Capitec's new MasterCard fee
  • Capitec's annual new fees kicked in on 1 March. It included a small new charge: R3 for "international transactions" using its fees.
  • Many clients are only noticing the brand new charge now, as multiple instances of the "MasterCard International Processing fee" pops up in their statements.
  • Capitec says the fee compares well to percentage-based approaches by other banks.
  • But some clients are unhappy to suddenly find themselves paying R3 any time they do business with Google or Netflix – even for transactions worth R10 or less.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

New pricing rules for Capitec clients kicked in on 1 March, but some are just noticing a new charge on their accounts – and they aren't happy.

The new charge is listed as a "processing fee for international transaction" in Capitec's list of fees, but has turned out to apply to transactions customers may not think of as being international: rand-denominated payments to the likes of Netflix, Airbnb, and Google, for services delivered to them in South Africa.

Because such payments are to accounts outside South Africa, Capitec now charges a R3 flat fee per transaction.

That is a competitive rate, Capitec says, and it "remains committed not to charge a commission on the exchange rate where traditional banks easily add 2.5% to the transaction".

That is cold comfort to those making many small payments, for which they are now charged for the first time after years as Capitec clients. At the far end of the spectrum, one such client pointed to a R6 payment to Google for services. Paying with a Capitec card meant an effective 50% charge in the form of a R3 "Mastercard International Processing Fee", as it is reflected in statements.

At a bank that charges a 2.5% commission, the charge would have been 15 cents.

The point where Capitec's flat fee meets competing percentage-based fees is R120 – which is more than many music, movie, and app subscriptions, or the cost of buying mobile software or once-off content.

Asked if there is any way to make small online payments without incurring the fee, Capitec told Business Insider South Africa it is the most affordable option for international travel, and pointed to free card payments at South African retailers.

In mid-2020 Capitec started to charge for each purchase of airtime and electricity through its online channels. It said growth in its customer base over the years had meant a big increase in its costs. 

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