Credit card glossary

Understanding the jargon around credit cards can help you make the most of your account, so here's a handy glossary of the most commonly used terms.

Learn more about our range of credit cards.

  • A

    Additional cardholder

    A person who’s issued with a credit card to use on the main cardholder's account, but isn’t responsible for paying the balance on the account.


    Adware is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads adverts to a computer while it’s installing or being used.

    Annual fee

    The amount some companies charge annually for using their card. Not all cards have this charge.

    Anti-virus software

    Software installed on a computer to protect against online viruses.

    APR (Annual percentage rate)

    Whenever you borrow money on a credit card, you'll usually find there's an interest rate applied to it. This is typically expressed on a yearly or ‘per annum’ basis. The APR is the yearly cost on top of the money you borrow (annual percentage rate of charge), and is the interest charge including any annual fee you’d pay. The APR allows you to compare one credit card against another.


    These are approved transactions for which funds have been set aside. Once a transaction’s gone through the credit card system, the pending amount will be replaced by an actual charge. If the charge is cancelled and not processed through the credit card system, the pending transaction will be removed from your account around 30 days after it was authorised.

    Available credit

    This is the amount left on the account that can be used for transactions.


    Balance transfer

    Credit card companies like MBNA offer balance transfers, so you can move outstanding balances from another card with a different lender. A fee will usually be charged for this service – please check the terms and conditions of your credit card.

    Bank of England Base Rate

    The Base Rate is the interest rate set by the Bank of England and is also known as the ‘official Bank Rate’. It affects the interest rates offered by Banks, Building Societies and other financial institutions. By changing the official Bank Rate, the Bank of England seeks to influence overall borrowing in the economy. The Bank of England can increase or decrease the official Base Rate. The current rate can be found on the Bank of England’s website.


    A way of exchanging data wirelessly between devices.


    A way of saving useful or regularly visited websites and pages, so you can find them again at a later date.


    Card purchase

    A purchase you make using your credit card.


    Some cards offer a programme where you can earn cashback on card purchases you make.

    County court judgment (CCJ)

    If an individual or company is owed money and someone doesn’t pay them, they can apply to the County Court for judgment to claim the money. The court will issue a CCJ if they agree the amount is due. A CCJ will be recorded by the court register for 6 years and will show on the credit file of the person who owed the money.

    Credit agreement

    A credit agreement is a legally binding agreement between a creditor (a financial institution who issues your credit card or loan etc.) and an individual under which the creditor provides credit to that individual. The credit agreement sets out the conditions associated with providing the credit, including the interest to be paid.

    Credit card issuer

    The company that provides your credit card.

    Credit card verification code (CVC)

    The Card Verification Code (or CVC) is your credit card's unique security code. It's sometimes referred to as the CV2, CVVC or security code.

    For Visa and Mastercard, it's the last three digits on the signature strip on the back of your card.

    Cash transactions

    A cash transaction includes withdrawing cash from a cash machine, buying non-sterling currency, and gambling. Interest on cash (sometimes known as the cash transaction rate) is charged daily from the date of the withdrawal, whether you pay the balance in full or not. Fees and interest rates apply - please check your terms and conditions for more details.

    Chip and PIN

    A four-figure number provided for your use only. You’ll have to use it for retail transactions (except contactless transactions) or cash withdrawals.


    A 'cookie' is information sent to your browser by a web server that can be retrieved next time you visit a website. Cookies make surfing easier, faster, more personal, and more efficient. You can set your browser to warn you before you accept cookies or to not accept them at all. Some secure sites, including Online Services, won't work if you don't accept their cookies.

    Consumer Credit Act (CCA)

    The CCA 1974 covers the content and form of credit agreements, how lenders calculate annual percentage rates (APR), their procedures around default, termination or early settlement, and credit advertising. Section 75 also gives you extra protection on items costing more than £100 and up to £30,000 paid for by credit card.


    All MBNA credit cards – and some issued by other lenders – come with contactless technology as standard. It means you can hold your card to the reader instead of using your PIN to pay for transactions up to £100.

    Credit reference agency

    A credit reference agency is an independent organisation that holds information about consumers or businesses (or both) to help lenders decide whether to give them credit. The three main credit reference agencies in the UK are Experian, Equifax and Callcredit.

    Credit scoring

    A system used to decide whether to provide you with a card (or other credit facility), and what your credit limit should be. It works by awarding ‘points’ to information you give on your application form and to information recorded on your credit report at the credit reference agencies. For more information on managing your credit effectively, browse our credit card guides.

    Credit file

    A credit file is information a credit reference agency holds about you. It covers everything from voters roll information to how you pay your credit cards, loans and mortgage. Information goes back six years and every time you apply for credit, a credit search is registered on your credit file.

    Credit limit

    The maximum amount an individual lender will let you borrow on a credit card. If you go over this limit, your card might be refused.


    Refunds (e.g. a merchant credit for an item or items you return to them) and payments applied to your account.

    Current pending transactions

    These are approved transactions for which funds have been set aside. Once a transaction goes through the credit card system, the pending amount will be replaced by an actual charge. If the charge is cancelled and not processed through the credit card system, the pending transaction will be removed from your account.

    Cyber stalking

    Cyber stalking is when a person or group of people use the internet to track a person or group’s movements, threaten, steal their identity, damage data, and cause distress and harassment.


    Debit card payment

    A payment made to your credit card with your debit card.

    Dialogue box

    A window on your computer telling you something or asking you a question, e.g. ‘You are running out of disc space’ or ‘Would you like to save?’. Some viruses try to trick you into clicking on or entering information into a dialogue box.

    Default notice

    A notice that must be sent to any customer who’s breached their credit agreement before certain action can be taken. It sets out what the breach is, what must be done or paid to correct it, the date by which this must be done, and what steps the creditor can take if the person fails to comply with the notice.



    An electronic form used to request additional services or changes to your account. The contents of an e-form are encrypted to protect your information and give you more security.

    Effective rate

    Effective rate shows the effect of compounding the simple rate over one year. Compounding is when we charge interest on your balance, including on any interest we charged before.

    Electoral register

    The electoral register is a list of everyone who’s registered to vote. It’s also known as an ‘electoral roll’ or ‘voters roll’ and is used to verify your address when applying for credit.

    Eligibility check

    A check carried out by a lender to assess whether or not an applicant meets the eligibility criteria for a particular product.


    The process of securely transferring personal information online from one system to another, so no-one but the intended recipient can see it. To check whether a website’s secure, look for the closed padlock at the bottom of the window.

  • F


    An online document that answers the most frequently asked questions on a certain subject. You can view our FAQs here.


    A network security system used to stop unauthorised access attempts to a computer or device. They should be installed on your computer and mobile devices and kept up-to-date.

    Full credit application

    A full credit application is where an individual completes and submits a full credit card or loan application. Their credit file will be checked and a full credit search registered.




    Someone who leaks into computers or networks for illegal purposes. To protect yourself from hackers, you should install firewall software on your computer and keep it up-to-date.


    Income and expenditure form

    A form used to assess a customer's current financial situation.

    Identity protection insurance

    A form of insurance that covers you against identity theft.

    Identity theft

    This is impersonating someone for financial or criminal gain. The most common form is account takeover, where criminals get access to credit cards and/or accounts you already have, and spend on them.

    Individual voluntary arrangements (IVA)

    An IVA is a legally-binding agreement between an individual and creditors (those they owe money to), excluding any mortgages or secured debt. It sets out a formal debt repayment plan, where the individual will be expected to pay what they can afford outside of reasonable living costs. It’s designed to help people in financial difficulties make a proposal to settle their unsecured debt, and has to be set up by a licensed insolvency practitioner.

    Instant Messaging (IM)

    Instant messaging is real-time text communication between two or more people over the internet. One person can type a message and send it to the other person who’ll see it straightaway.


    The amount you'll pay on any money you still owe after the interest-free period each month.

    Interest-free period

    The time between you buying something on a credit card and the date interest begins to accrue from that transaction.

    Introductory rate

    Many providers offer special introductory rates for new customers (e.g. 0% on balance transfers), which then reverts to a higher standard interest rate after a certain time - usually at the end of the promotion period.




    A keylogger is malicious software that records the keys you’ve pressed on your keyboard without your knowledge. They’re mainly used by fraudsters to obtain security information and log in details.


    A word you might use to search for something online.

  • L

    Last payment date

    The date the last payment was received on your account.


    A link will take you from one internet site to another, or to a different page on the same website, by clicking on them. Links can be within text (underlined and/or in a different colour from the rest of the onscreen text) or in a graphic (graphics with links usually have a border round them).

    Log in/log out

    Connecting to or from the internet or a website.


    Macro virus

    A virus attached to common computer applications, such as Microsoft Word.


    Malware is a collective name for malicious software designed to infiltrate your computer, including viruses, Trojans, spyware and scareware.

    Money mule

    Someone recruited by fraudsters needing to launder illegal funds.

    Multi factor authentication (MFA)

    MFA is where verification isn’t done solely through information someone knows (e.g. Password or PIN). There’s usually a second factor involving verifying something in the individual’s possession (e.g. their phone or bank card). A biometric characteristic, like fingerprint or retina scan, can also be used.

    Main cardholder

    The person responsible for the repayment of the account balance.

    Manage account

    A secure way for you to request specific services and changes to your account. You can usually make your selection from a number of choices, depending on the status of your account.

    Minimum payment

    This is the contractual minimum amount you must pay off each month. Generally, this is a percentage of the credit card statement balance. If you only pay the minimum it could take you a long time to pay off your balance. We recommend paying more than the minimum payment.

    Money transfer

    Transferring money from your credit card to your current account. A fee will usually be charged for this service – please check the terms and conditions of your credit card.


    No statement generated

    When there’s no activity on your account and you have a zero balance for a specific month, no statement will be generated.

    Non-sterling transaction

    An amount some companies charge to convert currency into sterling when your card’s used overseas.

    Notice of sum in arrears

    A notice sent to a customer when they’ve failed to make two consecutive minimum payments.


    Outstanding balance

    The total amount you owe on your card.

    Overdue amount

    The total amount of scheduled monthly payments not received by the required due dates, as set out in your MBNA credit card agreement.



    These are online software security updates issued by manufacturers. Many programs will alert you when new patches are available or can be set to download them automatically. It’s recommended you keep your computer safe by regularly applying security patches.


    A word or code known only to an individual user, so only they can access a secure website. Sometimes a user name is needed alongside a password.

    Payment due date

    The date on which your next payment’s due. At least your minimum payment must be cleared onto your account before this date to keep within your MBNA credit card agreement. Any payments received after the due date will be subject to late charges.


    Fraudsters sometimes create fake websites or hijack a genuine site, so they can redirect visitors and get hold of their personal details. These websites can look convincing, but there’ll usually be subtle differences between them and the real thing.


    A fake email from a fraudster with a link to a fake website or that asks you to reply with personal or security details. We’ll never ask you for your PIN, log in or security details by email. If you’re unsure whether an email is really from us, please get in touch straightaway, so we can confirm it with you.


    This stands for Personal Identification Number, which is used for retail transactions (except contactless ones) and cash withdrawals.

    Promotional rate

    An advertised interest rate usually linked to an introductory offer on new accounts - e.g. 0% on balance transfers for 12 months or 0% on card purchases for 12 months. Some issuers offer promotional rates to existing customers from time-to-time, not just for new accounts.


    A small window - usually containing an advert - that ‘pops-up’ over a website you’re visiting.

    Posting date

    The date a transaction is posted (showing as a completed transaction) to your account. This date may be later than the actual transaction date.

  • Q

    Quotation search

    A search carried out at a credit reference agency that doesn’t register on the individual’s credit file as a full credit application search. Instead, it’ll be registered as a ‘quotation search’ or ’soft search’, which lenders will ignore when considering the credit rating/credit score of that individual.


    Rate code

    This is the code of the rate applied to individual transactions. You can find these in Online Services or on your statement.

    Reduced payment programme

    A reduced payment programme’s offered when a customer’s proved they’re in financial difficulties through an income and expenditure form. The payment’s always less than the minimum payments due on the account.

    Retail transaction

    A payment for goods you make using your credit card in a high street shop or online (also known as a card purchase).



    This is a type of malware that creates pop-ups that look like Windows antivirus or anti-spyware software messages, a firewall application or a registry cleaner. They trick users into believing their computer’s infected and to purchase software to fix the problems. The recommended software download often contains real malware.

    Search engine

    A search engine helps you search for information online. A few of the most popular are Google, Firefox and Safari (Apple devices only).

    Shoulder surfing

    Beware of anyone standing or sitting behind you trying to watch you when you enter your personal details in to a device or at an ATM. That’s shoulder surfing.

    Site certificate

    This shows you a secure connection’s been established.

    Social engineering

    Is manipulating people into taking certain actions or giving away confidential information.

    Social networking

    Online social networking is using sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to interact and share information.

    Secure website

    A website where security measures, like a username and password, must be entered before you can access certain parts of it.


    Any agreement with a customer to accept a payment of less than the outstanding balance, resulting in registering the account as 'partially settled' with the credit reference agencies.


    Skimming is a type of credit card fraud where a device that makes a copy of your credit card is placed on an ATM or card payment machine.


    This is sending fake or ‘spoof’ emails to gain unauthorised access to a computer, usually by trying to get hold of a password.


    Your monthly credit card bill that shows what you've spent, what you owe, the minimum you must pay, and the latest date you can pay it by. It only shows transactions made up until the date the statement was printed.

    Statement date

    The date your credit card issuer compiles, totals and produces that month’s statement and outstanding debt. It’s not the date you actually receive the statement or your payment due date.


    Spyware is hidden software that secretly gathers information about you.


    Temporary authorisation

    A temporary authorisation is a transaction that’s been approved but hasn’t yet been officially posted to your account. The value of the transaction will have been taken off your available credit limit and is included within your current balance. Normally, a temporary authorisation converts into a posted transaction, but might expire if the merchant doesn’t complete the transaction. If this happens, the transaction will be removed from your balance and available credit limit.

    Total minimum payment due

    The minimum amount due for that month plus any amounts overdue from previous months' minimum payments.

    Transaction date

    Usually the date you authorise a merchant or bank to process a transaction on your credit card account.


    A computer program or email attachment that looks useful, but is actually harmful and might include a virus.


    Uniform resource locator (URL)

    The URL is the 'address' of a website, e.g.

    User name

    A unique name (usually requested alongside a password) that identifies and authenticates a user to allow them access to a secure website.



    A code written to spread from one computer to another that damages hardware, or is used to access a computer for criminal purposes.


    Web Browser

    A software program used to search the internet. Popular browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera.

    Withdrawal limit

    This is the maximum amount of cash you’re allowed to withdraw at an ATM or over the counter on any one day.


    A worm is a harmful programme that damages and affects the performance of a network of computers.





128-Bit encryption

The highest level of encryption provided by internet browsers.128-bit encryption is over 300 x 1024 times more secure than 40-bit encryption.

3D Secure

3D Secure is a free service that protects online credit and debit card payments. By registering and creating a personal password it means only you can use your cards online. MBNA automatically enrols you in 3D secure when you use your card online.