Choosing between Malta’s main two banks’ credit cards will entail little difference, except for fees and interest charges on withdrawals and other late payments. Applying for the basic credit cards on offer by Bank of Valletta and HSBC carry the same costs. There is a Lm9 per annum bank fee for a Visa or Mastercard credit card for both banks, whilst a joint Visa and Mastercard credit card is Lm12. Added to the charges is the annual government levy of Lm7.
Similarly, both banks will not charge for the first additional credit card, and both charge a Lm3 per annum fee for any second or subsequent card.
The banks differ on interest charged – whilst Bank of Valletta will charge an annual interest rate of 9 per cent, HSBC charge 8.25 per cent, namely 5 per cent over the bank’s base rate of 3.25 per cent.
Whilst HSBC’s annual rate of interest is less than BOV’s, the world’s ‘local’ bank is a tad higher on interest charged on withdrawals from ATMs, where differences are also apparent on the interest charges and fees for withdrawing money from bank ATMs and third party ATMs.
Withdrawing Lm10 from a BOV machine using a BOV credit card will carry a charge of 0.4 per cent on the amount withdrawn – that is 4c. However, the minimum charge for any withdrawal is 10c.
HSBC on the other hand will charge their cardholders 0.3 per cent, with a minimum charge of 25c.
In the case of third party ATMs, BOV charges cardholders Lm1.10 per withdrawal, plus 0.33 per cent on the amount withdrawn. That means a charge of Lm1.13 on every Lm10 withdrawn from a non-BOV machine.
HSBC will charge a one per cent charge on amount withdrawn, however the minimum will be a Lm2 charge, total charge for a non-HSBC ATM Lm10 withdrawal being Lm2. Within Europe, the interest for overseas transaction charges will be 0.75 per cent by September 2005, whilst non-Europe overseas transaction charges will remain at one per cent.
The two banks also differ on interest and charges on delayed payments for bills.
BOV charge a late payment fee of Lm0.50 and an additional interest of 2 per cent per annum, whist HSBC charge a flat rate of Lm1 for the first month and a Lm5 charge thereafter until payment is regularised.
In the case of overdrawn limits, BOV cardholders will have to settle their accounts immediately and the interest rate is increased by 2 per cent until the account is regularised. HSBC cardholders are not charged extra interest but a Lm2 fee every statement date, incurred only when the closing balance on the statement exceeds the credit limit.
HSBC and BOV also furnished a list of other charges for credit card services.
HSBC charge a Lm5 reactivation fee if a card has been stoplisted, and other overseas emergency charges, namely: Lm55 on replacement and Lm35 for disbursement, and an Lm18 charge for card cancellation.
BOV charge Lm3 for the reactivation of a credit card, whilst emergency services cost Lm100 for card replacement and Lm75 for cash disbursement.