Bank of England’s warning on 0% credit card deals signals growing concern

Following the Bank of England’s recent letter warning about the growing risks attached to the provision of 0% credit card balance transfer offers,

Daoud Fakhri, Principal Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on what this means for credit card providers: ‘‘For the second time this year, the Bank of England has warned lenders about making unrealistic assumptions about their 0% credit card balance transfer portfolios. The Prudential Regulation Authority sent out a letter on 6 June warning that some credit card providers with high exposure to the 0% balance transfer market may be guilty of overly optimistic assumptions about customer retention rates, thus impacting on calculations of Effective Interest Rate (EIR) income.

‘‘Virgin Money, currently the subject of a takeover bid by CYGB, has made an aggressive play in the balance transfer market – it currently offers a 36 month 0% deal, one of the longest on the market – and consequently has an above-average reliance on EIR as an income source. This will leave it more vulnerable than most, should customers reduce their debt exposure more quickly than expected.

‘‘However, this is an issue for the whole industry, and credit card providers would be well advised to act on the PRAs advice to review their EIR assumptions and consider applying interest income-at-risk limits. Should the economy continue to underperform, consumers are likely to become increasingly risk-averse and reduce their indebtedness. Consequently, providers that have been banking on a given level of interest income will have to contend with a significant shortfall.’’