THOUSANDS of MBNA credit card customers are having their cards rejected in shops, cannot access online accounts and are unable to pay bills, it has been revealed.
MBNA, now called AvantCard, was bought last year by a US firm and is in the process of changing its IT systems.
A number of customers contacted the Irish Independent complaining that their cards were being refused in retail outlets and that they were unable to transfer funds.
The website for the credit card issuer has not been completed yet, which means customers are unable to check balances online, and can't transfer money or make electronic payments.
One person close to AvantCard said thousands of customers were unable to get access to their accounts.
"In recent days the transfer of accounts and online services has begun. However, there is disarray with accounts inaccessible, holders having their cards rejected in retail stores and online, standing orders and payments being rejected and going missing, a new website permanently offline. The scale of the situation must be affecting tens of thousands."
The former MBNA, which is now linking up with AvantCard's Spanish operation, is one of the largest credit card issuers in this market, with some of the best-value interest rates. It operates from Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim.
But the continuing efforts to transfer the Irish business to the Spanish arm means that it has not been taking on new card business for a while.
MBNA was sold by Bank of America last year to US private equity firm Apollo Global Management, and it is in the process of merging it with MBNA's Spanish arm, which it also acquired from Bank of America.
This means it is transferring Irish customer accounts to new company Avant Tarjeta and is not open to new business while it does so. The Central Bank said it was aware of the problems but declined to make any further comment.
In recent days it issued a letter to banks, credit card issuers and insurance companies warning them to speedily correct customer errors.
AvantCard apologised and confirmed that over the weekend of March 17 it had switched the former MBNA Ireland credit card business to AvantCard.
"Following the migration a small number of customers have experienced issues with registering onto our website and with using their old credit card where a new card had been reissued to them.
"We have been working hard to resolve the issues experienced by these customers. We apologise to all customers who were impacted." It said it had kept the Central Bank informed of the situation.