In order to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn caused by the Russian-Ukrainian war, as an economic improvement measure, on 6 October 2022 a Government Decree No. 381 of 2022 on the emergency rules for the use of the Széchenyi Pension Card (“SZÉP-card”) was issued. According to the Decree, a one-off fee of 15% will be charged on unused SZÉP-card amounts after 365 days passed commencing from their transfer to the relevant payment service provider. The newly introduced rules will remain in force until the existence of the emergency situation relating to the war.
The minimum amount of the fee charged will be at least HUF 100, and if the amount available in the individual's sub-accounts is less than this, the payment service provider will be entitled to deduct the full amount.
The 365-day grace period applies to funds credited on SZÉP-card accounts after 15 October 2022. For these funds, the fee will be deducted on 20 March and 20 September, so that the earliest date for the charge will be on 20 March 2024 (under current rules, of course, subject to the existence of the emergency situation relating to the war at that time).
However, what is more likely to affect those employees who received this benefit, is a special rule in the Decree. According to this rule, on 31 May 2023 the 15% fee will also be chargedon those amounts of the SZÉP-card accounts which are credited no later than 15 October 2022, however, not yet used on 31 May 2023.
For amounts credited until 15 October 2022, the period of free use will therefore be shortened (up to 7.5 months). As a consequence, it is worth considering postponing the transfer of SZÉP-card benefits in the month of October to a date falling after 15 October 2022.
It is important to note that the payment service provider will inform the SZÉP-card holders 90 days prior to the deduction of the fee of the unused SZÉP-card funds and the expected amount of the deduction. Thus, it should encourage the use of the funds before the 15% fee is deducted.
According to a special rule in the Decree, a written notice on the potential fee deduction for 2023 must be sent to the customers’ contact details available at the payment service provider by 15 January 2023 Individuals should therefore not wait to receive these notices on their Customer Gateway (so called “Ügyfélkapu” in Hungarian). Thus, if in the meantime there were changes in their contact details, it is advisable to modify them as soon as possible in the system of the SZÉP-card service provider.