A quarter of the 250+ credit cards in the UAE come with a cashback option. With almost 50 cashback credit cards clamoring for your attention, are you sure you have the right one for you?

Choosing a cashback credit card

The devil is in the detail – so the small print is the place to start, to find out what you’re really signing up for. Here are a few caveats and limitations you should familiarize yourself with before choosing a cashback credit card:

  1. What’s the cashback on which type of spend? Some providers offer cashback on all purchases. Others will vary their rewards based on the amount you spend and on whether you spend locally or internationally. The cashback may even change depending on whether you’re paying for movie tickets, utility bills, school fees, supermarket bills or flights.
  2. Minimum and maximum caps: Do you have to spend a minimum amount per month in order to start earning cashback? Will you REALLY be spending that much? Is there a monthly or a yearly limit to the cashback you’re being offered?
  3. How do you get the cashback? Some providers will give you an automatic annual rebate or waiver of fees equal to your cashback amount, while others will reduce your outstanding balance every month or give you vouchers for the same amount to put towards shopping or utility bills. If your provider does not offer an automatic system for redeeming cashback, consider the process in terms of admin and time to get your money back.

[Related: Get money back from your credit card]

How much cashback would you earn?

We’ve picked six major providers in the UAE and compared cashback offered on their credit cards.

A spend of AED 1,000 per month on each of the six categories listed has been assumed, bringing the total monthly expenditure on the credit card to AED 6,000.

So, for example, if you had the ADIB Cashback Classic Card, and spent AED 1,000 on each of the six categories (local, international, groceries, utilities, Etisalat/ Du and school fees) you would have spent a total of AED 6,000 per month. For that, you would get AED 720 as total cashback in a year.

The calculation below represents cashback earned, per category and in total, over a period of 12 months.

Cashback per year (AED) 
Cashback cards Cashback offer & limitations Local Int’l Groceries Utilities Etisalat or Du School fees TOTAL CASHBACK
ADIB Cashback Classic Card / Cashback Gold Card / Cashback Visa Platinum Card / Football Card
  • 1% unlimited cashback on all purchases.
  • No minimum spend required
120 120 120 120 120 120 720
RAKBANK: Titanium MasterCard, Standard MasterCard, NMC MasterCardClassic Visa, Amal Titanium MasterCard, Amal Standard MasterCard
  • 1% on local purchases & 5% on international purchases *
  • Maximum monthly cashback: AED 1,200 for local and AED 2,000 for international
 120  300  120  120  120  120  960
SimplyLife Credit Card
  • 1.5% cashback on all purchases
  • Minimum monthly spend needed: AED 1,000
  • Maximum monthly cashback: AED 1,000
 180 180 180 180 180 180 1,080
Emirates Islamic Cashback Card
  • 10% cashback on Etisalat or Du (for bills up to AED 1,000)
  • 5% cashback on electronics (for bills up to AED 2,000 at select stores)
  • 1% cashback on all other spends
 120  120  120  120  1200  120  1,800
Standard Chartered Titanium Card
  • 5% cashback on utility bills, supermarkets and school fees *
  • Minimum monthly spend needed: AED 2,500 (For all spends)
  • Maximum monthly cashback: AED 200 (per category) AED 1,000 (total)
 n/a   n/a   600  600  600  600  2,400 **

* The cashback rate offered depends on the amount spent on the credit card per month. The percentage calculated in the table above is based on a monthly spend of AED 6,000. 

** Standard Chartered has an introductory offer of either AED 500 cashback or a travel voucher worth AED 750 with the Titanium Card. To get the introductory offer you need to apply for the card online and spend AED 10,000 in the 60 days after the card activation date. 

*** Mashreq also offers additional cashback of up to 6.25% in 200+ outlets in the UAE with its SmartSaver Card.

Cashback from rewards credit cards

There are also some credit cards that offer cashback through a loyalty program. These include credit cards from CBD, CBI, Noor Bank, Majid Al Futtaim (Najm), Emirates NBD, ADCB, UNB Cashback Credit Card and Citibank

[Related: Rewards or cashback: Which credit card is best?]