This pains me a little to post, I've been a big fan of this card and have recommended it several times on here and to family/friends IRL.
However, this is no longer the best international fee free card to use. A change in ownership (GE sold it to Latitude Financial Services) earlier this year has only now introduced a few sneaky (predatory?) tricks to weasel fees from users.
28 Degrees card is usually combined with a a range of insurances ('shoppers protection' and 'travel insurance').
To avoid paying fees, you must pay your card off in full before the statement date, otherwise you'll be charged for the insurances.
Changes introduced by Latitude Financial Services (so far).
- As some of you noticed, Latitude has introduced a fee for paying by bpay recently. Infact, the only way you can avoid fees, is by paying by their 'preferred method' of using the online portal.
- The online portal has a hidden caveat, that you can not pay more than your account balance.
- Policies and procedures have changed (more on this later).
While annoying, none of these seemed like that big of a deal.
Where it all goes wrong
Allow me to walk you through my experience over the last statement period.
A few days before the statement period, I noticed my balance was $2000. I also know that I have a regular bill of $20 due on the statement date, which I should account for.
I want to avoid fees, and use their preferred method of payment, so dutifully log into their online portal to manually make the payment that way.
About a week later I receive a letter advising me that my payment had been rejected. Strange. But I log back into the online portal, quadruple check my details, and make the payment again.
About a week later I receive a letter advising me that my payment had been rejected again. Very strange. I log back in and find approximately $100 in fees and interest charges (5 (FIVE!) seperate items!) on my account for the non-payment. This has gone from strange to annoying at this point.
I phone 28 degrees, 45 minutes and 4 transfers later, they tell me it is a problem with my bank and I should call them.
Phoned my bank, they can't see any payment requests, and confirm the money was available the whole time.
Back to 28 degrees. Another lengthy wait, but this time I google around while I'm on hold. That's when I see other people posting about the same issue. Their conclusion… Any payments made on their online portal that were more than the balance outstanding, were being rejected by 28 degrees system.
I double check my account, and yup. That $20 bill on the way was rounded down to $19.95 this month. I had been overpaying my account by $0.05 and the online payment system was silently rejecting the payment.
I bring this up with the next agent (supervisor) I am transferred to. He has an 'ah huh' moment and says yes, this was an issue on their site.
Fantastic, we had solved the issue, and it was not my fault. It was a known issue that was not mentioned on their website at all…
(A side note, just to compound this issue… As I had an additional card holder, we both make seperate payments to cover our individual spend. Last month we discovered that multiple payments can not be made within 3 days of each other. So when my additional card holder made a small payment to cover her charges that month, it rejected my attempt to pay the remaining large amount until 3 days had passed. As we make our payment just before the statement date, I incurred fees and charges for that month too!)
Where it goes REALLY wrong.
The supervisor advised me that despite all of this, he could only offer me 0% refund on some of the fees and 50% on others (a total of ~$25 off the $100 in fees).
I kindly reminded him what we had discussed, they confirmed that my payment had been attempted before the due date, it was for the entire amount (and 5c) and that there was a known issue with their payment system that silently rejected this payment… He then went to a script, pretty much saying that it was the policy of the company to not offer full refunds for these types of charges.
I want to stress here, that the supervisor was definitely on my side, and was speaking as though the company had a gun to his head.
28 Degrees have a very laggy timeframe for charges to reach the account.
If using insurance with 28 Degrees, you must pay your account BEFORE the statement date to avoid fees.
28 Degrees have recently introduced payment fees to all methods except if paying via their online portal system
The 28 Degrees online portal payment system, has a known (but not disclosed) bug which will silently reject any payments which are greater than the outstanding amount).
Latitude are enforcing a policy of not refunding fees, even if they are demonstrably at fault.
Their are many things wrong with this, but allow me to focus on a few that really bug me.
28 Degrees appear to be attempting to prevent users from overpaying their account in order to extract additional fees from them.
- Charges are laggy to appear on the account.
- Users have to estimate the exact figure their statement will be, before the statement is generated (to avoid paying insurance fees).
- If the estimate is a few cents off (overpaid!) the payment will be silently rejected by their defective system.
- Communication from 28 degrees is delayed in order to apply additional fees.
Up until this month, I have over paid this (and my other) credit card. Sometimes it was just to round the figure, other times it was because I knew I'd have a large spend next month.
While fee free foreign transactions was nice, at some point they intend to catch you out if you pay with their online system. A $2,000 debt incurs ~$100 worth of fees in a single statement period. This undoes any other savings almost instantly.
If you choose to continue paying by bPay, this card is no longer free fee, as it will be costing you ~$12 per year in fees. While this isn't terrible, it is no longer the best option for fee free banking!
Please have a look at other options before considering this card. Bankwest and Citibank products are also well regarded around here.
If you have been charged fees due to their faulty website as well, I'd suggest taking it to the Financial Ombudsman for review.