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PLATINUM - CARING OR CON? YOU DECIDE
Member Name: sue.51
Date: 14/10/02, updated on 14/10/02 (1726 review reads)
Advantages: Freephone customer service, Operate a relationship marketing strategy
Disadvantages: Beware taking advantage of 'appealing' balance transfer rates if you already have an outstanding balance
I was going to close both my accounts with them, when RBS refused me a special rate on a balance transfer, so I elected to contact MBNA who offered me 1.9% fixed on balance transfers and cash advances for 6 months and 14.9% thereafter. I discussed with them the possibility of upgrading to a Platinum card as I fulfilled the criteria, yet they said no. I challenged this decision, and within two weeks, received my new card, cheque book and pin number, together with an increased credit limit, a special rate of 1.9% on cash advances and balance transfers, with 14.9% thereafter.
As I have pointed out MBNA offer existing customers balance transfers at extremely preferential rates - however be careful - I took advantage of an excellent rate of 4.9%APR to transfer a balance of £700 from an existing card - I did however already have a balance on the card. I had a sizeable chunk of money courtesy of the taxman and decided to reduce the MBNA balance - only to discover that those balances carrying the lowest interest rate are actually cleared first - i.e. the amount I repaid was higher than the £700 and therefore any benefit to me was lost and I am still paying interest on the remaining balance at 14.9%APR - I therefore suggest if taking advantage of a preferential rate with MBNA Platinum that you clear any other balances first or you will get stung.
The card itself is standard fayre, offered in both Visa and Mastercard, and not exactly dynamic looking; MBNA have recently been undertaking mass advertising on TV of their Platinum card - not really specifying the criteria - hoping I would imagine that customers will apply in the hope of getting one and alternativel
y be offered their Silver Card at an annual APR of some 3% higher.
The platinum card can be applied for on-line, although applicants will not receive an instant response, and will have to wait around 7-10 days to know if their application has been successful. This is because they carefully assess a whole list of areas rather than relying on a computerised credit scoring system, which means you are actually dealing with a human being, so I guess if you have recently moved house or changed jobs this can work in your favour.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
There is no annual fee, and you can have up to three additional card holders on your account at no extra cost, risky I guess if the kids are at Uni.
Current interest rate for new applicants is 0% - Fixed for 6 months for cash advances and balance transfers (+ a 1.5% commission charge for using a credit card cheque - they used to be one of the few that didn't charge, but I guess financial climates dictate) and 15.9% Variable thereafter. I don't know yet whether they will continue offer preferential rates and payment holidays to existing customers, but judging by their previous service, I guess they probably will, although beware of taking advantage of such rates if you already have a balance on the account.
Interest Free period is 59 days if you pay the balance off in full by the given date on the statement. If you check around this is actually considerably more than the likes of Egg (45 days) and Marbles (c 51 days).
Minimum payment is 2.25% (Yes, strange isn't it?) of the oustanding balance or £5, whichever is the greater.
INCENTIVES & LOYALTY REWARDS
Well there aren't any, but they do claim to offer special rates on:
* Flower deliveries
* Chocolate purchases
* RAC Membership
* Home insurance
If you book through the numbers provided on the literature - I must confess I have never tried to find out.
ey do however, seem to look after, and try to retain their customer base, exercising a relationship marketing strategy aimed at keeping them rather than just getting them, and then leaving them go once the the honeymoon period is over.
They will charge £18 if your payment is:
a) More than one day late
b) Any time a payment you make to the account bounces
c) Every time you exceed your credit limit
BE WARNED: If you are changing from a Silver to a Platinum account, all the indications are that you will be able to miss a payment because of the transfer, this is not the case.
You should make the payment as normal to your old card account - I got caught out here, and my payment was late, to be fair, their customer service advisor agreed to waive the late payment charge and it was recredited immediately to my account.
I cannot say enough for this company - they are one of the few Credit Card Companies still offering freephone calls. The service provides automated balances, and will always advise you, if waiting to speak to a representative, when queuing time is likely to be more than around 5 minutes. They do not however, unlike the competition, accept Switch/Delta payments over the telephone, and are a little slow at crediting Home/Mobile banking payments to your account, so make sure you leave a little time in making payments to ensure clearance and avoid penalties.
I have been with them since they hit the UK market, purely because their advertising arrived in front of me at that moment when I was considering a credit card, and their interest rates have dropped considerably in light of the new UK competition.
I have heard a lot of people complaining they get bombarded with literature about the company, I must confess I have not found this to be the case whatsoever, with literature being confined to inclusion inside the monthly postal statement.
They do now offer internet access on their accounts, you can set it up yourself with a few essential security details, the site is fully secure, but does seem to fall over quite easily.
Online you can see your last 6 months statements, your current balance and transactions, and transfer balances on-line.
You can also amend personal details, considerably easier than telephoning, they even accepted mine on-line without my postcode - YES, A RESULT.
You do get free purchase protection on most items costing between £50 and £1,000, providing you pay for them in full on the card.
PAYMENT PROTECTION costs 68p per £100 of outstanding balance.
HOW CAN YOU GET ONE?
Answer one of the many adverts you see in magazines and papers, or apply on-line at www.mbna.co.uk. I believe you need to be over 21, and have a minimum salary of around £25K, although I can't actually find this stipulated on their web-site.
Personally, I have been with them for 4 years and think it is now getting towards the time when we may well part company - if you take advantage of preferential rates from higher cards - in the long run you could unwittingly end up paying more than you were in the first place. The jury is still out - but I am still annoyed with MBNA at the moment over the misunderstanding of the balance transfer situation - that will teach me to read the small print.