Onus on customer to read terms and conditions

Transferring credit card debts,
Jordan saw an advertisement for a special low interest rate for credit card balance transfers. He took up the offer but subsequently complained that the bank's interest rate was much higher than the advertised rate.
March 2014

Jordan applied for the new card online and asked about any applicable terms and conditions at the same time. The bank gave him a web page link, but he didn’t read it. The bank approved his application and sent him a new credit card, along with a copy of the card’s terms and conditions. On the same day, Jordan’s old credit card balance was transferred to his new card.

Jordan made some purchases on his new card and was surprised to see the interest charged was much higher than the low balance transfer rate. He thought any purchases on the credit card would incur the same interest rate and complained that the advertising was misleading.

Our investigation

We found the bank’s advertising was not misleading because it stated that the special interest rate was available for balance transfers and full details were in its terms and conditions. These clearly set out that interest rates applicable to cash advances and purchases were different to the rate used for the balance transfer. This information was also in the bank website link and in hard copy with his new card’s terms and conditions.

Jordan thought the bank should have explained the terms and conditions to ensure he fully understood them, but we did not agree. A bank must give customers a copy of the terms and conditions, and customers are responsible for reading and understanding them.


We told Jordan we could not uphold his complaint.

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