Co-op offers cheap credit card

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DEPRESSED by your credit card debt? The Co-operative Bank has announced a limited offer that promises to halve the interest on burdensome borrowings while you pay them off - if you apply for its Robert Owen free-for-life credit card, writes Lisa Vaughan.

In effect, the bank is offering a reduced rate on credit card debt, 12.68 per cent APR, that looks set to be one of the most competitive in the industry. The card carries no annual charges.

Those credit card holders with substantial outstanding balances (estimated by the bank to total 3 million people) who successfully apply for the Robert Owen credit card can transfer the balance from their existing card and will be charged 1 per cent per month (12.68 APR) on the debt.

That compares with an industry average of 24 to 27 per cent APR on credit card debt.

But be warned: Co-op Bank has strict credit-assessment criteria and will not take on everyone. To the irritation of many who thought they were a good credit risk, the bank turned away 25,000 applications for its free-for-life Gold Card, launched 18 months ago.

The card is available only to British citizens who already hold a credit card issued by a British bank. Successful applicants must also own a home, be aged 25 or over and earn more than pounds 15,000 a year.

So where's the catch? Co-op is insisting that customers pay off at least the minimum 5 per cent each month by direct debit.

Anyone interested in the Co-op Bank offer should ring freefone 0800 100180.