Abu Dhabi: For the first time in more than five years, motorists can use their credit cards to fill up at the pumps in Dubai and the northern emirates.
Beginning on Sunday, petrol companies Enoc and Emarat will accept credit cards as payment while adding a Dh2 surcharge to the transaction — Eppco was first to resume credit card purchases on July 13.
The reversal comes after petrol firms first declined cards in October 2007 because of charges exacted by banks against the petrol industry and the financial burden of processing credit card transactions.
Mohammad Al Shehi, undersecretary at the Ministry of Economy, said in a statement that the Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection had approved the request from the petrol retailers, overturning a decision made last year to prevent the companies imposing surcharges.
“Thus gas stations are excluded from the 2012 Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection’s decision, which prohibits imposing additional fees on using credit cards to purchase a commodity,” the ministry said.
Al Shehi added that the decision is optional for consumers, and that it is not mandatory to purchase petrol using credit cards.
“There is full freedom to choose the way consumers buy fuel, either by credit card or to pay in cash, and in this case [cash] they do not pay a Dh2 surcharge.”
He pointed out that filling gas is deemed a service and not a commodity and that the ministry will continue to allow the service sectors to deduct a fee for using credit cards to purchase a service.
“It is not reasonable for the UAE to prevent using credit cards as there are tourists and businessmen who prefer using credit cards.”
Al Shehi said that the fees apply to any amount of gas purchased every time whatever the value is, urging consumers to inform the Ministry of Economy through the complaints centre if they are charged more than Dh2.
An Enoc official confirmed the company is on board with the new credit card regimen.
“We received the circular yesterday [Wednesday] but we will start implementing it as of next Sunday, August 4,” said the official.
Both Eppco and Emarat companies confirmed they are accepting credit cards.
Waddah Al Taha, chief analyst and economist at CNBC, said that such a move has come following a request by oil companies.
“Such strategic decisions which were made recently by the ministry and the ad hoc committee aimed to support consumer rights and to boost economic competitiveness and growth,” said Al Taha. “We know this decision came in the aftermath of many meetings between the committee and officials from credit card operators Visa and MasterCard.”
The UAE market is said to have more than seven million credit cards by the end of 2012 with a total spending amounting to Dh147 billion, according to Visa statistics.