If you read the Head for Points comments section, you will know that ‘Section 75’ coverage often comes up when discussing payment aggregators such as Curve.
‘Section 75’ is the UK law which makes a credit card company jointly liable with the retailer for anything you buy, as long as you spend over £100 and under £30,000. (You can charge as little as £1 to a credit card to get the coverage, but the total purchase must be over £100.) You can claim up to six years after the original purchase.
If the retailer goes bust or the product is faulty and the retailer shuns your refund request, you can go to your credit card company and ask for a refund. It is one of the most consumer friendly pieces of legislation around. I’m never sure if the credit card companies are pleased it exists, but it is a great advertisement for using a credit card instead of cash or a debit card for major purchases.
Of course, you can easily not be covered by this rule, but it doesn’t matter much:
American Express charge cards are not covered – neither would the Lufthansa Miles & More Diners Club / pre-paid Mastercard cards – because they are not credit cards. Both run their own voluntary schemes, however, which give equivalent cover. Technically these voluntarily schemes are not as good, because they do not have the law behind them, but in reality you will be fine.
Any purchases you make via Curve Card, PayPal or similar products are not covered. This is because the contract chain goes ‘you / Curve or PayPal / underlying credit card / retailer’ so there is no direct contract for that particular purchase between you and the credit card company. Again, Curve and PayPal have their own voluntarily schemes so you shouldn’t lose out.
But if you pay directly with a credit card you’re fine ….. aren’t you?
We looked at this topic a couple of years ago when the Financial Times raised it (article is here behind a paywall). There is an interesting catch to the Section 75 rules.
Purchases made on supplementary credit cards are usually not covered by Section 75
If your partner has a supplementary credit card on your account, and they make a purchase with it for themselves, you do NOT automatically get refunded if the retailer goes out of business. This is because the credit card contract is only with the main cardholder.
Here is a case study
Since I last looked at this, I came across a case study on this topic. It is in the newletter of the Financial Ombudsman Service (PDF), which is about as definitive as you can get. Here it is:
Mrs L negotiated with a land-holding company to buy a plot of land. She said she agreed to buy the land on the basis of a spoken assurance from the company that she would be able to obtain planning permission for the plot.
After completing the purchase, Mrs L discovered from the local authority that she was unlikely ever to get planning permission to develop the land. As she had used a credit card to pay the deposit, Mrs L considered that the credit card provider was liable to her under Section 75 for the cost of what she now considered to be ‘worthless’ land. However, the card provider disagreed, so Mrs L brought the case to us.
Mrs L had bought the land in her sole name, intending to develop it as her own project. But she had paid the deposit by using a credit card account in her husband’s sole name. Even though her husband had allowed her to have an additional card (carrying her own name) on the account – the account itself was in Mr L’s name and it was Mr L – not his wife – who had had been provided with credit.
Because of that, the linked ‘chain’ of lender, borrower and supplier required for Section 75 to operate was not present, so we could not uphold Mrs L’s claim against the credit card provider.
Purchases made for a third party by the main cardholder are not covered under Section 75
Here is another quirk to be aware of, although most of the time this wouldn’t matter. If you buy a sofa for your Mum on your main card and it is never delivered to her due to bankruptcy, the credit card company is unlikely to find out that it wasn’t for you.
However, if you book a flight or hotel for someone else then the paperwork will clearly show that you are not the traveller and coverage could be refused.
I know that many HfP readers offer to put purchases for friends and family through their cards. This could be to help them hit spending targets for a bonus or to benefit from, say, double points on airline purchases on Amex Gold. This may not always be sensible.
Using the same logic, you CAN be covered for some supplementary card transactions
The logic over who ‘the purchaser’ actually is means that some supplementary card transactions ARE covered under Section 75 as long as the main cardholder benefits from them in some way.
If your partner used a supplementary card to book a holiday for both of you then you ARE covered, because the main cardholder is a beneficiary. Similarly, if your partner bought a present for someone which was to be a gift from both of you, it should be covered.
This is what Which? has to say on the matter:
If somebody else such as your partner has a credit card and has added you as an additional cardholder, it’s usually best to get the main cardholder to make any big purchases, rather than using the extra card yourself.
This doesn’t mean that purchases made by a secondary card holder will never be covered, but it’s best for the primary card holder to make larger purchases if you want to be sure of protection under Section 75.
If, however, the purchase is made with the primary card holder’s authority and if they expressly request the purchase and will benefit from it – a family holiday, for instance – they will still be covered under Section 75.
For clarity …. I wouldn’t get too paranoid about this. Realistically, however you pay, you are likely to be reimbursed under a voluntarily scheme even if Section 75 fails.
However, some people who won’t use Curve or PayPal because they want 100% legal certainty of being paid back. If you are one of those people, you should also ensure that you aren’t charging big purchases to a supplementary card unless the main cardholder is a ‘beneficiary’ of the purchase.
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Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.