The application form says that the normal upper age limit for opening an account is 65, but 'in certain circumstances' applicants up to 75 will be considered.
Arthur Hammond, 75, a former Navy man and retired police chief inspector who lives in Eltham, south London, did not notice the reference to age, and applied.
He received a letter turning down his application because 'it is bank policy that the maximum age limit for Visa card applicants is 75'. Mr Hammond was only interested in the interest rate paid on Keyway and did not want the Visa card at all.
A Girobank spokesman at first explained that elderly applicants would often fail the credit vetting procedure, and would be unlikely to make great use of the Visa credit card, which acts as a cheque guarantee card.
But the bank, owned by Alliance & Leicester Building Society, has decided to drop the age bar and judge each applicant according to the normal financial criteria.
'We don't want to discriminate against people who may have the money and can pass the credit vetting,' said a spokeswoman. She said that the rules would be changed in a few months. But in the meantime Mr Hammond could reapply and would get special clearance. 'I'm not interested now,' he said.
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