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Why you should be careful if your Spanish bank offers you a ‘revolving’ card

The Bank of Spain is reporting a spike in the number of complaints from bank customers who are being charged sky-high interest for using a particular type of credit card. What is a ‘revolving’ card and do you unknowingly have one?

revolving credit card spain
Spanish banks don't refer to these credit cards as 'revolving' so it isn't always easy to know that you have one until you've been overcharged. Photo: Ahmad Ardity/Pixabay

Tarjetas revolving’ are a type of credit card offered by banks in Spain, a complex financial product which is giving many bank customers a nasty surprise.

Spain’s banking system has adopted this anglicism even though the term ‘revolving card’ isn’t really used in English-speaking countries (revolving credit is, as is evergreen loan). 

The ‘revolving’ system allows a bank customer to delay and split payments for purchases they make with their ‘revolving’ credit card. 

However, instead of having to pay the full amount owed at the end of the month as with credit cards, the payment is made in smaller monthly instalments that generate a lot of interest – often 25 percent a month – something thousands of Spaniards are now saying they weren’t told by their banks.

If for example, you used a ‘revolving’ credit card to make a purchase worth €1,000 and your contract states that you need to pay it back in 40 instalments (€25 a month instalments) with 25.6 percent interest for each, by the time those 6 years and 10 months had elapsed you would have paid more in interest – €1,031 – than for the initial payment.

In its roundup of banking complaints in 2020 published in early January 2022, the Bank of Spain reported a 138 percent rise in the number of fraudulent credit card charges compared to the previous year, and 212 percent when it came to revolving cards specifically.

Most disgruntled customers slam the lack of information provided about the consequences of using these cards, which for Spanish legal complaint firm Reclama Por Mi demonstrates the “malpractice” of Spanish banks with these products, adding that 62 percent of the complaints they deal with relate to ‘revolving’ credit cards. 

“Sometimes bank customers have no choice but to continue using the ‘revolving’ cards that they have in order to meet expenses, and by doing so they keep being charged exorbitant interest, which means that the debt is barely paid off,” Director of Operations Javier Moyano told Spanish daily La Información.

To be clear, Spanish financial entities do not refer to these credit cards they offer as ‘revolving’, so you won’t automatically know that you have one. 

In order to know if you have one, you will have to read your contract’s smallprint, pay special attention to the TIN or TAE interest rate (the annual percentage rate in English – APR), the number of instalments and so on. 

In early January, the Bank of Spain ruled that financial entities in the country will have to provide the client with simulations of how much it really costs to obtain this type of credit that generates double-digit interest in most cases.

It follows an earlier decision by Spain’s Supreme Court in 2020 that ruled that Spanish banks could no longer charge more than 27 percent interest on revolving credit card purchases.

But it seems likely that financial entities in Spain will still find ways to get customers to accept this type of credit card without them really knowing what they’re getting themselves into. 

READ ALSO:

The safest way to avoid any nasty surprises altogether is by only owning a debit card if that’s financially possible for you, or making sure that you ask your bank manager as soon as you get a new credit card ¿Es una tarjeta de crédito normal o una revolving? (Is it a normal credit card or a revolving one?). 

It may also be that you have a revolving credit card and have only just found out that you’re being charged hefty interest, in which case you should know you can complain to your bank and try to reach an agreement outside of court, or you can claim through the Bank of Spain or through the courts.

According to Spanish law firm Rico Sánchez Abogados, who can help to lodge a complaint against banks who are overcharging customers, ‘revolving’ cards offered in Spain are the following (tarjeta means card in Spanish) :

Revolving Wizink cards: Tarjeta Visa Classic Popular-e, Tarjeta Visa Oro Popular-e, Tarjeta Visa Classic Citibank, Tarjeta Visa Oro Citibank, Tarjeta Citi Classic, Tarjeta Citi Twin, Tarjeta Barclaycard Oro, Tarjeta Pass Carrefour, Tarjeta Visa Cepsa, Tarjeta Iberia

Revolving Bankia cards: MasterCard: Tarjeta MasterCard Champions. Visa: Tarjeta Visa Compras, Tarjeta Visa Crédito Particulares, Tarjeta Visa Crédito Plus, Tarjeta Visa Dual Plus, Tarjeta Visa Flexible, Tarjeta Visa ON, Tarjeta Visa Oro

Revolving BBVA cards: MasterCard: Tarjeta MasterCard Negocios, Tarjeta MasterCard Infinit Oro. Visa: Tarjeta Visa A Tu Ritmo, Tarjeta Visa A Tu Ritmo Blue, Tarjeta Visa Después, Tarjeta Visa Después Blue, Tarjeta Visa CX Oro, Tarjeta Repsol más Visa, Tarjeta Iberia Classic, Tarjeta Iberia Icon, Tarjeta Dorada Renfe, Tarjeta Motor+, Tarjeta Viajes+

Revolving BBVA Consumer Finance cards: MasterCard: Tarjeta Mastercard Travel Club. Visa: Tarjeta Visa Club Vips, Tarjeta Visa Consum, Tarjeta Visa De Compras. Tarjeta Affinity Card

Revolving Caixabank cards: MasterCard: Tarjeta MasterCard Estrella, Tarjeta MasterCard Oro. Visa: Tarjeta Visa Classic, Tarjeta Visa Gold, Tarjeta Visa Gold Flexible, Tarjeta Visa Imagin Crédito, Tarjeta Visa Oro, Tarjeta Visa Platinum, Tarjeta Visa Platinum Gold, Tarjeta American Express Amex Plus, Tarjeta American Express Plus

Revolving Caixabank Consumer Finance cards:Tarjeta Mediamarkt, Tarjeta Ikea, Tarjeta Fnac, Tarjeta Lecrerc

Revolving Banco Sabadell cards: MasterCard: Tarjeta MasterCard Classic, Tarjeta MasterCard SIN, Tarjeta MasterCard Oro. Visa: Tarjeta Visa Classic, Tarjeta Visa SIN, Tarjeta Visa Oro, Tarjeta Visa Shopping Oro, Tarjeta Visa Platinum

Revolving Banco Santander cards: MasterCard: Tarjeta MasterCard Box Gold, Tarjeta MasterCard Día a Día, Tarjeta MasterCard Santander 123, Tarjeta MasterCard Santander 20, Tarjeta MasterCard Santander Plus. Visa: Tarjeta Visa Classic, Tarjeta Santander PRIME, Tarjeta Mundo 1|2|3, Tarjeta Mi Otra 1|2|3, Tarjeta Zero 1|2|3, Tarjeta Mi Otra Zero 1|2|3, Tarjeta Iberia Classic, Tarjeta Iberia Icon, Tarjeta LaLiga Santander

Revolving Openbank cards: Tarjeta Visa 123, Tarjeta Visa Classic, Tarjeta Visa Oro, Tarjetas 

Revolving Santander Consumer Finance cards: Tarjeta Visa Light, Tarjeta Visa Box, Tarjeta Worten, Tarjeta General Óptica

Revolving Oney cards: Tarjeta Leroy Merlin, Tarjeta Alcampo, Tarjeta Decathlon, Tarjeta AKI, Tarjeta Simply

Revolving Abanca cards:Visa: Tarjeta Oro, Tarjeta Clásica, Tarjeta Clip, Tarjeta Proyecto

Revolving Unicaja cards: Visa: Oro, Classic, Tarjeta Gold, Tarjeta Platinum, Tarjeta Blue

READ ALSO: Is it worth reporting your Spanish bank for misconduct and how do you make a successful claim?

Revolving Bankinter and Bankinter Consumer Finance cards: Bankinter: Tarjeta Visa Única (Clásica y Oro), Tarjeta Visa Quiero. Bankinter Consumer Finance: Tarjeta Bankintercard Oro, Tarjeta Bankintercard Platinum, Tarjeta Visa Coinc, Tarjeta Visa Air Europa, Tarjeta Visa Vodafone, Tarjeta Visa BP, Tarjeta Línea Directa, Tarjeta Halcón Viajes, Tarjeta Renault

Revolving Barclaycard card: Tarjeta Visa Classic, Tarjeta Visa Oro, Tarjeta Visa Barclaycard

Revolving EVO Banco y EVO Finance cards: EVO bank: Tarjeta Visa Classic, Tarjeta Visa Extra, Tarjeta Visa Oro, Tarjeta Visa K26+, Tarjeta Mastercard Evo Crédito. EVO Finance: Tarjeta Visa EVO Finance Classic

Revolving Deutsche Bank cards: Tarjetas Visa: Familia, Shopping, Preferente y Preferente Oro, Tarjeta MasterCard Premium Gold, Tarjetas Revolving Cetelem.

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ENERGY

How to change the title holder of utility bills in Spain

When you move into a new property in Spain you will need to change the account or contract holder over, so that any future water, electricity or gas bills will be in your name. It's not as easy as you may think; here's how you go about it.

How to change the title holder of utility bills in Spain

Changing the name on your utility bills and the payment details should in theory be relatively straightforward, however you may come up against some common problems which can make the change pretty complicated.

Firstly, you will need to find out which energy companies have been contracted for your property.

You can do this by asking the previous owner themselves, contacting your landlord if you’re renting or asking your estate agent to find out for you.

When it comes to water, this should be provided by your local council or city, so you won’t need to contact the previous occupant for this one. 

How do I change the title over?

When you first move in, remember to note down the numbers on the gas, electricity and water meters, so you can give these to the utility companies and they can record how much you should owe, instead of having to pay for the previous occupant’s consumption as well.

Next, you will then need to contact the energy company supplying your property or water provider and ask for a cambio de titular a nombre del arrendatario o comprador (ask for a change of ownership in the name of the renter or buyer).

The process should be completely free for electricity and gas, but in some cities, you may need to pay a deposit for changing the title of the water bill, which you should get back when you vacate the property. The deposit can be anywhere between €50 and €100.

Contacting the energy company by phone may be the best way to make sure everything is done correctly, but some companies also have online forms where you can request a title change. When it comes to water, most cities will have water offices you can visit or specific e-mail addresses if you can’t contact them over the phone. 

There are a few pieces of information you’ll need to have on hand before you contact the company. These are:

  • The full name of the previous person who had the bills in their name
  • Your NIE / DNI
  • The address of the property
  • The date you moved in
  • The CUPS code (not needed for water)
  • Your padrón certificate (for water only)
  • A copy of the deeds of the property or rental contract
  • Your bank details

With all this information, they should be able to change the name over on the account relatively quickly, so that any future energy bills will go directly to you.

At this time, you can also change your tariff or amount of energy contracted to suit your individual needs.

How do I find the CUPS code?

The CUPS code or Código Unificado del Punto de Suministro (Universal Supply Point Code) is a number that identifies each individual property that receives electricity or gas. The number doesn’t change, so you could ask the previous occupant for this as it will be written on their energy bills.

Alternatively, if this isn’t possible you can contact your energy distributor – these are assigned by area and stay the same. By giving them your name, address and ID number such as NIE, they will be able to give you the CUPS code associated with your property.

What if I want to change to a new energy company?

If you’d prefer not to contract the energy company that the previous owner had, you can also choose to go with a new one. In this case, you will still need all of the same information and numbers as above, but you will contact the energy provider of your choice and the type of tariff you want to pay.

How long will it take to change the name over?

It can take between 1 and 20 days for the bills to be changed over into your name. The previous occupant will receive their final bill and then you will receive the new one from the date you moved in.

What are some of the problems I might come up against?

The most common problem is when the previous occupant is not up to date on paying their bills and has some outstanding debt. In this case, if you try to change the title over into your name, you will also be inheriting the pervious owner’s debt.

In this case, you will have to get the previous occupant to pay their outstanding bill before you can change it over into your name. If you have problems getting them to pay their bill, then you can show proof of the date you moved in by sending in a copy of your deeds or rental contract. This should in theory allow for the transfer of ownership without having to take on the debt, however it can be tricky process, often calling the energy company multiple times and waiting for verification of the proof.

What if the energy services have been cut off?

In the case that the property has been uninhabited for some time, the previous owners may have deactivated or cut off the utilities. If this is the case, then you will need to call the energy providers to activate them again. This will typically involve paying several fees to be able to get them up and running. The amount you pay will depend on the energy distributor and where the property is based in Spain. 

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