The central bank has asked banks not to charge late payment fees on credit cards until May 31 as users are facing difficulties in paying their monthly bills on time amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
"Banks that have already charged late payment fees for the delayed monthly bills of March must return the amount or adjust it with the next bill, Bangladesh Bank said in a circular issued yesterday.
However, interest will be counted as there was no mention of it in the circular.
"After passing the last payment date, banks will charge interest on the outstanding amount on the credit card for failure to pay monthly bills," said Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director of Eastern Bank.
"Many clients will not be able to pay their credit card bills due to the current vulnerable financial situation triggered by the novel coronavirus," the circular reads, adding that, "in this circumstance, banks should not fine or charge clients, in any form, for delayed payment from March 15 to May 31."
The decision will help card users as some of them have already failed to pay their bills due to the impacts of the virus on the economy and businesses.
Kamruzzaman Parvez, a credit card user, said he did not receive his full salary for the previous month.
"So I will not be able to pay the bill for April."
Another card holder, Didar Babu said since he was staying in a restricted area, he does not want to go to the bank to pay the bill.
According to central bank data, till January, all 59 banks issued 15.56 lakh credit cards and the transaction value for January stood at Tk1,357 crore.
Earlier, the central bank had asked banks not to identify borrowers as defaulters for their failure to repay loans, till June – like with utility bills.
"As per the instruction, credit card holders will not be treated as defaulters, till June, if they fail to pay bills," said Bangladesh Bank Executive Director Abu Farah Md Naser.
Every bank has set a particular date for monthly bill generation and due payment dates, said bankers.
For failing to pay the minimum bill by the last payment date, banks charge Tk500-800 as a late payment fee – and applicable interest on the outstanding amount.