Consumer groups want regulation on $1 billion annual card fees

Consumer groups want regulation on $1 billion annual card fees

Consumer groups want regulation on $1 billion annual card fees

Representatives of Turkish consumer organizations have argued that the total amount of credit card annual fees exceeds 6 billion Turkish Liras ($1 billion), demanding new regulations to end what they say is a burden on consumers’ shoulders.

Bursa Consumers Association chairman Sıtkı Yılmaz told Anadolu Agency that credit cards are one of the top consumer problems in Turkey.

Yılmaz said there are 67 million credit cards in the country, noting that the annual fees for the cards vary from 100 liras to 500 liras.

“The bank, the companies; they are all winners here and the consumers are the losers,” he said, adding that the association is against the annual credit card fees.

“The annual fees for all cards amount up to 6 billion liras, which is a very significant amount,” he said.

“The consumers call us and desperately ask what they can do about this. The annual credit card fees, although legal, are unjust. We expect new regulations on the issue. The regular and overdue interest rates for credit card expenditures are already high, and while these payments are enough to cover all the expenses of the banks, charging an additional annual fee is unacceptable.”

Aydın Ağaoğlu, honorary chairman of the Consumer Application Center, recalled that the new Consumers Law forces banks to offer their customers credit cards with no annuals fees.

“The responsibility here has been given to the banks,” he said. “They must offer the consumers free credit cards. Millions of consumers who do not know this either pay annual fees or spend hours with bank officials to have the fees annulled. All annual fees demanded by the banks without offering a free credit card are illegal.”

The banks cite a regulation by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) as the legal basis to their demands, but the laws trump the regulations, Ağaoğlu said.

“The consumers should officially, in writing, demand credit cards with no annual fees from their banks,” he added.

“If the banks officially reject the requests, than the consumers will have a right to complain to the Competition Board, which could result in huge fines for the banks.”