Credit cards are almost a necessity of late-stage capitalism. Whether you use them to buy airline tickets or to pay for your everyday purchases, credit cards in the UAE are convenient, easy to use and often come with rewards such as cashback or air miles. But – and there’s always a ‘but’ – those advantages come with a caveat: a failure to pay credit card bills on time can lead you to build up unsustainable amounts of debt while negatively affecting your credit score.

Thankfully, with the well-developed banking system in the UAE, it's easy to stay on top of your finances by making those credit card payments on time.

Three easy ways to pay credit card bills in the UAE

How to pay your credit card bill can be a vexing question. Banks in the UAE have adopted the latest technologies so residents can pay credit card bills easily and on time. There’s a solution that fits every need. You can choose to head to a cash machine or pay your bill online in the UAE – but the important thing is to avoid unpleasantness by making sure you’ve paid down as much as you can before the due date.

In the UAE, you can pay your credit card bill:

  1. Online via bank transfers
  2. Automatically, via direct debit
  3. In person, at an exchange house

How to pay UAE credit card bills via online transfers within the same bank

Paying down that credit card bill is quick and easy if you’ve registered for online banking in the UAE. Once you’re logged in, you will typically be presented with an overview of all your accounts so you can see how much you need to pay and whether you have enough money to cover the payment at a single glance. From there, it’s a quick three-step process: choose the card to pay to, select the account you want to transfer the money from, input the amount, date and purpose, and then confirm the transaction. With the transfer effected instantly, paying online or via your bank app is the easiest way to settle your bill.

  • As a handy tip, set a reminder on your calendar to log onto online banking on the same day each month – preferably a few days before your bill is due.

Set up a direct debit to pay credit card bills automatically

Perhaps the easiest way to stay on top of your credit card bills is to set up a bank order so that the entire bill amount – or whatever percentage you choose – is automatically transferred to your credit card account each month. You should be able to do this when you apply for your credit card in the UAE, but if you haven’t, it’s easy enough to instruct your bank to transmit the amount each month. You may need to fill out a form and drop it off at a branch, but a direct debit ensures you avoid any hefty late fees or penalties. This works best when your credit card and salary account are with the same bank. Once you’ve set up the process, the transfer takes place instantly on the date in question – although the exact time of day may vary.

  • Top tip: Set up direct debits from your salary account, ideally a couple of days after you get paid, so there’s enough cash in the account to cover your credit card bills.

Pay credit card bills at an exchange house in the UAE

With money transfers such a big part of the expatriate life, most banks will allow you to pay credit card bills at certain exchange houses through the UAE Funds Transfer System (UAEFTS). The real-time gross settlement system facilitates the movement of funds between banks and other financial institutions in the UAE via their accounts at the UAE Central Bank. As always, however, there are pros and cons. The larger exchange houses have a counter in all the major malls, so you’ll find it convenient to pay credit card bills in this way. On the other hand, the exchange house may levy a transaction fee for accepting the payment and the money may only be credited to your card the next day – so, keep that timeframe in mind if you’re going down this route.

  • Top tip: Remember that not all exchange houses partner with all banks in the UAE. Therefore, it’s worth checking in advance which exchange houses your bank has an agreement with for smooth and hassle-free transactions.

When should you pay your credit card bill?

  • When you’re close to your credit limit, it’s worth paying down your credit card bill early. Hitting your limit repeatedly could have a negative effect on your credit score.
  • Consider paying your bill early if you’re planning to apply for a loan. Banks need to look at the total amount you owe and then calculate what they can lend you. If you’ve paid down a credit card, you may be eligible for a higher loan amount.

Tips for making credit card payments in the UAE

Credit cards can work to your advantage if you maintain a sense of financial discipline. Here are some handy tips for paying your credit card bill in the UAE:

  • Automated direct debits are a good way to stay on track.
  • Plan to have enough money available to pay your bill at the end of each payment cycle.
  • Check your credit card bill each month for vendor mistakes or oversight.

Make the most of your credit cards with Citi Credit Cards

Citibank offers a wide range of credit cards in the UAE for people at every stage of life. Citibank works with merchants in the UAE to provide cardholders with additional incentives, including airline miles and other travel rewards, dining discounts, offers on movie tickets, and much more. The Emirates Citibank Ultima credit card is particularly popular with UAE residents. The co-branded airline card is perfectly suited to those who like the good things in life. Besides facilitating digital payments, those who pay their credit card bills on time benefit from the following perks:

  • Complimentary Emirates Skywards Silver membership, with 12kg in extra baggage allowance, priority check in and more.
  • Emirates Skywards rewards miles: Up to 2.5 miles per $1 spent.
  • Bonus Skywards Miles: 25,000 upon payment of the first year’s annual fee and 10,000 Skywards Miles annually upon renewal.
  • Dining and entertainment discounts in 95 countries.
  • Additional benefits across entertainment, dining, and retail.

Paying your credit card bills on time helps ensure responsible financial management. If you know someone who needs help managing their credit card finances in the UAE, why not share this article with them?