Friday, November 16, 2007


Allkort is a Swedish term for a credit card. Or so I believed. When I opened my bank account, I applied for a credit card. A week later, my credit card was delivered by post. So far so good.

Then I tried to pay by this credit card. It didn't work.

The card was rejected. I called the bank up. They said I needed to activate the card. So I asked them to do it.

Then I tried to pay by this credit card. It didn't work.

In Britain, debit cards are clearly different from credit cards. That's why I applied for a credit card. My Swedish debit card, however, can be used as a Mastercard. So I actually don't really need a credit card.

So I just left aside the useless credit card.

Today, I need to visit my bank to obtain my ID card. The ID card is an essential item in Sweden because you are often asked to show it when you pay by credit/debit card. (You also need to show it when you rent a DVD, or so they say. I don't watch DVDs, so I don't know for myself.) It takes 4 to 6 weeks to issue after placing an order either at a post office (which is almost non-existent in this country, by the way) or at a bank.

When receiving my ID card, I ask the bank staff why my credit card does not work. They say,

"Because you don't put any money on the credit card account."


I'm totally confused. By definition, you can use a credit card when you don't have money, can't you?

The bank staff at the desk cannot answer my question in English. She asks for help from her colleague. And I learn this. You can use your credit card by transfering your money in the standard bank account to the credit card account. (And the money in the credit card account earns a higher interest rate than the standard bank account.) You can also use your credit card by applying for a credit limit with your income statement as proof of your payment ability.

In Japan and in UK, when I applied for a credit card, I could immediately use it without applying for a credit limit. The credit limit is automatically provided. And there was no such system as depositing money in the credit card account to use the card.

I don't know if this applies to other Swedish banks as well. So I cannot generalize this to Sweden as a whole, especially because my bank appears to be the worst one in Sweden. (I couldn't choose because it's almost part of my employment contract.) But I didn't know that the system of using credit cards could be different from country to country.

1 comment:

Sadat Rahman said...


I have just moved to Lund, Sweden from Yokohama. And I am quite surprised to know that credit cards are treated completely a different way than Japan. Just like you, I can not use the credit card here although I received it today.

Thanks for the post. Its quite helpful.