Islamic banking products are gaining popularity in the UAE among both Muslim and non-Muslim customers, according to the 2016 Islamic Banking Index by Emirates Islamic. As per the findings, 51 percent of UAE consumers now have at least one Islamic banking product, 4 percent higher than last year. And given the fact that there are over 80 Islamic credit cards listed on Souqalmal.com, there is no lack of options available for those looking to add a Shariah-compliant card to their wallet.
Islamic credit cards conform to Shariah law, which prohibits interest or ‘riba’ on the money borrowed which is one of the main principles of Islamic Banking. So when you use your Shariah-compliant credit card to make purchases, you will not be charged interest on the outstanding balance. Instead, some banks may levy a monthly profit rate on the outstanding balance, or charge a fixed monthly fee.
[Related: How does an Islamic credit card work?]
We round up five Islamic credit cards in the UAE with rewarding features and benefits.
If you’re a frequent traveler looking for a Shariah-compliant credit card with travel perks, this card might just be the right one for you. With the Emirates Islamic Flex Max card, you get a welcome bonus of 50,000 EI SmartMiles. You also earn 2 EI SmartMiles for every AED 1 spent locally and 3 EI SmartMiles for every AED 1 spent internationally. These can be redeemed at over 300 airlines, 180,000 hotels, and car rentals. Your SmartMiles can also get you free flights, upgrades and additional baggage allowance when exchanged for frequent flyer programs such as Etihad Guest and JetPrivilege. You can also use your EI SmartMiles to shop with the ‘Instant Purchase’ feature which is a convenient way of shopping using your SmartMiles.
This card is specifically designed for Etisalat users who can earn Etisalat reward points for all their spends on the credit card. Cardholders get 4 points for every AED 1 spent, and every AED 100 spent gets you 13 minutes worth of free talk time from Etisalat. What’s more, you also get 70,000 Etisalat reward points when you sign up for this card, equivalent to 38 hours of UAE talk time. You can redeem your Etisalat reward points for payment of your Etisalat services. Keep in mind there is an annual fee of AED 999 applicable on this card.
This card was launched in association with Dubai Economic Department (DED) with an aim to maximize savings on everyday purchases. So whether it is your grocery spends, automobile servicing, Etisalat and Du bill payments, fuel spends, utility bills, salik and nol recharges, you will earn 3% cashback on all your purchases. What’s more, you also get 50% cashback on movie tickets up to a maximum of AED 150 per month. And the icing on the cake – There is no minimum spend requirement! But keep in mind, the cap on maximum cashback you can earn in one billing cycle is set at AED 1,000.
This card comes with a range of unique benefits and features catering to the needs of the Muslim population. One such feature is its ability to locate the ‘Qibla’ i.e., the direction of prayer. Not only this, you can also avail easy payment plans for Hajj and Umrah travel. You can convert your purchases into easy payment plans at 0% profit rate for a period of 12 months. Cardholders can also round off all local retail transactions to the nearest multiple of AED 5, AED 10, AED 50 or AED 100. The rounded off amount will be donated to the Red Crescent Charity. What’s more, this card also gives you free unlimited access to select airport lounges in Middle East.
Grocery expenses are unavoidable, but when you have a credit card that rewards you for all your supermarket spends it’s easier on your pocket. The Noor Bank Wafa card is one such Islamic card that rewards you with up to 11% cashback on your grocery spends when you shop at Aswaaq community stores in the UAE. You can earn 2% cashback for spends less than AED 1,500, 5.5% for spends between AED 1,500- 3,000 and 11% cashback for spends above AED 3,000. This card is also free of charge for the first year.