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Sunday, Apr 11, 2004

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ICICI Bank's Visa Mini Card

G. Madhan

SMALL is supposed to be stylish, whether you are in the market for a cellular phone or a palmtop. If you are a 20-something who likes to shop and hang out in the happening places, the mini card now being vended by ICICI Bank (Standard Chartered also offers a similar product) may appeal to you.

ICICI Bank's Visa Mini Card is almost half the size of a normal credit card and, thus, handy. It also fetches discounts in many retail establishments. A look at what it offers:

Apart from size, the card is no different from any other credit card . The card comes with freebies such as free gift vouchers worth Rs 1,200 and discount offers at retail outlets of Nike, Provogue, Pizza Corner and Coffee Day, and so on. The card also provides those benefits that come with the bank's Silver card. These include, accident insurance up to Rs 10 lakh, household insurance up to Rs 20,000 and hospitalisation cover of Rs 25,000. In addition, the card also provides a purchase protection of up to Rs 20,000 and a credit shield of up to Rs 25,000 in case of death of the cardholder.

The drawback with the mini card is that it does not double as an ATM card and, hence, cannot be used at ATM outlets to withdraw cash.

Similarly, the card cannot be used at merchant establishments that require manual imprint of the card rather than electronic swiping. However, the bank has tagged on a normal-sized ATM card, just in case you need to withdraw cash.

Using the ATM card, you can withdraw cash up to a maximum of 20 per cent of your total credit limit for the first six months. After that, you can withdraw up to 30 per cent.

Eligibility and charges

If you work for a reputed company and your net annual income a year is Rs 60,000 or above, you can own this mini card without having an account with the bank. Self-employed with a net annual income of Rs 50,000 or above can also opt for this. Depending on the income level, your credit limit can go up to Rs 1 lakh.

The card does not entail a joining fee. However, it carries an annual fee of Rs 375 for the first year. From the second year onwards, the annual fee is higher at Rs 750.

The bank does not charge interest if you pay for your purchases within the first 50 days from the date of purchase (not from the bill date). However, it levies an interest of 2.95 per cent a month on revolving credit, if you do not pay within the free credit period. The bank also charges a 15 per cent late payment fee, subject to a minimum of Rs 150 and a maximum of Rs 500.

For withdrawing cash, the bank charges a transaction fee of 2.5 per cent of the cash withdrawn or Rs 75, whichever is higher.

The card also provides you with the balance transfer facility at an interest of 1.75 per cent a month for the first six months. After that, you need to pay 2.95 per cent a month, if you opt for revolving credit.


The only big difference, apart from the discounts offered, is the card's size. But the very purpose of its small size — that is, carrying convenience — gets defeated if you need to carry an additional ATM card to withdraw cash as and when required.

The mini card is suitable for those who are keen on bargain-hunting, given the discounts that are available on an ongoing basis. For those who detest carrying multiple cards, and are not too particular about size, a plain vanilla credit card would be a better option.

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