Visa Electron Cards are now 'reclassified' as Visa Debit to force charges

Visa Electron Cards are now 'reclassified' as Visa Debit to force charges

Summary: Many banks such as Abbey National, Co-operative / Smile are phasing out Visa Electron Cards, new cards are being issued only as Visa Debit cards.Existing Cards are been reclassified by online systems to be now recognised as Visa Debit Cards instead.

TOPICS: Tech Industry

Many banks such as Abbey National, Co-operative / Smile are phasing out Visa Electron Cards, new cards are being issued only as Visa Debit cards.

Existing Cards are been reclassified by online systems to be now recognised as Visa Debit Cards instead. This happens when using an existing Visa Electron card and choosing 'Electron' as the card payment type when paying for the transaction.

The transaction will state the card has not being recognised as a Visa Electron Card (even though it is) allowing you to continue the transaction, but then charge your Visa Electron card the fee associated with Visa Debit Cards.

Using a Cooperative/Smile Visa Electron Card, this was tested against the website - which, even though it showed flight details with card payment fees of 0.00 when Visa Electron was selected, submitting the card details came back with the card not being recognised as a Visa Electron and a subsequent fee of £18.00 was adding to the booking of the two flights. £4.50 fee per person/per flight each way.

Phoning Cooperative, they denied changes has been made to the bin codes issued by the bank, and stated existing Electron cards starting 4508, should still be recognised as 'Visa Electron' and the fees associated with this, but stated that it had 'merged' all cards issued to Visa Debit. Co-operative has also issued no changes to terms and conditions confirming this change as regard to existing Electron cards being treated as Visa Debit type transaction.

Flybe stated that the wrong card bin information is currently associated with Payment Cards relating to Cooperative/Smile, so that all Smile cards are now recognised only as Visa Debit. But stated there was nothing currently they could do.

The current website is therefore misleading as regard to the prices advertised, as it appears there is no way of obtaining flights at the minimum advertised price, by paying Visa Electron.

To the consumer, who has a Visa Electron card in their hand, and have selected payment type as 'Electron' in order to avoid fees, it looks as if the banks are trying to phase out Visa Electron long before the existing expiry date of the cards, by this subtle back end system change.

If you are charged this fee on an Electron Card, I suggest you query it with both your bank and, if neither back down, pass you complaint to 'UK Payments' on 02032178200.

Topic: Tech Industry

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Existing Visa Electron Cards are now 'typed' as Visa Debit to force charges for online flight bookings - £9 extra per flight.
  • In phasing out Visa Electron Cards - The problem seems to occur from banks such as the Cooperative Bank's poor decision to keep the same card number rage (starting 4508-Visa Electron), and instead reclassifying this range of cards as Visa Debit rather than Visa Electron, by a change to its 'bin number type', how it is classed to retailers:Electron,Debit,Credit etc. Without really realising the full consequences for existing card holders. The other option - Issuing new card numbers would have caused problems with Annual automatic payments such as the AA.

    The whole thing was poor judgement by Co-op and has caused some companies to still classify the card as Electron and some as Visa Debit, and thus Cooperative bank's customers are incurring charges of £9 per flight using their existing Electron card on sites such as are also refusing to refund this amount, or provide manual discount via phone. A phone call to the financial ombudsman stated today, that if Customer's had been disadvantaged (ie. financial losses) by the Visa branding anomaly, they would be very interested in taking up the case.
  • Update:Thomas Cook ties up with Co-op to create travel giant
    Thomas Cook and The Co-op will merge their high street travel businesses in a move that will create the UK's largest chain of travel agents.

    Well maybe it wasn't poor judgment by the Cooperative, or more 'a very good judgment' for themselves. Is it ‘coincidental’ that Cooperative Bank/Smile are phasing out Visa Electron Cards for its customers. Note, Visa itself is not phasing out the Visa Electron Card Brand.

    Visa Electron is the one form of payment related to the travel industry which has the lowest fees related to booking flights, hotel accommodation and car hire.

    Cooperative appear to be using their positions in banking and travel to force higher transaction charges on its customers, which they will be in a position to take advantage of through their Cooperative travel arm.

    The additional transaction fees of booking 2 flights on, between a paying via a Visa Electron Card compared to a Visa Debit Card is £18.

    This change has been forced on existing customers holding Visa Electron Cards, by
    reclassifying the bin number (first 4 digits - 4508) of existing issued Cooperative/Smile Visa Electron Cards with the fees related to Visa Debit Cards (4988-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx), so both Cooperative Cards are recognized by retailers as ‘Visa Debit’)
  • ‘Visa Electron cards reclassified as Visa Debit' A Formal Complaint has finally reached the Financial Ombudsman, after jumping through the hurdles of Cooperative complaints process.

    It mostly affects Travel/Airline sites where they distinguish between Visa Debit / Visa Electron Card Payments. Fees are charged for Visa Debit, but not generally for Visa Electron. Ryanair are the exception, they charge the same for both Visa Debit and Visa Electron, with no fee for prepaid Mastercard.
    Aer Lingus
    Easyjet etc.

    Since 1st Oct 2010 Cooperative Visa Electron Cardholders (cards having the Visa Electon Symbol, starting 4508) have been charged transaction fees relating to Visa Debit Cards, based on a change by Cooperative to the card's 'Bin Type'
    ie. Use your Visa Electron Card on Easyjet etc you now will be charged a Visa Debit Fee.

    Cooperative didn't notify customers of this change. There was no change to the t&c. It came about due to newly issued Visa 'Online' Debit Cards (no electron symbol) originally issued as Electron Cards were switched over to Visa Debit in October 2010. The problem was these cards had been issued with the same bin type as existing genuine Visa Electron Cardholders, ie. 4508, when they should have been issued with the number starting 4988 - that of Cooperative Visa Debit Cards.

    Therefore Without realising it many Genuine Cooperative Visa Electron Cardholders are/have being charged a Transaction Fee for using their Visa Electron Card on travel/airline sites due to it being reclassified a Visa Debit Card, when no fee should have been incurred.

    The Saga Continues.
  • I spoke to my co-op bank about this issue after trying to book flights with flybe, they informed me the change had been made by Visa, I pointed out I had not been notified by them of any change & they said it was notified in their latest terms & conditions.
    Do I have to put a complaint in writing to my bank, I spoke to them in branch, & fly be, I contacted them by email, before writing to the ombudsman? Thanks Rose