that the bank is cross-selling installment loans to customers in order to help them in meeting their purchasing and payment needs through marketing efforts. “These are designed and delivered after having a conversation with the customer on his or her overall needs and ability to pay, based on monthly cash flows. This interaction determines the amount and tenor of the loan, such that a customer can manage the monthly payments to Citibank along with their other payment obligations. These promotions are offered through certain preferred vendors at points-of-purchase or upon request by customers post their purchase,” said he.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tata Capital to venture into credit card business of Tata Group

One year back Tata Capital, a finance company was launched offering a suit of financial products. Now Tata Capital will be venturing into credit card business of the Tata group, with an aim to boost its product portfolio targeted at retail and institutional customers.

In February 2006 first Tata card, the country’s first white label credit card was launched, in association with SBI, that marked the group's re-entry into plastic money business. But in 2003, Tata group company —Tata Finance — sold its credit-card business to ICICI Bank- country's largest credit card issuer with over 8 million customers.

A Tata group executive informed that Tata Capital's possibility of managing the credit card venture from Tata Son's can not be ruled out in future, as it is more synergic to Tata Capitals retail finance operations which offer personal, car and home loans.

The exact number of cardholder base of the Tata card can not be ascertained, the card was launched to tap the huge employee and customer base of the Tata group by rewarding them each time they buy a Tata Indica car to Titan watch to Voltas air conditioner. On a White label card, the logo of the issuer is not show on it as against a co-branded credit card, which bears the logos of the alliance partners. The group has employs around 3.50 lakh people worldwide.

Currently SBI card is having a base of around 3 million cardholders. The top players in credit card segment are ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Citibank, SBI, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. In India credit card base has grown to 27 million from 17 million in 2006.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Credit Card Holders Association appeals RBI to put cap on interest rates

The Credit Card Holders Association (CCHA) has appealed the Reserve Bank of India to put a restriction on the interest rate charged by different banks and also to take strict action against the banks who are using recovery agents to harass debtors.

CCHA general secretary C V Giddappa said, "Rate of interest charged by banks range from 36 to 42% in addition to a 12% service charge. In spite of the RBI decision to regulate the appointment and engagement of recovery agents, banks continue the practice".

He informed that recovery agents harass debtors in case they failed to repay a single installment of the debt incurred on their credit cards. He added, "There have been cases where a bank has, at one go taken the entire debt amount from the card holder's account."

"Several people have complained of banks registering criminal cases in places away from the residence of the customers ".

Monday, August 4, 2008

RBI plan to make ATM usage free from 2009

Deputy Governor V Leeladhar said banking regulator Reserve Bank of India is worried on the rising defaults in credit cards.

He said, “Credit card defaults are rising and it is a matter of concern. It just shows that due diligence was not done while selling cards”. Deputy Governor added credit card issuances are not picking up the face.

While speaking on the sidelines of a banking conference Leeladhar said that the Payment & Settlements Systems Act 2007 is likely to be conveyed by the government in a week’s time.

The act will legalize electronic payment systems in the country and will bring global non-banking payment companies like Western Union, Visa and Mastercard under the control of the RBI.

Leeladhar informed RBI has plans to make ATM usage free from 2009, the process is on track after the largest public sector bank State Bank of India, joined the National Financial Switch (NFS) two months ago.

“SBI handles about 25% of the three lakh daily ATM transactions. After they have joined the NFS, they have got customers from other banks using their ATMs, which is a good sign,” he said.

SBI is having the largest ATM network in the country and it is the only largest bank which had avoided getting into an ATM sharing agreement with any bank, or joined a switch.

Leeladhar added as SBI has joined the NFS, soon other banks will follow suit. “There are 2-3 public sector banks which are yet to join, but I am sure they will also do so soon,” he said.

The RBI will be recommending a national centralized electronic clearing system (ECS) for funds transfer. The ECS system has gained popularity for payment of bills and mutual fund systematic investment plans has been currently divided into different zones.

“We are planning to centralize it at the RBIs national clearing cell at Nariman Point. It will be linked to banks’ core banking platform,” he said.

The RBI also has plans to make use of satellites to reach banking services to areas which are unreachable. The RBI will be helping banks lease satellite’s for this purpose and also pay the cost on behalf of the banks.

“For hilly terrains like the North East we plan to pay the full cost, while for rural areas we will pay 75% of the cost and 50% of cost for semi urban areas,” Leeladhar said.

He added that satellite is the most ideal back up for banks as it is most disaster proof.

Meanwhile, the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) also has plans to start a payment and settlement switch for which it expects to get license by the middle of August. “It will be called National Payment Corp of India and will be owned 51% public sector banks,” said K Unnikrishnan, deputy chief executive, IBA.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

RBI issue circular to banks on credit card rates

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued a cautionary circular to banks on credit cards rates to protect customers and stop defaults. RBI has also warned the banks that they themselves will be liable for misuse of unwanted cards.

RBI said banks must set ceiling for interest rates including processing fees though the central bank has not specified any limit.

The central bank stated that any bank or government body must inform about increasing or reducing interest rates.

As most customers are not aware or mislead into the method of calculation of charges RBI said there is a need for illustrative examples should be given to the cardholder to avoid any confusion on customer front.

RBI's issued cautionary circular on credit cards in view of a fear of rising defaults faced by banks. The easy availability of cards is coming back to trouble banks, as they are struggling to control losses and defaults. By issuing this circular, the RBI has tried to prevent this becoming a general issue.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Police arrested three persons and busted credit card racket

Police busted another credit card racket by arresting three persons identified as Vipin, Hazari and Ghanshayam, aged between 25 and 30. Accused did shopping worth Rs 30,000 with the fake credit credit. The accused had replaced the original credit card of Adarsh Khanna with the fake one.

On June 27, the victim Adarsh Khanna had applied for a credit card to Kotak Mahindra Bank. The police arrested the three accused on July 23.

DCP (Outer) Sagarpreet Hooda told, "Later a man, posing as a bank representative, who identified himself as Arun, came to meet him. He took Khanna's ICICI Bank credit card to take an impression of it. He replaced it with another credit card deceptively. Khanna soon realized this and called the customer service to block the card, but it nearly took three hours and by that time the accused person had indulged in shopping worth Rs 30,000".

On the other hand, one Nitin, who claimed to have been calling from Kotak Mahindra Bank called Khanna, and inquired whether his executive had verified documents.

When Khanna described the incident to him, he said that he will ask his executive to come back and return the card, but nothing happened and later on Nitin's mobile phone was found to be switched off.

The police came to know that the accused had purchased two mobile phones and shirts from a mall in Inderlok. Later on they stopped using their mobile phone and even left their rented accommodation.

Yet, police was able to caught the three accused from Rohini with the help of CCCTV image and recovered the credit card belonging to Khanna. Police from them was also able to seize goods purchased with the help of credit card.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Barclays Bank offer 10% cash back offer on debit cards

Barclays bank is offering 10% cash back to all its debit card customers. According to bank sources the offer is valid on all purchase transactions made in the country using a Barclays debit card from July 1 to September 30.

According to bank statement customers will receive a total cash back amount of up to Rs 500 per month, which will be credited to the customer’s account in the first week of the next month.

During the campaign period if a customer does a minimum of three purchases (minimum Rs 500 each) per month then he can avail this facility.

The statement specified the offer is not applicable on the ATM and outside-the-country transactions on the debit card.

As per statement new customers who open accounts during the promotional period will also be eligible for cash back offer if they make at least three transactions per month, each with a value of Rs 500 or more.

The scheme is available for all the customers using Barclays Classic Debit Card, Barclays Premium Debit Card or Barclays Gold Business Card.

Barclays is providing services in retail and commercial banking, credit cards, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services. Bank has made its presence in Europe, US, Africa and Asia with operations in over 50 countries.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mumbai police arrested 19 yr – old girl for credit card fraud

Muskaan Shaikh a 19 years old girl has passed class XI and is a resident of Aurangabad has mastered the art of forging signatures with ease. Shaikh was busy shopping at the Infinity Mall in Andheri (west) on Sunday when her shopping spree came to an end when an alert employee noticed that her signature did not match with the one on the credit card.

At the mall when she went into the Reebok store after visiting a few other outlets. She selected a pair of sport shoes costing Rs4, 000. Inspector Datte Sankhe told, “Shaikh confidently went to the cash counter and offered to pay with a credit card”.

At cash counter the executive asked her to sign on the credit card receipt. The alert executive noticed that the signature did not match with the one on the card. He then kept Shaikh involved in a conversation and meanwhile alerted his seniors, who got in touch with the police.

Sankhe told, “We found 12 credit cards belonging to different people from her purse”. Most of the credit cards were stolen from Mumbai. Earlier in May, a middle-aged woman had lodged a complaint about her purse being stolen from the Infinity mall. Police said watching the CCTV footage it was clear that Shaikh was responsible for the act.

Police has taken Shaikh in its remand till July 24.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chennai police arrested two Lankans for credit card fraud

Chennai police on Saturday arrested two Sri Lankan Tamils for defrauding a bank to the tune of Rs 5 lakh using forged international credit cards. The duo created fake credit cards using information stolen from foreign credit cards, mostly in London, through an accomplice.

The two arrested - S Navaneethan (28) and S Rajkumar (24) - are Sri Lankan natives living in Porur. Rajkumar had recently completed his graduation in commerce (B. Com) from a private college in Aminjikarai.

On getting clue from a leading mobile telephone showroom in Kodambakkam, officials of the Axis Bank laid a trap for the duo on Saturday. The employees of the showroom got suspicious after the two did purchasing on three consecutive days; they purchased mobile phones and electronic equipment worth about Rs 1.70 lakh. The duo did the payment through international credit cards.

On receiving information the Axis Bank officials, led by Ashok Kumar of the executive risk and fraud containment wing, laid a trap and waited at the showroom. The duo Navaneethan and Rajkumar, as usual, came to the showroom and were nabbed by the bank officials.

From the duo credit cards were seized and verification done. During enquiries it was revealed that Navaneethan and Rajkumar had been using the credit cards of many unknown persons, mainly of those living in London, to make expensive purchases. The accused were taken to the police commissioner's office and produced before the city police commissioner R Sekar.

Ashok Kumar officially lodged a complaint with the central crime branch. On the basis of complaint lodged by Ashok Kumar the bank fraud detection cell in the commissioner's office have registered a case and arrested the duo.

During the preliminary inquiries it became clear that the Navaneethan got the credit card details from another friend, who is now in London. Using this information the duo prepared fake cards at their residence and did purchasing of several electronic goods and household articles from several city showrooms.

"The two had been making such purchases for the past four months," an investigation officer said.

Moreover officials of another bank went with a complaint to the city police against the two persons, in their complaint the officials stated that the accused had gone to a star hotel in Nungambakkam and had spent nearly Rs 2 lakh there.

The police have discovered a television, refrigerator, two-wheeler, two mobile phones, three fake credit cards and a pen drive with data about credit cards from the hotel room. The arrested two have been remanded in judicial custody after being produced before the XI metropolitan magistrate court in Saidapet on Sunday.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chennai police arrested 2 persons for cheating banks of lakh

On Wednesday Chennai’s bank fraud wing of the city police's Central Crime Branch arrested two persons on the charge of cheating several banks to the tune of Rs 8.5 lakh. The accused S Krishna Kumar (22) and R Barathi Syam (21), both are residents of M K B Nagar, have been arrested on the complaint of Narotham Kumar, manager, risk control unit, Citibank. From the accused police recovered five computers, a motorcycle and seven credit cards from the duo.

Krishna Kumar, used to work as a collection agent for two banks and later ran a computer centre, and Bharati Syam, a collection agent, both of them became partners in crime after discovering innovative methods of cheating banks using credit cards.

According to the complainant, the duo targeted Citibank credit card holders who had never used their cards. A CCB official in an interview to the TOI told "Kumar first contacted these persons and told them that since they had not used the cards they could return them and get fresh ones from the bank. The next day, Syam contacted them over phone and reiterated what Kumar had said. He said a person from Citibank would come to their homes with a letter and that they could submit the cards to him. Then, the duo armed with the 'letters,' collected the credit cards. They then went on a shopping spree". Using these credit cards they made purchases worth Rs 3.25 lakh.

Not satisfied with that, they copied some credit card applicants and received the cards in their names.

"Syam, who used to get many applications for credit cards, used them to receive cards. He pasted his photograph on the application forms and used the same identity certificates. He replaced the address on the form with his and asked the banks to send the cards to his address. The duo managed to dupe seven customers and received cards addressed to them from ABN Amro Bank, HSBC, Barclays and ICICI Bank," the official said. Krishna Kumar started computer center at M K B Nagar with this money.

The duo accused used the cards for various purchases and cheated the banks to the tune of about Rs 5.25 lakh.

CCB officials suggests that those who do not want to use their credit cards should cut them up and submit to the banks concerned to avoid such cheating.

Banks offer cash back on debit cards to promote spends

Debit cards have various advantages over a credit card. When you use debit card there is no fear of overspending and no penalty and interest charges for late payments, as is in the case of credit cards. Therefore more and more people prefer using debit card.

Currently banks are offering a cash back facility on debit cards in order to encourage customers to use more of the plastic money.

On using debit card customers can avail themselves of up to ten per cent cash back (the percentage varies from bank to bank), which are directly linked to the account.

Senior bank official said receiving cash back on debit card is therefore a better offer for the customer.

Usually such schemes are announced by the banks during the festive season, although some banks have such schemes running throughout the year. In some cases some of the banks offer it on specific categories of purchase or spend, such as on fuel recharge.

However banks do not give cash back offer on ATM withdrawals and Internet transactions. According to Mr Sai Narain CDK, Head – Consumer Transaction Banking & Strategic Initiatives, Standard Chartered Bank, India, “Consumer research pointed to dissatisfaction with existing reward points and redemption program that offered exchange of rewards points with products. Consumers are more interested in instant gratification.”

Standard Chartered round the year give thematic cash back offer to its customers. “Double the rewards points — implying double the cash back has been the most successful promotion,” said Mr Narain. He said last year bank has seen a 30 per cent increase in customer spends on debit cards because of these promotions.

A senior bank official at a private bank, explained for banks, higher spends means higher income from interchange fee. “If you can run a campaign of 2-3 months you can see spends increase by 10-20 per cent,” said Mr Sameer Nemavarkar, Vice-President, Retail Banking, Axis Bank.

Another private bank, Axis Bank offers cash back schemes for certain segment such as for spends on fuel. Mr Nemavarkar, explained that giving such schemes on credit card is a high-risk high-return game and calls for efficient managing of the outstanding; that on debit card is more of an activation strategy.

“We had run a campaign on activation of new cards by offering a cash back of Rs 50 on a spend of Rs 1,000,” he said.

From 1st July State Bank of India and Barclays has announced cash back scheme and other banks are expected to follow suit. While SBI is giving 5 per cent cash back, Barclays is offering 10 per cent cash facility.

“10 per cent cash back offer will help us strengthen our relationship with our customers and enhance brand loyalty,” said Mr Suresh Gurumani, Director, Retail Banking, Barclays India.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gram Sabha credit cards issued to villager of Mandla district

Gram Sabha credit cards were issued to villagers of Nainpur block of tribal Mandla district. With these credit cards villagers will be able to get credit and a gram sabha will be able to function as a micro-finance institution.

Jaltare village, has 350-plus population, the gram sabha has issued credit cards to poor families. Till now, 30 gram sabha credit cards have been issued. At least in 50 cases small loans have been given.

The gram sabha credit card is a simple credit card unlike those of national banks credit card, having basic details including name and assets.

The credit card has certain rules according to which credit will not be given for marriage, purchasing vehicles and house construction. The amount is chiefly to be used for earning livelihood.

According to office release Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihood project provides funds to the gram sabha, which is operating in about 3,000 villages in nine tribal districts. Mandla is one of them. The others are Jhabua, Dhar, Barwani, Alirajpur, Sheopur, Dindori, Shahdol, and Anuppur.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pune cops unearth Rs 1 crore credit card fraud, arrested four persons

Pune police unearth end a major credit card fraud by arresting a gang of four persons for cheating people and creating duplicate credit cards. As per police reports the gang is suspected to have cheated over 30 customers of Hotel Le Meridien of Rs1 crore.
The gang of four was headed by 24 year-old Asif Zaidi Mirza of Borivli, Mumbai, only a HSC pass, but technically quite savvy. The other accused, Wasim Salim Patel (21) of Sainik Nagar in Yerwada was a cashier at Chingari Restaurant in Hotel Le Meridien. The other two accomplices have been identified as Ubed Ajmat Sayyad (26) of Mumbai East and Bharat Tansukhbhai Soni (28) of Goregaon, Mumbai.

Senior police inspector Sunil Pawar said the accused used devices like “credit card skimmer” and “credit card reader” for stealing the credit card details of the Le Meridien customers, which they had purchased from a Nigerian national for Rs 60,000.

“When a customer gave credit card for paying the hotel bill, Patel used to swipe the card using the skimmer whereby the credit card details were recorded for later use,” said Pawar.

“The accused then copied these details on the magnetic strips of blank or blocked plastic cards using computer technology. In this manner, they prepared at least 33 credit cards of 27 multinational and international banks. These credit cards were circulated among the gang members, who used it for shopping costly items,” he said.

Pawar added “The fraudsters were mostly targeting customers having platinum, gold and corporate credit cards who have credit limit of about Rs 15 lakh in India”.

The fraud came into notice a few days back when Sunil Nade (33), manager of Financial Resource Management (FRM) division of Citibank’s East Street branch lodged a complaint with the Bund Garden police station.

Nade in his complaint stated that he and three of his bank customers had gone to Hotel Le Meridien on May 7 for dinner during which time the accused Soni, Asif and Ubed were also present.

The police alleged that when Nade gave the credit card for making the payment, the cashier Patel either stole the credit card details himself or passed these cards to his partner in crime for the purpose. Then they made the duplicate card with the details and used for shopping goods worth Rs 10 lakh.

Nade and the other three bank customers were shocked when they discovered that such a huge amount was withdrawn from their account without consent between May 7 and June 13. Hence they reported the matter to the police.

With a timely action, the crime branch sleuths were able to first nabbed Soni at Mumbai. Later, they arrested Asif, Ubed and Patel. Police have seized the skimmer, credit card reader, laptop and 20 duplicate credit cards.

On investigations it was revealed that Patel was working at the hotel for last three years. Asif, the gang leader, was taking as his cut 50 per cent of the money made from the fraud. “It is very easy to identify a duplicate credit card. Still some shop owners have allowed shopping through such cards. We suspect that fraudsters paid some part of their income through the racket to the shop-owners,” said Pawar, sub inspectors N V Avhad and R M Gaikwad assisted Pawar in carrying out the investigation.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Police arrested student for international credit card fraud

Chennai police arrested a 20-year-old final year commerce student Bharat Raj Purohit for allegedly cheating credit card holders abroad of Rs.400, 000.
Police arrested Purohit from a northern suburb on the complaint of, an online trading company.

A police official in the cyber crime department told the student knew about the loopholes in the trade of the two people based in Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Purohit mainly cheated credit card holders of US, Canada and Russia after falsely obtaining secret access codes. He purchased computers, music systems and other IT accessories. Police seized approximately Rs.40, 000 cash was from him.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Police arrested three persons including a Nigerian for credit card fraud

Mumbai police on Friday arrested three persons including a Nigerian for duping a shop selling mobile phones by using international credit cards.

The accused were caught when they went to the same shop for the second time in less than three days.

As per the police sources accused had the knowledge about the clearing of the payments that the payments made through international credit cards were cleared after more than 24 hours and they used this delay to dupe a retail chain.

Four persons, including two Nigerians, on Wednesday, went to the Mobile Store at Marol Maroshi in Andheri and bought an i-pod and three mobile phones worth Rs85, 547 using credit cards.

But the amount didn’t get credited to the shop’s account therefore manager Ketan Bareya alerted his employees, who got the accused arrested when they visited the shop for the second time.

Police has recovered a total of 11 international credit cards of several banks from the trio the main suspect Iyo Kayode (30), a Nigerian, and co-accused Mukesh Atiya (27) and Kalpesh Kachariya (21) - both graduates and residents of Goregaon. Police is still looking for their fourth accomplice, Steve Watson — a Nigerian.

The trio has been booked on charges of cheating, forging and common intention under the Indian Penal Code and has been remanded in police custody till June 19.

“On Wednesday, two youths came to the shop and selected an i-pod and three mobile phones. After selecting the items, they called two Nigerians who were waiting outside the shop and Watson made the payment through a credit card which he claimed was his,” Bareya said.

Bareya told the police when the money wasn’t credited into his account even after a day, he alerted his employees. “A day later, the accused again called up at the shop to enquire whether we had any costly mobile phones. They then visited the shop, selected a few mobile phones and placed the credit card for payment. The first two cards declined payment. Not letting them get the whiff of our suspicion, we made them wait in the shop and informed the police,” Bareya said.

The accused have duped around 20 branches of The Mobile Store in the city. “Nigerians were involved in all the fraud transactions and they had duped the store of Rs15 lakh over a month or two,” Bareya said.

“Atiya, who owns a mobile phone shop in Goregaon, befriended the Nigerians this year when they visited his shop. The Nigerians offered him a mobile phone for every con,” said senior inspector Rajdoot Rupwate of the Powai police station. Rupwate told Atiya at used to sell the handsets bought from Nigerians.

Sub-inspector Sanjay Joshi told Atiya and Kachariya used to finalize the deal, while Kayode and Watson paid using forged credit cards.

“According to the banks’ rule, if a person shops for over Rs10, 000 on credit card heshe has to submit an identity proof to the shop. We are verifying whether the cards recovered are actually owned by someone living outside India. Investigations are on to find their involvement in other such cases,” said Joshi.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cardholders be careful before choosing part-pay bill payment option

Credit cardholder’s be careful in making your bill payments otherwise outstanding amount on card can cost you dear. Therefore cardholders must go through the terms and conditions properly before choosing to part-pay their bills. The card issuers charge the interest not just on the outstanding balance even though cardholder has paid a major chunk of the billed amount, but on all subsequent transaction.

In fact many of the savvy cardholders are aware about this common banking practice of revolving credit but many of them are not aware especially the new ones.

A senior banker explains with an example that how bank levies interest: "Suppose you pay 90% of the billed amount and only 10% is left. The next month (in the following billing cycle), you have to pay interest from the date of the first purchase." So effectively, the consumer loses out on the interest-free credit period. "If you part-pay," an industry expert emphasizes, "not only do you pay interest on the outstanding amount, you also lose interest-free credit facility. Your meter starts as soon as you use your card thereafter." (Incidentally, in case of cash withdrawals, interest charges are levied from the date of transaction).

Banking ombudsman official points out that pre-determined charge are mentioned in the booklet which comes along with the card. "It covers all terms and conditions, but few bother to read it." Thus cardholder cannot challenge these charges, at the banking ombudsman’s level, as the cardholder has accepted the terms by duly signing up for the card.

RBI through 2007 master circular on credit card operations of banks have made it mandatory for the banks to clearly mention the charges. It states: "Card issuers should quote annualized percentage rates (APR) on card products (separately for retail purchase and for cash advance, if different). The method of calculation of APR should be given with a couple of examples for better comprehension. The manner in which the outstanding unpaid amount will be included for calculation of interest should also be specifically shown with prominence in all monthly statements... These aspects may be shown in the welcome kit in addition to being shown in the monthly statement."

The fair practice code of the Indian Banks’ Association, adopted by its member banks, too promises, "We will send a service guide/member booklet giving detailed terms and conditions, interest and charges applicable and other relevant information with respect to usage of your credit card along with your first credit card." For the help of the consumer’s card issuing banks have put the information on their websites.

Recently banks have hiked the interest rates on credit card therefore bankers recommend cardholders to use it only as a short-term credit facility. They advise consumers who might face a repayment crunch to opt for an EMI (equated monthly installment) option—in the first place. They say however, the interest rate too works out to 18-24%, which is quite lower than the interest paid on credit card’s outstanding balance.

But here the consumers have to be careful because the EMI option is normally valid only for a particular transactions and not the outstanding balance. "If you are not able to pay your card bills, take a personal loan," a banker recommends.

Friday, June 6, 2008

StanChart launches card combining cash back and rewards

Global lender, Standard Chartered has launched ‘Manhattan Platinum Card’. The card has been designed to give maximum value to its customers, as well as offers both cash back and rewards as a standard feature on the same card to its customers.

The card is different from other cards in the sense that the cash back and reward benefits of this card can be enjoyed across merchants. Through online catalogues, card offers redemption of reward points on a wide range of gift articles, complimentary tickets for online bookings at PVR cinemas, and 10% off on purchase of books at all Odyssey book stores and gift vouchers for every purchase at Music World. Customers will also get all platinum card features like travel and dining benefits and superior service benefits which are identical with Standard Chartered.

Murali M Natrajan, Regional Head, Consumer Banking – India and Nepal, said “The Manhattan Platinum Credit Card adds a youth oriented dimension to the concept of Platinum credit cards with the perfect blend of lifestyle benefits that reflects the attitude of young urban India. Standard Chartered Bank is extremely proud to present this for the first time in India and we have always believed in catering to our customers every need. We have designed this card with the aim of giving our customers the unique experience of using many cards rolled into one.”

According to a bank press release cardholders will get 5% cash back on all departmental stores and supermarkets and five reward points per Rs 100 for all other spends.

R L Prasad, General Manager, Credit Cards & Personal Loans, said “After the success of our Manhattan credit card, The Manhattan Platinum Card provides our customers’ unmatched benefits through the cash back and rewards program. There is no other product available that offers flat rewards as high as 5% as a standard feature. This is not a promotional offer that lapses after a point in time but a benefit ingrained in the product; the customer will see the rewards as cash-back or reward points in his statement under each of his transactions.”

The card has been initially launched in the 5 metros Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore and later on will be launched in rest of India. In the beginning the card will carry an annual fee of Rs 2,000 and is being offered free for the first year as an introductory offer.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pay for paying credit card bill at your own bank branch

People are in a habit of paying credit card bills at a bank branch. But soon people need to change this habit as it is going to cost them. Some of the banks have started charging card holders for paying the bill at a bank branch.

ICICI Bank largest private sector bank has started charging Rs 100 from its card holders for making credit card payments in cash at ICICI Bank branches, starting June 1, 2008. Standard Chartered Bank since March 2006 is already charging Rs 99 from its customers.

Here the question rises why pay charges to even pay your bank the due cash? The reason bankers give is that they are trying to reduce the burden on short-staffed branches.

Sachin Khandelwal, head of the cards group at ICICI Bank, said, "We are discouraging our customers from depositing cash as there is a transaction cost.

About Rs 100 is what is typically charged and it's not specific to cards. It's a cash deposit charge."

He advises the customers to avoid the charge card holders should drop their cheques in a drop-box or do an ECS (electronic clearing service) or auto debit to pay their credit card dues.

R L Prasad, general manager, credit cards and personal loans, Standard Chartered Bank, says that allowing payments to be made at branch counters is an added facility that the bank provides therefore it is charged. He added "This is a service charge for providing teller facility for making cash payments. Customers are informed of this and all other charges at the time of applying for the card through the most important document (MID)".

Also, the details of the charges are printed on back of the statement.

Dropping a cheque in a drop-box a couple of days before the due date is not a reliable solution as processing of cheque takes about three days to clear if one stays outside the national capital region of Delhi.

"We recognize that cheques take a day or two to clear and hence we encourage our customers to make their payments three days in advance though the cheque may be dated as per the payment due date," said Prasad of Standard Chartered Bank.

As for ECS payments — where a card holder authorizes his bank to pay whatever is billed on his — is also not safe, if a huge, unwarranted amount gets billed for whatever reason, bank balance will automatically get debited.

Thus there is a new payment option is to deposit cash at ATMS. According to Citibank "A PIN-less deposit facility has been launched for the benefit of cards customers at all our ATMs. A customer carrying his/her credit card can use this option for payment".

While other banks with strong credit card portfolios, such as HSBC Bank, ABN Amro Bank, SBI, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Citibank have denied for charging card holders for making cash payment at branches. Answers from HDFC Bank are still awaited.

But there are chances of other banks following the suit. The reason is that most of the banks have started penalizing customers for using branches and give incentives for using alternate channels such as ATMs and online payments.

For example, demand draft requests at branches can cost you Rs 75, but if you use phone banking mode, then you have to shell out only Rs 50.

A stop-payment order would cost you Rs 50 per cheque (Rs 100 per mandate) if asked for at a branch. But, if one uses the phone banking channel, then HDFC Bank charges only Rs 40 per cheque (Rs 80 per mandate). Though ICICI Bank doesn't offer any cut for stop-payment via phone banking, but it is free if one uses the internet banking mode.

However some banks see a disadvantage in trying to push customers away from branches by charging them for doing payments at desk. Sanjay Sharma, IT advisor at IDBI Bank says, "When banks promote electronic payments and transactions, they must also keep in mind that they are missing an opportunity to cross-sell products."

True, if there are no customers at branches, then to whom banks will sell insurance, mutual funds, and other products that help them earn commissions?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Corporate card can cut travel expenses of companies

In India in the last seven years Indian companies’ travel and entertainment has seen increase in expenses from Rs 17 lakh on an average in 2001 to over Rs 1 crore by 2007.

A survey was carried out by American Express, quoting a consulting firm Accenture according to its report companies can bring down their travel and entertainment expenses by 9% through effective use of corporate card data.

According to the survey data available the usage of corporate cards have gone up considerably in the country from 33% of companies in 2001 to 79% in 2007 — because of increased benefits being offered by the issuing banks.

Survey report suggests that companies can manipulate in a better way to cut costs if employees spend through corporate cards. As per survey, usage of corporate cards will help companies control the combined spend of their employees in travel and entertainment activities to negotiate better discounts with suppliers.

Prashant Aggarwal, head of American Express consultancy (Japan and Asia-Pacific) pointed out that high levels of travel and entertainment expenses is somewhat a new phenomenon in India and yet firms have to fully exploit the economies of scale through consolidated bargaining with key suppliers like hotel chains, airlines and taxi services.

Issuing banks give high discounts to a big regular customer. In case employees use multiple payment methods like cash and personal cards limits a firm’s ability to bargain for its combined consumption during a year.

However when all the employees of a company use corporate card for their travel and entertainment expenses, their spending behaviors are processed centrally and provide the companies information about their annual spends under different heads. This kind of information helps a company to bargain with service providers for discounted price.

According to survey report now companies have started switching to more usage of corporate card as they have understood the power of using the card and they are even formalizing a travel policy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cibil, ten banks to launch project to fight frauds

The Credit Information Bureau of India (Cibil) and 10 large commercial banks have joined hand to fight against frauds. In the month of June the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) and Cibil will be starting a pilot project for collecting information on frauds, building ground to create a database from 2009-10.

Senior Bankers informed that on regular basis banks submit information on frauds to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), but now they will be sharing information among themselves which will in turn help them to be alert and protect them from being duped by fraudsters, said senior bankers.

IBA has currently decided to launch the project on a pilot basis. Cibil and Trans Union in cooperation with 10 banks are expected to execute the project in three phases.

An IBA official informed that after evaluating the feedback from the pilot project, the provisional plan will be drafted to run the project for the banking industry from the next year.

In the first phase of the project database will be formulated according to the format approved by banks and the time period for the data collection can be over six months.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

LIC-GE Money MoU for credit cards lapses, but deal is on course

Initially the time period of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and GE Money for a credit cards venture has expired but according to the sources of both the companies the deal is on course.


· On September 6, 2007, LIC (40 per cent) had announced an MoU with GE Money India (35 per cent), Corporation Bank (5 per cent), LIC Housing Finance (4 per cent) and LIC Mutual Fund AMC (2 per cent) to create a new credit card company

· GE Money has a tie-up with State Bank of India and SBI Cards, their joint venture, is the second largest card company

· SBI was not too happy with the way the company was being run and had incurred losses of around Rs 150 crore last year

Hemant Bhargava, CEO, LIC Credit Cards Company said, "The initial MoU period is over, but the project is on. In one or two weeks, we may soon announce the launch of some aspects related to the credit cards company."

A senior LIC executive in an interview to Business Standard said there are some issues that are being thrashed out. "Till GE Money does not tell us that this venture is off, it is on."

When GE Money spokesperson was contacted, said, "Strategic partnerships have been a key pillar of GE Money's growth globally and in line with this strategy, partnerships will continue to be critical to our growth in India. GE Money continues to work closely with LIC to finalize its proposed joint venture and to ensure the future success of this partnership."

Meanwhile GE Money is having a tie-up with State Bank of India and SBI Cards, their joint venture, is the second largest card company. Whereas SBI was not too happy with the way the company was being run as it had incurred losses of around Rs 150 crore last year, executives of the country's largest bank were also irked at GE Money's decision to tie up with LIC.

But SBI and GE Money have put their differences aside for the betterment and have decided to extend their partnership. This has given rise to the theory that GE Money and LIC might put their deal on the backburner.

On September 6, 2007, LIC having 40% stake had announced a MoU with GE Money India with 35%, Corporation Bank with 5%, LIC Housing Finance with 4% and LIC Mutual Fund AMC with share of 2% to create a new credit card company that was to influence the strengths of each company.

Besides this the remaining 14 per cent stake is to be offered to financial investors. The parties had planned to finalize definitive agreements by the end of October 2007. The MoU was valid for 90 days.

However the officials of LIC and GE Money said in spite of the expiry of the MoU, they had held talks to ensure that the proposed credit card company is realized.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Half the cardholders revolve payments

Banks in order to lure the customers keep introducing reward schemes and give special privileges and offers on credit cards besides this half the cardholders revolve payments and pay just the minimum amount each month.

Sachin Khandelwal, head - cards product group, at ICICI Bank pointed out, “The number of people who revolve payment is about half the customers in India for the industry. In terms of customer numbers it is about 35-40%” He said, “But that would be half the book value or even 50-65% for some banks.”

ICICI Bank till now has issued about 9 million cards since 2000; however Khandelwal declined to put a number to the people who revolve credit at ICICI Bank. But, he told DNA Money, “We are on the higher side.”

Mostly people who revolve credit pay just the minimum amount asked by the card company before the due date and agree to pay the remaining dues at a later date. The issuing bank charges interest on the overdue amount.

According to analysts there is nothing wrong in high revolving rate of credit cards. In fact, they say such an indicator is a sign of a maturity of the market.

Tarun Bhatia, head corporate and government ratings, Crisil pointed out that a higher revolving rate means customers are using the credit card as a loan product. He added in developed markets the revolving rates for credit cards are higher than 80%.

“The revolving rate in terms of value was about 30-35% a few years ago. It has now gone up to 50-60%, but that is not a concern, the concern will only be when people who are revolving don’t really have the credit worthiness to repay their loan,” he said.

Bhatia says the revolving rate might decrease marginally as banks tighten their lending norms to focus on better quality and high income customers.

ICICI bank has introduced several options so that they can keep a check on such cardholders who revolve. The options include equated monthly installment (EMI) option or conversion to a personal loan for people who cannot clear the entire outstanding in a month.

“Suppose you have spent Rs 70,000 when your disposable income is Rs 30,000. Then you start revolving at a very high rate of 3-3.35% and the charge keeps adding up. So you can call up and convert the transaction into installments,” Khandelwal said.

If ICICI Bank get in a tie-up with the merchant who sell goods, customers can get an interest rate of 0-12%.

“Otherwise we price the EMIs at 18%.” Khandelwal said. “We encourage EMI, as they are convenient for customers against the credit card charge are 36%,” he said.

“We have also brought it (the EMI facility) to merchants. Instead of calling customer care you can swipe the card and convert the payments into EMIs at the swipe itself. You tell the merchant that I want the 6 or 9 or 10 installment option,” he said.

As an offshoot of the same, the bank has launched an EMI card. “We launched the card in 2006 and have been pushing it for one year,” Khandelwal said.

Under the card, one gets the option to choose between Rs 1,000-4,000 of payment per month, which draws a limit. For instance you choose the 2,000 or a 4,000 card and you buy a refrigerator and you start paying installments. Later on you buy a TV, this amount will be added in to your basket, and however your tenure will change.

The credit card head clarified that they make sure that the customers do not get carried away.

The other option ICICI bank has for its customers is to convert the outstanding amount to personal loans. Khandelwal said, “Sometimes you don’t want to pay Rs 75,000 in one shot, you are not able to. So if you can, do it in 2-4 installments. Beyond that amount convert it to a personal loan.”

He expects positive response to the installment story on the travel and consumer durables segment. Most of the ICICI Bank’s credit cardholders today spend on travel and hotels put together. “This has really grown in the last two years. Airline tickets and domestic and overseas holidays are the largest, fuel is the third largest spend, followed by jewellery, retail garments and retail outlets,” he said.

ICICI Bank has done away with the post dated cheque model for consumer durable loans, in favor of the “cost effective and quicker” credit card model this March.

“We have realized that in the consumer durable business, only one-seventh or one-eighth (roughly 12-14%) business was on loans and the balance 7 out of 8 customers were anyway using a credit card.”

Monday, May 19, 2008

Phishing attacks on increase protect password of credit /ATM card

Recently a survey was conducted by internet security firm Symantec; it reports showed increase in the number of phishing attacks on banks in India has shot up three times to 120 attacks in January 2008, from only 20 attacks in October 2007. In terms of phishing sites Mumbai has been ranked first in the country, followed by New Delhi.

On seeing the reports of the internet security firm it is clear identity theft has become a serious problem for the financial services industry.

Many instances have come into limelight when people have found difficulty and incurred losses because of lack of financial awareness.

Here are some financial details that you should handle with care, and immediate steps you should take if you face an identity crisis.

In case you are applying for a second credit card, a new one never disclose details of the existing credit card or even provide a copy of both sides of the existing card as the data may be misused and could result in a loss. The card carries a three-digit or four-digit security code or card verification value (CVV) which could be misused.

You should also beware if you receive a call, fax or an e-mail or someone visiting in person, asking for details such as date of birth, mother’s maiden name, PIN and others because such information could be misused by crooks. Ravi Shankar, country head, directs banking, Yes Bank warns, “On various financial platforms, mother’s maiden name is used as a security password. Common numbers and alphabets such as mother’s maiden name and date of birth should be completely avoided as passwords.

Extra caution should be used while sharing details such as bank account number and date of birth and they should be done only on a secure platform. It can lead to impersonation, reputation risk and black mail.”

Do not respond to any query by an unknown caller who may impersonate as an agency representative doing a survey or compiling information. “It is important that the passwords, giving access to use of credit cards and other financial instruments, be carefully drafted and retained only mentally,” advises Khushroo Panthaky, partner, accounting & assurance services, Walker, Chandiok Grant Thronton.

There have been incidences where individuals have lost out on their entire savings due to such frauds. “Besides the financial loss, what pains the most is the mental harassment you have to undergo running pillar to post to resolve problems with the credit card institution, banks and police authorities,” says Panthaky.

In case you find something fishy in your financial statement, immediately inform your issuing bank and get the services of that product temporarily discontinued. In case your credit card details have been stolen and it is linked to a bank account, then standing instructions should be given to banks to immediately stop direct debits (towards payment against card bills).

Shankar says mostly the financial details are stolen from personal computers, internet and couriers, it’s important for customers to protect their PCs. “One should avoid the temptation of clicking on unknown sites and ensure that every courier from their bank has reached them untampered,” he adds.

Furthermore, bankers advise that all links to various accounts of banks and investments should be properly reviewed when closing an account. Panthaky has a word of advise for all — do not get fascinated by exciting opportunities to take more credit cards. He adds, there is a general insight that the more credit cards you have, the more credit you can avail of. At the same time, loss or misuse of credit cards can lead to a lot of mental torture and pain.

“The ATM cards also need to be carefully retained as some people have a habit to scribble the PIN on the paper strip behind the card. Scandals prevail all the time and smart cartels get access to a lot of confidential information to capture your savings of a life time,” he says.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Traders offering loan against credit card

There is a new type of offer for the credit card holders i.e. they can take loan against their credit card from the trader. In case of defraud, the police won't help because the loan-seekers are as much at fault as the conmen.

Crooked traders are giving ads in newspaper. On reading the ad when a credit card-holder turns up at the shop, he is asked how much loan he needs. His card is then swiped for the amount, plus a four per cent commission. The transaction is shown as payment against purchase of goods.

Instead of goods the credit card holder leaves the shop with the loan amount in cash. Later on the trader produces the transaction slip in the bank concerned and recovers the loaned amount, as well as the commission.

In the past month and a half, Calcutta police had received 16 complaints where traders have overcharged the cardholders. There are several cardholders who have availed themselves of loans in this manner and have found that traders overcharged them or used the card details for future purchases.

"We can't help people who have been defrauded in this manner. A person can use his credit card to buy goods from a shop but can't take money from the shop-owner," said deputy commissioner (detective department) Jawed Shamim.

An officer of the detective department's fraud section said if they start taking up the cases then the complainants will have to be prosecuted along with the traders. "The victims often are left with no option."

He quoted the case of a complainant who took Rs 70,000 from a shopkeeper and was told that his card had been swiped for Rs 72,800 (Rs 70,000, plus commission of Rs 2,800). Later on when the cardholder received the statement he was shocked to see that the shopkeeper had actually withdrawn Rs 1 lakh. When the complainant went back to the shop, he was forced to leave away.

Another victim, Rana Banerjee of Rashbehari Avenue, recounted: "I gave my card to the owner of an electronic goods shop on April 14. He was supposed to give me Rs 95,000, but he paid me Rs 70,000 and asked me to come back later for the rest of the amount. When I went back to the shop, he flatly refused to give me the rest of the money."

Police said to stop such frauds people should take loan against a credit card from the bank instead of approaching traders.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sub-PLR and credit card rates to increase

Soon Banks will be hiking their sub-PLR rates and other retail rates like credit card and auto loans rates. Previously in April RBI in three phases hiked the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 75 basis points, sucking Rs 27,500 crore from the banking system.

A Mumbai-based chief of a public sector bank said, “Since, we cannot hike our prime lending rates (PLR), since the finance minister has asked us not do so, we will increase the sub- PLR rates which are availed of by the corporate cheaper than the PLR,”

On the other hand the country’s largest credit card player, ICICI Bank has crop up a concept of “tiered pricing”.

Simultaneously, the bank is claiming that it has reduced the rates.

Meanwhile the customers of few foreign banks are receiving their latest credit card statements in which the banks have started informing about the rate hikes.

According to the sources from Citibank, recently it has raised credit card rates and is charging the customer about 3-3.5% on a monthly basis. The other foreign bank, Netherlands –based ABN AMRO Bank has raised its credit card rates from 3.1% to 3.2-3.5% on monthly basis, which will be effective from June 1.

The ICICI Bank credit card customers will also be seeing rise in rates going up by 2%. As per the sources at present the bank is charging 1.51%-3.41% against a flat 2.99% earlier.

How fraudsters skim your credit card details

Now day’s card reading device is available to skim the credit card or debit card data. Some time back Mumbai police arrested one person for purchasing card-reading device through online shopping site.

Let us see what is skimming and how it is done.

Skimming is the direct transfer of electronic data from the magnetic strip on a credit card or debit card to a card-reading device.

The skimmed data is then transferred from the reading device onto another plastic card having a magnetic strip on it. With this fraudster can create a card with the same characteristics and use it freely - till identified or caught.

Be careful skimming is illegal.

Generally skimming takes places at petrol stations, restaurants, hotels and such outlets where the swipe terminal is away from your sight.

What are the warning signs of skimming?

A shop assistant when takes your card out of your sight in order to process your transaction then there are full chances your credit or debit card details can be skimmed. In case you are asked to swipe your card through more than one machine. You might notice something suspicious (an attached device) around the card slot on an ATM. You notice a strange or unauthorized transaction in your account.

Safety measures from becoming a victim of skimming:
Keep your PIN safe. You should not disclose your PIN number to anyone. Keep watch on people who try to offer “help” at an ATM. Examine the ATM carefully before using it. If it doesn't look right, don’t use it. If an ATM has any unusual signage, don't use it.

In case your card gets stuck in the ATM machine after the transaction or after pressing ‘Cancel’, contact your card issuing authority immediately. Keep a check on your bank account statements to ensure that there are no unusual withdrawals.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hike in credit card rates act as silent killer

The increase in EMIs on housing loans have given pain to homeowners especially the ones who had borrowed when the interest rate were generous. On top of that most of the cardholders are not paying the credit card bills in full which has also become costlier though with far less visibility.

In the past few months the credit card companies have hiked interest rates towards which cardholder are not paying attention. Over the past 2-3 months most of the major card issuers including ICICI Bank, SBI Credit Card and other leading players have hiked interest rates by 3-5%.

The procedure of charging the interest on credit cards is the interest is charged when a customer carry forward credit beyond the payment cycle. The monthly rate can range between 1% and 3.4%, translating to 12-42% on an annual basis. However there has been hike in overall interest rates therefore, card companies have also affected a hike.

ICICI Bank, is the largest issuer of credit cards with over 7.5 million live cards, has increased interest rates from 2.9% to 3.15%. Thus there is an annual increase of almost 3%.

Sachin Khandelwal, head of ICICI Bank’s cards portfolio said, “We have increased the interest rates on credit cards last month, which will be effective for the billing from August. Impact on the consumers will be known only in September. The hike is a consequence of the general tightening of interest rates and most big players have already done it. ICICI was in fact the last to do it.”

On the other hand SBI Cards, joint venture between SBI and GE Money is the second-largest issuer of cards in India, has also increased rates. Though, the company has defined the rates on parameters like spending and payment behavior. The charges have gone up from 2.99% to 3.1%.

“SBI Cards charges interest rates ranging from 0.99-3.1% depending on the spending pattern and payment behavior of the consumer,” SBI Cards & Payment Services CEO Roopam Ashthana said.

Experts expressing their views said other major credit card issuers have also hiked rates in line with leading players. But some companies do not mention the interest rate charged on the monthly statements sent out to customers, therefore these rate hikes often go unnoticed by consumers. However, some companies do send out reports regarding this.

“All applicants are advised of the maximum interest rate chargeable at the time of application, at the time of card issuance and thereafter every month in their credit card statement,” Mr Ashthana said.

He added provision for a change in interest rates is mentioned in the terms and conditions given to a consumer at the time of issue of card.