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Credit Cards Jargon Buster

Jargon Buster

We've provided simple definitions for industry jargon.

Credit cards terms – top 20

APR

The Annual Percentage Rate is the rate you will be charged on your credit card balance over the course of a year. It takes into account the interest you pay, how often you make repayments, and any other additional charges such as processing fees. Any company issuing a credit card must provide you with the APR so that you can compare different offers and decide which is the best for you. Make sure you are aware of other factors such as rewards, interest free periods, balance transfer offers and purchase offers. These can affect how much you spend with your card.

Balance transfer

The transfer of money you owe on another credit card, store card or loan to the balance on another credit card. If you are opening a new credit card account, the interest rate on your balance transfer may be as low as 0% for the introductory period. Balance transfers may include a handling fee this will be clearly communicated within the product details.

Cashback credit cards

A credit card that will pay you back in cash a small percentage of all the purchases you make on your card. You must still clear your balance before the end of the interest free period or the interest charged will probably be more than the cashback received.

Chip and PIN

A security technology that replaced the former method of signing your name to confirm a purchase. The use of a PIN (personal identification number), rather than a signature which can be forged, makes this a more secure system. Our new contactless payment technology system speeds up this process whilst retaining the same high level of security.

Contactless payment technology

A new, quick and easy way to pay for purchases of £20 or under. Simply hold your Barclays debit or credit card against the reader at the till. Enjoy the same fraud protection as Chip and PIN. All new Barclays debit or credit cards now come with integrated contactless payment technology.

Credit card

Your credit card allows you to make purchases online, around the world or in your local shop and then make the payments at a later date. The credit card provider will charge you interest for this service but you can reduce the interest you pay, or even not pay interest at all if you pay your outstanding balance in full and on time by the end of the interest free period.

Credit limit

The maximum balance that you can hold on your card at any time. This may be made up of spending and balance transfers. Your credit limit will be set when you open your account. The limit will depend on the type of card you’re applying for and your personal circumstances. This limit may be changed at a later date.

Credit rating

A system used by banks and finance companies to assess applications for credit cards. Your credit rating is based on information in your credit report and on the information you give about yourself in your application. Your credit report will include information from the electoral roll, details about any court judgments or bankruptcies in your name and details of your existing and previous credit arrangements (such as credit cards, loans and mortgages) held in the past 6 years. We may also contact external credit-rating agencies if we need further information. We try and make the system as transparent as possible and we also have a dedicated page with some information about Your credit rating . If you have been turned down for a credit card, you may want to read through these suggestions before you apply again.

Debit card

Your debit card is different from your credit card in that you usually need to have money in your account before you make a purchase or withdraw money, while a credit card grants you a period of credit in which you can pay off the balance.

Default charges

These are fees applied if you do not pay your minimum payment in time, go over your credit limit or if one of your payments is returned because you didn’t have enough credit in your account. As well as costing you money, these defaults will damage your credit rating and reduce your chances of getting a better credit limit or a new card with an improved interest rate, so it’s a good idea to keep on top of your repayments and know your credit limit.

Fee cap

This is the maximum number of Unpaid Transaction Fees that can be applied to an account on any given day. This is currently set at 1. This means that although you may have a total of (for example) 10 returned transactions occurring on the same day, only 1 fee will actually be applied.

Fraud monitoring

We take the utmost care to ensure that your card details cannot be used by anybody else without your knowledge. As part of our security service for all of our Barclaycard products, we constantly monitor your account for unusual patterns such as increased spending, transfers of large amounts of cash, purchases abroad or simply purchases of products you wouldn’t normally buy. We’ll contact you immediately if we spot anything suspicious.

Interest-free period

There are normally 2 separate instances where you will not have to pay interest on your card balance – on your initial balance transfer and for a set period of time after you receive your statement each month. When you get a new card you may be given an interest-free period of between 3 months and a year to pay off any balance transfers from your old credit card, store card or loan. This service usually carries a one-off handling fee. You’ll also usually be given an interest-free period every month after you receive your statement. If you pay off your statement balance in full before the end of the interest-free period you won’t pay any interest on your purchases. This does not generally apply to balance transfers (after the introductory period), cash withdrawals or cheques drawn from your credit card account. The interest-free period, on all Barclays credit cards is 56 days.

Introductory rates

A low rate applied at the beginning of your account that will switch to a higher fixed or variable rate after a set period, usually between three months and a year. Make sure you’re aware of when the introductory rate finishes and how much interest you will pay after that. You can normally avoid paying any interest on your purchases if you pay off your statement balance in full before the end of the interest-free period.

MasterCard

An international credit card scheme. Although your bank will issue you your card, they will deal with a different company to process your payments. The two leading companies in the world are Visa and MasterCard. The advantages of this system are that businesses trust the Visa or MasterCard symbol, you can use your card all over the world and not just in your bank’s home country, and they can provide security systems to prevent criminals from stealing your card details and spending your money.

Minimum repayment

Debit balances can be repaid at any level between the stated minimum amount and the whole balance. For Barclaycards, this is 2.5% of your outstanding balance or £5, whichever is greater. If you don’t make these regular payments, you may be charged a default payment which may affect your credit rating. The more of the balance that is repaid, the lower the interest charge will be on the following statement.

Outstanding balance

The balance on your card is equal to the value of purchases you’ve made plus any balance transfers that have been added. You’ll also pay interest on that balance, according to the average daily amount still outstanding, until it is paid in full. The quicker you pay off your balance, the less interest you’ll pay.

Pre-selected

You may be pre-selected to apply for a Barclays credit card. Log in to Online Banking to see if you have been pre-selected to apply for a card. If you’re a Barclays Online Banking customer, we’ve made it even easier for you by filling in some of your details on the application form.

Purchase delivery protection

If you buy new goods with your Barclaycard, you’ll be covered for any loss or damage that your supplier can't resolve. This service covers online, telephone and even High Street shopping if the goods are delivered to your door. Goods must be supplied by a UK supplier.

Verified by Visa

A security service introduce by Visa to reduce online fraud. The system is very simple; you choose a password composed of letters and numbers and Visa will ask you for three random digits before you can make a purchase online.

Visa

An international credit card scheme. Although your bank will issue you your card, they will deal with a different company to process your payments. The two leading companies in the world are Visa and MasterCard. The advantages of this system are that businesses trust the Visa or MasterCard symbol, you can use your card all over the world and not just in your bank’s home country, and they can provide security systems to prevent fraudsters from stealing your card details and spending your money.

Worldwide Assistance

To support you with any problems whilst overseas or on holiday, Worldwide Credit Card Assistance has a 24-hour helpline. Contact us if you need a local English-speaking lawyer or doctor, to arrange transport to get you home as soon as possible, an interpreter to help you with the language or to get a message home. Please note that our assistance given under these services is free; however, the costs of any purchases, eg flights, etc, must be met by the cardholder.