Rights and duties in the use of cards

Rights of cardholders

Before entering into the contract for the use of the card, the cardholder shall be entitled to receive all the information and conditions relating to the use of the card from the payment service provider issuing the card.

All information must be conveyed in the Portuguese language, except when the use of another language is agreed between the parties.

The information shall be stated in easily understandable terms, in a clear and comprehensible form and in such a way as to allow easy reading by an average visual acuity reader where this is provided by paper or other durable medium.

Payment service providers may not send unsolicited cards unless it is the renewal of a card in use by the customer.

The agreement between the card issuer and the cardholder must provide all the information and conditions governing the relationship between the cardholder and the card issuer.

The contract contains the rules of use of the card and the rights and duties of the cardholder. It also includes information on the means, forms and deadlines available to the holder to contact the issuer, or the entity designated by the issuer, at any time.

The framework contract must include a clause stipulating that, at the express request of the payment service user, the payment service provider is obliged to supply information on operations carried out, in paper form and free of charge, once a month.

For low-value transactions (in particular where, under the contract, individual payment transactions do not exceed 30 euros, have a spending limit of 150 euros or allow the storage of funds in an amount not exceeding 150 euros, under any circumstances), the information to be provided to the cardholder is more simplified. Thus the issuer of the card:

  • Is only obliged to provide information on the main characteristics of the service, including how the card can be used, liability, charges invoiced and other relevant information necessary for the user to make an informed decision. In addition, it must indicate the sources where any other information and conditions that may be included in the contract may be obtained in an easily accessible manner;

  • Can, if agreed, make changes to the terms of the contract without consulting the cardholder;

  • After the execution of a payment transaction, can, if agreed:

    • Provide only a reference identifying the payment transaction, its amount and respective charges or, in the case of several payment transactions of the same kind made to the same payee, a single identification reference of all such payment transactions, respective amounts and total charges;

    • Decide not to provide the information referred to in the previous paragraph if the card is used anonymously or if, for any other reason, the payment service provider is not technically in a position to do so; in any event, the payment service provider must give the user of this service (the cardholder) the possibility to check the amount of the accumulated funds.

Cardholders have the right to be informed of each payment transaction they perform. This information should include:

  • A reference to identify the payment transaction and, where appropriate, information concerning the payee;
  • The amount of the payment transaction in the currency in which it is debited in the cardholder’s account or in the currency used in the payment order;
  • The amount of any charges for the payment transaction and, where applicable, the respective breakdown of interest that the cardholder must pay;
  • In applicable cases, the exchange rate applied to the payment transaction by the payment service provider issuing the card as well as the amount of the payment transaction after such currency conversion;
  • The value date of the debit to be made to the cardholder’s account.

Cardholders may not be held liable for unauthorised use of the card after they have notified the respective issuer (or the entity designated by the issuer) of its loss, theft, robbery or misappropriation, unless they have acted fraudulently.

If unauthorised transactions are carried out prior to the notification to the card issuer (or the entity designated by the card issuer), cardholders shall bear the losses relating to such transactions within the limit of the available balance or credit line associated with the account or to the card, up to a maximum of 50 euros.

Cardholders shall bear all losses resulting from unauthorised payment transactions, in the event of fraudulent action or deliberate non-compliance with the obligations to use the card in accordance with the conditions governing its issuance and use, to notify the issuer or the entity designated by the card issuer, without undue delay, of the loss, theft, robbery or misappropriation or any unauthorised use of the card.

If cardholders have acted with gross negligence, they shall withstand the losses arising from unauthorised transactions up to the limit of the available balance or the credit line associated with the account or the payment instrument, even if those losses exceed 50 euros, depending on the nature of the custom security features of the payment instrument and the circumstances of its loss, theft, robbery or misappropriation.

Cardholders are also entitled to obtain, without charge, corrective and preventive measures, namely:

  • The correction of unauthorised or incorrectly executed transactions, provided that they are reported without undue delay and within a period never exceeding 13 months from the date of the debit;

  • The means necessary to prove that they reported the loss, theft, robbery, misappropriation or any unauthorised use of their card;

  • Immediate credit of unauthorised transactions;

  • Measures taken by the payment service provider to prevent unauthorised use of the lost, stolen or abusively misappropriated card.

Under certain circumstances, issuers may block payment cards. However, a card can only be blocked if that possibility is expressly provided for in the contract and if it is for objectively reasoned reasons relating to:

  • The security of the card;

  • Suspected unauthorised or fraudulent use of the card;

  • A significant increase in the risk that the cardholder may default on his or her payment responsibilities, in cases where there is a credit line associated with the card.

In such cases, the card issuer shall inform the cardholder of the blockage in the agreed manner, if possible before blocking the card, or at the latest immediately after blocking it, unless such information cannot be provided for objectively justified security reasons or if it is prohibited by other applicable legal provisions.

As soon as the reasons for blocking the card are no longer valid, the payment service provider must unblock the card or replace it with a new one, being legally prevented from charging any charges for the application of these measures.

In some cases, payment service providers may also place the cards on the so-called “blacklist” in order to prevent the card from being used to make payments. The card can also be captured when it is used in automatic teller machines (in these cases, it is commonly said that the card was ‘swallowed’ by the ATM). In this situation, bank customers should contact the card issuer in order to find out the reasons that led to the capture and request information on the possibility of being assigned a new card.

Cardholders have the right to terminate the card usage agreement at any time and may have to observe a notice period not exceeding one month if this period has been agreed with the payment service provider.

All information and conditions to which the holder is subject must be included in the contract, in particular the procedures and notice periods to terminate the contract.

Payment service providers may not charge consumers and micro-enterprises for the termination of the card usage agreement.

In the event of termination of the contract, the charges that are regularly collected are due in proportion to the period elapsed until the end of the contract.

In the event of a payment service provider submitting a proposal to amend the terms and conditions of the contract (by means of a communication sent at least two months in advance of the date on which the issuer intends to apply those amendments), the cardholder shall not be obliged to accept the proposed amendments and may, before the proposed date of application of the amendments, terminate the card usage agreement with immediate effect and free of charge.

The payment service provider issuing the card may also terminate the card usage agreement, provided that such possibility is expressly provided for in the contract. In that case, the payment service provider shall inform the cardholder in writing of the termination, upon prior notice of at least two months.

Cardholders have the right to submit complaints based on non-compliance with the legal rules applicable to payment cards through the complaints book or directly to Banco de Portugal.

Cardholders are also entitled to have access to effective and adequate means of alternative dispute resolution, without prejudice to access to legal means.

The payment service provider is obliged to inform cardholders about the complaint procedures and the means available for alternative dispute resolution.

Duties of cardholders

Customers must read the information delivered by the payment service provider issuing the card.

Customers must carefully analyse the contents of the proposed contract since, when signing the contract, they are expressing their agreement to the conditions contained therein.

Cardholders must use the card in accordance with the conditions governing its issuance and use.

Cardholders must take all reasonable measures, especially when receiving the card, to preserve the effectiveness of their custom security devices.

Customers must immediately inform the card issuer (or the entity designated by the card issuer) of the loss, theft, robbery, misappropriation or any unauthorised use of their card.

This notification must be made as soon as the cardholder becomes aware of it, without undue delay, in accordance with the forms, means and time limits indicated in the contract. The contacts to report this fact are indicated by the card issuer and are also available on Banco de Portugal’s website.