Singaporean lender United Overseas Bank (UOB) says the default rate on its speciality credit cards is virtually zero - well below the double-digit industry average - due to its tough credit policy and ability to attract high-earning customers. The head of UOB's credit-card centre in Hong Kong, Lawrence Tsong, said yesterday its golf-theme Visa card had charge-off ratios of less than 0.5 per cent. UOB's two other speciality credit cards enjoyed similarly low charge-off ratios, he said. The average charge-off ratio for banks' credit-card portfolios has climbed to 12 per cent this year amid tough economic conditions and record numbers of personal bankruptcies. Mr Tsong said UOB had targeted high earners and implemented tougher credit policy and application screening processes than other banks in Hong Kong. He said almost 50 per cent of its golf card holders had annual incomes of more than HK$500,000, and about 25 per cent had fixed deposits of HK$200,000 or more in banks. The tougher credit policy, which Mr Tsong said was inherited from UOB's Singaporean roots, includes a cap on the credit limit of twice the cardholder's monthly income, rather than the industry average of four. While approval rates for the golf-themed card, launched in conjunction with financial services provider Oriental City Group, remain high at 80 per cent, only about 40 per cent of applications for its generic cards are approved, compared to an industry norm of 70 to 80 per cent. UOB said about 20,000 of its Visa cards, which target aspiring golfers, had been issued since its launch in February. Average card spending is HK$1,500 per month, more than 50 per cent higher than the industry average of HK$971.