Review: First Bank Expression Cards

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This innovative offering from First Bank of Nigeria was introduced in November of 2012, affording customers the opportunity to design and print images on their Naira MasterCard. The bank promised that after submission of the chosen design, the tailored card would be delivered in 3 days for locations in Lagos and 5 business days for other locations.

I am keen on individuality and creativity so the idea of personalizing my card with a nice picture appealed to me. I quickly decided that when my current card expired, I’d renew it with First Bank Expressions.

Finding the First Bank Expressions link online was easy enough using google search, however you can fill a form at any First Bank branch to initiate the process. I have include the online link here anyway: Expressions – First Bank of Nigeria

The website was very user friendly and easy to follow owing to its step-by-step layout, with helpful instructions at every stage of the request process. Selecting, placing and uploading the picture I wanted was a breeze. The system was even helpful enough to inform me that my current card would be hotlisted when the new one was generated, which meant I wouldn’t be able to use my current card anymore.

Now here’s where things started to go awry. During the request process, I tried to do the authentication online as provided for. I waited for the email that was said to arrive shortly. After about 30 minutes of waiting, I put in a second request. By the end of the hour when I did not get any email, I chose the in-branch authentication (which meant I had to visit the branch). It took 4 working days (not counting the weekend) to get those 3 emails, long after I had visited the branch to authenticate my request.

Next, I authenticated my request during the last week of June. The MasterCard issuance fee of N1,500 was deducted from my account 6 days later. The regular Naira card takes 24 hours to issue, and the Expression card was said to take 5 working days. Nothing prepared me for the 3 weeks I had to wait to get my card. Over this time, I have had to withdraw money over the counter. Thankfully, the officer at the branch facilitated the withdrawal to be sure I wasn’t charge for this inconvenience.

I decided to contact FirstBank on Twitter about the issue and I have to say whoever runs that account does great customer service (but that’s for another post). I got the email saying my card was ready the very next day. The account also informed me that the Expression card takes 5 days within Lagos and as much as 2 weeks for other locations.


From my previous posts, you already know how much I love First Bank, but I have to tell you that the decision to get an Expression Card was a mistake. Having a nice picture or design adds little or no value to its user experience or functionality, but the wait and general inconvenience really isn’t worth the money or time.

However, I admit that I couldn’t help the smile that crossed my face when I finally saw my card. I can’t decide if this joy was because I recognized my dog on the card, or due to the relief of knowing that I won’t have to lose my cool because, the good Lord knows, walking into that branch I was like a dynamite. It was my third visit on this one issue, anymore disappointments and all hell would have been let loose.

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In my opinion, First Bank has a lot to improve on in terms of the service delivery of Expression Cards, and now that I’m dissatisfied enough to think clearly about it, I don’t think sticking a picture on my ATM card should even cost me as much as N1,000. But, it’s quite a lovely card.

My recommendation, don’t use First Bank Expressions to renew your primary MasterCard, at least pending when they improve delivery time or until you have a whole month to wait for it to be ready. Less is definitely more in this case. Stick with the regular Naira MasterCard renewal, and please, do share your experience getting the card.

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