How to cash in on cashback credit cards in the UAE

Our guide to nine of the best cards that help consumers earn money on their everyday spending

Illustration by Mathew Kurian 
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Spending more is not always a bad thing; it could end up earning you more. That is the benefit of cashback credit cards, which pay users back a percentage of their purchases in cash. But, like any credit card, restrictions apply. The cashback amount varies depending on the type of purchase and monthly caps, plus factoring in annual fees and minimum spend requirements.

“Make sure you read the fine print before applying for a cashback credit card,” says Ambareen Musa, founder and chief executive of financial comparison website “Cashback advertisements may seem enticing, but quite often the finer details, terms and conditions can dull the shine on these offers.”

For example, a higher rate of 10 per cent may only apply to certain categories and have monthly earning limits, but a lower rate of 1 per cent may have no restrictions at all. Luckily, you will still be able to get substantial value by choosing the best cashback credit card suited to your needs.

“Some will give you a generous amount back on supermarket spend, another might give you more back on fuel, while another will reward you for dining out and going to the cinema. Some cards will also give you more back on overseas expenditures,” says Jonathan Rawling, chief financial officer of financial comparison website “So it does pay to match the cashback rates on individual items with your monthly spending habits.”

Once you understand how much you need to spend and what you have to spend on, it is a straightforward way to earn a return on your outgoings.

However, as well as noting any restrictions, check if the redemption process is automated and make sure you do not exceed your credit limit. Also, keep on top of your credit card payments as you risk being denied cashback rewards.

“Above all, make sure you pay your outstanding balance in full every month to take advantage of the cashback rewards,” says Ms Musa. “If you end up dragging your credit card debt, the hefty interest payments will cancel out any possible financial benefit you would have received with the cashback.”

Here, the experts pick the top nine cashback credit cards to help you earn on your spending:

Standard Chartered Platinum Credit Card

This credit card gets you 10 per cent cash back on supermarket spend, school fees and utility bill payments. The maximum cap is Dh400 per month for supermarkets, Dh400 for school fees and Dh200 for utility bills, totalling Dh12,000 per year.

“Looking at annual savings with this credit card, you can end up saving up to Dh4,800 on supermarket spend, up to Dh4,800 on school fees, and up to Dh2,400 on utility bill payments,” says Ms Musa.

There is a minimum overall expenditure of Dh2,500 per month. Other perks, however, include your first ride with Careem free and three 20 per cent discounted rides per month as well as up to 30 per cent off on travel with cleartrip and buy-one-get-one-free at Costa Coffee.

Minimum monthly salary: Dh5,000, making it "an easy card to acquire," Ms Musa adds.

Annual fee: while there is no charge the first year, it is Dh525 per year thereafter.

Emirates Islamic Cashback Plus Card

Similar to the Standard Chartered Platinum Credit Card, this card gives up to 10 per cent back on supermarket spends, education, dining and telecom expenses. It is limited to Dh200 a month for supermarket, dining and telecom, and Dh400 a month for education, totalling Dh12,000 per year.

Minimum monthly salary: Dh5,000

Annual fee: this is waived the first year, with fee of Dh299 applicable for subsequent years - but if you maintain a minimum spend of Dh30,000 per year, it's free.

Citi Cashback Credit Card

This is “a relatively new credit card on the cashback scene,” says Ms Musa. The card gives you flat 3 per cent cash back on international spend, 2 per cent on groceries and 1 per cent on everything else.

Its best feature is that there is no minimum spend criteria or earning cap. Citibank’s website advertises it as “No complicated terms and conditions, just cashback. Clear, Simple, Easy.”

Minimum monthly salary: Dh8,000

Annual fee: no fee for the first year, with the subsequent Dh300 charge waived if you spend at least Dh9,000 a year.

Najm ONE Cash Back Credit Card

Najm ONE is the only credit card that increases your cashback as the number of transactions increase, making it “one of the most unique cashback credit cards on the market,” says Ms Musa.

The incremental cashback structure gives either 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 per cent back depending on the number of transactions. Within one billing cycle, you start earning cashback at the rate of 1 per cent for the first one to five transactions, going up to 10 per cent once you reach more than 51 transactions.

The monthly cap is Dh500, meaning you can save up to Dh6,000 annually. The card covers all spend categories locally and internationally.

Minimum monthly salary: Dh8,000

Annual fee: Dh314

ADIB Cashback Visa Platinum Credit Card

This card gives you “a straight one per cent on anything you buy, wherever you are in the world,” says Mr Rawling.

It also offers free roadside assistance and a free grace period up to 55 days to repay your outstanding balance.

Minimum monthly salary: Dh10,000

Annual: it comes with a hefty annual fee of Dh1,000, but that only applies from the second year onwards.

Dubai First Cashback Credit Card

This card from Dubai First, now part of the First Abu Dhabi Bank group, offers between 1 and 2 per cent cashback on local spend, between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent on international spend, and 5 per cent on dining and entertainment spend worldwide.

The percentage depends on monthly spends, so the more you spend the more you earn. For example, minimum percentages apply for total monthly purchases less than Dh10,000, while the maximum applies for a total of at least Dh20,000.

The monthly cap is Dh1,000 and for dining and entertainment it is Dh200.

Minimum monthly salary: Dh5,000

Annual fee: Dh400

RAKBANK Titanium Credit Card

This is one of the rare cards without an annual fee, but it does have a monthly earning cap of Dh1,500 and you have to pay close attention to the caps for certain types of spends.

For monthly local and internationals spends under Dh15,000, it offers 1 per cent cashback, and for Dh15,000 and above, it offers 2 per cent cashback. While the card offers 5 per cent on supermarket and dining spend, that is limited to Dh150 per month. It offers a highly attractive 50 per cent cashback on cinema spend, but that is limited to Dh70 per month.

Minimum monthly salary: Dh10,000

Annual fee: no charge

Emirates NBD Visa Infinite/Platinum Credit Card

You can earn up to two Plus Points, Emirates NBD’s loyalty programme, per Dh100 spent with these cards, which can then be converted into cash. “It’s effectively the same as earning 2 per cent cash back,” says Ms Musa.

Each Plus Point is equal to Dh1 in terms of cashback value. However, there are certain categories like groceries, fuel and utility bills that earn only 0.2 to 0.4 per cent Plus Points.

The Plus Point earning cap is Dh3,000 per month for the Infinite card and Dh2,000 per month for the Platinum card. That could potentially mean cash back of up to Dh36,000 per year.

Minimum monthly salary: These are on the high side at Dh30,000 for the Infinite card and Dh12,000 for Platinum.

Annual fee: Infinite - Dh1,500; Platinum - Dh700.

HSBC Cashback Credit Card

This card offers between 0.5 per cent and 10 per cent back, but monthly limits apply on the higher percentages. You can get 10 per cent back on fuel spends up to a maximum of Dh100 per month and 5 per cent on hypermarket spends up to a maximum of Dh200 monthly. On local spends, 0.5 per cent applies and on online and foreign currency spends, 1.5 per cent applies, both with no earning limits.

Other benefits of the card include buy-one-get-one-free at Vox Cinemas and the HSBC Entertainer mobile app.

Minimum monthly salary: Dh5,000

Annual fee: no fee for the first year and the Dh299 charge for subsequent years is waived subject to minimum yearly spend of Dh12,000.