HSBC Raises Card Fees for Online Gambling Transactions
By James McKeown
Online gamblers possessing an HSBC credit card will soon feel the full force of the bank’s planned increase in card fees across all online and telephone gambling, to bring it in line with its financial service competitors.

From 1 February HSBC customers will be charged the cash advance rate rather than the normal purchase rate, meaning that they will immediately pay interest at between 21.9 percent and 27.8 percent instead of between 15.9 percent and 22.9 percent.

However, customers will not be charged a one-off fee, which is applied to other cash transactions such as buying foreign currency.

'This is one of a number of changes we have made to our credit card offering recently to bring us in line with the competition,' an HSBC spokeswoman said.

There is currently no uniform policy on charging for gambling across the UK credit card industry, with providers such as Barclaycard and Lloyds charging such spending at their lower purchase rates, whilst MBNA (Bank of America) and RBS/NatWest and Egg charge at the cash advance rate.

In 2004, the US bank Citibank decided to stop processing any internet gambling payments at all by UK holders of its credit cards.

One potential loophole in HSBC's strategy is that any payments channelled via the online payment service Paypal will be charged as a retail purchase, attracting a lower rate of interest.

HSBC said neither it nor any other banks could tell what the ultimate destination of a Paypal transaction money might be.

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