Have cards peaked? Statistics from the Central Bank (CBK) show that Kenya has 220,000 credit cards and 12.4 million debit cards, but that a decline in card usage can be attributed to increased usage of other payment channels like mobile money transfer services.
We all have ATM cards that are in effect debit cards. There are also prepaid-debit cards such as I&M (multi-currency), Bank of Africa (Toucan), Nakumatt (global) etc. They are good for making online purchases, payments as supermarkets, and sometimes for overseas travel payments.
Other notes about the cards:
- They are not credit cards, but using prepaid/preloaded/debit cards badly may affect your credit history.
- Many people didn’t realize what the difference was between credit and debit cards (which look the same) until companies like Uber (taxi) came about (which initially only accepted payments by credit card in Kenya)
- Check that they work locally before you travel. Swipe the card as many times and in many places (supermarkets, local e-commerce, local taxi etc.)
- Many new cards don’t allow users to re-set the pin to a number they are familiar with.
- Using a card locally also enables you to see how the notifications work (email or SMS sent after each charge)
- Watch you fees. Swipe as much as possible, and avoid going to the ATM, to withdraw cash as that may cost you about $4 (Kshs 400).
- Ensure you get a statement from the bank to confirm the card usage charges.
- Check with your bank or provider before you travel that the card will work in specific countries. Also, while they are not a credit card but it’s good to inform your bank ahead of time before you travel to a particular country where you intend to use a prepaid/debit card -as Via/Mastercard/AmEx/Verve may block transactions from unfamiliar places.