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When you get your new credit or prepaid card, you'll need to 'activate' it before you can use it. This is simply a measure to show you received the card safely.

A person you ask your card provider to issue a card to, or to provide cheques to, for them to use on the same account.

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. If you have a credit card, the APR is the cost of using your card to borrow money over a 12 month period. Card providers can change the APR at any time, however they’re obliged to notify you when they do.

'In arrears' is the phrase that's used if you've missed a repayment on your credit card.

ATM stands for Automatic Telling Machine, also known as a cash machine or cashpoint.


A payment you ask your card provider to make from your account to another financial institution which is not a money transfer and which pays off or reduces the amount that is owed to them.

Usually a one-off fee you pay when you make a balance transfer.

This is when you transfer money from your bank account to your credit or prepaid card. Sometimes known as a ‘cash transfer’. Not to be confused with a `money transfer’ sent via a credit card.

‘Bankruptcy’ is when a person declares they can’t pay their debts when they are due. The companies or individuals they owe money to can take their possessions to help pay for the debts.

Bankruptcy is a last resort – if you’re struggling with debt, you can get free, impartial advice at Link opens in a new window or Link opens in a new window

Our business days are Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm, except for bank holidays or public holidays. A lot of the things we do for you, such as clearing a payment, only happen during this time.


A fee which may be charged, usually monthly or annually, for running your account.

Any transaction (other than a cash transaction) under which you make a payment using a card (with or without the PIN) or card number.

This is when you withdraw cash using your credit card. You can do this at a cash machine, and with some cards, over the counter at a bank or shop. You may be charged a fee for this.

A transaction under which you receive a cash or cash substitute by using your card or card number, including foreign currency, traveller’s cheques, postal orders, gambling transactions and any electronic transfers of cash which are not money transfers.

This stands for County Court Judgement.

If a county court has ordered you to pay money, you have a CCJ.

CCJs are recorded on a register. If you pay your debt within a month it can be removed from the register, or if you pay after a month your CCJ can be marked as ‘satisfied’. To have your CCJ removed or marked as ‘satisfied’, you need to make an application to the county court, including proof of your payment and a small fee.

When you apply for a credit card, the provider will check if you have any CCJs to help them decide whether to lend you money or not.

A transaction in which you use a cheque to make payments using the account.

This is a company which holds your ‘credit file’ – information about your credit arrangements, any missed payments or CCJs. These companies sell the information to credit card providers, who use it when they decide whether to lend you money or not.

You can ask to see a copy of your credit file at Link opens in a new window.

To find out more how we may share your information read our Privacy Policy.

A credit card is a handy way to buy things without having to carry loads of cash around with you. When you buy something with your card, the credit card company pay for it, effectively lending you the money. Then you pay them back at the end of the month, or in instalments over several months.

These are cheques you can use to pay bills or transfer money into your bank account. When you write a credit card cheque, the amount is added to your credit card balance. You are normally charged a one-off fee for each cheque you use.

This is the 16 digit number across the front of your credit card. American Express cards have 15 digits.

This is a record of your current credit arrangements, any missed payments or CCJs. Credit card providers look at this information when they decide whether to lend you money or not.

You can ask to see a copy of your credit file at Link opens in a new window

Like your credit file, your credit history gives details of your credit arrangements and payments. However, your credit history will cover a longer period of time – usually a number of years.

Credit card providers may look at your credit history when they decide whether to lend you money or not.

The maximum balance you can run up with your credit card.

This is a ‘score’ based on the information in your credit file, showing how likely you are to repay any money you borrow. Credit card providers look at your credit rating when they decide whether to lend you money or not.

A company that lends money to another company or individual.

CVV refers to Card Verification Value also known as Card Security Code. This is the last 3 digits next to the signature strip on the back of the card. If you’ve got an American Express card, it’s the 4 digits on the front of your card to the right.


A way to pay for something by taking the money straight from your current account.

A company which collects debts. They might do this for a creditor, or they might buy the debt from the creditor and then collect it for themselves.

This is a charge made by your credit card provider if you miss a repayment, make a late repayment, or go over your credit limit. This may also include any other reasonable out-of-pocket fees, legal or other costs incurred as a result of the cardholder breaking the agreement.

If you miss repayments on your credit card, your card provider may take legal action to collect the debt. Before they can do this, they have to send you a default notice – a legal letter detailing what’s going to happen.

Default notices will show on your credit file for 6 years, so you should do your best to avoid them and speak to your credit card provider straightaway if you can’t make a repayment.

When you set up a direct debit, you allow a company to take money directly from your bank account. Direct debits are a great way to make sure you never miss a payment, and that your payments always come out of your account on time.


The official currency of the European Union. Sixteen of the twenty-seven countries in the European Union use the Euro as their currency.

This is the name given to the 16 countries in the European Union which have the Euro as their currency.

If the expiry date on your credit or prepaid card has passed it’s an ‘expired card’ and you’ll no longer be able to use it.

If in persistent debt for 36 months your account will be classed as being in ‘extended persistent debt’.


This fee is applied when you spend on your credit card abroad. Most credit cards have a foreign exchange fee, so check your terms and conditions for full details.

This is when a card is used without the cardholder’s permission.


Any charge the card provider adds to your account for balance transfers, cheque transactions, money transfers and for cash transactions.


The period of time when you can spend on your credit card without being charged any interest.

A period of time when you’re temporarily charged a lower interest rate on your credit card purchases or balance transfers.

This stands for Individual Voluntary Arrangement – a special agreement between a person and all their creditors to pay back any money owed.

An IVA is a lower repayment than you’d normally be expected to make, to help people who are struggling with their debts.


This happens when your credit card repayment doesn’t reach the credit card provider by your payment due date.

The charge for making a late payment. This is also known as a default fee.

Putting money onto your prepaid card so you can spend on it.


A retailer (e.g. a shop, restaurant or petrol station).

The minimum amount of money you have to repay your credit card provider each month. Your minimum repayment is usually a small percentage of the total amount you owe.

A transfer of funds from your credit card to any personal account held by you at another financial institution other than into a credit card or loan account or any other transaction you make using a facility to pay other bills.

The charge for making a money transfer.


Credit & Prepaid Cards use a payment systems provider (network) to transfer payments. The major networks in the UK are Mastercard, Visa and American Express. Each network works with both card issuers and retailers which allow the consumer to use their card to pay for goods. Each network works with a differing number of card providers and retailers across the globe, meaning that in certain parts of the world not all of the networks will be accepted.


The total amount you owe on your credit card at any given time.

When the amount of money you owe on your credit card is more than your credit limit.

The fee for going over your credit limit. This is also known as a default fee.

When you spend with your credit or prepaid card abroad.


The date your credit card provider needs to receive your minimum repayment. It’s really important to make your minimum repayment on time each month so you don’t get charged a late payment fee.

You can use PayPoints to top up your prepaid card. There are PayPoints across the UK – you’ll find them in shops, garages and off-licenses.

A service provider that is authorised to provide information or payment related services on certain online accounts. There are two main types of permitted third party providers:

  • Account information service providers (“AISP”) – these providers gather online information from multiple payment accounts in one place and offer you a view of all of your finances in a single place.
  • Payment initiation service providers (“PISP”) – these providers facilitate the use of online banking to make a payment from a payment account on your behalf. This gives you another way to pay retailers online or transfer money between different accounts, depending on the
  • service that the PISP provides.

The use of these services is completely optional and you must give permission to a permitted third party provider to act on your behalf.

The definition of persistent debt, as set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is where, over a period of 18 months, a customer pays more in interest, fees and charges than repaid from their credit card balance.

This stands for Personal Identification Number. This is issued or approved by the card provider to be used with the card.

This stands for Payment Protection Cover/Insurance. It’s a type of insurance product which is designed to protect your repayments under the Credit Card agreement.

A prepaid card can be a great alternative for people who don’t like the idea of building up credit card debt, but like the convenience of using a card instead of carrying lots of cash.

Unlike a credit card where you effectively go into debt every time you spend on the card, with a prepaid card it works the other way round. You load up your card with money first, then go out and spend on it until your balance runs down, then you top it up again.

Like an introductory rate, this is a period of time when you’re charged a lower interest rate on your credit card purchases and/or balance transfers and any other promotional offer interest rates given to you from time to time.


The fee for redeeming money from your prepaid card (i.e. claiming back money you’ve already loaded onto your card).

All prepaid cards have a limit on the amount of money you can load onto them and spend. ‘Restricted’ prepaid cards simply have a lower limit than normal.

Restricted cards are usually offered to people if the card provider hasn’t been able to check their identity.

When you use your credit or prepaid card to buy something (sometimes called a ‘Card Purchase’).


Any charges added to your account which is not for the day to day running of the account such as copy statements. You will be told what these changes are when you request a service.

The standard interest rates as set out in your credit card providers Terms and Conditions.

This is a monthly summary of your credit card transactions and fees. With a credit card, your statement also tells you your interest charges, minimum repayment and payment due date.

The date your credit card statement is produced (not the payment due date).

The period starting on the day after your last statement date and ending on your next statement date. The statement period for your first statement starts on the day your account is opened.


The legal agreement between you and your credit or prepaid card provider. Your card provider should give you a copy for you to keep when you’re accepted for a card.


An unsolicited credit limit increase is an offer to increase your credit limit. The offer may be applied automatically, or only when permission given, depending on your chosen preference.

The currency used in the USA.


An interest rate which varies from time to time, for example, it may go up and down in line with the Bank of England base rate.