OFT in crackdown on credit card advertising

The OFT is investigating credit card companies and the ‘misleading’ claims made in their ads

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is planning to crack down on credit card companies for making “misleading claims” when offering zero per cent interest rate on balance transfers.

The move follows Barclaycard’s withdrawal of its direct mail campaign offering “0% forever” after the OFT forced it to drop the claim.

According to the OFT, it is only in the small print that Barclaycard explains that the offer would last only as long as it takes for the transferred balance to be cleared by payments that the cardholder is required to make.

The OFT is investigating two other credit card companies, which make similar claims. It is understood that Halifax Platinum MasterCard is one of them. In one of its mailers, Halifax also offers zero per cent on balance transfers – “Forever, if you make just three purchases a month.”

A spokeswoman for Halifax denies that it is under any OFT investigation.

The move to slam the Barclaycard advertising follows last month’s gaffe by Barclays chief executive Matt Barrett, who criticised his own credit card product by suggesting that the astute consumer should steer well clear of it.

Talking at the Commons’ Treasury select committee, Barrett said that he did not use credit cards from Barclaycard because it was too expensive to use. He also revealed that he advised his four offspring to have nothing to do with credit cards.

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