Average earner offered pounds 1,800

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The Independent Online
A PERSON on an average salary could comfortably receive pounds 1,800 in instant credit from a major credit card issuer.

Gifts from toasters, hot-air balloon trips, air miles and weekends away to substantial discounts on cars are being offered by banks and credit companies anxious to cultivate a loyal following.

The question posed by the Independent was hypothetical: how much credit would you give to a 'financially reliable' person with an income of pounds 18,000, with a cash flow of pounds 500 at the end of each month? The answers ranged from pounds 250 to pounds 1,800.

'We would examine a person's history quite carefully before deciding a limit', a spokesman for Barclays Bank said. 'We would look for stability, regular employment and a good income. We would make sure that the applicant is not over-committed to other companies.'

Factors such as how long the applicant has had a telephone, whether their home is rented or owned, and the type of job they hold are also taken into account. Applicants with steady incomes are favoured, although unemployed people are not ruled out.

Most companies seemed keen to give all applicants a chance: 'We try to maintain a balance between lending money responsibly and pleasing our customers', a spokesman from the TSB said.

Barclays said it tried to bring customers in: 'If we find that a person does not meet our requirements we write to them and tell them why. We point out where their weaknesses lie and ask them for extra information.

'If they return to us with the reassurances we need, we try to give them a chance. We try to be responsible,' the spokesman said.

The Bank of Scotland was cautious: 'Unless we knew the family circumstances, a person who was unemployed would not be given a credit card,' its spokesman said.