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I got my solo card when I turned 16 last May. As I have had an account with HSBC since I was 11 or 12, they automatically upgraded my Livecash account to a Right Track account. A solo card comes with the Right Track account so I never really gave much thought to getting one. But I am so pleased I have one now. I hadn't even heard of a solo card before I received the letter informing me of the upgrade on my account. Once I found out about it I was quite looking forward to receiving it.
Solo is a debit card designed for people under the age of 18 or on lower incomes. The card was launched on 1st July 1997. Its sister card is Switch - which has now changed its name to Maestro. Solo is similar to Maestro in that the money is debited straight from your account but unlike Maestro it cannot be used as a cheque guarantee card. (I think this is the main disadvantage of the card because my bank has issued me with a cheque book but I can't use the card as a cheque guarantee!)
Solo's main rival is the Visa Electron debit card, which can also be issued to under-18s. The main difference between the two is that Solo is more widely accepted out of the two.
You can get solo cards from a range of banks including NatWest and HSBC. If you are unsure whether your bank issue solo cards go along and ask them I'm sure they'll be happy to help. (I believe NatWest issue solo from 11 years onwards).
Solo cards are the same size as a credit card. They will look different depending on which bank you use. Mine is grey with a picture of all the countries of the world. The HSBC logo is also present. On the front of my card, the solo logo is shown. This is also where my card number is located. The chip (for chip and PIN) is on the front as well as a holographic logo to prove it is a genuine card. The usual expiry date etc. is also shown on the front of the card. On the back of the card is a place for my signature, my issue number, the usual black band for when the card is swiped and a maestro and cirrus symbol which allows me to use it when I'm abroad providing the cash machine or shop display these logos. Unfortunately there is usually a charge for the service, so I make sure I take enough cash with me when I go.
According to the website www.solocard.co.uk there are now 927,000 outlets in the UK where the Solo card is accepted and acceptance continues to expand all the time. You can check to see if a shop accepts solo by looking for the purple solo logo. However not all retailers put up stickers showing which card they accept so it is worth asking if you wish to use your card there. Solo cards can also be used over the internet, where the solo logo is displayed. I use my solo card with a paypal account and I have also bought books from Amazon and other book retailers (for revision guides) over the internet. I personally use my solo card most in Asda (our local branch has recently opened a George section!). In shops where cash back is offered, solo is a suitable card to use. I have had cash back when buying from Asda. I also use my solo card in The Paper Mill Shop, Wilkinson, Shoe Express and The Craft Warehouse. I have used my card in other shops as a one off as well. Unfortunately not all shops accept solo. The solo card can be used at cash machines to check your account balance or to withdraw money.
Once you hand the card over in the shop they put it into the chip and PIN machine. You then enter your PIN and press enter just as you do with any other debit or credit cards. Every transaction is sent to the card issuer for authorisation, so cardholders can only spend what is in their account. The authorisation process also checks for lost or stolen cards. Once the card issuer has confirmed that the cardholder has sufficient funds in their account, the transaction can proceed. The amount of the transaction is usually deducted from your account about one or two days later, depending on when you use the card.
I think that solo is excellent for young people as it means that we can spend money when we want to without having to carry lots of cash. I think the authorisation process is really good because it means that you can only spend what you have in your account so you cannot get into debt when using the card. The only disadvantage I have found with the card is that I am more likely to spend money with my solo card than go to the bank and draw money out.
Thanks for reading. bluejules x
*Don't forget after Valentine's day you must use your PIN to be able to pay with your chip and PIN card.
** Some of the below criteria are not relevant to this card.
Six years have certainly gone fast!
. . . ♥ ~ Jesi ~ ♥
joob100 16.05.2006 15:31
I have recently found out that Woolworths do now accept Solo, they just don't advertise the fact. They have pictures on the entrance doors and tills with a whole list of cards but don't advertise Solo.
It's worth asking at the till if they accept it, you don't get such a funny look anymore when you ask. It is slowly becoming more recognised.
Suzi75 04.05.2006 23:35
Used to have one of these before upgrading to switch, it was over ten years ago now and they weren't accepted in many places at all, bit of an nightmare really! Have to agree debits card help the money disappear faster! Good review honey. xx