CREDIT CARD applications are starting to improve after a slowdown during the start of the pandemic last year, a Robinsons Bank Corp. official said.

Robinsons Bank Head of Cards Maire K. Dadufalza said employment uncertainties seen during the initial stages of the pandemic caused Filipinos to became hesitant to apply for credit cards.

“The pandemic affected the turn-ins. It seems there was a conscious hesitation in applying,” she said at a briefing on Tuesday. “Right now, we are seeing an improvement in the interest in credit card applications.”

A cap on credit card charges set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has been tough on business, Robinsons Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Elfren Antonio S. Sarte said.

“But we understand the objectives, especially in the time of pandemic so we just have to absorb it to help our clients and all the banks and adjusting our own costs to cope up,” he said.

“It’s a temporary hit on a lot of us in terms of our financial profitability for the credit card, but it doesn’t make the product unprofitable. We just have to adjust certain things to make sure that we can continuously serve our clients.”

The BSP set an annual interest rate cap of 24% or an applicable monthly rate of up to 2% on unpaid outstanding credit card balances. The central bank also set a 1% limit on monthly add-on rates for credit card installment loans.

Credit card issuers cannot set charges on credit card cash advances other than a maximum processing fee of P200 per transaction.

Meanwhile, Robinsons Bank and Mastercard on Tuesday announced a partnership with Pru Life UK for a credit card exclusively offered to the insurance company’s policyholders.

The credit card gives policyholders “convenience of a streamlined payment facility when paying their insurance premium, eliminating the risk of missed payments,” Mr. Sarte said.

Pru Life UK aims to register 50,000 policyholders for the credit cards within the first year since its launch. — Jenina P. Ibañez