Credit Card Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

Credit cards have not performed well locally in Nigeria as debit cards unlike in some other countries due to combination of poor national identity management, low level of education on how it can be used positively and bad history.

Nigeria has a history of identity theft and fraudulent acts thus, making cards had to come by. According to reports, the number of cards in circulation and value transactions recorded steep declines in a poll conducted in 2019.

In fact, many people have not heard about these cards before and only a few people can differentiate between a credit card and a debit card because both cards look alike, but they do not serve the same purposes at all times.

However, some banks in Nigeria are able to offer these cards to people, but only to their most trusted and loyal customers, and it is widely accepted by the popularly-used POS machines for purchases at various locations, it can also be used to purchase goods and services through a merchant via online, consolidate your debt, or you can also use these cards to build a good credit score.

What is a Credit Cards?

A credit card is a payment card issued to users (cardholders) to enable the cardholders to pay a merchant for goods and services based on the cardholders promise to the card issuer to pay them for the amounts plus the other agreed charges.

The card issuer (usually a bank) creates a revolving account and grants a line of credit to the cardholders, from which the cardholder can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance.

The best definition can be found in Wikipedia:

In a credit card, your money is stock-piled electronically in the card from your bank, it comes with an interest free period only when you payback your balance in full before it’s due date(s), it’s like a process where you are borrowing money from your bank account to pay-back later.

However, as good as it may sound, when choosing these cards, it is advisable to evaluate the card based on the fees, interest rates, and rewards (if it’s a reward credit card). Comparing these cards to each other is also a good way to determine whether you are getting the best offer or simply not.

Credit Cards: How it Works?

1. Apply

Before you apply it is advisable to check your credit score first, so you know where you stand and what cards you might qualify for.

Once you know your score, you can then shop around for banks that offers any of these cards in Nigeria and pay a visit to any bank branch of your choice.

Request for a credit card application form and you’ll be ask to provide your personal information online or through mail to an issuing bank.

The bank will pull your credit report, and if all goes well, you may have an approval decision within 5 minutes.

2. Make use of your credit card

Once you receive your card, you can go around and purchase any items or services online or at any merchant who accept the card you hold.

While an issuing bank backs the credit line, the payment network facilitate the behind the scenes transfer of funds. When you are making purchases online, you’ll be ask to provide the following details:

  • Choose your payment method
  • Provide your 16-digit card number
  • Expiring date
  • CVV
  • Name as printed on the card
  • Billing address (optional)

Once you provide all those details and hit pay, the information is sent to your bank through a payment gateway.

To authenticate the transaction, an OTP that is, one-time-password from your bank will be sent to your email ID or phone number.

Copy and paste the otp from your email address to the required section on the merchant store. If the otp is correct, then your transaction is complete.

3. Know your credit limit

Every Credit cards in Nigeria has a particular amount which you cannot spend. If you try to use the card after you’ve reached it’s limit, the transaction will be rejected by the card issuer.

They are different factors that help to determine your credit limit such as, your income and your ability to pay, your credit score and your records of prompt payments.

If your record is good, the card issuer will give you the option of increasing your card limit.

4. Repay on time

Credit cards work differently from debit cards, in that debit cards take money from your own bank account rather than borrowing it to pay for your purchases.

When you pay for goods and services with your card you are essentially taking money on credit from the issuer. It’s a bit like a loan.

While these card gives you the flexibility to take your time paying back what you owe, you will pay for the privilege of doing so (interest rates) if your card payment extend over time. That is, if you fail to payback at the agreed date.

But if you use your card in the right way, then they can be used as a great way to manage money, especially if you frequently shop online or buy bigger items – because of the card protection in place.

Difference between a Credit Card and a Debit Card

credit cards in nigeria
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Often times, people confuse credit cards with debit card, they could have similar functions but not necessarily the same. Here is the differences between they two cards:

A credit card is a form of revolving credit, when you spend with your card you are borrowing money from your bank, and you pay interest if you fail to repay before the agreed date.

while a debit card, by contrast, is linked to your bank account, when you spend with your debit card you are not borrowing money from your bank, you are only spending what you have in your bank balance.

Who can get a credit card in Nigeria?

Credit card in Nigeria are not handed out easily due to the risk it poses to the bank. To get a bank credit card in Nigeria, you’ll need to be a trusted client to the bank you operates. You’d also need to provide your credit score to prove that you have the ability to pay back any money that you spend.

Types of credit cards in Nigeria?

There are 3 main Credit card available in Nigeria namely:

1. Master card – recognize internationally and can be used worldwide

2. Visa card – recognize internationally

3. Verve card – recognize only in Nigeria and can only be used in Nigeria

Pros and Cons of Credit cards in Nigeria

credit card

Using a credit card in Nigeria can definitely make life more easier for you especially in terms of an emergency issues, but it also puts a large responsibility on the spender.

If misused, these cards can leave you with debt, fees and poor credit score. Knowing the pros and cons can be the first steps to making sure you benefit from using this plastic cards.

The Pros

  • It offers convenience and quick access to cash especially in an emergency issues.
  • It charges no interest rate when you repay in full at it’s appointed date.
  • Credit cards offer key protections against unathorized charge. Here’s how Credit card offers protection
  • Some Credit cards offer rewards when being used either to purchase any goods or services via online or at any POS machine.
  • It gives you the right to request for a charge-back on a product or service if you’re unhappy with a merchant, either in-store or via online.

The Cons

  • It charges no interest if you repay at the appropriate time, however, failure to do so can results in paying higher interest rate unlike when applying for a loan.
  • Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of these cards is that they make it very easy to accumulate debt which might generate a bad credit report, So it’s best to keep tracks on your purchases to make sure you don’t spend beyond your means.
  • It charges a little annual percentage rate (APR) to it’s customers. Although, that is where the make money.

What do I need to obtain a credit card in Nigeria?

There are some certain requirements expected from you before generating these cards in Nigeria, such as:

1. You need to be a business owner or salary earner who earns a minimum monthly salary of N80,000

2. Provide the last 3 to 6 months bank statement of account

3. Provide your bank verification number (BVN)

4. Provide any valid means of identification such as ID cards, NEPA bill or voters card.

How to get a credit card in Nigeria

In Nigeria, these cards are being issued by Financial institutions such as banks. here’s how to get one within 24hrs:

1. Locate any bank branch near you ( for faster approval, go for the bank you have a salary account with)

2. Request for a credit card application form

3. Fill in the form and submit

4. The bank will receive your application and conduct it’s due diligence to ascertain if you suit the class of customers who should source this cards(this usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes).

5. Upon confirmation that you’re eligible, your card becomes available

6. To start using your card, you’ll be ask to change the PIN to your preferred choice(use a PIN only you can remember).

Best Credit Cards in Nigeria 2020

1. UBA Bank Credit Cards

United Bank for Africa(UBA) with slogan,”the pan African bank” is one of African’s best and most resilient banking group headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria.

And with operation in over 20 African countries and offices in 3 global financial centers, namely: London, Paris and New York.

UBA Naira credit card comes in 2 shapes known as UBA Gold Credit cards and UBA Platinum Credit cards, which can be used locally and internationally at any ATM or POS outlet which has the Visa logo, the internet and POS terminals.


1. Enjoy easy access to cash with a revolving line of credit.

2. Up to 45 days interest free period on POS/Web transactions provided full repayment is made on the due date.

3. Shop for goods and services both internationally and locally in store or online, make bill payments, hotel reservation and many more.

2. Gtbank Credit Cards

Guaranty trust bank plc is a foremost financial institution with business outlays spanning Anglophone and Francophone West Africa, East Africa and Europe.

Founded in 1990, on a foundation of excellence, professionalism and best practices with a consistent delivery of innovative Financial solution.

Gtbank has 2 credit cards which comes in two shapes namely: Gtbank Visa classic credit card and Gtbank standard credit master card which is an international payment card denominated in US Dollars, but can also be used to settle payments in other major currencies.


1. Enjoy 24 hour access to funds with a revolving credit

2. Gtbank standard master card can be used to shop for goods and services locally and internationally either in store or online

3. Gtbank Credit Card employs the use of chip and PIN technology to guard against unathorized transactions.

3. Zenith Bank Credit Card

Zenith bank was founded by Jim Ovia in May, 1990 and headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria.

Since then, they has grown astronomically to become one of the best leading financial institutions in Africa. With subsidiaries in Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, and representative office in China.

Zenith bank offers 3 credit cards namely: Classic, Gold and Platinum, that meets your lifestyle needs and help you manage your payments at your convenience locally and internationally.

Zenith bank credit cards are available in Naira and Dollar denomination.


1. Up to 45days interest-free period

2. Emergency cash disbursement

3. Emergency card replacement

4. Worldwide acceptance (for internet shopping, cash withdrawal at ATMs and payment at POS terminal.

4. FCMB Visa Credit Card

FCMB Visa credit cards are in two shapes namely: Gold and Classic credit card.

FCMB Visa credit cards is a Naira denomination and internationally accepted as a means of payment at any ATM terminal where the Visa logo is displayed, in store or online and it comes with a revolving line of credit.


1. Up to 40days interest-free period

2. FCMB Visa credit card employs the use of chip and PIN technology to protect against unathorized transactions

3. Emergency cash advance

4. Emergency temporary card replacement

5. Affordable monthly interest rates

5. Standard Chartered Credit Card

Standard Chartered (SC) is a British multinational financial services institution headquartered in London, England. With many branches in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt Nigeria.

SC is relatively unknown especially when being compared with other highly established financial institutions in Nigeria.

Standard Chartered(SC) offers a wide range of credit cards to enhance your lifestyle, such as Visa gold credit card which comes in Naira and Platinum credit card which is an international card that suits best for travel and leisure.

SC credit cards offers 5% cash back and rewards on any money spent on your cards.


1. Enjoy up to 50 days interest-free period

2. SC will notify you of any unusual card activity giving you added security

3. Minimum monthly repayment fee.


Credit cards in Nigeria are issued by banks, and they are designed to pay for goods and services in shop, ATM or online.

When you get a credit card there is a credit limit attached to it. This is the total amount of money available to spend using the cards.

Please note: Avoid using your card irresponsibly in other not to end up in debt but rather using it responsibly can help you pay off your debt even in an emergency situation, finance your business and many more instead of taking out loans which comes with higher interest rate on a monthly basis.

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