Macquarie axes gambling, ups the ante on overseas spend

Macquarie axes gambling, ups the ante on overseas spend

In a move lauded by the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Macquarie Group (ASX: MQG) has announced that from today its credit cards can no longer be used in gambling transactions.

Macquarie will block all credit card transactions that are registered under a gambling and lottery merchant code. The bank says it aims to "support the financial wellbeing of its customers".

Head of personal banking at Macquarie's banking and financial services group Ben Perham says axing gambling transactions will help Macquarie customers avoid bad debt.

"We're being proactive in helping our customers manage their finances effectively and avoid problematic credit card debt," says Perham.

"The blocking of transactions that are registered under a gambling and lottery merchant code, as well as capping cash advance balances, are just some of the important steps we're taking to support the financial wellbeing of our customers when they bank with Macquarie."

Regarding cash capping, the bank will start capping advance balances at $1,000 from the end of August.

Alliance for Gambling Reform director Tim Costello has congratulated Macquarie on becoming the first major Australian bank to ban the use of its branded credit cards for gambling, saying the changed terms have set "a new benchmark" for social responsibility in the banking sector.

"Australian banks have been gouging millions from gamblers by treating credit card deposits as cash advances which carry high up-front fees and instant excessive interest charges running to nearly 20 per cent," says Costello.

"Rather than collaborating with a largely foreign-owned predatory industry and joining with them to make excessive profits from debt-funded gambling, Macquarie demonstrated great social leadership.

"I call on the big four Australian banks to quickly follow Macquarie's lead and dump the global gambling companies."

Costello has declared that Alliance will be writing to the chairs of Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, ANZ and Westpac calling on them to publicly commit to matching Macquarie's move before board nominations close at their respective AGMs.

"Now that the precedent has been set by Macquarie, it is time the big four also pulled the plug on the likes of Beteast, Bet365, Sportsbet and Ladbrokes, just as the Millionaire Factory have now done," he says.

In addition to pulling the plug on gambling, Macquarie has announced further changes to its credit card services regarding overseas transactions.

The bank will no longer charge international transaction fees on overseas purchases to support its customers travelling and buying online.

"We know many of our customers travel overseas and we're always looking at ways to improve their experience," says Perham.

"We understand that international transaction fees are frustrating, so we're delighted to announce this change so our customers can use their Macquarie credit card more effectively on the go, wherever they are in the world."

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