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Credit card applicants could pay higher rates than advertised

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Just three in ten customers are aware that credit card companies operate ‘personal pricing’ meaning they are not necessarily getting the advertised rate.

According to research from market research firm Consumer Intelligence, a surge in offers for balance transfer cards with lengthy zero per cent introductory rates of up to 27 months, and other added special deals, has provided a boost to the credit card market.

But consumers are being reminded that the rate or special offer they apply for may not be what they end up with.

The Consumer Intelligence research shows just 31% of people are aware of personal pricing – sometimes also referred to as risk pricing – with 69% admitting they have never heard of it.

Credit card providers have to give the advertised rate to at least 50% of successful applicants but that means the rest can be offered higher rates or shorter introductory rate periods.

Many applications continue to be turned down entirely. Applications depend on an applicant’s income, expenditure, credit rating and level of indebtedness, and can result in surprises for customers believing they are entitled to the advertised rate.

David Black of Consumer Intelligence said: “Consumers not surprisingly assume that the advertised headline rate is the rate they will pay if they are accepted. In reality it is not that simple and the market has changed.

“Companies are not doing anything wrong and many advertise a range of typical rates making it clear to consumers that they may not necessarily receive the advertised headline rate if they successfully apply for a card.

“But the research shows that the use of personal pricing and the risk of not receiving the rate they have applied for will come as a shock to many credit card applicants, particularly when they are applying for the range of new long balance transfer deals.”