Which? launches interest charges super complaintWe say APRs can't be used for true comparisons

01 April 2007

 

Signing a credit card slip

Which? has submitted a super-complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) about the way credit card companies calculate interest charges.

We've found that the top 20 credit card providers use 12 different methods to apply interest charges to their customers’ accounts, making at least £400 million a year in the process. 

Half of people who own a credit card believe that comparing APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is the best way to tell which credit card is the cheapest.

But Which?’s super-complaint argues that APRs cannot be trusted or used in like-for-like comparisons. 

Credit card comparisons

Which? Principal Economist, Alena Kozakova, said: ‘People believe that APRs are a dependable way of comparing credit cards, but our research shows that APR cannot to be relied upon for true comparisons. 

‘Two people who have two different credit cards with the same APR, and who use their credit card in the same way, could be paying very different levels of interest.

‘Consumers have to be able to make meaningful comparisons on the basis of APR.  We are calling on the OFT to standardise interest calculation methods so that consumers can compare like for like.’

Which? is calling for all credit cards to have an unconditional interest free period on new purchases and for daily interest calculation to become more transparent and easier for people to understand.

Interest calculation

Which? has legal powers enabling it to file super-complaints with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

A super-complaint allows designated consumer bodies to complain to the OFT and specific regulators about market features that may be significantly harming consumers' interests.