Suncorp PayLater: A Cautionary Tale

This is going to sound random coming from a IT guy that usually blabbles on about computing, software and other tech. After lots of consideration, I’ve decided to share my story about Suncorp’s PayLater Credit Card.

Suncorp PayLater card in Apple Pay on a iPhone
That’s what it looks like, more or less.

I need to stress that I am simply disappointed with the Suncorp PayLater facility and Suncorp Bank as a bank has been excellent without any major drama. It’s just the PayLater facility has left a sour taste in my mouth.

What’s Suncorp PayLater?

Suncorp PayLater is basically a limited credit card that, upon approval, gives you $1000 worth of credit. When a transaction is performed, the debited amount is split into 4 mostly-equal amounts to be paid back, one amount taken from the nominated account each fortnight.

The Fortnightly Split

There are a few gotchas, such as a transaction has to be above $50. For examples’ sake, here’s how a $200 transaction would go down:

  • $200 transaction initiated at merchant (online, shops, etc…)
  • Suncorp gets the transaction notification and chops the amount into 4 (mostly) equal parts.
  • This works out to be $200 divided by 4 fortnights = $50 for each fortnightly installment.
  • The first installment is taken out on the day the transaction is performed.
  • At the end of the day on the fortnightly anniversary of that transaction, the next installment is taken out. Then, the second installment would be taken out in another 14 days. Then the third after another 14 days, and the fourth after that.

Calm Before The Storm

At this point, you might be thinking that this sounds pretty legit and peachy.  And you’d probably be right…

However, the biggest problem I had is with how the refunds are performed. Remember that $200 transaction I mentioned in the paragraphs above? Let’s use that again:

  • Imagine you ordered and paid for a $200 item but it never shipped.
  • You contact the website you ordered it from, and they refund you the money.
  • At the same time, you’ve already paid the first fortnightly installment so you’re owing $150.
  • The refund comes in.
  • Suddenly the account you were using for repayments to the PayLater Card is up $200.
  • The $200 card entry has not been cancelled, and continues to take money out of the nominated account.

That’s right – when you get a refund, it goes into the nominated account but you still have to repay it back to the PayLater Card virtual account. What the fuck is this?

Nani, desu ka?

So… why can’t the bank just take back the full amount that it would have received from the merchant and refund the $50 I had already paid? Why credit me the whole $200 instead of the $50 I had paid as part of installments?

I went looking for answers and found this as per Suncorp’s website…

If you decide to return a Suncorp Bank PayLater purchase for a refund (with or without scheduled payments still owing), the merchant will swipe or tap your PayLater Visa Debit Card to issue a refund. Online merchants will use your PayLater Card number (for an online purchase) to issue refunds.

Any refunds for your PayLater purchases will automatically be credited to your linked Everyday Options Account.

Future payments on refunded purchases will continue to be deducted from your linked Everyday Options Account regardless of the amount refunded.

I honestly think this is really stupid. From what you can read above, if you get a refund it doesn’t give you back the money already repaid and then null/zero out the owing balance.

There shouldn’t be any issue with zeroing out the remainder after refunding what was repaid from your own funds, since the bank would have already gotten the full amount back at this point from the merchant.

A More Realistic Example

I brought a Mini PC off AliExpress. Unfortunately, my order was processed but the seller ran out of stock.

This cost around $700, and after some friendly discussion with the seller I chose to get a refund. After the refund was processed, when I saw the credit for the full amount come back into the bank account and not the amount I had already repaid –  which was the first quarter of $700 – I was stunned.

I thought someone dropped money into my account by mistake, but no – this was by design.

This is where my card glitched out. After the $700 landed in my account, the available balance also increased in my PayLater card’s overview screen.

As I tapped “Pay Now” to get rid of the transaction, the available quota started going above the $1000 limit.

In addition, the PayLater cards’ owing amount is now in the negatives, almost to say that the bank is owing me money. I can’t show any screenshots of this, but you’ll take my word for it… at the risk of it sounding like a “trust me bro” statement.


Apple iOS Weary FaceI personally was left with a sour taste in my mouth from this experience. The PayLater facility itself is useful, but the whole refunds process is very lackluster.

I also tried to contact Suncorp in regards to this. The PayLater team doesn’t have a support team to answer calls, it’s internal email messaging only inside Suncorp and their PayLater console is a DOS/Command Line interface. (More or less their own words.)

Who at Suncorp thought it was the better idea to credit you the full amount and then continue to deduct payments from the account?

I believe the refund should go back into the banks’ accounts, you get back what you’ve paid and finally the transaction is zeroed out with no more repayments to make.

I contacted PayPal to ask about their Pay-In-4 service and asked them specifically about the refunds. If you get a refund for an amount, what you’ve paid is refunded into your PayPal account.

The rest is zeroed out as the PayPal system takes care of that. This is what Suncorp should have done in the first place…

I’m already using the PayPal Pay-In-4 system for one transaction and it’s much better than Suncorp, but the drawback is that you have to use PayPal – if the merchant doesn’t use PayPal then sorry but no cigar.

So, take away advice: Do your homework, always look at the fine print and ask questions. Ask how the refunds work on your pay later cards. Don’t get caught where if a refund comes in, you get a credit and they still nickle and dime you.

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