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Looking for a ‘wine on a bumsee’ loan?
Borrowing money to cover the costs of the Carnival season is nothing new. What’s new is that major financial institutions are now marketing Carnival loans the same way they market car loans.
Marketing specifically to Carnival borrowers started only last year at Eastern Credit Union. Their newspaper ads are full of colour and claim to cover the cost of costumes, fete tickets, Panorama, clothes and accessories and even Carnival getaways for those who don’t participate, but take a vacation instead. The ad for Republic Bank’s Make It Happen Loan tells customers they can pay for their costume for only $15 a day.
Last year, the popular Carnival band YUMA teamed up with Island Finance on a costume financing campaign, offering loans to their masqueraders to cover costume and other costs.
The loans had only a one-day waiting period for approvals and claimed to offer “flexible and easy payment plans.”
Island Finance’s Carnival loans offer up to $30,000 in credit while Eastern Credit Union requires a minimum of $5,000 borrowed and caps the loans at $20,000.
Both loans have to be repayed within three to five years. There are more than 100 fetes this Carnival season with some pricey as the Hyatt Regency’s Lime All Inclusive which costs US$275 for platinum tickets and US$500 for diamond tickets.
Eastern’s marketing and product development supervisor Joanne Daniel said in an interview that Carnival loans are not always taken out because people cannot afford Carnival, but are sometimes used as a buffer.
“Carnival loans are more for people not to be overrun because by the time they get paid at the end of the month, money for costumes was due already and the parties are already going on.”
Daniel said figures on the number of people who actually borrow money for Carnival would be hard to find.
“Some people just write ‘miscellaneous expenses’ on their loan applications, so you can never be sure if it’s for Carnival or not,” she said. But Daniel added that applications for loans generally increase during the Christmas through Carnival season.
Writing “miscellaneous expenses” on a loan application may be one way to hide the shame of what some perceive as frivolous borrowing.
A clerical officer at TSTT and supervisory member of the TSTT Employee Credit Union said in an interview borrowing money for Carnival was common among its members. The borrowing was an open secret, however.
“Nobody is going to admit to borrowing money for Carnival. We know we’re not supposed to do that. We all do it but just don’t say it out loud,” said the clerk, who preferred to remain anonymous.
Although she noted that Carnival is becoming more expensive, she said the need to borrow money depended on what aspect of Carnival you enjoy.
“For some people, Carnival is liming during the week and mud mas on J’Ouvert morning. For other people it’s all-inclusive bands and fetes and you’d need plenty money for that.”
One financial institution that does not market specifically to Carnival borrowers, however, is RBC Royal Bank. In an e-mailed statement, RBC said the highest period for consumer borrowing for them was October to December. The lowest borrowing period for RBC is actually January to March.
But the money borrowed in December may be enough to cover both Christmas and Carnival, according to the statement.
Carnival loans are also only as beneficial to the borrower as the amount of collateral they have.
“When financing houses and cars, these assists are usually held as security so clients will enjoy a lower rate. In the case of Carnival loans, clients will have the option to provide their own collateral and benefit from better rates if they are in a position to do so,” the statement said.
Tips on taking a personal loan
1 Don’t take first offer: be sure to weigh your options and review offers from various financial institutions before making a commitment.
2 Be sure to check the small print and make sure you’re eligible for the loan.
3 Consider using your credit card or applying for a credit card instead. If you don’t think you can pay off your debt within the allotted time, a credit card might be cheaper.
4 Don’t apply for too many loans in a short period of time.
5 Think about early repayment fees. If there is the possibility of paying off your loan early, remember some lenders apply early-pay-off fees, and try to avoid them.
Possible Carnival Expenses:
Body paint or tanning
Temporary hotel accommodation.
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