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Using a credit card in the UAE

Get the most out of your credit card while touring around Dubai and the UAE.

Credit card payments are on the rise in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), so you shouldn’t encounter many issues if you’re using a Visa or Mastercard – which are the most commonly used networks in the country. However, you could come home to high fees if your credit card isn’t travel-friendly.

Compare credit cards for use in the UAE

If you’re thinking of applying for a new credit card before you head to the UAE, look into a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees. Although the fees are relatively low, they can add up quickly if you use your credit card often.
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Brim World Mastercard
Up to $300 worth of bonuses
1.5 points for every $1 spent
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $300 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app. 
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
70,000 Points
Up to 6 points per $1 spent
19.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Points ($100 travel rewards). Plus, earn an additional 50,000 Points and get a 1st year annual fee waiver. Apply by September 27, 2021.
BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard
N/A
N/A
19.99%
$35 USD
Min. recommended credit score: 725
When your purchases total US$1,000 or more in a year, the next year's annual fee (US$35) is rebated to your card.
Brim World Elite Mastercard
Brim World Elite Mastercard
Up to $500 worth of bonuses
2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($199 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Collect up to $500 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time using your Brim World Elite Mastercard.
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
40,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year (that’s up to $400 towards travel) Apply by August 31, 2021.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
40,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$139
Min. recommended credit score: 750
Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year (that’s up to $400 towards travel). Apply by July 1, 2021.
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Canadian Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted abroad. Check with your bank before travelling to the UAE to confirm whether or not you’ll be able to use your credit card during your trip.
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
20,000 Points
2x points per $1 spent
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 630
Get 20,000 Points (up to $100 in value), plus get a 1st year annual fee waiver. Apply by September 27, 2021.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
1.95% rate on balance transfers for 6 months
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 680
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
3.99% rate on balance transfers for 9 months
N/A
12.99%
$20
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Brim Mastercard
Up to $200 worth of bonuses
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $200 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
1.95% rate on balance transfers for 6 months
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 680
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
Refresh Financial Secured Card
N/A
N/A
17.99%
$12.95
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
Take advantage of a low annual fee, with no credit check and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with some funds.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
10,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Apply by October 31, 2021 . Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
30,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 30,000 points and the $150 annual fee waived in the first year. Apply by October 31, 2021
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
0.99% rate on balance transfers for 6 months
N/A
12.99%
$29
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by July 1, 2021.
Home Trust Secured Visa
N/A
N/A
14.90% - 19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
Choose from three card options: No Annual Fee ($0 annual fee, 19.99% purchase rate), Low Interest Rate ($59 annual fee, 14.90% purchase rate) or a Low Monthly Fee ($5 monthly fee, 14.90% purchase rate).
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite
40,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 40,000 points and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.
Shell AIR MILES Mastercard from BMO
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
Brim World Mastercard
Up to $300 worth of bonuses
1.5 points for every $1 spent
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $300 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app. 
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege
50,000 points
5 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$499
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 50,000 welcome points in your first year.
Neo Financial Credit Card
N/A
4% cash back
19.99% - 24.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an average cash back of 4% at Neo partners across Canada, which includes most major gas stations and grocery stores, gyms, restaurants, coffee shops and more.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
70,000 Points
Up to 6 points per $1 spent
19.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Points ($100 travel rewards). Plus, earn an additional 50,000 Points and get a 1st year annual fee waiver. Apply by September 27, 2021.
Shell AIR MILES World Mastercard from BMO
Up to 1.25x Air Miles
1 Mile for every $15 spent
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get 1.25x Miles on card purchases at Shell locations in Canada.
BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
Up to 10% cash back
1% cash back
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 10% cash back in your first 3 months and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.
Shell CashBack Mastercard from BMO
$50 in cash back + 1% cash back
Up to 1.5% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get $50 in cash back bonuses once you charge your first eligible purchase to your card. Plus, earn 1% cash back for the first 6 months on all eligible purchases.
BMO Rewards Business Mastercard
35,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
14.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get 35,000 points and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year (a total value of $295 when you pay with points).
BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard
3,000 Miles
1 Mile for every $10 spent
19.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get up to 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles ($310 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
BMO IGA AIR MILES Mastercard
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard
N/A
N/A
19.99%
$35 USD
Min. recommended credit score: 725
When your purchases total US$1,000 or more in a year, the next year's annual fee (US$35) is rebated to your card.
BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard
2,000 Miles
1 Mile for every $12 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Earn a bonus of up to 2,000 AIR MILES. Terms apply. Plus, get the annual fee of $120 waived in the first year.
BMO Cashback Business Mastercard
10% cash back
Up to 1.75% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get 10% cash back on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills for 3 months.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
800 Miles
1 Mile per $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get up to 5% cash back in the first three months (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months (with a 1% transfer fee).
BMO Air Miles No-Fee Business Mastercard
1,000 Miles
1 Mile per $20 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get 1,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (over $100 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
Shell CashBack World Mastercard from BMO
N/A
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$79
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Earn 3% cash back at Shell stations in Canada, plus 1.25% cash back on all other spend.
BMO Sobeys AIR MILES Mastercard
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
Brim World Elite Mastercard
Brim World Elite Mastercard
Up to $500 worth of bonuses
2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($199 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Collect up to $500 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time using your Brim World Elite Mastercard.
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card
Up to 5% cash back
1% cash back
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases).Plus, get a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all eligible purchases for the first 6 months. Apply by July 1, 2021.
Scotia Momentum Mastercard
7.99% rate on balance transfers for 6 months
Up to 1% cash back
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 20.99% thereafter
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all eligible purchases for the first 6 months. Apply by July 1, 2021.
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card
10% cash back
Up to 4% cash back per $1 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 750
Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases) and pay no annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards (A welcome offer value of $350). Apply by August 31, 2021.
Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card
2,500 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points when you spend a minimum of $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months as a new SCENE Visa cardholder. Apply by July 1, 2021.
Scotiabank GM Visa Card
N/A
Up to 5% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 5% in GM Earnings on all eligible purchases on the first $5,000 annual spend, and 2% thereafter.
Scotiabank GM Visa Infinite Card
No first year annual fee
Up to 5% cash back
19.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($79 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get the annual fee waived in the first year on the primary card as well as any supplementary cards. Apply by July 1, 2021.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
40,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$139
Min. recommended credit score: 750
Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year (that’s up to $400 towards travel). Apply by July 1, 2021.
ScotiaGold Passport Visa Card
5,000 points
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$110
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Receive 5,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you make your first eligible purchase. Eligible purchase must be posted to your account within 2 months of account opening. Apply by July 1, 2021.
Scotia Momentum Visa Card
7.5% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.99%
$39
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 7.5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). Plus, get a 2.99% introductory rate on balance transfers and a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by August 31, 2021.
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What credit cards can I use in the UAE?

Visa, Mastercard and American Express find acceptance in the UAE, although to varying degrees.

Merchant acceptance
ATM acceptance
Visa
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Mastercard
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
exclamation point iconMedium
exclamation point iconMedium

Credit card deposits and contactless payments in the UAE

Some hotels in Abu Dhabi and other Emirates may require a credit card for deposits, so it’s advisable to carry a combination of various payment methods while travelling.

Some vendors will accept contactless payments — keep an eye out for the symbol. If your credit card network is Visa, the contactless limit in the UAE is 300 dirhams. If your credit card network is Mastercard, check with your bank since different financial institutions may set different limits.

Potential credit card fees in the UAE

  • Foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards issued in Canada come with foreign transaction fees of 2.5%. You’ll need to pay this fee every time you use your credit card outside of Canada. Fortunately, there are a few credit cards that offer no foreign transaction fees.
  • Currency conversion fees. If someone gives you the choice of paying in Canadian dollars or Emirati dirham with your credit card, always choose the local currency. Paying in CAD with your card will subject you to a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) that can lead to poor exchange rates and currency conversion fees. Pay in the local currency and let your bank do the conversion.
  • Cash advance fees. If you use your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM, you’ll face a cash advance fee. In addition, you’ll also be charged interest from the day you withdraw the funds. There is usually no grace period with a cash advance transaction and the cash advance interest rate is often higher than the purchase interest rate. Instead, use your debit card to withdraw funds from an ATM.
  • ATM fees. Even using your debit card to withdraw funds from an ATM will likely have you facing an ATM fee. To avoid this fee, you can use a debit card issued by a bank that has an international ATM alliance, such as the Global ATM Alliance offered by Scotiabank.

ATMs in the UAE

Although you shouldn’t have an issue finding ATMs or paying by card in most shops, restaurants or hotels while in any of the UAE’s major cities, it’s worth carrying some spare cash with you at all times. The safest way to withdraw money in the UAE is to use bank ATMs. If you’re heading to any major cities or tourist destinations, you’ll find ATMs in abundance. International bank ATMs — like Citibank, HSBC or Barclays — will give you a higher withdrawal limit than local banks.

When withdrawing money, try to select an amount that will give you bills in smaller denominations when possible. If you receive large bills, break them at your hotel or at a reputable shop. Make sure your cash isn’t damaged when you receive it, as many merchants will refuse to accept damaged bills.

Should I use my credit card to get cash?

As mentioned above, using your credit card to get cash from an ATM is not recommended. You’ll end up paying a cash advance fee as well as interest, which will start adding up from the day of the transaction. The APR for cash advances is typically higher than the APR for purchases. If you need to withdraw cash from an ATM, it’s best to use your debit card.

Do taxis in the UAE accept credit card?

Yes, as of 2015, all taxis in Dubai (and most in the larger cities of the UAE) accept credit card payments. If you’re outside of Dubai, check with the taxi driver before getting in.

Is it safe to use my credit card in the UAE?

Typically, yes. By exercising caution when using your credit card in the UAE, you should have a safe and hassle-free experience.

  • Keep your PIN secure. When using a keypad to enter your PIN, use your other hand to shield the screen from curious onlookers and hidden cameras.
  • Choose ATMs carefully. Try and stick to ATMs found in public places and banks. Avoid ATMs in isolated areas.
  • Watch out for skimmers. When installed in an ATM, a card skimmer works by stealing information from credit and debit cards. If you feel the card slot is not as smooth as it should be or if there’s a problem with the keypad, cancel your transaction and look for a different ATM.
  • Keep your card physically safe. While crime rates are relatively low in the UAE, theft is one of the top crimes carried out in Dubai. Always remain alert and keep a close eye on your belongings. Whether you’re in a crowded tourist destination or on a peaceful beach, stay aware of your surroundings so you don’t have to spend your vacation dealing with lost or stolen credit cards.

How to prepare before travelling to the UAE

  1. Carry suitable cards. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit card networks, with American Express accepted by some merchants in Dubai and other cities in the UAE.
  2. Avoid foreign transaction fees. If you don’t have a card with no foreign transaction fees, think about getting one before you go. Foreign transaction fees usually cost around 2.5% and they can add up quickly if you use your card often.
  3. Tell your bank. In an effort to minimize fraudulent transactions, banks temporarily block cards if they detect suspicious activity. If you don’t let your bank know that you plan to travel to the UAE, you’ll likely end up with a suspended credit card.
  4. Keep emergency numbers handy. If your credit card is lost or stolen, you’ll need to call to get a replacement card sent to the UAE. Make sure any phone numbers you need remain easily accessible at all times.
  5. Know how you’ll get cash. An affordable way to access cash is to use your debit card at an ATM. Exchanging Canadian dollars for Emirati dirham is also possible. If you need to exchange money, stick to banks or official money exchange offices as possessing counterfeit money in the UAE is a serious crime – and you could be handed it if you use a shady exchange kiosk. Avoid currency exchanges at hotels and airports due to high transaction fees and poor exchange rates.

Next steps

Ask yourself these questions in order to avoid common credit card related problems in the UAE.

  • Which cards will I use? Take at least two credit cards with you, with at least one being a Visa or Mastercard.
  • Does my bank know? If your bank is not aware of your upcoming trip, you may have to deal with a temporarily suspended card. Always notify your bank or credit card provider of your overseas travels.
  • What fees will I face? Read your credit card terms and conditions or call and ask your credit card provider if you’ll face any foreign transaction fees. Remember, you can easily avoid currency conversion fees by paying in the local currency.
  • How will I get cash? Your options include using your Canadian debit card at a local ATM, exchanging Canadian dollars for Emirati dirham or carrying travellers’ cheques. Avoid using a credit card to withdraw money from an ATM unless its an emergency.

Using a credit card in …

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