Everything you need to know and more about Catalogue Credit!
The mighty mail order catalogue has come a long way since its launch in the late 60s. Giants such as Freemans and Littlewoods were to be found on many coffee tables throughout the UK, and shopping with catalogues at this time was full of paperwork and quite tedious. The catalogues themselves were very bulky and heavy, and would be sent out twice a year, with great anticipation for the new editions. These catalogues tended to have a main agent who could be a friend or family member, and then purchases by others would be made on sub accounts, with the main account holder bearing all the responsibility for maintaining the entire account. The accounts were paid at local Post Offices with paying-in slips and was all very time consuming. Most of the purchases would be made over period of 20 weeks and the main agent could earn commission from the sub accounts against their own purchases. Early catalogues were very much a community or family centered shopping experience and tended to be looked down upon, as it was mainly the poorer communities that tended to use them to be able to spread payments, but in the fast pace of modern living today the catalogue is competing with the High Street stores and is no longer seen as the poor person’s shopping facility.
Modern online catalogue shopping gives busy people the freedom to manage their lives and budgets to the best priority to suit themselves. Now that you can order until 10 p.m. at night and still get next day delivery, it makes sense that more people are choosing to shop this way rather than spend time away from home and family in busy, bustling shopping centres, spending far more than was intended, and possibly not coming home with the item they wanted.
The world of online shopping and catalogue credit can be used in many ways to benefit the customer. It can help build a solid credit history, it can help to keep budgets on track, it also can save a lot of money when you used wisely. The period of interest free credit should always be adhered to whenever possible as it is only when you cross over into paying interest that online and catalogue credit then becomes more expensive than the High Street.
Many catalogues now offer a buy now pay later scheme which can give you up to 18 months before you pay a penny, if this is paid when due you may actually find that you saved quite a lot against High Street prices, if you take advantage of free delivery and free returns and weigh it up against parking and fuel costs, the overall shopping experience with online catalogue will probably work out cheaper in the end.
Is everyone guaranteed Catalogue Credit?
There is catalogue credit available for all credit histories, good or bad, but there are more penalties for poorer credit in the forms of higher interest rates and a lower credit limits. For those new to credit, having a catalogue, and making sure it is kept up to date and paid on time, is a good way to build a credit score for the future. You should always be aware of websites that offer guaranteed catalogue credit without credit searches as there is really no such thing. All catalogues offering credit will undertake a credit search on the applicant and the websites that offer this will purely undertake an eligibility check, the final say will come down to the catalogue and its credit references. You should never hand over personal or bank details to any website offering this. If you have a very poor credit rating, then extra searches on your credit file can damage it further so it is something to be aware of when applying for catalogues also.
What does instant credit mean?
Instant credit is offered by the majority of online catalogues, or those that have credit facilities, this means that once you have filled out your application and it has been accepted you will be given a credit limit and you will be able to use that to purchase goods from the catalogue up to that amount if you wish. Most credit limits will start under £500 and build as the account is used responsibly. Depending on the time of day that you apply, some applications can be approved within 30 minutes, but some could take up to 48 hours.
What is a Personal Account with a catalogue?
Lots of catalogues will offer a personal account, this is where every purchase is added to the account and you pay a certain amount each month, this allows for better budgeting as well as being able to keep on top of any interest additions. With a personal account, you will not be able to have sub accounts for other family or friends. You would need an Agent account to be able to do this. With personal accounts it is important not to miss payments as this could endanger or end interest free periods.
Some catalogues have affiliate catalogues and having a personal account with one gives you access to all of the other catalogues in the group, for example, Kaleidoscope have 9 sister catalogues, such as look Again and Curvissa. You are able to use your credit limit on any item over the group with the same interest and repayment terms, with the same delivery and returns procedure also. JD Williams are also a group with affiliate catalogues, this is worth checking when looking at the best catalogue for your needs.
Catalogue Interest rates and what they mean
If you intend to choose online catalogue credit, then it is very important to look at the interest rates that are being charged after the interest free period is over. All online catalogues offer an interest free period, this is on average about 20 weeks, if the balance of your purchase is paid in full on or before this time, then you will only pay for the item. Should you not pay this in time, then you will be charged interest. The best interest rate to be found among the online catalogues is John Lewis at 18% APR this is in the form of a Credit Card and can be used extensively elsewhere. The farthest end of the scale is a whacking 69% APR variable with BrightHouse, with the majority of catalogues such as Very, Look Again, Simply Be and Grattan, lying in the middle around 35% approximately.
It is also very important to understand the terms of each purchase as not every item will carry the same interest free terms, for instance, if you have a clothing item and a higher priced home electronic item on buy now pay later terms on your statement, your clothing item will still need to be paid within its original terms. It is easy to get into trouble with interest rates and should you feel that your payments are getting the better of you it is very important to talk to the customer service department, so they can help to solve the problem before it becomes a huge issue.
How are payments made?
The majority of online catalogues that offer a personal account will provide a monthly statement, this can be paid online, at a Pay Point, at a Post Office or by bank transfer. Some catalogue accounts have an online system where you can make safe and secure payments on the website. You are often able to call and make a card payment with the customer service team with many accounts.
Delivery options, and what is available
The majority of all UK parcel deliveries today are as a result of online catalogue shopping and it is no wonder that the clever catalogues are competing with special delivery options to temp the customer their way. The best catalogues will offer free standard or next day delivery on all items, or at least offer a yearly delivery option from £9.95. The lowest cost found for paid delivery is £3.99 and this can mount up if ordering regularly over a year so choosing the best delivery options should be high on the list when checking out the best catalogue for your needs. Not every catalogue will offer the ranges available, such as next day, selected day or Sunday deliveries, for example, the French catalogues, like Vertbaudet and La Redoute can only offer standard 5-day delivery as the goods are dispatched from France. The Freemans and Grattan catalogues are still the only ones to offer completely free delivery with no postage penalty for low value orders. Bon Marche, Fashion World and JD Williams will offer free delivery with orders over £40.
What is Click and Collect?
The click and collect system that most online catalogue will offer is usually free and will involve you collecting your parcel from your local Hermes Click and collect parcel depot, these are usually corner shops or local community stores. You can opt for free delivery to your nearest point and you can also take any returns there too. It is vital that you get all returns receipts and keep them until you have the goods removed from your statement.
How easy is it to return items if they are faulty or the wrong size?
Online shopping is protected by the Distance Selling Regulations and you are actually better covered for returning purchases bought on line than you are from buying goods in a shop. There will be a returns procedure sent with every parcel with labels pre-addressed to the returns department and you will have options such as taking to the click and collect point, taking to the Post Office or calling the courier to collect form home. Online catalogue have got the returns system down to a fine art and it is only catalogues such as some of the discount catalogues like Ace or Bargain Crazy that charge for returns, but you will also find that these catalogues will also charge postage and do not have credit facilities. This is something you need to consider when looking at the best catalogue for your needs, does the price of postage and any returns outweigh the savings you will make?
Are there any extra bonus of shopping with online Catalogues?
Catalogues such as Argos have ongoing voucher systems both online and, in their stores, of £5 per every £50 spent, and then there are ongoing flash sales throughout the year that happen with many others. These flash sales can be very good when combined with free delivery and interest free options and can save the shopper a lot on items previously out of reach. Jacamo and Simply Be have birthday bonuses that have discount codes and then there are the free delivery specials that pop up every now and then, or the no interest for 6 or 12 months offers. If you keep your payments in line and take care not to slip into paying interest, then online catalogue shopping is one of the best and most economical ways to shop. You can also find some fantastic joining bonuses of up 25% discount on your first order. This is an option definitely worth considering especially if you were looking to order a high value item as this would be a fantastic saving, better than any High Street sale price.
Catalogue shopping can be a cost effective, time saving shopping experience offering all the best designer names and well known High Street brands and will add to a great credit score when looked after correctly, but it is vital to know that defaulting on catalogue payments will put a bad mark against your future credit score and could stop any future credit offers. If you are at risk of not making a payment it is important to discuss things as soon as possible with the catalogue finance team.