In exercise of the powers conferred by Sections 35A and Section 56 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and Chapter IIIB of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, the Reserve Bank of India being satisfied that it is necessary and expedient in the public interest so to do, hereby, issues the Directions hereinafter specified.
CHAPTER – I
1. Short Title and Commencement
(a) These Directions shall be called the Reserve Bank of India (Credit Card and Debit Card – Issuance and Conduct) Directions, 2022.
(b) These Directions shall be effective from July 01, 2022.
(a) The provisions of these Directions relating to credit cards shall apply to every Scheduled Bank (excluding Payments Banks, State Co-operative Banks and District Central Co-operative Banks) and all Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) operating in India.
(b) The provisions of these Directions relating to debit cards shall apply to every bank operating in India.
(c) These directions cover the general and conduct regulations relating to credit, debit and co-branded cards which shall be read along with prudential, payment and technology & cyber security related directions applicable to credit, debit and co-branded cards, as issued by the Reserve Bank.
(a) In these Directions, unless the context otherwise requires, the terms herein shall bear the meanings assigned to them below —
i. Add-on Credit Card means a supplementary credit card to the principal or primary credit card, issued to person/s with predefined relationship with the primary cardholder, within the credit limits and liability of the latter, subject to such terms and conditions as stipulated by the card-issuer.
ii. Annual Percentage Rate is the annual cost of credit to the cardholder which includes interest rate and all other charges associated with the credit card under different scenarios based on card features.
iii. Billing Cycle/Billing Period is the regular length of time between closing dates of two consecutive bills raised by the card-issuer.
iv. Business Credit Cards are issued to business entities/individuals for the purpose of business expenses with specified terms and conditions and not for personal use.
v. Cardholders – A person to whom a card is issued or one who is authorized to use an issued card.
vi. Card-issuers – Banks which issue debit or credit cards and NBFCs which have been permitted by RBI to issue credit cards in India.
vii. Card Loyalty/Reward Programme/s are those schemes linked to a credit card or debit card whereby the card-issuer or associated merchant establishments, upon use of the card/s, offer digital coupons, points, discounts, cash backs or other benefits having monetary value that can be used/redeemed for the same transactions or other future transactions after accumulation.
viii. Charge Card is a type of credit card where the user has to pay the billed amount in full on due date after the billing cycle, and no rolling over of credit to the next billing cycle is permitted.
ix. Co-branded Card is a card that is issued jointly by a card-issuer and a co-branding entity bearing the names of both the partnering entities.
x. Convenience Fee is a fixed or pro-rata charge on use of credit/debit cards as one of the alternative forms of payment which is not ordinarily accepted vis-à-vis other forms of payment.
xi. Corporate Credit Card is a credit card that is issued to specific employee/s of a corporate employer wherein the liability could rest with the corporate entity or the employee or jointly on both, as per the product design features.
xii. Credit Card is a physical or virtual payment instrument containing a means of identification, issued with a pre-approved revolving credit limit, that can be used to purchase goods and services or draw cash advances, subject to prescribed terms and conditions.
xiii. Credit Limit is the maximum amount of revolving credit determined and notified to the cardholder to transact in the credit card account.
xiv. Debit Card is a physical or virtual payment instrument containing a means of identification, linked to a Saving Bank/Current Account which can be used to withdraw cash, make online payments, do PoS terminal/Quick Response (QR) code transactions, fund transfer, etc. subject to prescribed terms and conditions.
xv. Form Factor is the physical or virtual instrument that can be used in place of a card to undertake a payment/banking transaction.
xvi. Interest-Free Credit Period is the time period from the date of transaction to the due date of payment, wherein interest free payment can be made, subject to the payment of entire outstanding on or before the payment due date by the cardholder.
xvii. Minimum Amount Due is the minimum amount of money, as a part of the total bill amount, that a cardholder has to pay to not be treated as an overdue bill.
xviii. Most Important Terms and Conditions (MITC) are the standard set of conditions for the issuance and usage of credit cards, thereby defining the responsibilities and liabilities of the card-issuer and the cardholder.
xix. Prepaid Card is a Prepaid Payment Instrument as defined in the Master Direction on Prepaid Payment Instruments.
xx. Principal Cardholder means the customer who has been issued credit card by a card-issuer and on whose name the card account has been opened.
xxi. Unsolicited Credit Card is a credit card issued without a specific written/digital request or an application therefor.
Provided the issuance of a credit card for renewal or replacement shall not be treated as an unsolicited card.
Renewal contemplates the issuance of a new card on account of expiry of an existing card and replacement includes issuance of a new card in place of an existing card in lieu of the change in the underlying account relationship, upgradation due to new technology or systems or re-issuance of cards that have been lost, blocked or suspended temporarily, but does not include the opening of a new account after a previous account was closed.
xxii. Upgradation of Credit Card means enhancement in the benefits and features of credit cards issued, for example, an increase in the credit or cash limit of the card.
(b) All other expressions unless defined herein shall have the same meaning as have been assigned to them under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 or the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 or any statutory modification or re-enactment thereto or as used in commercial parlance, as the case may be.
CHAPTER – II
CONDUCT OF CREDIT CARD BUSINESS
(a) Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) other than Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) with net worth of ₹100 crore and above are permitted to undertake credit card business either independently or in tie-up arrangement with other card issuing banks/NBFCs with the approval of their Boards. SCBs (excluding Small Finance Banks and Regional Rural Banks) desirous of setting up separate subsidiaries for undertaking credit card business shall require prior approval of the Reserve Bank.
(b) RRBs are permitted to issue credit cards in collaboration with their sponsor bank or other banks.
(c) Financially sound and well managed Scheduled Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) with minimum networth of ₹100 crore which are CBS enabled may issue Credit Cards subject to the conditions listed below in addition to the other general conditions applicable to credit cards:
i. UCBs desirous of issuing credit cards shall submit their application to the concerned Regional Office of the Reserve Bank with a copy of Board resolution to that effect. Their application shall be assessed based on the findings of the last inspection by the Reserve Bank and latest developments, if any.
ii. UCBs are permitted to issue credit cards to their regular members and nominal members only, but not to non-members. Further, UCBs are not allowed to issue co-branded credit cards.
iii. The maximum individual limit for a credit card issued to a regular member shall be kept at the permitted individual unsecured limit as prescribed in the circular UBD.BPD.(PCB)Cir.No.21/13.05.000/2010-11 dated November 15, 2010 as amended from time to time. The individual credit card limit together with other unsecured borrowings by an individual shall not exceed the permissible unsecured limit for an individual borrower. The credit card limits for nominal members shall be as prescribed in the circular UBD.No.Plan.PCB.20/09.63.00/96-97 dated October 16, 1996 as amended from time to time.
iv. The total unsecured loans and advances (with surety or without surety or cheque purchases) granted by a UCB to its members together with cumulative approved credit card limits shall not exceed 10 percent of its total assets as per audited balance sheet as on March 31st of the preceding financial year, as prescribed under exposure norms.
(d) Non-Banking Financial Companies registered with the Reserve Bank shall not undertake credit card business without prior approval of the Reserve Bank. Any company including a non-deposit taking company intending to engage in this activity shall require a Certificate of Registration, apart from specific permission to enter into this business, the pre-requisite for which is a minimum net owned fund of ₹100 crore and subject to such terms and conditions as the Reserve Bank may specify in this regard from time to time. Without obtaining prior approval from the Reserve Bank, NBFCs shall not issue debit cards, credit cards, charge cards, or similar products virtually or physically.
5. Governance Framework
(a) Each card-issuer shall have a well-documented Board approved policy for the issuance and conduct of credit cards. The Board approved policy shall be in consonance with various instructions on the subject issued by the Reserve Bank from time to time, as well as the directions contained in this Master Direction. The Board approved policy shall be available on the website of the card-issuer.
(b) Card-issuers shall put in place a mechanism for review of their credit card operations on half-yearly basis by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. The review shall include, inter-alia, customer service, frauds, complaints and grievance redressal, card usage analysis including cards not used for long durations and the inherent risks therein.
6. Issue of Credit Cards
(a) Customer Acquisition:
i. Card-issuers shall provide a one-page Key Fact Statement along with the credit card application containing the important aspects of the card such as rate of interest, quantum of charges, among others. In case of rejection of a credit card application, the card-issuer shall convey in writing the specific reason/s which led to the rejection of the application.
ii. The MITC as given in Chapter VI of these directions, shall be highlighted and published/sent separately to the customers, at the acceptance stage (welcome kit) and in important subsequent communications. The MITC shall be provided to the customer at the time of onboarding and each time, a condition is modified with notice to the customer. The MITC and copy of the agreement signed between the card-issuer and cardholder shall be sent to the registered email address of the cardholder or postal address as per the choice of the customer.
iii. Card-issuers may consider introducing, at the option of the customers, an insurance cover to take care of the liabilities arising out of lost cards, card frauds, etc. In cases where the card-issuers are offering any insurance cover to their cardholders, in tie-up with insurance companies, the card-issuers shall obtain explicit consent in writing or in digital mode from the cardholders along with the details of nominee/s.
iv. The issue of unsolicited cards/upgradation is strictly prohibited. In case, an unsolicited card is issued/existing card upgraded and activated without the explicit consent of the recipient and the latter is billed for the same, the card-issuer shall not only reverse the charges forthwith, but also pay a penalty without demur to the recipient amounting to twice the value of the charges reversed. In addition, the person in whose name the card is issued can also approach the RBI Ombudsman who would determine the amount of compensation payable by the card-issuer to the recipient of the unsolicited card as per the provisions of the Ombudsman Scheme, i.e., for loss of complainant’s time, expenses incurred, harassment and mental anguish suffered by him/her.
v. There have been instances where unsolicited/applied-for cards have been misused before reaching the persons in whose names these have been issued. It is emphasised that any loss arising out of misuse of such unsolicited cards shall be the responsibility of the card-issuer only and the person in whose name the card has been issued shall not be held responsible for the same.
vi. Card-issuers shall seek One Time Password (OTP) based consent from the cardholder for activating a credit card, if the same has not been activated by the customer for more than 30 days from the date of issuance. If no consent is received for activating the card, card-issuers shall close the credit card account without any cost to the customer within seven working days from date of seeking confirmation from the customer. In case of a renewed or replaced card, the closure of an inactivated card shall be subject to payment of all dues by the cardholder.
vii. No card-issuer shall report any credit information relating to a new credit card account to Credit Information Companies prior to activation of the card. Any credit information relating to such inactivated credit cards already reported to Credit Information Companies shall be withdrawn immediately; under no circumstances it shall take more than 30 days from the effective date of these directions.
viii. The consent for the cards issued or the other products/services offered along with the card shall be explicit and shall not be implied. In other words, the written consent of the applicant shall be required before issuing a credit card. Alternatively, card-issuers may use other digital modes with multifactor authentication to obtain explicit customer consent. Such alternative digital modes, if any used by the card-issuer, shall be communicated to the Department of Regulation, Reserve Bank of India.
ix. Card-issuers shall ensure that the telemarketers they engage, comply with directions/regulations on the subject issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) from time to time while adhering to guidelines issued on “Unsolicited Commercial Communications – National Customer Preference Register (NCPR)”. The card-issuer’s representatives shall contact the customers only between 10:00 hrs and 19:00 hrs.
x. The decision-making power for issue of credit card to a customer shall remain only with the card-issuer and the role of the Direct Sales Agent (DSA)/Direct Marketing Agent (DMA)/other agents shall remain limited to soliciting/servicing the customer/ account.
(b) Underwriting Standards:
i. Card-issuers shall ensure prudence while issuing credit cards and independently assess the credit risk while issuing cards to persons, taking into account independent financial means of applicants.
ii. As holding several credit cards enhances the total credit available to any consumer, card-issuers shall assess the credit limit for a credit card customer taking into consideration all the limits enjoyed by the cardholder from other entities on the basis of self-declaration/credit information obtained from a Credit Information Company, as appropriate. This shall be uniformly applied as per the board approved policy of the card-issuer.
iii. Card-issuers shall ensure complete transparency in the conversion of credit card transactions to Equated Monthly Instalments (EMIs) by clearly indicating the principal, interest and upfront discount provided by the merchant/card-issuer (to make it no cost), prior to the conversion. The same shall also be separately indicated in the credit card bill/statement. EMI conversion with interest component shall not be camouflaged as zero-interest/no-cost EMI.
iv. Card-issuers shall ensure that loans offered through credit cards are in compliance with the instructions on loans and advances issued by the Reserve Bank from time to time.
v. Card-issuers shall ensure that the credit limit as sanctioned and advised to the cardholder is not breached at any point in time without seeking explicit consent from the cardholder.
7. Types of credit cards
(a) Card-issuers may issue credit cards/charge cards to individuals for personal use together with add-on cards wherever required.
(b) Card-issuers may also issue cards linked to overdraft accounts that are in the nature of personal loans without any end-use restrictions subject to the conditions as stipulated in the overdraft account.
(c) Card-issuers may issue business credit cards to business entities/individuals for business expenses. The business credit cards may also be issued as charge cards, corporate credit cards or by linking a credit facility such as overdraft/cash credit provided for business purpose as per the terms and conditions stipulated for the facility concerned. Corporate credit cards can be issued together with add-on cards wherever required.
(d) The liability of the corporate/business entity on account of business cards shall form part of their total assessed credits for compliance to instructions issued by the Reserve Bank on Exposure Norms as well as Prudential norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning pertaining to Advances.
(e) The add-on cards shall be issued only to the persons specifically identified by the principal cardholder under both personal and business credit card categories. Add-on cards shall be issued with the clear understanding that the liability will be that of the principal cardholder. Similarly, while issuing corporate credit cards, the responsibilities and liabilities of the corporate and its employees shall be clearly specified. The liability of the corporate/business entity shall form part of its assessed credits.
8. Closure of Credit Card
(a) Any request for closure of a credit card shall be honoured within seven working days by the credit card-issuer, subject to payment of all dues by the cardholder. Subsequent to the closure of credit card, the cardholder shall be immediately notified about the closure through email, SMS, etc. Cardholders shall be provided option to submit request for closure of credit card account through multiple channels such as helpline, dedicated e-mail-id, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), prominently visible link on the website, internet banking, mobile-app or any other mode. The card-issuer shall not insist on sending a closure request through post or any other means which may result in the delay of receipt of the request. Failure on the part of the card-issuers to complete the process of closure within seven working days shall result in a penalty of ₹500 per day of delay payable to the customer, till the closure of the account provided there is no outstanding in the account.
(b) If a credit card has not been used for a period of more than one year, the process to close the card shall be initiated after intimating the cardholder. If no reply is received from the cardholder within a period of 30 days, the card account shall be closed by the card-issuer, subject to payment of all dues by the cardholder. The information regarding the closure of card account shall also accordingly be updated with the Credit Information Company/ies within a period of 30 days.
(c) Subsequent to closure of credit card account, any credit balance available in credit card accounts shall be transferred to the cardholder’s bank account. Card-issuers shall obtain the details of the cardholder’s bank account, if the same is not available with them.
9. Interest rates and other charges
(a) Card-issuers are directed to be guided by the instructions on interest rate on advances issued by the Reserve Bank as amended from time to time, while determining the interest rate on credit card dues. Interest charged on credit cards shall be justifiable having regard to the cost incurred and the extent of return that could be reasonably expected by the card-issuer. Card-issuers shall also prescribe an interest rate ceiling in line with other unsecured loans, including processing and other charges, in respect of credit cards as part of their Board approved policy. In case card-issuers charge interest rates which vary based on the payment/default history of the cardholder, there shall be transparency in levying such differential interest rates. The interest rates as prescribed in the board approved policy and the rationale for the same shall be auditable. The card-issuers shall publicise through their website and other means, the interest rates charged to various categories of customers. Card-issuers shall indicate upfront to the credit cardholder, the methodology of calculation of finance charges with illustrative examples, particularly in situations where only a part of the amount outstanding is paid by the customer.
(b) Further, the card-issuers shall adhere to the following directions relating to interest rates and other charges on credit cards:
i. Card-issuers shall quote Annualized Percentage Rates (APR) on credit cards for different situations such as retail purchases, balance transfer, cash advances, non-payment of minimum amount due, late payment etc., if different. The method of calculation of APR shall be given with clear examples for better comprehension. The APR charged, and the annual fee shall be shown with equal prominence. The late payment charges, including the method of calculation of such charges and the number of days, shall be prominently indicated. The manner in which the outstanding unpaid amount has been arrived at for calculation of interest shall also be specifically shown with prominence in all the billing statements. These aspects shall also be shown in the Welcome Kit in addition to being shown in the billing statements.
ii. The terms and conditions for payment of credit card dues, including the minimum amount due, shall be stipulated so as to ensure there is no negative amortization. An illustration is included in the Annex. The unpaid charges/levies/taxes shall not be capitalized for charging/compounding of interest.
iii. Card-issuers shall inform the cardholders of the implications of paying only ‘the minimum amount due’. A legend/warning to the effect that “Making only the minimum payment every month would result in the repayment stretching over months/years with consequential compounded interest payment on your outstanding balance” shall be prominently displayed in all the billing statements to caution the cardholders about the pitfalls in paying only the minimum amount due. The MITC shall specifically explain that the ‘interest-free credit period’ is suspended if any balance of the previous month’s bill is outstanding. The card-issuers shall specify in the billing statement, the level of unpaid amount of the bill i.e., part payment beyond ‘minimum amount due’, at which the interest-free credit period benefits would not be available to cardholders.
iv. For this purpose, card-issuers shall work out illustrative examples and include the same in the Welcome Kit sent to the cardholders and also place it on their website.
v. Card-issuers shall report a credit card account as ‘past due’ to credit information companies (CICs) or levy penal charges, viz. late payment charges and other related charges, if any, only when a credit card account remains ‘past due’ for more than three days. The number of ‘days past due’ and late payment charges shall, however, be computed from the payment due date mentioned in the credit card statement, as specified under the regulatory instructions on ‘Prudential norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning pertaining to Advances’ amended from time to time. Penal interest, late payment charges and other related charges shall be levied only on the outstanding amount after the due date and not on the total amount.
vi. Changes in charges shall be made only with prospective effect giving prior notice of at least one month. If a cardholder desires to surrender his/her card on account of any change in charges to his/her disadvantage, he/she shall be permitted to do so without levying any extra charge for such closure, subject to payment of all dues by the cardholder.
vii. There shall not be any hidden charges while issuing credit cards free of charge.
(a) Card-issuers shall ensure that there is no delay in sending/dispatching/emailing bills/statements and the customer has sufficient number of days (at least one fortnight) for making payment before the interest starts getting charged. In order to obviate frequent complaints of delayed billing, the card-issuer may consider providing bills and statements of accounts through internet/mobile banking with the explicit consent of the cardholder. Card-issuers shall put in place a mechanism to ensure that the cardholder is in receipt of the billing statement.
(b) Card-issuers shall ensure that wrong bills are not raised and issued to cardholders. In case, a cardholder protests any bill, the card-issuer shall provide explanation and, wherever applicable, documentary evidence shall be provided to the cardholder within a maximum period of 30 days from the date of complaint.
(c) No charges shall be levied on transactions disputed as ‘fraud’ by the cardholder until the dispute is resolved.
(d) Card-issuers do not follow a standard billing cycle for all credit cards issued. In order to provide flexibility in this regard, cardholders shall be provided a one-time option to modify the billing cycle of the credit card as per their convenience.
(e) Any credit amount arising out of refund/failed/reversed transactions or similar transactions before the due date of payment for which payment has not been made by the cardholder, shall be immediately adjusted against the ‘payment due’ and notified to the cardholder.
(f) Card-issuers shall seek explicit consent of the cardholder to adjust credit amount beyond a cut-off, one percent of the credit limit or ₹5000, whichever is lower, arising out of refund/failed/reversed transactions or similar transactions against the credit limit for which payment has already been made by the cardholder. The consent shall be obtained through e-mail or SMS within seven days of the credit transaction. The card-issuers shall reverse the credit transaction to the cardholder’s bank account, if no consent/response is received from the cardholder. Notwithstanding the cut-off, if a cardholder makes a request to the card-issuer for reversal of the credit amount outstanding in the card account into his/her bank account, the card-issuer shall do it within three working days from the receipt of such request.
11. Issue of unsolicited facilities
(a) Unsolicited loans or other credit facilities shall not be offered to the credit cardholders without seeking explicit consent. In case an unsolicited credit facility is extended without the written/explicit consent of the cardholder and the latter objects to the same, the card-issuer shall not only withdraw the facility, but also be liable to pay such penalty as may be considered appropriate by the RBI Ombudsman, if approached.
(b) Card-issuers shall not unilaterally upgrade credit cards and enhance credit limits. Explicit consent of the cardholder shall invariably be taken whenever there is/are any change/s in terms and conditions. In case of reduction in the credit limit, the card-issuer shall intimate the same to the cardholder.
12. Reporting to Credit Information Companies
(a) For providing information relating to credit history/repayment record of the cardholder to a Credit Information Company (that has obtained Certificate of Registration from RBI), the card-issuer shall explicitly bring to the notice of the customer that such information is being provided in terms of the Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005.
(b) Before reporting default status of a credit cardholder to a Credit Information Company, the card-issuers shall ensure that they adhere to a procedure, duly approved by their Board, including issuing of a seven day notice period to such cardholder about the intention to report him/her as defaulter to the Credit Information Company. In the event the customer settles his/her dues after having been reported as defaulter, the card-issuer shall update the status within 30 days from the date of settlement. Card-issuers shall be particularly careful in the case of cards where there are pending disputes. The disclosure/release of information, particularly about the default, shall be made only after the dispute is settled. In all cases, a well laid down procedure shall be transparently followed and be made a part of MITC.
13. Customer Conduct
(a) In the matter of recovery of dues, card-issuers shall ensure that they, as also their agents, adhere to the extant instructions on Fair Practices Code for lenders.
(b) In particular, with regard to appointment of third-party agencies for debt collection, the card-issuers shall ensure that their agents refrain from actions that could damage their integrity and reputation and observe strict customer confidentiality. All communications issued by recovery agents must contain the name, email-id, telephone number and address of the concerned senior officer of the card-issuer whom the customer can contact. Further, card-issuers shall provide the name and contact details of the recovery agent to the cardholder immediately upon assigning the agent to the cardholder.
(c) Card-issuers/their agents shall not resort to intimidation or harassment of any kind, either verbal or physical, against any person in their debt collection efforts, including acts intended to humiliate publicly or intrude upon the privacy of the credit cardholders’ family members, referees and friends, making threatening and anonymous calls or making false and misleading representations.
(d) Card-issuers shall ensure to comply with the extant guidelines in respect of engagement of recovery agents issued by the Reserve Bank, as amended from time to time.
(e) The disclosure of customers’ information to the DSAs/DMAs/recovery agents shall also be limited to the extent that will enable them to discharge their duties. Personal information provided by the cardholder but not required for recovery purposes shall not be released by the card-issuer. The card-issuer shall ensure that the DSAs/DMAs/recovery agents do not transfer or misuse any customer information during marketing of credit card products.
(f) When card-issuers outsource various credit card related operations, they shall be extremely careful that the appointment of such service providers do not compromise the quality of the customer service and the card-issuers’ ability to manage credit, liquidity and operational risks. In the choice of the service provider, the card-issuers shall be guided by the need to ensure confidentiality of the customer’s records, respect customer privacy and adhere to fair practices in debt collection.
(g) Card-issuers shall have a system of random checks and mystery shopping to ensure that their agents have been properly briefed and trained as to how to handle customers and are also aware of their responsibilities, particularly with regard to soliciting customers, hours for calling, privacy of customer information, conveying the correct terms and conditions of the product on offer.
(h) Card-issuers shall ensure that their employees/agents do not indulge in mis-selling of credit cards by providing incomplete or incorrect information to the customers, prior to the issuance of a credit card. The card-issuers shall also be liable for the acts of their agents. Repetitive complaints received in this regard against any employee/agent shall be taken on record by the card-issuer and appropriate action shall be initiated against them including blacklisting of such agents. A dedicated helpline and email-id shall be available for the cardholders to raise complaints against any act of mis-selling or harassment by the representative of the card-issuer.
CHAPTER – III
ISSUE OF DEBIT CARD BY BANKS
14. Issue of Debit Card
a) Banks shall formulate a comprehensive debit cards issuance policy with the approval of their Boards and issue debit cards to their customers in accordance with this policy. Prior approval of the Reserve Bank is not necessary for banks desirous of issuing debit cards to their customers.
b) Debit cards shall only be issued to customers having Savings Bank/Current Accounts.
c) No bank shall issue debit cards to cash credit/loan account holders. However, it will not preclude the banks from linking the overdraft facility provided along with Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana accounts with a debit card.
d) Banks shall not force a customer to avail debit card facility and shall not link issuance of debit card to availment of any other facility from the bank.
15. Other Form Factors
(a) Scheduled Commercial Banks (other than RRBs) may issue other form factors in place of a plastic debit card such as wearables after obtaining explicit consent from the customer.
(b) Form factors issued in place of a debit card shall be subject to the specific and general guidelines applicable to debit cards.
(c) Banks shall provide options for disabling or blocking the form factor through mobile banking, internet banking, SMS, IVR or any other mode.
(d) Banks shall submit a detailed report to the Department of Regulation, Reserve Bank of India, prior to the issuance of any such form factors. Any bank that has already issued such product prior to the effective date of the Master Direction, shall submit a detailed report to Department of Regulation within 30 days from the effective date.
16. Review of operations
The banks shall undertake review of their operations/issue of debit cards on half-yearly basis. The review shall include, inter-alia, card usage analysis including cards not used for long durations and the inherent risks therein.
CHAPTER – IV
17. Issue of Co-branded Cards
(a) Prior approval of the Reserve Bank is not necessary for the issuance of co-branded debit cards/co-branded prepaid cards by banks and co-branded credit cards by card-issuers subject to conditions stipulated under this chapter. However, UCBs shall not issue debit/credit cards in tie-up with other non-bank entities. In addition to the conditions listed herein, the co-branding arrangement for credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards shall also be subject to the specific conditions applicable to such cards.
(b) The co-branded credit/debit card shall explicitly indicate that the card has been issued under a co-branding arrangement. The co-branding partner shall not advertise/market the co-branded card as its own product. In all marketing/advertising material, the name of the card-issuer shall be clearly shown.
(c) The co-branded card shall prominently bear the branding of the card-issuer.
18. Board approved policy
The co-branding arrangement shall be as per the Board approved policy of the card-issuer. The policy shall specifically address issues pertaining to various risks, including reputation risk associated with such an arrangement and put in place suitable risk mitigation measures. Further, the information relating to revenue sharing between the card-issuer and the co-branding partner entity shall be indicated to the cardholder and also displayed on the website of the card-issuer.
19. Due diligence
Card-issuers shall carry out due diligence in respect of the co-branding partner entity with which they intend to enter into tie-up for issue of such cards to protect themselves against the reputation risk they are exposed to in such an arrangement. Card-issuers shall ensure that in cases where the proposed co-branding partner is a financial entity, it has obtained necessary approvals from its regulator for entering into the co-branding arrangement.
20. Outsourcing of activities
Card-issuers shall also be liable for the acts of the co-branding partner. The card-issuer shall ensure adherence to the guidelines on ‘Managing Risks and Code of Conduct in Outsourcing of Financial Services by banks’, as amended from time to time. Card-issuers shall ensure that cash backs, discounts and other offers advertised by a co-branding partner are delivered to the cardholder on time. Card-issuers shall be liable for any delay or non-delivery of the same to the cardholders.
21. Role of co-branding partner entity
(a) The role of the co-branding partner entity under the tie-up arrangement shall be limited to marketing/distribution of the cards and providing access to the cardholder for the goods/services that are offered.
(b) The co-branding partner shall not have access to information relating to transactions undertaken through the co-branded card. Post issuance of the card, the co-branding partner shall not be involved in any of the processes or the controls relating to the co-branded card except for being the initial point of contact in case of grievances.
22. Co-branding arrangement between banks and NBFCs for Credit Cards
NBFCs, which desire to enter into a co-branding arrangement for issue of credit cards with a card-issuer, shall also be guided by the Guidelines on issue of Co-Branded Credit Cards contained in the respective Master Directions applicable to NBFCs, as amended from time to time.
CHAPTER – V
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS
23. General Conditions
(a) Card-issuers shall keep internal records to enable operations to be traced and errors to be rectified (taking into account the law of limitation for the time barred cases) as prescribed under ‘Master Direction on Know Your Customer’, as amended from time to time.
(b) The cardholder shall be provided with a record of the transactions after he/she has completed it, immediately in the form of receipt or another form such as the bank statement/email/SMS.
(c) With a view to reducing the instances of misuse of lost/stolen cards, it is recommended to the card-issuers that they may consider issuing card with advanced features that may evolve from time to time.
(d) Card-issuers shall block a lost card immediately on being informed by the cardholder and formalities, if any, can follow within a reasonable period clearly defined in the Board approved policy.
(e) Card-issuers shall provide to the cardholder the detailed procedure to report the loss, theft or unauthorised use of card or PIN. They shall provide multiple channels such as a dedicated helpline, dedicated number for SMS, dedicated e-mail-id, Interactive Voice Response, clearly visible link on the website, internet banking and mobile-app or any other mode for reporting an unauthorized transaction on 24 x 7 basis and allow the customer to initiate the blocking of the card. The process for blocking the card, dedicated helpline as well as the SMS numbers, shall be adequately publicized and included in the billing statements.
(f) Card-issuers shall immediately send a confirmation to the cardholder subsequent to the blocking of a card.
(g) No card-issuer shall dispatch a card to a customer unsolicited, except in the case where the card is a replacement/renewal of a card already held by the customer. In case a card is blocked at the request of the customer, replacement card in lieu of the blocked card shall be issued with the explicit consent of the customer. Further, card-issuer shall obtain explicit consent of the cardholder prior to the renewal of an existing card.
(h) Any discounts, cashbacks, reward points, loyalty points or any other benefits offered by the card-issuer shall be provided in a transparent manner including source of such benefits. The accounting process for the same shall be verifiable in the books of the card-issuer. Detailed information regarding these benefits shall be displayed on the website of the card-issuer and a copy of the same shall also be provided to the cardholder.
(i) In case of an insurance cover provided with a card, card-issuers shall ensure that the relevant nomination details are recorded by the Insurance Company and the availability of insurance is included, along with other information, in every statement. The information shall also include the details regarding the insurance cover, name/address and telephone number of the Insurance Company which will handle the claims relating to the insurance cover.
24. Terms and conditions for issue of cards to customers
(a) The relationship between the card-issuer and the cardholder shall be contractual. Card-issuers shall make available to the cardholders in writing, a set of contractual terms and conditions governing the issue and use of such cards. These terms shall be expressed clearly and also maintain a fair balance between the interests of the parties concerned.
(b) The terms and conditions for the issue and usage of a card shall be mentioned in clear and simple language (preferably in English, Hindi and the local language) comprehensible to the cardholder.
(c) Card-issuers shall not levy any charge that was not explicitly indicated to the cardholder at the time of issue of the card and without getting his/her explicit consent. However, this shall not be applicable to charges like service taxes which may subsequently be levied by the Government or any other statutory authority. The details of all the charges associated with cards shall be displayed on the card-issuer’s website.
(d) The convenience fee, if any charged on specific transactions, shall be indicated to the cardholder in a transparent manner, prior to the transaction.
(e) The terms shall clearly specify the time-period for reversal of unsuccessful/failed transactions and the compensation payable for failure to meet the specified timeline.
(f) The terms may be altered by the card-issuer, but 30 days’ notice of the change shall be given to the cardholder to enable him/her to withdraw if he/she so chooses. After the notice period of 30 days, the cardholder would be deemed to have accepted the terms if he/she had not withdrawn during the specified period. The change in terms shall be notified to the cardholder through all the communication channels available.
(g) The terms shall put the cardholder under an obligation to take all appropriate steps to keep the card safe and not to record the PIN or code, in any form that would be intelligible or otherwise accessible to any third party if access is gained to such a record, either honestly or dishonestly.
(h) The terms shall specify that the card-issuer shall exercise care when issuing PINs or codes and shall be under an obligation not to disclose the cardholder’s PIN or code to anyone, except to the cardholder.
25. Compliance with Other instructions
The issue of cards as a payment mechanism shall also be subject to relevant instructions on cash withdrawal, issue of international card, security issues and risk mitigation measures, card-to-card fund transfers, merchant discount rates structure, failed ATM transactions, etc, issued by the Department of Payment and Settlement Systems, Reserve Bank of India under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, and the Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, as amended from time to time.
26. Redressal of grievances
(a) Card-issuers shall put in place a Grievance Redressal Mechanism within the card issuing entity and give wide publicity about it through electronic and print media. The name, direct contact number, email-id and postal address of the designated grievance redressal officer of the card-issuer shall be mentioned on the credit card bills and account statements. The designated officer shall ensure that grievances of cardholders are redressed promptly without any delay. Specific timelines may be stipulated in the Board approved policy for issuance of cards, redressal of grievances and compensation framework. The grievance redressal procedure and the Board approved policy shall be displayed on the website of the card-issuer with a clearly visible link on the homepage
(b) Card-issuers shall ensure that their call centre staff are trained adequately to competently handle and escalate, a complaint, if necessary. The Grievance Redressal process shall have a provision for automatic escalation of unresolved complaints from a call center/base level to higher authorities. There shall be a system of acknowledging customers’ complaints for follow up, such as complaint number/docket number, even if the complaints are received over phone.
(c) Card-issuers shall be liable to compensate the complainant for the loss of his/her time, expenses, financial loss as well as for the harassment and mental anguish suffered by him/her for the fault of the card-issuer and where the grievance has not been redressed in time. If a complainant does not get satisfactory response from the card-issuer within a maximum period of one month from the date of lodging the complaint, he/she will have the option to approach the Office of the concerned RBI Ombudsman for redressal of his/her grievance/s.
27. Confidentiality of customer information
(a) Card-issuers shall not reveal any information relating to customers obtained at the time of opening the account or issuing the card to any other person or organization without obtaining their explicit consent, with regard to the purpose/s for which the information will be used and the organizations with whom the information will be shared. Card-issuers shall ensure strict compliance to the extant legal framework on data protection. Further, in case where the customers give explicit consent for sharing the information with other agencies, card-issuers shall explicitly state and explain clearly to the customer the full meaning/implications of the disclosure clause. The information sought from customers shall not be of such nature which will violate the provisions of law relating to maintenance of secrecy in the transactions. The card-issuers shall be solely responsible for the correctness or otherwise of the data provided for the purpose.
(b) Under a co-branding arrangement, the co-branding entity shall not be permitted to access any details of customer’s accounts that may violate the card-issuer’s secrecy obligations.
(c) Card-issuers, which were granted specific approvals for issue of co-branded debit cards in the past, are advised to ensure that the co-branding arrangement is in conformity with the instructions issued under Chapter IV above. In case, the co-branding arrangement is between two banks, the card issuing bank shall ensure compliance with the relevant instructions.
28. Outsourcing of various services
Card-issuers shall ensure adherence to the guidelines on “Managing Risks and Code of Conduct in Outsourcing of Financial Services” as amended from time to time.
29. Compliance with Know Your Customer (KYC) Norms/Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Standards/Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT)/Obligation under the PMLA, 2002
The instructions/Directions on KYC/AML/CFT issued by RBI from time to time, shall be strictly adhered to in respect of all cards issued, including co-branded cards.
CHAPTER – VI
30. Contents of the Most Important Terms and Conditions
Card-issuers shall provide to the cardholder the term-sheet containing the MITC. The document should contain the following details:
(a) Fees and Charges
Joining fees for primary cardholder and for add-on cardholder/s
Annual membership fees for primary and add-on cardholder/s
Cash advance fee
Service charges levied for transactions
Interest free (grace) period – illustrated with examples
Finance charges for both revolving credit and cash advances
Overdue interest charges – to be given on monthly & annualised basis
Charges in case of default
(b) Drawal Limits
Available credit limit
Cash withdrawal limit
Billing statements – periodicity and mode of sending
Minimum amount payable
Method of payment
Billing disputes resolution
Complete postal address of card-issuer
Toll free number, email-id and dedicated telephone number for SMS for customer care services, contact details of Grievance Redressal Official
(d) Default and Circumstances
Procedure including notice period for reporting a cardholder as defaulter
Procedure for withdrawal of default report and the period within which the default report would be withdrawn after settlement of dues
Recovery procedure in case of default
Recovery of dues in case of death/permanent incapacitance of cardholder
Available insurance cover, if any, for cardholder and date of activation of policy including nomination details
(e) Termination/Revocation of Card Membership
Procedure for surrender/closure of card by cardholder
Link provided exclusively for the above on the website
Contact details for the cardholder to initiate closure – email-id, dedicated telephone number for SMS, IVRS
Procedure for closure of card account if the card has not been used for more than one year
(f) Loss/Theft/Misuse of Card
Procedure to be followed in case of loss/theft/ misuse of card – mode of intimation to card-issuer
Prominently visible web-site link, phone banking, SMS, e-mail, IVR, a dedicated toll-free helpline, reporting to home branch, etc. for reporting unauthorised transactions and initiating blocking of card
Liability of cardholder in case of (i) above in terms of RBI circular ref. DBR.No.Leg.BC.78/09.07.005/2017-18 dated July 6, 2017 on ‘Customer Protection – Limiting Liability of Customers in Unauthorised Electronic Banking Transactions’ as updated from time to time.
(g) Grievance Redressal and Compensation Framework
Grievance redressal and escalation process
Timeline for redressal of grievances
Compensation framework for unsuccessful/failed transactions, delay in redressal of grievance, delay in closing of account/blocking of lost or stolen cards, etc.
Contact particulars of card-issuer – 24-hour call centres, email-ids, helpline, other important telephone numbers
Type of information relating to cardholder to be disclosed with and without approval of cardholder
31. Disclosure of the MITC – Items to be disclosed in stages:
(a) During marketing – Item no: 30(a)
(b) At application – Key fact statement containing items from 30(a to c) and any additional information that the customer may desire.
(c) Welcome kit – Item nos: all items from 30(a to h)
(d) On billing – Item nos: 30(a, b and c)
(e) On an ongoing basis, any change of the terms and conditions
The font size of MITC shall be minimum Arial-12
The normal terms and conditions communicated by the card-issuer to the cardholder at different stages shall continue as hitherto.
CHAPTER – VII
EXEMPTIONS, INTERPRETATIONS AND REPEAL
The Reserve Bank of India may, if it considers necessary for avoiding any hardship or for any other just and sufficient reason, grant extension of time to comply with or exempt any Regulated Entities, from all or any of the provisions of these Directions either generally or for any specified period, subject to such conditions as the Reserve Bank of India may impose.
For the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of these Directions, the Reserve Bank of India may, if it considers necessary, issue necessary clarifications in respect of any matter covered herein and the interpretation of any provision of these Directions given by the Reserve Bank of India shall be final and binding on all the parties concerned.
(a) With the issue of these directions, the instructions/guidelines contained in the following circulars, issued by the Reserve Bank stand repealed.
No.&Circular No.DateSubject1.DOR.FSD.BC.No.67/24.01.041/2019-20April 23, 2020Electronic Cards for Overdraft Accounts2.DCBR.BPD.(PCB/RCB).Cir.No.1/16.20.000/2015-16July 16, 2015Guidelines on issue of ATM-cum-debit cards3.DBR.No.FSD.BC.18/24.01.009/2015-16July 1, 2015Master Circular on Credit Card, Debit Card and Rupee Denominated Co-branded Pre-paid Card Operations of Banks and Credit Card issuing NBFCs4.DBOD.No.FSD.BC.30/24.01.001/2013-14July 15, 2013Unsolicited Commercial Communications – National Customer Preference Register (NCPR)5.DBOD.No.FSD.BC.67/24.01.019/2012-13December 12, 2012Issuance of Rupee denominated Co-branded Pre-paid Cards6.DBOD.No.FSD.BC.66/24.01.019/2012-13December 12, 2012Guidelines for issue of Debit Cards by Banks7.DBOD.FSD.BC.No.25/24.01.011/2010-11July 9, 2010Credit Card Operations of Banks8.DBOD.No.FSD.BC.45/24.01.011/2008-09September 17, 2008Unsolicited Commercial Communications – National Do Not Call (NDNC) Registry9.DBOD.FSD.BC.23/24.01.01/2008-09July 23, 2008Credit Card Operations of Banks10.DBOD.FSD.BC.35/24.01.011/2007-08October 19, 2007Unsolicited Commercial Communications –National Do Not Call Registry11.UBD (PCB) Cir No.6/09.18.300/2007-08July 13, 2007Guidelines for issue of ATM-cum-Debit Cards by UCBs12.DBOD.FSD.BC.19/24.01.011/2007-08July 3, 2007Unsolicited Commercial Communications – National Do Not Call Registry13.DBOD.FSD.BC.No.49/24.01.011/2005-06November 21, 2005Credit Card Operations by banks14.DBOD.No.FSC.BC.120/24.01.011/2000-01May 12, 2001Credit Card Business of Banks15.DBOD.No.FSC.BC.41/24.01.011/2000-01October 30, 2000Issue of Credit/Debit Cards by Banks16.DBOD.No.FSC.BC.50/24.01.011/1997-98June 2, 1998Entry of Banks into Domestic Credit Card Business17.DBOD.No.FSC.BC.152/24.01.01/1997-98December 9, 1997Domestic Credit Card Business of Banks18.DBOD.No.FSC.BC.47/C.469-1990-91November 7, 1990Entry of Banks into Domestic Credit Card Business19.DBOD.No.BP(FSC).BC.144/C.4691988-89June 30, 1989Entry of Banks into Domestic Credit Card Business
(b) All approvals/acknowledgements given under the above circulars shall be deemed as given under these directions.
(c) All the repealed circulars are deemed to have been in force during the relevant periods, prior to the coming into effect of these direction.