It is the most expensive season of the year again and you’ll never feel like you have enough money once you hit the streets to buy all you want as you please. While these seasonal offers are more than tempting, most of them nowadays are offered only to those who pay with credit cards because the said mode of payment is popular and convenient and is fast emerging in the western and eastern world alike as the more preferred and  popular, over cash. Despite this popularity however, the common perception in relation to credit cards amongst the general public – at least in Sri Lanka – is not positive.

Despite this popularity however, the common perception in relation to credit cards amongst the general public – at least in Sri Lanka – is not positive

As we noticed, there were several reasons why people avoided using credit cards among which the most prominent was the lack of knowledge among prospective users. For most, the only source of information about credit cards was a colleague, friend or a family member who had once (or more than once) got into trouble due to an unsettled credit card bill.

According to an industry expert, credit cards are supposed to make your life easy as they eliminate the need to carry cash wherever you go. Other benefits of credit cards include the numerous offers and discounts that are granted exclusively for card users by merchants, ability to keep track of one’s spending as everything is documented and provided to one at the end of a month and the fact that a credit cards come in handy when you have to pay up an unexpected expense such as a hospital bill without having to go through the tedious and time consuming process of obtaining a loan.

“Another benefit of credit cards is that users are granted a grace period of twenty days during which they can pay off the bill without incurring finance charges. Users also have the option of settling their bills in installments,” said the source who wished not to be quoted. Weighing the pros and cons, he opined that the reason why many locals are backward when it comes to obtaining and using cards is because they are often not properly educated on how and when to use the card and some users on their part don’t take instructions and other related documents given to them by the banks seriously enough.

While he said the number of users in Sri Lanka is currently as low as one million, the government and other related institutions are already in the process of upgrading and mandating the necessary infrastructure in order to promote the use of credit cards as a substitute for cash in keeping with the policy of promoting cashless payments in the country. In this regard, he noted that technologies such as ‘chip and pin’ and Terminal Line Encryption (TLE) solutions are being tried and tested widely and will be implemented across the country in due course.

On safety, he was of the opinion that credit card-related frauds in Sri Lanka – at least documented cases – were comparatively less than in developed countries. However in conclusion, he said that it was advisable for those shopping online to not give away credit card information unless a given site is secure and trustworthy. When inquired what measures the banks have already taken to ensure the safety of the customers who make online payments using credit cards, the expert asserted that every time a user makes a payment, an SMS alert is sent as a reference so if there is any fraud or misuse of the card, the user would be notified enabling them to inform the bank who will then do the needful.

While he reiterated that credit cards can be useful not merely as a mode of payment but also in keeping track of one’s spending, he said that using the service diligently is a duty on the part of the customers at the end of the day.
Happy shopping!