Halifax and HSBC voice doubts over pre-pay cards

10 November 2006
Halifax and HSBC have expressed concerns over the pre-pay 'unique' cards aimed at people without bank accounts recently launched by MasterCard.

The new top-up card is aimed at migrants unable to obtain regular bank accounts because of lack of documentation to prove UK residency or credit history, as well as at individuals with poor credit ratings histories eager to begin saving, according to MasterCard.

But Halifax claims that these cards charge their holders up to £72 a year for loading a card up with just £200 per month, fees which can be avoided by signing up to a basic bank account.

Paul Marriott-Clarke, head of banking at Halifax, protested the cards could be "very costly even for just a few basic transactions every month".

Halifax also warns customers who lose their top-up card will also lose all their savings.

HSBC meanwhile argues that its Passport account, specifically targeted at new migrants, makes the financial transition easier for people moving to the UK, obviating the need for a top-up card.

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