Ulster Bank will begin writing to its roughly 75,000 credit card customers from next month, giving them six months’ notice to close their accounts and find a new service provider.
The NatWest-owned lender is the process of winding down its operations in the State as part of its phased withdrawal from the Irish market, announced last year. In a statement on Tuesday Ulster Bank said its credit cards will no longer work from the end of the six-month notice period in March 2023. In the letters due to be sent out next month, customers will be advised to ensure that all recurring transactions have been transferred successfully to a new credit card account once they switch to a new bank.
They will also be advised to have sufficient money in their account to cover the €30 stamp duty charge they will be charged for closing their old accounts.
The banks said that close to half of the customers it will write to clear their balances on a monthly basis. Some 29 per cent have balances of less than €500, while 19 per cent have outstanding balances of between €500 and €3,000, and fewer than 6 per cent have an outstanding balance of more than €3,000.
Credit card customers in default are not part of this process, the lender said, and are being supported separately.
Overall, Ulster Bank said six months should be “more than adequate time to take action”. Customers with any difficulties or who need additional help will be supported by the bank to ensure they have continuity of service, the statement indicated.
“Ulster Bank recognises that some customers may not be able to clear their balance within six months and will work with customers on a case-by-case basis for individual plans,” it said. “If customers need support in repaying their balance, are in financial difficulty or are in a vulnerable situation, they can contact the bank’s credit card team.”
Jane Howard, chief executive of Ulster Bank, said: “We encourage customers to review their options now and be ready to take action when they receive their email or letter. While six months will be enough time for the majority of our customers to find a new provider, I recognise that some customers may have difficulty repaying their balance within six months and we will continue to work with these customers on an individual basis to assist them.”
Ms Howard said she “strongly advised” customers who need additional support to contact the bank as soon as they can.