Mizrahi unveils new credit card

Bank representatives said the card would provide another credit frame for those who have exhausted their other lines of credit, without providing further collateral other than an already mortgaged property.

By MATTHEW MARLENS
February 15, 2006 07:06
2 minute read.
mizrahi new logo 88

mizrahi new logo 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, Israel's fourth largest bank by assets, this week announced a series of developments in its domestic and personal banking services, including a new credit card and the inauguration of its mobile phone and SMS banking services. Called Active Cellular, Mizrahi customers now may request information such as balance updates, account movements, share prices of capital investments, and foreign currency rates, without standing at line at a bank or ATM. The system is touted as understanding mobile text messages (SMS) in several languages, including Hebrew and English. Meanwhile, the bank's new credit card, called the Tefahot Card, is for use by customers holding home mortgages with the bank. The line of credit is extended from the premise of a basic home mortgage, wherein real estate itself serves as the collateral for the bank loan, and in this case, the real property is also pledged as security for the credit line. The advantage of the credit card, according to the bank, is its low interest, docked at approximately "prime" plus one percentage point - a serviceable alternative to average rates of prime plus 4.5% and above. The card also can be used for personal items worldwide, for a period of up to 20 years with a set credit limit of NIS 100,000. The combined worth of the mortgage and the Tefahot credit card may not exceed 70% of the property's total value. The rates and financing methods regarding the home mortgage itself would remain unchanged. Bank representatives said the card would provide another credit frame for those who have exhausted their other lines of credit, without providing further collateral other than an already mortgaged property. "The Tefahot card basically turns your house into a caspomat (ATM), and this is sort of synergy to gain new bank customers," said analyst Ravit Wolkovich of investment company Psagot Ofek. The bank plans to issue 20,000 new credit cards in the upcoming year. Yet, because mortgage banks make a business of foreclosure, or legal filings to seize and sell real estate when clients fail to make payments, a credit line based on an extension of one's property may have ambiguous benefit for the already fiscally-strained borrower. "It might be a little dangerous," said Wolkovich, "but hopefully, the banks know their customers and their credit history." Other measures initiated by Tefahot included its Meteor B'Kehillah charity program, which allows each municipal branch of Mizrahi Tefahot to affiliate itself and subsidize a children's organization of its own choosing, and Tzarchanut Navonah, or Wise Consumption program, which involves an educational series that utilizes bank employees as financial guides for local residents. Finally, the bank instituted a new logo, the infinity symbol, denoting the fusion of Tefahot Israel Mortgage Bank and United Mizrahi Bank following their November merger.

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