CommBank to allow credit card customers to close accounts online

Sally McMullen 6 March 2017 NEWS

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Commonwealth Bank will be the first Australian bank to give credit card holders the power to close their account online.

The days of going toe to toe with a customer service representative whose job it is to persuade you from cancelling your credit card will soon be a thing of the past. Well, at least it will be for Commonwealth Bank customers.

Over the weekend, CommBank announced that its credit card customers will soon be able to close their accounts online in real time with a feature called Click to Close. So, as long as the customer has repaid their balances and the account is in good standing, cardholders will be able to close their credit card using the CommBank app or online without the need to go into a branch or speak to the contact centre.

Cardholders usually have to contact the customer service team or visit a branch to close their credit card. However, as you may have experienced, the customer service representatives are encouraged to do their best to convince you to keep your account open. Some banks even go as far as offering to waive annual fees, lower interest rates and offer other perks to sway cardholders to stay on board. As such, Commonwealth Bank’s new feature will be a first for Australian banks. A launch date hasn’t been confirmed, but customers can expect to take advantage of the new online feature as soon as mid-2017.

It might be an Australian first, but this isn’t the first time the idea of simplified account closure has been brought to the attention of the banks. In May 2016, the Federal Government flagged that it would potentially force card providers to offer the option to cancel a credit card online, arguing it would reduce the opportunity for cardholders to be dissuaded.

Clive van Horen, Commonwealth Bank’s executive general manager of Retail Products and Strategy said this is an example of the bank innovating to give its customers more control over their finances – one of a few moves Commonwealth Bank has made to help customers do so in recent years. In 2014, it introduced its Lock, Block, Limit feature to provide cardholders with increased security and last year it added spending caps and real-time credit limit decreases to help customers curb their spending. In its half-year report, CBA also vowed that it would introduce strategies to help cardholders avoid late payment fees this year.

If you don’t belong to the Commonwealth Bank or want to cancel your card before the Click to Close feature is brought in, there are ways to close your account smoothly in the meantime. Before you make the call, write down the reasons you want to close your account. This way, you won’t be distracted by the customer service representative if they try to persuade you to maintain your account. If you’re certain you want to close your account, politely insist and don’t take no for an answer. After they’ve agreed to close your account, make sure you’ve received your confirmation and follow up if you haven’t. If it hasn't been closed properly, you could be stung by maintenance fees for a card you’re not using. See our guide on how to cancel a credit card account for more tips.

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