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The Top 5 Credit Cards on the Kenyan Market

Posted on 2018-03-26
The Top 5 Credit Cards on the Kenyan Market

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what works for you and what doesn't, let's delve a little deeper to the different forms of bankcards available in the Kenyan market.

They basically include credit cards, debit cards and pre-paid debit cards. And what's the difference?

Debit vs Credit vs Prepaid

Well in a nutshell, a credit card is a payment card issued to users (cardholders) to enable the cardholder to pay a merchant for goods and services based on the cardholder's promise to the card issuer to pay them for the amounts so paid plus the other agreed charges. The card issuer (usually a bank) creates a revolving account and grants a line of credit to the cardholder, from which the cardholder can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance.

A debit card on the other hand usually referred to as an ATM Card is issued by your bank and linked to your personal or savings account. The money taken from the account is yours and you will never incur interest charges.

The only difference between a debit card and a prepaid card is the fact that the latter is not linked to any bank account.

Prepaid products include general-purpose reloadable cards, which display a network brand such as MasterCard or Visa and transactions will be declined if you don't have the funds in your account or card.

The only time a credit card will be declined is if a transaction puts you over your credit limit.
Now with that in mind, let's dig into it by first of all examining the benefits of owning a credit card.

First and foremost, a credit card allows you to have the utmost speed and freedom when it comes to purchasing what you want. If you need to buy something expensive and can't afford to pay for it all in one go, then a credit card is ideal, as long as you use it sensibly.
A 0% purchase credit card allows you to pay for the item in full and then spread the costs over a number of months, by making a series of payments to clear the balance.
There is a catch to this though; these monies have to be paid within the interest free window. If this surpasses, then you are in for a long wind of extra charges for the item purchased.
Another advantage of using a credit card is that you can earn while you spend. This includes cash back, loyalty points or air miles, which means you could actually make money from your credit card. These are only worthwhile if you pay your bill in full – otherwise the interest you'll be charged will be more than the value of the rewards.
As for the entrepreneurs, a credit card offers you the opportunity of improving your credit score making you eligible for more credit to make a wide array of investments.
The downside to this card however is the fact that it's a borrowing card. You buy now and pay later - and there are risks.
If you don't pay off your balance in full each month, you will start to rack up interest. Your debt can therefore quickly spiral out of control, particularly if you pay off only the minimum monthly amount.
Now that you have a more vivid picture, let's get into some of the credit cards we have in Kenya and their benefits:

It's a bit hard to put these cards in a particular order considering the needs of the consumers are relatively different. What I will strive to focus on are the benefits of specific cards offered by different financial institutions.

  1. EQUITY Gold Card
  2. The first card on the list is the Equity Gold card which is designed to offer high spending limits and exclusive packages to high income individuals. Some of the features include: Worldwide Acceptability of Visa brand, revolving credit with 45 day interest free period, pay as little as 20% of your outstanding balance every month or as much as you like, SMS alerts for every time you transact with details of the transaction as they happen and many more. In addition to this is also Equity classic card, which is designed, for the middle-income earner keen on accessing credit at their wish.

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  3. KCB Platinum Visa Card
  4. KCB also has its own range of credit cards and they include the Classic Visa card, Gold Visa card and the Platinum visa card, which is at the top of the chain. Their benefits are also similar but the only difference is the limit which every card can hold.  Some of the benefits include: 45 Days interest free period on purchases, a flexible payment option, Global card acceptability and no joining fee.
    The cards are also available to both salaried individuals and sole proprietors. For the salaried person, all you are required to produce in order to qualify is a copy of your national ID or passport, your pay slip and bank statements from a grace period of 3 months. As for the business people, besides the National ID- then you also need to produce your business registration form, bank statements from a grace period of 6 months and a duly filled application form.
    For the salaried customers, then there are different requirements for the different cards. To access the Classic card, one must have a net pay of at least Ksh 20,000, Ksh 200,000 for the Gold card and KSh 300,000 for the Platinum card.
    Also note that there also some extra fees to be incurred by the card.

  5. Standard Chartered Platinum Card
  6. The Standard Charted range of cards seemed to be more diverse with a range of benefits for purchases, travel and so much more amid all the cards sampled. Their Platinum card for example has a rewards programme where you can earn Reward Points each time you use your card for shopping, entertainment, travel, online purchases or for paying for utility bills. You will automatically be enrolled into the programme and no entry forms or fees will be required.
    They also have cash back where every time you use your Standard Chartered Platinum Credit Card to pay for dining and fuel bills you will be rewarded with 5% Cash Back.
    Most interesting however is the credit life insurance the card offers. It is a compulsory insurance programme to safeguard against setbacks brought about by a prolonged illness, injury or death. From as little as KES 80 Cents for every KES 1,000 of your Card balance, it protects you against life's uncertainties. The Credit Life Insurance charges will appear in your monthly Credit Card Statement under a separate heading "Credit Life Insurance charge".
    This also provides a waiver of outstanding balances in the unfortunate event of permanent disability or death, the entire outstanding balance amount on your Standard Chartered Platinum Credit Card account, including the balance amount on all your supplementary Credit Cards, will be waived off without causing any inconvenience to your loved ones.
    Their interest free days are also 50 as compared to many other institutions which provide a 45 day window.
    Most of these benefits also apply to the gold card members.

  7. I&M Visa Infinite
  8. Another interesting card is the Visa Infinite card by I&M. Just like previous cards mentioned, it has some similar benefits but there are some notable ones. Like for example they have global emergency assistance where if you lose our card, then Visa is able to block your account, send a replacement card and provide emergency cash.

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    They also have comprehensive travel insurance with great benefits when you purchase travel tickets or make hotel reservations with the card. You can also qualify for up to $1 million in Emergency Medical Expenses cover, for you and your travel companions as per Visa Multi-trip Travel Insurance Terms and Conditions.

  9. Barclays Signature Visa Card
  10. Last but not least is the Barclays Signature Visa card which was launched by Barclays Bank just a few days ago alongside it's Timiza credit products. Among the first to be launched in Africa, this credit card is meant to cater for high achieving consumers, the cream of the cream on the continenet.
    Some of the benefits for the card range from concierge available 24 hour a day, seven day a week to ensure cardholders' personal and business travel needs are attended to.
    For instance, the concierge helps customers to book restaurants on their behalf, to guarantee reservations and unlock dining experiences that are only available to Visa Signature cardholders. The concierge also assists customers to suggest and book concerts, theatre productions and other entertainment in cities around the world, including those in their home town.
    In addition, purchases made with Visa Signature cards are protected for one year from date of purchase and have no excess through Visa Signature purchase protection. Also, new items purchased with the Visa Signature card can extend the repair period offered by the original manufacturer's warranty for up to 24 months.

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