Are credit cards and loyalty cards useful financial tools or are they just an invitation to a financial nightmare? Here's what residents in the UAE think.
I have been using the AirMiles card for the past six months. I use it for my grocery shopping at Spinneys, eating out at the JW Marriott, at african+eastern, Gulf Greetings and a couple of fashion stores. I am saving up my points to get a laptop. Another advantage the card gave me was extra points when I signed up for car insurance with Royal Sun Alliance, which was a substantial addition to my balance. The only thing I would like to be added to the features of this card is to get the points added even after a purchase has been made. I also wish the Mall of Emirates had more outlets that accepted the AirMiles card.
I use the Skywards and Centerpoint cards most frequently. I have had both these cards since they were launched. Skywards gives me an opportunity to earn points not only on flights but also on what I spend on the Citibank co-branded credit card and other retail partners. These Skywards miles earn me free tickets, hotel stays, vouchers redeemable at various retail outlets (Rivoli, Magrudys). Also as my loyalty to the airline increases, I move to a higher membership tier with additional benefits such as lounge access, priority check-in, and excess baggage allowance. With my Centerpoint card I earn points on my purchases at their stores (Shoe Mart, Baby shop, Lifestyle, Home Center, Splash) and as and when I have accumulated eligible points they send a voucher of the cash value which can be redeemed at any of these stores. The Centerpoint voucher is sent to me automatically, so it requires no follow up.
I use a couple of loyalty cards (Etihad, Companion Points etc) but the ones I use often are the AirMiles and Priority Club. I like the convenience of the AirMiles card, they send me regular emails with my points balance and they also have a very user-friendly online redemption facility. I do travel often and Priority Club has a lot of hotels in each country. I wish AirMiles had an instant redemption facility.
I have been using the Dine In By Hyatt (DIBH) loyalty card once a week for the past eight months. I most often use it at the Manhattan Grill, and the Terrace at Creek Hyatt. I also enjoy iZ, the new Indian restaurant at Grand Hyatt. What I like at DIBH is that it can be used at all Hyatt properties in Dubai. For every Dh10 spent on the card, you earn one Hyatt dirham. Once you accumulate 180 Hyatt dirhams, they can be redeemed for vouchers. As a member of DIBH, I also receive invites to special wine tasting sessions and cooking demos by celeb chefs. It is easy to redeem the vouchers online and I get to know about new promotions and products through a special newsletter that I receive.
I dine out during lunch atleast three times a week, and apart from being a member of the Dine In By Hyatt (DIBH) programme, I also use the Meridian and Marriott loyalty card. The DIBH card doesn't cost me anything, so that is a plus, and it gets me 10 per cent off my bill, which is handy since I entertain a lot. The Marriott card gives me 50 per cent off my drinks and meal, while the Meridian card can only be used for an evening meal.
I have been using the DIBH card for the past three years and I enjoy the benefits that it offers. I most often use it at Mix and iZ restaurant. An addition I would like to see is the Pool Bar at Grand Hyatt also accepting the card.
I have been using my AirMiles card for the last two years and have redeemed my points a number of times for items such as cordless phones which have been of superior quality. I use the card at Spinneys, Damas and Areej. It's a great addition to my wallet as I can get something extra without having to pay anything. I would like to see other supermarkets such as the Lulu Hypermarket also accepting the AirMiles card.