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Do you have Section 75 chargeback rights as a supplementary credit card holder?

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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.

UK Rewards credit and charge cards

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.

Complaint rejected:

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:

Additional cardholders

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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Comments (44)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    Rob, Not sure chargeback would cover us, but i suppose easy to deceive them so they do ?
    What we do is (3 of us ) take a BA Premium card out each (sometimes Gold or Platinum) Three of us do all our spend each card hit Bonuses then concentrate on one card only (all three of us) hit the 241 voucher on one card
    Then whoever as that card cancels until 2 years are up.
    But carry’s on spending on other cards (using supp card) until next hits 241 voucher
    Leaving last one to hit 241 target
    Normally two of us only have a one year wait to restart
    Worked brilliantly before 2 year rule was applied such is life lol
    Should add we all have Lloyds Avios cards (now unavailable new applicants)
    to use for gaps in cards
    Note this doesn’t work perfectly because only 3 of us not 4 (would be perfect with 4)
    Works out buy two with Avios get one free, but loads of Avios bonuses
    Was unbelievable before 2 year rule came in
    But we never realised we wouldn’t be covered
    Posted similar to this yesterday for Anna, thought relevant elaborated here

  • Jonathan says:

    Problems can occur if you think you’re paying a goods / services provider directly, but they use platforms like PayPal to process all their card payments

  • Jo says:

    Slightly off topic: has anyone asked virgin for a credit limit increase? I’ve had the free virgin atlantic card with a limit of £1k for 2.5 years. No chance I’ll hit the voucher with this limit.

    • Jonathan says:

      If you want to earn the voucher, then the premium card will probably be your better bet

  • cinereus says:

    When the total is over £100, is there any reason why the cc portion needs to be at least £1?

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      No, 1p is fine

    • Rob says:

      Contract law in Britain seems to require a payment of £1 to enforce it. A lawyer can probably clarify.

      In my banking days we would do contracts for free work where there was a nominal £1 payment in order to give us legal rights.

  • Dawn says:

    Really interesting article, thank you. We’ve just got our Section 75 letter denying our travel claim after waiting since last July. We expected this as it’s our Travel Insurance that needs to pay out. Wish I had known about Section 75 10 years ago when I got scammed by Locauto, at an Italian airport for £800 of damage that I didn’t do. HSBC were useless when I complained and I knew nothing of Section 75.

  • Charlieface says:

    That FOS decision is a bit suspect.

    If the couple always share all their finances, then the fact the property was in the woman’s sole name is immaterial IMO. It’s quite common for couples to have some things in one name and some in the other.

    Incidentally, a gift paid for by the primary cardholder may also be liable under S75, as the primary gets benefit by being able to give a gift.

  • the_real_a says:

    Not S75 – however one of the most useful AMEX insurances is Refund Protection insurance. You can claim the full purchase price of a product back upto 90 days after purchase if the retailer will not take it back. Used it for tiles that didn’t match after we changed the paint 2 months after the purchase, a chair that was uncomfortable and a three phone sim that i had misread as being unlimited in the EU.

    • Charlieface says:

      Yeah, claimed for my boss once on a Plat Biz. Get back a response weeks later saying “Plat Biz doesn’t offer this insurance” Sigh. Yes it does, cue a fight quoting the insurance docs…

  • kitten says:

    Axa underwriters for the insurance?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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