EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is a part of our Money254 Partner Series and is produced in partnership with Timiza Kenya. For more on Money254’s editorial policy, read here.
Managing your finances can be challenging, especially when facing unexpected expenses. One way to deal with these financial hiccups is to take the financing route, and two popular choices are credit cards and digital loans. While both options can provide you with the money you need, they have distinct differences.
The option you choose to address your financial emergency will depend on different factors, from how fast you need the money and what’s your credit limit.
When choosing between credit cards and digital loans, the deciding factor is how you intend to spend the borrowed amount. Each of these debt products has different use cases that make them ideal for different scenarios.
To explore those differences, we will compare two products from Absa Bank of Kenya; Absa Classic Credit Card and Timiza Digital Loan.
What You Need to Know About The Absa Classic Credit Card and Timiza Digital Loan
The Absa Classic Credit Card and Timiza Digital Loan are two short-term financing options that Absa offers. They can come in handy when you have a financial emergency or when you are cash-strapped. While both can help get out of a fix, understanding when to use what is essential.
Before we delve into those differences and use cases, let's first look at what they are:
Absa Classic Credit Card
A credit card is a type of payment card that allows you to borrow money from a bank or financial institution to make purchases with your card, with the understanding that you will pay the borrowed amount back by the due date after the end of the billing period.
The Absa Classic Credit Card is a starter credit card designed specifically for individuals new to using credit cards or with a minimum net income of Ksh20,000 (Ksh40,000 for non-Absa customers).
The card is tailored to meet the needs of users who frequently need the convenience of card shopping, especially when their current account is low, they are running a budget deficit, or they want to control their spending.
The card has no annual fees for life and allows you to access a credit limit of up to Ksh200,000 depending on your income. One of the biggest factors that make the Absa Classic Credit Card attractive is the up to 50 days of interest-free borrowing.
Use Cases Of Absa Classic Credit Card
The Absa Classic Credit Card can come in hand when you want to:
- Get Discounts - When you shop using your Absa Classic Credit Card, you can enjoy discounts from 100+ local merchants, from dining to travel to electronics and much more.
- Pay for Urgent Expenses and bills Interest-Free - If you spend money on your Absa credit card and repay it within the up to 50 days grace period, you will pay zero shillings in interest.
- Take instant Credit card cash advance loan - Using your classic credit card, you can access your credit limit in cash from ATMs or through your mobile wallet. You should note that a cash advance loan doesn’t offer an interest-free grace period.
- Access revolving credit - The Classic Credit Card offers flexible repayment options from 5% to 100% of your monthly bill. If you pay the minimum repayment, your outstanding balance will be carried to the next billing period, and you can borrow from what remains in your limit.
- Avoid High-Interest Loans - You can enjoy a friendly interest rate on the outstanding balance at 3.99% per month after the end of the grace period. You must make a 5% minimum repayment every month to avoid default.
Pros and Cons of Absa Classic Credit Card
- A grace period of up to 50 days means you can avoid interest if you repay your loan in time.
- Low-interest rates compared to digital Loans.
- Convenience - You can pay with your card internationally at any VISA-branded point-of-sale machine and shop online
- Easy to apply and low requirement - This is a starter card with friendly eligibility requirements
- Affordable minimum repayment
- Typically higher limit for new customers when compared to digital loans.
- Marginally lengthier application process requires you to visit a bank to complete your application and receive your card as compared to digital loans where you simply apply on your phone.
- Fewer perks and rewards compared to other Absa Credit Cards. You might need to upgrade to a card with an annual fee to enjoy perks such as cashback.
- Higher-income requirement for non-Absa customers
Timiza Digital Loan
Timiza is a mobile banking solution offered by Absa Bank Kenya. It is an all-in-one app that enables users to save money and earn interest, pay utilities, buy insurance, and access digital loans. To access these services, including borrowing money, you’d need to register for the service on the Timiza Digital Loan App or through the USSD *848#
Timiza digital loan is a service Absa provides that offers individuals instant, short-term loans (30 days) without requiring them to visit a bank physically. The service is open to everyone, regardless of whether they have an Absa Bank account or not.
You only need to provide your ID and phone numbers to apply for a Timiza Loan. The loan limit for Timiza ranges from Ksh1,000 to Ksh150,000 – one of the highest among digital lenders.
However your initial limit may be lower, but you can increase it by making timely loan repayments and saving money in your Timiza wallet.
The interest rate of the 30-day Timiza Loan is 7.25% making it the cheapest digital loan available to everyone regardless of what bank account(s) they hold.
Use Cases Of Timiza Digital Loan
The Timiza Digital Loan can come in hand y when you want to access:
- Instant loans - You don’t need to visit a bank to make an application and receive a loan. You can apply through your phone and get a decision within minutes.
- To build credit History and access higher loan limit - You can build your credit history and grow your loan limit up to Ksh150,000.
- Comparatively low loan cost compared to other digital lenders - Timiza charges a total loan cost of 7.295% for a 30-day loan which is the lowest among digital loans available to everyone regardless of what bank account they have.
- Timiza comes bundled with other service conveniences such as bill payments for water, electricity, cable TV etc as well as a savings option.
Pros and Cons of Timiza Digital Loan
- Faster application compared to credit card initial application process - relevant especially if you are in an emergency, but after initial registration access to credit card funds is instant as long as you haven’t exceeded your limit.
- No specified minimum income requirement
- High maximum loan limit of Ksh150,000 when compared to other digital loans available to everyone that have an average limit of between Ksh30,000 and Ksh50,000.
- Cheapest digital loan among loans offered to everyone regardless of the bank account they hold - at 7.25% per 30-day loan.
- No restriction on how you spend your loan money
- Convenience when paying bills such as water, electricity etc. and saving.
- No grace period as all digital loans
- Short repayment term of 30 days
- Higher loan cost compared to the Absa Classic Credit Card (7.25% vs 3.99%)
- Low loan limit for new customers - you have to grow your limit gradually as you repay. From the experience of one of our team members, the limit can grow pretty fast.
- No ability to track expenditure as compared to the Absa Credit Cards monthly statements that detail what your money was spent on.
The Difference Between Absa Classic Credit Card vs. Timiza Digital Loan
While both the Absa Classic Credit Card and Timiza Digital Loan can come in handy during an emergency, they’ve some differences you must know beforehand. Knowing these differences will ensure you pick the loan product that best suits your financial situation.
- Total Cost of The Loan: Timiza Digital Loan costs 7.29% for a 30-day loan, while the Absa Classic Credit Card charges a 3.99% monthly interest after the lapse of the up to 50 days interest-free period.
- Timiza Digital Loans are cash; credit cards are a credit line: A Timiza Digital Loan of Ksh20,000 will put Ksh20,000 of money in your pocket. On the other hand, a credit card gives you the option to spend up to Ksh20,000 but doesn't immediately add money to your bank account. You use the money only when you need it.
- Timiza Digital Loan gives you the entire amount at once and charges you for it: Timiza Digital Loans of Ksh20,000 gives you all Ksh20,000 immediately and charges you an interest to be paid back with the principal amount within 30 days. Even if you don’t use any of the borrowed money, you will still be charged interest on all the Ksh20,000 you borrowed from Timiza- or any digital loan for that matter.
On the other hand, the Absa Classic Credit Card gives you access to a pool of money that you can use whenever a need arises. If you get, say, an emergency trip on the Coast and need to fly down and stay at a hotel for three days, you can then use your credit card to pay for this trip.
If you pay back what you have spent on this trip within the interest-free period (up to 50 days), you are charged zero interest. Unlike the Timiza Loan, you only pay interest on the Absa Classic Credit Card if you do not pay back the amount in full after the due date. Only the balance that remains uncleared earns interest.
- Credit cards have flexible repayment terms: When you spend using a credit card, you can pay off the balance at any time and in any number of payments. The Absa Classic Credit Card will send you a monthly statement, and you can simply choose to pay a minimum amount (5% or a minimum of Ksh1,000 whichever is higher) and carry over the balance for another 30 days after which you can still pay another 5% if you are still unable to clear the full amount. Meanwhile, with a Timiza Loan, you are expected to repay fully at the end of the month. Note that paying only the minimum amount is not advisable since the interest may add up quickly if you keep doing this for months in succession.
WRAPPING UP: Things to Consider When Deciding Between the Two
Choosing between the Absa Classic Credit Card and Timiza Digital Loan will typically depend on how you intend to spend the loan if you meet the minimum requirements and your overall financial situation. Nonetheless, there are some things you need to consider.
- Your monthly income - To qualify for the Absa Credit Card, you must meet the minimum income requirement, which is Ksh20,000 for Absa customers and Ksh40,000 non-Absa customers. Timiza doesn’t have a specified minimum income requirement. However, you must be a Safaricom subscriber with an active (6-month history) M-Pesa account.
- How much do you need to borrow: the Absa Classic Card comes with a limit of up to Ksh200,000 depending on your income level that becomes immediately available to you once you qualify. Timiza, as all digital loans, allows you to grow your limit as you borrow and repay. The maximum amount you can borrow via Timiza is Ksh150,000.
Learn More: Absa's Credit Card Reviews: What Is the Best Option for Me?
- Loan Cost and Uses: How you intend to spend your money might dictate your choice. You can consider the Absa Classic Credit Card if you want to repay the loan without paying interest - and you foresee you will be needing this in between paychecks and pay back in full by the due date. With Timiza, and just like other digital loans or even personal loans, you have no interest-free window. If you decide to pay back your credit card balance partially, that is when you are charged interest on the remaining balance. Note that it is not advisable to keep carrying a credit card balance for several months since the interest might add up pretty quickly.
- Benefits and Rewards: The Absa Classic Credit card allows you to get discounts when you use it with any of the 100+ Absa merchant partners.