According to a 2016 Euromonitor report, there were close to 5.4 million credit cards in circulation in the UAE as of 2015. This is 50 percent higher than the number of credit cards in the UAE in 2010, and is expected to go up to 7.8 million by 2020. But unfortunately, user loyalty isn’t keeping up with this increase…

Credit card preference driven by loyalty rewards programs

The Euromonitor report sheds light on the fact that loyalty still remains low among credit cardholders and making the switch from one provider to another is relatively easy. In a time when aggregators are letting users compare products at the click of a button, the average customer has become more financially aware, and run-of-the-mill rewards programs are no longer good enough for many!

According to’s quarterly analysis for Q3-2016, travel rewards or miles continue to be one of the top features users look for when choosing a credit card in the UAE. The analysis has also revealed that users are moving away from fee-based search criteria, and are now becoming increasingly conscious of the loyalty programs on credit cards. conducted a survey to understand what UAE residents think of their travel credit card, and to gauge what’s lacking in the market.

Are most travel credit cards lacking an all-inclusive rewards program?

Travel credit cards are synonymous with miles programs, but is that enough in a market where loyalty is not the norm? But that isn’t all. While a travel credit card may seem great in advertisements, exclusions and limitations in the fine print may take the fizz out of their initial attractiveness. 70 percent of our survey respondents believe that they can use their miles to book flights, but less than 30 percent have a travel card that lets them book more than just that – hotels, travel packages, car rentals and lifestyle experiences. Furthermore, 64 percent of cardholders don’t have the option to redeem their reward points for partial payment of travel bookings, 44 percent cannot redeem their rewards when they are most likely to travel due to black-out dates.

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Is a long-drawn and complicated redemption process damaging loyalty?’s survey sheds light on what could be the primary reason behind customer dissatisfaction with the travel credit cards currently in the market. 43 percent of the respondents haven’t been able to redeem their credit card miles for a free air ticket to their home country. And of those who have been able to get their hands on one, 46 percent say it took them anywhere from one to two years to earn enough miles to do so. With such a long lag between the customer applying for a card and being able to redeem it for a free flight, it is likely that they may not be motivated enough to retain the card and not switch to one that’s better.

We also asked respondents how easy it was for them to redeem their travel rewards. Only 21 percent have access to a self-booking portal to book flights and hotels, while over 60 percent consider the process relatively difficult, since it involves either getting a voucher from the card provider or placing a redemption request through the card provider’s call center and/or the airline’s call center.

[Related: Which travel insurance plan is right for you?]

Closing the gap – Who’s ahead of the curve?

Responses from the survey make it obvious that there IS a significant gap that many card providers will have to close in order to design a travel credit card that checks all the right boxes for users. And Voyager by Najm Credit Card are well ahead of the curve in doing so!

The Voyager by Najm Credit Cards by Majid Al Futtaim Finance are revolutionizing travel rewards in more ways than one. These cards offer a holistic rewards program that gives users the flexibility to redeem their rewards as they like – for flights, hotels, travel packages, car rentals and lifestyle deals. Voyager by Najm is also pioneering customer experience thanks to a dedicated self-booking portal called, which allows cardholders to simply sign in and gives them freedom to choose from over 550 airlines around the world, including low cost airlines.

All three credit cards in the Voyager by Najm series – Signature, Platinum and Gold, offer the higher earn rates for rewards in the UAE – up to 4 Voyager Rewards per AED on and international spend. Based on findings released in the Euromonitor report, over 40 percent of credit card spend is on foreign transactions. This makes higher rewards on international spend, a must-have feature for frequent travelers. To top it off there are no black-out dates for travel, and cardholders are free to redeem their points to cover the full or partial cost of travel.