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Barclaycard Ring ends first year with a modest profit and major goals

By , CardRatings contributor
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In Barclaycard Ring's first year on the market, the experimental low-interest credit card gained about 10,000 new customers, but failed to achieve an expected return to shareholders. Barclaycard officials posted statistics on Ring's launch to the program's official blog in June, in the form of an annual report tracking the card's performance during the first twelve months from its launch in March 2012.

According to the report, approximately 6,000 of the card's initial accounts remain active, with an average monthly balance of under $1,400. Cardholders paid just over a half million dollars in finance charges during the year, contributing to an overall "community profit" of $197,326. However, company officials stated that the profit fell short of internal profitability targets, due to lower than expected adoption of paperless statements and a short-term uptick in charge-offs during the first quarter of 2013.

Barclaycard Ring's annual report represents the fulfillment of the bank's pledge to operate its new card with unprecedented transparency. Company representatives use posts to a member blog to solicit feedback on new product features and marketing initiatives. In the card's first year on the market, Barclaycard has delivered on promises such as:

  • An automated pre-qualification system that matches Barclaycard products to prospective applicants without requiring a credit report lookup.
  • An adjusted late fee policy that removed three extra payment days, while adding one late fee waiver per year.
  • An enhanced mobile app with a "quick view" of key account details.

Modifications currently under member discussion include:

  • Inclusion of contactless RFID or embedded EMV chips. Although current Barclaycard Ring cards include the contactless chip, members have debated whether the community could save money by removing the chip in future cards. Likewise, a vocal group of users has championed including an embedded EMV chip to make transactions easier in Europe.

With one of the few no fee balance transfer deals on the market, Barclaycard has positioned Ring as a way for consumers to cash in on their existing rewards credit cards while taking advantage of a very low interest rate. Program managers have cautioned that the card's variable rate will rise with the Prime Rate as the economy improves, but that they intend to maintain a lower rate than most competitors.

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