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By ADRIAN HUGHES
Westpac General Manager
Westpac general manager, Adrian Hughes’, Financial Fitness release is published in the Fiji Sun monthly.
One of the certainties of life is that at some stage, you’ll need to pay for a product or service you’ve received.
One of our goals at Westpac is to make banking easier. This month, I’d like to highlight how we’re making payments more convenient and cost-effective than handing over cash or writing out a cheque.
Across the Pacific, banks are rolling out new initiatives to make your banking simpler and in many cases, cheaper. Let’s look at the simple task of making a payment.
A service offered by many banks is online banking. This allows you to access your accounts safely, via the internet, to:
o View your accounts
o Transfer funds between your accounts
o Use BillPay to pay your bills
o Make payments to other people at other banks
o Make overseas payments.
This is ideal for customers who may find it difficult to get to a branch during opening hours. Payments to accounts held in the same bank are credited immediately, to other banks it may take a day.
Using EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) is another convenient way to make a payment.
You’ll find most businesses have EFTPOS terminals which enables you to make a purchase and pay using your bank card.
You can also get extra cash at some merchants saving you a trip to a branch or ATM. And because your purchase and cash out is considered one transaction, it can help you to keep within the number of fee-free withdrawals of your account.
EFTPOS terminals can be found in all types of industries – supermarkets, hotels etc, and accept all major credit, debit and charge cards.
Credit cards and debit cards are gaining popularity in the Pacific.
The main difference between the two is that credit cards ‘borrow’ the money from the bank, which you pay for through interest on the outstanding balance.
Debit cards use your own money, taken from a nominated account.
Debit cards versus credit cards
Credit cards have been used in the Pacific for some time usually by tourists and visiting business people.
In recent years they’ve been gaining popularity with the local population as a preferred form of payment and an alternative to cash.
So, it pays to know about how to responsibly use it and the difference from a debit card.
A debit card or credit card that includes a VISA, MasterCard, American Express or CUP (China Union Pay) badge on it can be used all over the world to pay for goods and services and for online purchases.
Other credit and debit card brands exist but these are the main ones. Generally speaking, they provide a safe, secure and convenient way to pay merchants.
Credit cards use bank funds to pay for purchases up to an agreed limit. In turn, customers have the option to repay the outstanding balance or pay a minimum monthly amount.
At the end of the month the customer is also charged a 2 per cent Government levy on the outstanding balance.
Should you want a credit card you will need to apply through your bank or card provider and this usually involves a credit worthiness check which may involve checks on your residence, income and current employment.
The rate of interest varies from one type of credit card to the next.
There are usually other benefits attached to a credit card.
These may include receiving automatic travel insurance when buying an airline ticket with your credit card and emergency card replacement may be done quite quickly.
Features and benefits vary from one type of card to the next, as do the fees and charges.
A debit card looks just like a credit card but uses your own money when making purchases. Customers with a debit can still enjoy the security and convenience of making purchases online and can use it in various places around the world.
However, the amount you can spend is limited to how much you have in the account that’s attached to the debit card.
Interest is not charged on the purchase amount. Usually, there aren’t too many other benefits of a debit card but because you’re using your own money, you can better manage your spending.