Mastercard card numbering enhancement revealed

Don't you just love `service enhancements' which turn out to be as useful as a chocolate teapot when it comes down to the nitty gritty?

And chocolate teapot is a term I'd use to describe MasterCard's new Product Graduation program, which ostensibly offers `greater convenience' to cardholders when they migrate card accounts.

The `greater convenience' comes in the form of the ability to retain your old card account number when you move between different MasterCard accounts, such as standard to gold, or if you move banks and debit cards.

According to MasterCard, under the new facility, fewer payments will be disrupted when a cardholder switches to a new card program.

But of course, it also makes life more difficult if you sign up to the delights of the credit or debit card equivalent of a direct debit.

Known as continuous card authorisation, or CCA for short, these allow merchants to debit variable amounts at varying intervals from your card account.

Unlike direct debits, however, you cannot cancel them - only the merchant can. Handy eh?

The only real way of cancelling CCAs is to close the card account and open a new one. But under the Mastercard Product Graduation scheme, you'd just get the same number on the new account.

How about that for a service enhancement?...