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Electron cards vanishing?

Borrowing | Credit Card Helpful? 2

Asked by spud124, submitted 26 January 2010.

Open Quote Thank you for your recent response re: student accounts. Following on from that I am looking for a student account that also provides an Electron credit card. I have read a couple of articles that the Electron card is being withdrawn from use. I would be most interested to hear your thoughts on this.End Quote

Answered by Justin on 04 February 2010

Visa Electron cards are similar to Visa debit cards in that money is taken from your bank account – there’s no credit. But, unlike debit cards, Electron cards always check your account balance to make sure you can pay for a transaction before authorising it. Purchases that would push your bank account overdrawn are declined.

This is why you can’t use Visa Electron cards to pay via offline terminals (e.g. on trains and planes), the seller can’t carry out a real time check to ensure you have sufficient funds for the purchase.

The reason sellers, especially budget airlines, like Electron cards is that the ‘interchange’ fees charged by card providers tend to be lower than credit and debit cards. If you spend £100 in a store, the shop owner might have to pay £2-3 in card fees if you pay by credit card but less than 50p if you pay by debit card and lower still if you use a Visa Electron card.

Nevertheless, many UK banks have been withdrawing Electron cards in favour of debit cards on the basis they’re similar enough and more widely accepted - a pain if you like low cost flights!

Because you can’t use an Electron card when overdrawn it’s rare for student accounts with an overdraft facility to offer Electron cards – I can’t find one (if anyone does know of one please let me know).

However, if you really want one you could try opening a basic bank account (with no overdraft facility) that offers Electron cards, e.g. the Halifax Easycash account. This could be held alongside your student account.

Please note this answer does not constitute a recommendation or financial advice and should not be relied upon when making specific investment or other financial decisions. You should always undertake your own research into whether a product or service is appropriate for your needs and, if necessary, use a qualified professional adviser.

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