As per latest data published by the UAE Central Bank, credit card point-of-sale transactions have been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 24% from 2010 to 2014. These figures show that credit cards have become more common and their usage more frequent over the last few years in the UAE.
There are a total of 234 credit cards currently listed on Souqalmal.com. Out of these, 149 are conventional cards and the other 85 are Islamic cards. We analyzed our credit card database to find out more about key features and trends in the UAE credit card market.
Eligibility requirements for credit cards
Our analysis revealed that the minimum salary requirement for most conventional credit cards (35% of all conventional cards) is between AED 5,000 to AED 10,000 per month, while that for most Islamic credit cards (53% of all Islamic cards) is AED 5,000 per month. This goes to show that credit cards are well within the reach of most UAE residents.
The cost of owning a credit card
The immediate cost of owning a credit card is the annual fee payment. There are a variety of credit cards available in the UAE ranging from ‘annual fee-free’ cards as well as premium cards which charge an annual fee of over AED 1,000. Our data indicates that majority of the credit cards offered in the UAE (51%) don’t charge any annual fee, thus making owning a credit card an inexpensive proposition.
The cost of using a credit card
In the UAE, credit card providers charge you an interest or profit rate usually ranging from 1%-3.33% per month depending upon the card you choose.
Our data showed that 52% of conventional credit cards in the UAE levy a monthly interest rate of more than 2.99%.
Among Islamic credit cards, 45% don’t levy any profit rate, but charge a fixed monthly fee instead. Out of these, 71% charge a monthly fee less than or equal to AED 500, while the other 29% charge a monthly fee upwards of AED 500.
[If you’re looking for a Shariah-compliant card, you can browse through Islamic credit cards here]
The rewards and perks that come with credit cards
Out of the 234 credit cards listed on Souqalmal.com, 203 cards offer some form of rewards – loyalty points, cashback or miles. Along with a rewards scheme, credit cards can also offer additional benefits and perks like buy-one-get-one-free offers on movie tickets, discounts on shopping and dining, free valet parking at frequently visited locations, and discounts on a number golf courses in the UAE.
Our research revealed that 46% of the credit cards in the UAE either directly offer a miles program or an option to convert loyalty points to miles, in collaboration with various airlines and international miles programs.
32% of the credit cards offer various types of cashback rewards, most offering higher cashback on international spend or on specific categories of card spend like that on supermarkets, telecom, utilities bills, school fees etc.
Among additional perks, most cards offer dining and shopping discounts (45% and 42% respectively). 27% offer discounts on movie tickets, popcorn and drinks at various cinemas in the UAE. Some of the more premium cards offer exclusive discounts on golf and valet parking services (18% and 15% respectively).
With such a wide variety of credit cards available in the market, you can pick and choose a card based on your lifestyle and requirements. So whether you’re looking for cashback card, an air miles card or want to browse through the UAE’s most popular credit cards, you can find and compare credit cards, all in one place.