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Consumers go credit card crazy

Be it offering discounts or giving freebies, banks are going all out to woo customers with plastic money. Mahua Venkatesh writes.

business Updated: Dec 26, 2012 02:12 IST
Mahua Venkatesh

Even as the credit card industry in India went through a rough patch in the last four years, with their base shrinking, customers, who were in the habit of using plastic money, were becoming more and more choosy about their issuer keeping in mind the ease of usage and services rendered to them.

According to an HT-Mars survey, American Express topped the list of multinational credit card issuers followed by Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered. Among Indian banks, the HDFC bank's credit cards got the top nod, followed by ICICI bank. Of a total score of 1000, Amex secured the highest points at 796, while the HDFC bank card got a score of 762.

In a market characterised by intense competition, while trying to steer away the risk factors that had led to a default rate touching double-digit figures, credit card majors are trying to woo genuine customers who use plastic money as a matter of convenience and habit. But to retain customers and expand their base carefully, banks and credit card issuers are trying to make all efforts to satisfy them by offering various freebies and discounts.

As per the Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL), that tracks the credit history and credit worthiness of customers, over 80% of consumers today have a good credit history. "All banks are very particular about checking the credit records of customers and their spending pattern and they assess CIBIL's scores before sanctioning loans in every case," Arun Thukral, managing director, CIBIL said.

The survey, carried out in 12 cities, comprised of a total of 2916 credit card holders who rated their experiences on a variety of parameters, including benefits and services, rewards and redemption, and billing.

"We believe that we not only offer customers more convenience, but also more control and choice on a global platform. We continue to research opportunities on the digital platform that we believe will change the way payments are made in India," Anand Selvakesari, head, consumer banking at Citi India said.

An average credit card holder in India made annual purchases of about Rs 45,000 until March 2011 on her credit card as against an annual Rs 33,335 in the financial year 2009-10, a growth rate of over 25%, the annual payment card industry survey 2011 prepared by Atos Worldline indicated. Credit card spends increased at points of sale by 22% year-on-year, from Rs 61,824 crore in 2010 to Rs 75,516 crore in 2011, as per industry data.