RBS unveils ‘companion card’ to help vulnerable customers during lockdown
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), NatWest and Ulster Bank have unveiled the ‘companion card’ to help those customers vulnerable during the coronavirus, particularly those over 70 who could be facing lockdown for as long as 18 months.
The companion card will act as a “supplement” to these customers’ current accounts, allowing trusted guardians or family members to go out to shops and buy essential goods on their behalf.
The card has a £100 limit which can be refreshed every five days. Though it will be “associated” with customers’ current accounts, the card will be “kept separate on the bank’s systems” as a security measure.
This means it will not share a PIN or long card number with a customer’s existing debit card, ATM withdrawals will be limited to £50, and the card will be subject to the bank’s fraud monitoring systems.
UK challenger Starling Bank was one of the first to roll out a spare card feature weeks ago, calling it the ‘Connected Card’. The balance limit is double that of NatWest’s, RBS’ and Ulster Bank’s, and only permits users to spend in-store.
NatWest’s personal banking CEO Les Matheson says the banks “are committed to finding innovative solutions that keep [their] customers safe and able to pay for the things they need, when they need them – whether that’s digitally via our app, via this new card, or through cash”.
As well as the companion card, the banks have so far delivered a quarter of a million to roughly 750 customers over the last month as part of its fee-free cash delivery service.
Customers can also request a ‘Get Cash’ code which allows someone on their behalf to make ATM withdrawals of up to £100.