There are a lot of terms and words that are associated with payment methods that not everyone may be as familiar with. Our easy to use glossary lists the most common terms and gives a short explanation of what each of them mean. At the same time we have made sure the words in the glossary are explained throughout our site whenever they are being used. Just hover your mouse cursor over the underlined words and a box will appear with the explanation.

2

2-4-6

The 2-4-6 changes were introduced in November 2007. They set a maximum time limit of two, four and six working days for each of the stages after paying in a cheque to a current or basic bank account. The changes cover cheques, banker's drafts, banker's cheques and building society cheques paid in to sterling current account and basic bank accounts. www.chequeandcredit.co.uk/246

3

3D Secure

3D Secure is an added layer of security for online credit and debit card transactions. It was developed by Visa to improve the security of internet payments and offered to customers as the Verified by Visa service. Services based this system have also been adopted by MasterCard, under the name MasterCard SecureCode, and by JCB International as J/Secure.

A

Account Number

This eight digit number is assigned to your account by your bank. Taken together with your sort code (in the format 12-34-56), your bank account number serves as a unique identifier for your account. Your bank account number will appear on your statement and some debit cards (depending on your bank).

Account takeover

This involves a fraudster 'hijacking' an innocent customer's bank account or credit card, withdrawing their funds and then changing the mailing address with the innocent customer's financial institution. Once changed, the fraudster can conduct further transactions without the victim's knowledge.

Acquirer

An acquirer is generally a financial institution with a relationship with businesses and other service providers to process their card payment transactions. Acquirers obtain financial settlement from the card issuers, and pay the proceeds to the business. In simple terms this means that when you buy goods from a shop on credit, the acquirer gives the money to the shop (as you haven't actually given them any). The acquirer gets the money from your card issuer who in turn gets the money from you (when you pay your credit card bill).

Affinity card

A payment card issued on the basis that the card issuer makes a donation to a particular organisation (often a charity).

American Express (Amex)

An international company whose services include travel and financial products. It is probably best known for the American Express charge card which enables the holder to obtain goods and services without the need to pay cash. Monthly statements must be settled in full. American Express is also a major issuer of credit cards and its branded cards are issued by other banks (see also Card Schemes).

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The APR is an expression of the total cost of credit to a borrower. By law, all lenders, including credit card companies must show customers the APR. The APR is based upon a set of assumptions specified in law.

ATM

Automated Teller Machine, also commonly known as a cash machine.

ATM-only card

Plastic cards that can be used in ATMs for cash withdrawals and other banking services available at ATMs, but which cannot be used to make payments, for example, for goods in shops. Typically, these include cards linked to basic bank accounts and savings products issued by banks and building societies.

Automated Clearing House (ACH)

A company or group responsible for sorting automated payment instructions to allow the transfer of funds electronically. ACH's are usually country specific and UK examples are Bacs and CHAPS.

Automated payment

An automated payment is a payment made by electronic transfer directly into a bank account. Direct Debits and Bacs direct credits are processed through the automated Bacs central infrastructure and so are some standing orders, internet and phone banking payments. The vast majority of internet, phone and standing order payments are processed using the Faster Payments Service which is a same-day service enabling these payments to be made almost instantaneously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

B

Bacs Direct Credit

An electronic credit to a customer's account initiated directly by a payer. Bacs Direct Credits consist primarily of business-to-individual payments for wages, salaries, pensions, state benefits and tax credits, and payments initiated by businesses to pay their trading partners or by individuals to pay bills.

Bacs Payment Schemes Ltd

Bacs set the business rules that govern the operation of the Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit payment schemes.

Balance transfer

The transfer of a balance from one credit card to another - usually held at another credit card company. Customers transferring their balance are usually offered a zero interest rate for a specified period and are charged a transfer fee as a percentage of their balance transferred.

Bank Giro Credit

An instruction to a bank asking it to credit a specified sum of money to a named account at that branch. A bank giro credit is not a payment instrument as it can't be used on its own to make a payment, it has to be accompanied by cash or cheque.

Bank Statement

A record prepared by a financial institution, usually available online to the customer or posted to them once a month. It lists all transactions for an account, including deposits, withdrawals, electronic transfers, fees and other charges, and interest incurred or earned.

Bankers draft

When issuing a bankers' draft, the bank will debit the customer's account, just as they would with cash, so that the recipient/payee can be assured that the draft will not ‘bounce' or be returned unpaid due to lack of funds. The recipient can be certain that funds will clear. A banker's draft is not strictly speaking a cheque but it is cleared in the same way as a cheque.

Base Identification Number (BIN)

Usually the first 4-6 digits of the account number.

Base Rate (Bank Rate)

The main interest rate in the economy, set by the Bank Of England, upon which others rates are based.

Basic bank account

An account designed for customers who may not meet a bank's criteria for opening a full-service standard current account and/or who need to ensure that they cannot be overdrawn. Features typically include the ability to make payments, to receive payments such as pensions and state benefits credited direct to the account, debit cards, withdrawals by plastic card through cash machines and the facility to pay bills by Direct Debit. It does not provide overdraft or cheque book facilities.

Business card

A payment card issued to businesses for staff use. Business cards are mainly used for general business-related spending (see also corporate card).

Business Identification Code (BIC)

The Business Identifier Code or BIC is part of the IBAN details which are used to make an automated international transfer or payment. The BIC specifically identifies a beneficiary’s foreign bank. BICs are used globally. If you are transferring money abroad it is very important that you use the correct BIC and IBAN.

C

Card issuer

A financial institution issuing payment cards (whether debit, credit, charge or prepaid) to its customers. The card issuer is responsible for settling transactions made using the card.

Card number

This is the 16-digit number across the middle of your debit, credit or charge card. You will need to provide the number, which is unique to your card, when shopping online or buying something over the phone.

Card scheme

Card schemes, set the business rules that govern the issuance and acceptance of payment cards carrying their logos. Typically, these rules apply throughout the world to ensure cards can be used everywhere. Domestic-only card schemes also operate in many countries. The schemes operate the clearing and settlement of card transactions. In the UK, financial institutions must be members of the appropriate scheme to issue cards and/or acquire card transactions. Examples of international card schemes in the UK are those run by Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club.

Card Security Code (CSC)

These are the additional numbers usually requested in non-face-to-face transactions - such as internet or phone transactions - to confirm that the card number given is valid. On MasterCard, Maestro and Visa badged-cards this code is the last three digits in reverse italics on the signature strip on the back of the card. In the case of American Express cards, this is a four-digit number printed on the front of the card.

Card-not-present (CNP)

A transaction where the business, retailer or other service provider does not have physical access to the customer's payment card, examples are transactions made by phone, mail order or over the internet. (See also Theft of card details)

Card-remotely-present

A transaction where the business, retailer or other service provider does not have physical access to the customer's payment card, but where the customer inserts their card into a device so that their card details can be verified by an electronic process. Examples are transactions at unattended payment terminals (UPTs), over the internet using a card reader or by phones equipped with card readers.

Cash

Money in the form of bank notes or coins.

Cash Machine

Also known as an ATM. A self-service machine allowing cardholders with a PIN to withdraw cash from their account. Other banking services are also available on most machines.

Cashback

When purchasing goods some retailers, generally supermarkets, offer a cashback service. This enables a customer to add a cash value to the transaction and obtain the cash at the checkout, as an alternative to using a cash machine. The transaction value and the cash value will be debited directly from the cardholder's bank account. Cashback is only available on debit cards. The expression 'cashback' is also used to refer to the competitive feature offered on some credit card accounts of refunding a cash sum to cardholders based on a percentage of their spending. This is similar to other reward schemes such as Air Miles or points.

CHAPS

A same-day automated payment system for processing payments made within the UK. It is primarily used by corporates who make large numbers of high value payments, but it can be used by individuals too, typically when buying or selling a house, although there is normally a charge of around £25 to £30.

Charge card

A payment card, that enables purchases and cash withdrawals up to a pre-arranged amount. The terms of a charge card include the obligation to settle the account in full at the end of a specified period (usually a month). Cardholders are usually charged an annual fee.

Cheque & Credit Clearing Company

The company with responsibility for the bulk clearing of cheques, bankers drafts, building society cheques and paper credits throughout Great Britain.

Cheque clearing

The system for presenting and exchanging cheques between Settlement Members, usually banks, and their branches in order to transfer funds to named customer accounts.

Chip and PIN card

A payment card containing a chip that requires the use of a PIN as the preferred method of cardholder verification at the point-of-sale (not only at ATMs).

Chip and signature card

A payment card containing a chip that requires a signature as the method of cardholder verification at the point-of-sale. These cards are available to customers who are for some reason unable to use a PIN. Retailers which accept card payments are also obliged to take chip and signature cards. 

Chip card

A chip card holds details on a computer chip that can process and store information more securely than a magnetic stripe. Most payment cards are types of chip cards. Chip cards usually also have a magnetic stripe so that they can continue to be used in countries which do not yet have terminals which accept chip cards. Chip cards are also known as integrated circuit cards (ICC) or smart cards.

Cirrus

A MasterCard brand signifying global ATM acceptance.

Co-branded card

A payment card issued by a financial institution in partnership with another, often non-financial, institution (usually one which has a well-known brand name), bearing the brand/logo of both. The non-financial institution offers certain benefits to cardholders, often using a points system. An example of this would be the Virgin Credit Card co-branded with Mastercard.

Commercial card

A generic term covering business, corporate and purchasing cards.

Consumer Credit Act 1974

Key legislation that regulates lending in the UK, including credit card lending.

Contactless

Credit, debit or prepaid cards featuring contactless payment technology can be used for transactions of £30 or less by simply holding the card in close proximity to a secure reader, not requiring the use of a PIN for every transaction. Some mobile phones have built-in contactless technology. This enables customers to make a card payment by holding their phone up to a reader, in place of the card itself.

Convenience ATM

Refers to the location of ATMs in so-called convenience outlets such as newsagents, corner shops, off licences and open-all-hours general stores and shopping centres.

Corporate card

A payment card typically issued to larger companies for staff to make business-related transactions, for example travel and entertainment (see also business card).

Counterfeit card

A card which has been printed, embossed or encoded so as to appear to be a legitimate card, but which is not genuine. Or, a card which has been validly issued but which has been altered, re-fabricated, or re-encoded.

Counterfeiting

The fraudulent reproduction of original documents or instruments in a manner that enables the fraudster to pass them off as genuine or original items.

Credit

The right to defer payment of debt. A contractual agreement in which a borrower receives something of value now and agrees to repay the lender at a later date. Most commonly seen on a credit card (or loan) where holders make purchases on credit and repay the lender through a monthly bill or payment programme.

Credit card

The credit granted can be repaid by the cardholder in full or in part (subject to a minimum monthly repayment) usually on a monthly basis. If a part repayment is made, interest is usually charged.

Credit clearing

An operational clearing to distribute Bank Giro Credits and other paper credits between Settlement Member financial institutions and their branches in order to transfer funds to named accounts.

Credit history

A profile of an individual's financial life, based on information shared through credit reference agencies. It shows the extent to which an individual pays their bills on time and how much they may owe. Lenders use this information to help them decide whether to provide customers with credit and for the ongoing management of accounts held by existing customers. If an individual has been turned down in the past due to a bad credit history, they can sometimes still obtain a credit card. 

Credit limit

The maximum amount of credit a cardholder may use on their card. A card issuer may increase or decrease the credit limit on a credit card account.

Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs)

Companies licensed to operate by the Office of Fair Trading under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. They make credit information data available to organisations that are either processing applications from consumers or managing their accounts.

Credit scoring

A system used by banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions which they use to judge an individual or company’s creditworthiness. A financial institution will either accept or decline an application for credit depending on how many ‘points’ the applicant gets. Such scores can also be used to set the terms of approved credit, such as the duration of a personal loan, or the credit limit on a credit card. Financial institutions increasingly rely on highly automated and sophisticated credit scoring systems.

Current account

A bank or building society current account normally offering facilities such as a debit/multi-function card, ATM-only card, cheque book, overdraft facility, standing orders and direct debit facilities. Such accounts may pay interest.

Current Account Switch Guarantee

A guarantee which means if anything goes wrong with an account switch, any interest or charges incurred on either the old or the new account will be refunded.

Current Account Switch Service

A free to use service that allows you to switch your bank account in a simple, reliable and hassle-free way, covered by a guarantee.

D

Debit

A charge to or withdrawal from a customer's account. Transactions, such as payment by cheque, cash machine withdrawals or credit card purchases in a shop, will debit money from an account.

Debit Card

A payment card linked to a bank or a building society account, used to pay for goods and services by debiting the holder's account; usually also combined with other facilities such as ATM functions.

Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU)

The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit is a specialist police unit fully sponsored by the banking industry that is responsible for investigating serious and organised card and cheque fraud.

Diners Club

A payments organisation which runs an international charge card scheme.

Direct Credit

A Direct Credit enables large and small organisations to make payments by electronic transfer directly into bank or building society accounts.

Direct Debit

A pre-authorised debit on a customer's account initiated by the customer. Direct Debitsare typically used to make regular payments for debts such as utility bills and insurance payments. Amounts can be variable.

Direct Debit Guarantee

The Direct Debit Guarantee protects users in the rare event that anything goes wrong with the Direct Debit.

Direct payment

The automated payment of state benefits and pensions into an account nominated by the recipient. The account could be a current or basic bank account with a bank or building society or a post office card account.

Dynamic data authentication (DDA)

A type of offline data authentication in which the card uses Public Key Technology to generate a unique cryptographic value, which includes transaction-specific data elements, that is validated by the terminal to protect against skimming.

E

e-Commerce

The buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet.

e-Invoicing

An e-Invoice is a transaction document that contains billing information in an electronic format.

Electron

A debit card scheme run by Visa requiring all transactions to be online authorised by the card issuer.

Electronic banking

A service enabling customers to access banking facilities over the Internet or other computer network. Also known as e-banking and, when the internet is used, internet banking (see also remote banking).

Electronic point-of-sale

A card reader used to receive card payments, usually at the point-of-sale which requires the customer to insert their card and enter a four digit PIN.

Electronic purse

Type of smart card which, with an embedded microchip, provides multiple options, such as debit card or credit card type payments.

EMV

The internationally-agreed standards for chip payment cards, originally agreed by Europay, MasterCard and Visa. EMV standards are maintained by EMVCo, an organisation owned and managed by MasterCard, Visa, American Express and JCB.

End of Day

This is an action that a merchant manually performs at the end of their trading day and is at a time or during a period agreed with their acquiring bank. This period is also known as the banking window.

European Banking Association

European Banking Association (EBA) Clearing is an organisation set up in 1998 to provide money clearing services for banks across the European Union. Currently it is composed of 67 banks who are dedicated to providing a clearing and settlement system for euro payments on a pan-European level. It is worth considering this option if making a transfer of euros between European banks.

F

Faster Payments Service

The Faster Payments Service allows customers to make near-real-time electronic payments, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, typically by phone or online banking, to transfer money between accounts or pay bills, or make regular standing order payments. This service was launched in May 2008.

Financial Fraud Action UK

Financial Fraud Action UK is responsible for leading the collective fight against financial fraud on behalf of the UK payments industry.

First party fraud

This type of fraud occurs when a fraudster opens a new account, or applies for and accepts credit, and runs up debts with no intention of repayment.

Floor limit

This is the limit for the highest value of a card transaction before authorisation from the card issuer is required.

Foreign Issued Cards

A card issued by a non-UK card issuer. These cards may not be chip and PIN compliant and will have to be processed using the magnetic stripe on the reverse of the card accompanied by the customer's signature rather than their PIN.

Forward dated payments

Forward-dated faster payments are individual, one-off payments set up by a customer to be made at a future date using the Faster Payments Service.

Free-to-use

This refers to cash machines that do not impose a charge on users to withdraw money. If you are going to be charged you will always be advised on screen before you make a withdrawal.

Fully-authorised debit card

A debit card where every purchase is subject to electronic online authorisation (see Electron and Solo).

G

Gold card

See premier card.

H

Hacking

The gaining of unauthorised access to networked computers.

I

Identity theft

This occurs when criminals find out users' personal details and use them to open or take over bank accounts and get credit cards, loans, state benefits and documents such as passports and driving licenses.

In-house payment

A payment between different accounts held at the same branch of a financial institution, e.g. two accounts held with the same bank.

Independent ATM deployer (IAD)

Any institution, other than a bank or building society, owning and installing ATMs.

Industry Hot Card File (IHCF)

A computerised list of reported lost and stolen cards available to businesses to assist in the identification and prevention of fraudulent transactions.

Integrated circuit card (ICC)

See chip card.

Inter-Bank Data Exchange (IBDE)

This is used for processing cheques. At the collecting bank clearing centre, the cheque information is passed electronically through a secure data exchange network (called the Inter-Bank Data Exchange or IBDE) to the appropriate paying bank clearing centre.

Inter-branch clearing

Also known as intra-bank clearing. The process of clearing (processing) payments between branches or agencies of the same Settlement Member.

Interest

The charge a borrower will pay if they borrow money, and also the income an investor (or saver) will receive if they lend money or invest it in an income-producing bank account (such as a savings account) or in a security like a bond or a gilt.

Interest Free Period

The period of time a credit card customer may be given to pay the outstanding balance in full on their latest statement before interest is charged.

Interest Rate

The percentage rate at which interest is charged on money that is borrowed or invested. It is expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed or invested, usually over one year, but could be over one month.

International Bank Account Number (IBAN)

The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is an international standard for identifying bank accounts across countries in a way that would minimise the risk of transcription errors. IBANs were introduced to help speed up international payments by standardising the identification of bank accounts. You will need your IBAN number if you want to make or receive a payment to or from abroad. It should appear on your bank statement. 

Internet banking

This allows customers to conduct financial transactions such as transferring money, checking their balance or setting up a Direct Debit on a secure website operated by their bank or building society. Internet banking is accessible via a computer or a mobile phone. Also known as online banking.

J

JCB Card

An international payments organisation which runs the JCB card scheme. Common in Asia and the Far East.

L

Legacy currency

The former national currencies of the states in the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). These states have now adopted the euro as their national currency.

Lender

A person or company that offers to lend money to a borrower. The borrower is obliged to repay the loan either by installments or a single payment together with specified interest.

LINK

LINK is the UK's cash machine (ATM) network and the busiest ATM transaction switch in the world.

Loyalty card

A card issued typically by a retailer or group of retailers to earn rewards or discounts e.g. Nectar (Sainsbury's) and Clubcard (Tesco).

M

Maestro

A MasterCard debit card scheme enabling cardholders to make payments to participating businesses in the scheme.

Magnetic Stripe

A magnetic stripe on a plastic card that contains the necessary information that can be used to complete a transaction. The magnetic stripe contains the same information that is held in the chip. If the card is a chip and PIN card the chip will be read rather than the magnetic stripe, as chip and PIN transactions provide better security.

MasterCard SecureCode

An online security system that requires cardholders to input a secure password when making purchases online with their credit or debit card on participating websites. The system provides an extra layer of security for online transactions on Mastercard-badged cards.

Minimum payment

The minimum payment is the minimum amount a credit card holder is required to repay each billing period (usually every month) on any outstanding balance.

MO / TO

An acronym for mail order / telephone order that refers to card-not-present transactions.

Mobile ATM

Refers to the locations of ATMs regularly moved between locations, for example at exhibitions and shows.

Mobile banking

A term used for performing balance checks, account transactions and payments via a mobile device.

Mobile payment

A payment involving the use of a mobile phone. This may involve making a payment via your bank's internet banking website using your phone's web browser or app, making a card payment via a businesses' website on your phone's web browser or sending a text message. Another form of mobile payment uses contactless technology enabling you to use your phone instead of your card fro paying for low value goods or services.

Money Laundering

The action of 'washing' or 'laundering' money from illegal activities. This can be done in various ways e.g. the buying and re-selling of goods or gambling.

Money mule

'Money mules', or 'money transfer agents' are people recruited by criminals to help transfer fraudulently-obtained money from UK banks accounts. Money mules receive stolen funds into their accounts and are then asked to withdraw the money and send it on to a third party, minus a commission payment.

Multi-application card

A single, dynamic card able to carry out multiple applications, such as low value contactless payments, full contact card payment applications, and transport, such as Oyster.

Multifunction

A payment card fulfilling two or more roles, typically a debit card also providing ATM functionality.

N

Non-reloadable prepaid card

Non-reloadable prepaid cards will initially be 'loaded' with funds and after the funds are spent, the card is no longer usable.

Not-on-us transaction

A transaction where a card used at an ATM was issued by a different financial institution to that owning the ATM.

O

On-site / off-site

The description on-site is used to refer to ATMs that are located at or within the premises of banks or building societies. Conversely, off-site refers to bank or building society ATMs that are located elsewhere. (See also remote ATM).

On-us transaction

A transaction where a card used at, for example, an ATM is issued by the financial institution that owns the ATM.

Online banking

A secure website operated by your bank or building society that allows you to conduct financial transactions such as transferring money, checking your bank balance or setting up a Standing Order. Online banking is accessible via a computer or a mobile phone and is also known as internet banking.

Open loop card

Open loop cards are issued by financial institutions and can be used in different establishments. They will bear the logo of one of the major card schemes and may include store cards and prepaid cards.

Other retail ATM

Refers to the location of ATMs, such as: department stores, national chains, shopping centres or retail parks.

P

PAN Key Entry card transaction (PKE)

A service which may be provided at a merchant terminal where a card details are keyed into the terminal instead of the terminal reading the card magnetic stripe.

Pay-to-use cash machine

This refers to cash machines where a specific charge is levied on the cardholder when a withdrawal is made. Machines that charge for use will always clearly display there is a charge before the withdrawal is made.

Payment card

A generic term for any plastic card (credit, debit, charge) used on its own to pay for goods and services.

Payment Services Directive (PSD)

The Payment Services Directive (PSD) is a directive that came into force in all EU and EEA Member States on 1 November 2009.

Payment services provider

A payment service provider (PSP) is a financial institution – bank or building society – that is registered or authorised to provide payment services. All PSPs are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Payment systems

The underlying clearing, money transmission and computer systems.

Payments UK

Payments UK is the trade association launched in June 2015 to support the payments industry. Payments UK brings its members and wider stakeholders together to make the UK’s payment services better for customers.

PayPal

PayPal is an online payment service which allows organisations and individuals to make and receive online payments between accounts without the need to exchange bank account or credit card details. PayPal can be used for making purchases from companies or for personal payments between individuals, and also for making payments abroad.

Phishing

The act of sending an email to someone pretending to be from an established bonafide company or enterprise, such as a bank, in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.

PIN (personal identification number)

A four-digit sequence, used by cardholders to verify their identity at an ATM or at a retailer. The PIN is generated by the card issuer when the card is first issued but cardholders are encouraged to change their PIN thereafter. This can be done at a cash machine.

Plus

A Visa brand signifying global ATM acceptance.

POS (point-of-sale)

A physical location where a customer makes a purchase.

POS terminal

An electronic device used to process card payments at point-of-sale (i.e. in a shop/ restaurant)

POS transaction

A transaction taking place at point-of-sale.

Post Office card account

A service available from the Post Office. The account can receive state benefit, pension and tax credit payments only. Account holders can get cash over post office counters using the card and a PIN to identify themselves, and can also withdraw cash from Bank of Ireland cash machines.

Primary Account Number (PAN)

The cardholder number, usually a sixteen digit sequence, that is embossed on a card and encoded on the card magnetic stripe.

Purchasing card (Procurement card or P card)

A purchasing card is a form of company charge card that allows goods and services to be paid for without going through a traditional purchasing process. They are often used to cover employee expenses.

R

Recurring transaction

Recurring transactions are a way of making regular payments by card. A recurring transaction is set up when you are asked to provide your card details and sign an agreement that allows the business to charge you, over a period of time, without your future authorisation, each time a payment is due. Unlike a Direct Debit, this method is not protected by a guarantee, which is why a Direct Debit is preferable for these payments.

Reloadable prepaid card

Reloadable, prepaid cards allow users to top up the funds in the prepaid card account.

Remote banking

A generic description for any type of service enabling users to access banking facilities remotely. For example, by phone, internet or mobile phone.

Remote transaction

See card-not-present and card-remotely-present.

S

Section 75

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act of 1974 contains provisions to ensure that the provider of funds, usually a credit card company, for a credit transaction, is jointly liable if the goods or services provided by the supplier are defective. For a consumer this means that if you pay for something using your credit card and the item is faulty or does not arrive (for example for purchases made online), you will be able to get a refund from your credit card company. It provides you with an additional level of protection not available when using other types of payments.

Signature Verification

A means of ensuring a cardholder is genuine by comparing his/her signature with the one on the back of their card.

Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is the area in which individuals and businesses can make and receive card and electronic payments in euros, across Europe, simply, cheaply and efficiently, regardless of their location. In other words it’s the creation of an integrated euro payments market. Those who study abroad or own property abroad will be among those to benefit the most, as well as companies who conduct business within the SEPA zone.

Skimming

Skimming is the theft of card information used in an otherwise legitimate transaction. Thieves can procure a victim's card number using basic methods such as photocopying receipts or more advanced methods such as using a small electronic device (skimmer) to swipe and store victims' credit card numbers. Since the launch of chip and PIN it has become less common for businesses to take your card away in order to process a transaction, meaning that there is less chance of a skimmer being used to copy your card.

Smart cards

A smart card, chip card, or integrated circuit card (ICC), is any pocket-sized card with embedded integrated circuits, generally a chip, which can process data, such as most credit or debit cards.

Sort code

A six-digit number that identifies a particular bank and branch where a bank account is held.

Stand-alone card

A plastic card with a single function. The term is normally used in the context of ATM-only cards to describe cards issued by banks and building societies (e.g. cards related to savings products) to withdraw cash from ATMs but not to be used for purchases.

Stand-alone card

A plastic card with a single function. The term is normally used in the context of ATM-only cards to describe cards issued by banks and building societies (e.g. cards related to savings products) to withdraw cash from ATMs but not to be used for purchases.

Standing order

An instruction from customers to their bank or building society to make regular electronic payments of a specified amount to a named source. The term is also used to refer to individual payments arising from the instruction.

Summary box

The Summary Box gives customers a brief summary, in an industry agreed standard format, of the key features of the credit card you are considering so you can compare different products more easily.

Surcharging

Businesses are allowed by law to charge different prices depending on the method of payment being used, this is known as surcharging. It allows businesses to reflect the cost to them of accepting different types of payment in their prices. For example some ticket sellers will add a charge when paying for tickets via credit card, or small retailers may add a small charge for processing card payments.

T

Telephone banking

This allows customers to carry out financial transactions over the telephone with their bank or building society.

The UK Cards Association

The UK Cards Association is the trade body that gives credit, debit and charge card issuers, and card payment acquirers a forum where they can work together on non-competitive issues.

Third party application fraud

Application fraud occurs when criminals use stolen or fake documents to open an account in someone else's name. Criminals may try to steal documents such as utility bills and bank statements to build up useful personal information. Alternatively, they may use counterfeited documents for identification purposes.

Trojan

A Trojan is the name given to the malware that allows a computer hacker remote access to a targeted computer system. Once a Trojan has been installed on a computer, it is possible for a hacker to access it remotely and perform various operations. Regularly updated anti-virus software and a firewall will help protect your computer from a Trojan.

U

UK Payments Administration

The service company that provides services to a variety of financial organisations within the country’s payments industry.

Universal Credit

A new type of single monthly benefit payment replacing working tax credit, housing benefit, income-related employment and support allowance (ESA), income based job seekers allowance (JSA), income support, and child tax credit.

Unsecured credit

Unsecured credit is typically a line of credit (lending) that is not secured by any equity; often only your promise to make payments as agreed. Interest charges on unsecured credit tend to be higher than secured credit because of the risk to the lenderthat they have no guarantee of receiving the money back.

US dollar clearing

The US dollar clearing is the only remaining operational currency clearing under the control of the Currency Clearing Committee. It handles paper items drawn on, or payable at, UK branches of members and those with agency arrangements.

V

V-Pay

A card scheme run by Visa. V-Pay cards are chip-only. They do not carry a magnetic stripe.

Variable Interest Rate

An interest rate that may change from time to time. For example, a movement in the bank of England Base Rate would usually have an effect on an interest rate.

Verified by Visa (VbV)

A cardholder process established by Visa to help authenticate cardholders when shopping with their card online at participating business websites. It is an added layer of security helping to protect cardholders and businesses from attempted fraud.

Virus

A virus is a computer program that can replicate itself by inserting (possibly modified) copies of itself into other programs, documents or file systems. Although some viruses may be relatively benign and therefore not a threat (e.g. displaying a political message on a certain date) most are destructive. This destruction will occur either immediately, after a set time delay, or after the computer user takes a specified action. The replication itself can cause problems through the waste of computer resources.

Visa

An international payments organisation.

W

Worm

A worm is similar to a computer virus but is self-contained and so does not require a host to spread. A worm may destroy, modify or copy data to a third party. It may also install a ‘backdoor’ in the system, for later use in spam emails, key logging or denial of service attacks; all of which are a threat to security when shopping or making other transactions online.