Glow-in-the-dark cards pull consumers towards the financial light

Best Buy: RakBank's prepaid card offers services that are free of red tape.

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Opening a bank account is an arduous, but essential, procedure in the UAE if you want to get paid or apply for credit.

New clients are required to fork over a range of documents, including a letter from an employer and copies of visas and passports. For workers in the UAE, it is a necessary process that requires patience.

But what about those without a residency visa, such as students, stay-at-home parents and teenagers?

Bling and Loaded, the latest offerings from RakBank, could change the local banking industry through its innovative pre-paid credit-card scheme.

After filling out an application on the bank's website - - clients can immediately gain access to either of these flashy, glow-in-dark cards, which do not require a credit check or documentation.

Customers can then add credit and monitor their balance online.

Eyad Al Kourdi, the vice president and country manager for MasterCard Worldwide, says prepaid cards, which provide added convenience, security and flexibility, are gaining in popularity in the Middle East.

"It also provides a valuable and cost-effective tool for customers and enables them to supervise their spending, budget and bill payments, thereby simplifying their money-management process," he adds.

With a no-strings-attached approach, prepaid cards replace cash and allow clients to make transactions much like a conventional credit or debit card. They are not linked to any specific account and, therefore, are available to anyone.

Bling and Loaded can also be used internationally and while shopping online.

Graham Honeybill, the general manager of RakBank, says these cards serve as a "major leap forward" in the local banking scene. Those who couldn't open a conventional bank account, such as students, stay-at-home parents or anyone not on a permanent resident visa, can now go about their financial business with more ease, he says.

In addition to the online account, clients of the prepaid cards can also add funds through RakBank ATMs and any UAE Exchange, Al Ansari Exchange, Sharaf Exchange and Al Fardan Exchange outlet.

Each card has a one-time cost of Dh25 and a courier delivery fee of Dh15. Alternatively, customers can avoid the courier fee by picking up their plastic at any RakBank location.

And until May 31, new cardholders will have the chance to win Dh500 credit on a prepaid card. There are 50 winners each month, and the lucky few will be notified via SMS.