Credence High School in Al Quoz, Dubai, is one of the many isntitutions that have stopped passing bank charges for credit or debit card transcations on to the parents. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: More parents are choosing to pay their children’s school fees using bank cards, as schools absorb the associated cost of providing the service without passing them on to the parents.

Previously, it was more common to find schools charging parents extra — usually two per cent of the payment amount — if they were paid using a credit or debit card. The extra cost of the transaction was a deterrent for many parents who wanted to pay by card.

The practice of imposing the so-called ‘service or processing fees’ on those paying by card is not allowed anymore.

In 2013, a large school group in the UAE decided to end the practice after complaints from parents.

Schools and businesses that accept payments by card are charged by the bank for the transaction — usually two per cent of the transaction amount. Some schools or businesses decide to recover this cost by charging the parent or the customer, which is against the rules. Others do not offer the option to pay by card, to avoid the associated cost.

However, as many parents find it convenient to pay by card, many schools accept this mode of payment without passing on the transaction cost to the former.

“Unwanted burden”

At Taaleem, one of the UAE’s biggest education providers, payments by card have reached a new high, making up almost two-thirds of fee payments, said director of communications for Taaleem Clive Pierrepont.

 The use of credit cards to settle school fees has increased annually, reaching a new peak this year, where over 60 per cent of school financial transactions are through this method.”

 - Clive Pierrepont | Director of communications, Taaleem 

Taaleem’s website lists 10 schools in the UAE. The school group is expecting a record number of more 9,000 students at its schools this academic year.

Pierrepont said: “The use of credit cards to settle school fees has increased annually, reaching a new peak this year, where over 60 per cent of school financial transactions are through this method. Taaleem absorbs the cost of these transactions as we understand that parents can gain by using certain bank cards and spreading their payments over a period of time.”

In Dubai, Credence High School also absorbs the cost to the school of offering the payment-by-card service, said Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO and principal of the Indian curriculum school.

Singh said: “Credence accepts payment of fees by way of credit card, for the payment of tuition and other fees. This is in addition to the option of cheque, cash and online payment, whichever mode is convenient for the parent. We do not charge the parent any additional fee.”

She added: “This [payment by card] is a convenient mode as it’s quick and hassle free for the parent. It gives them time to repay the bank, thus managing their home budget better. Besides, many banks offer rewards, which are also beneficial to the parents. Most of all, credit card payment is quick and does not involve the hassle of writing a cheque or withdrawing or carrying a large sum of money.”

At the Global Indian International School (GIIS) group in the UAE, its schools absorb all costs associated with the card payment option, said Amol Vaidya, director of operations.

Vaidya added that GIIS absorbs the costs “purely because the rates differ from card to card; and to save the parents the trouble and make it a smooth process for both parties”.

He said: “GIIS offers all payment option to parents: cash, cheque, credit card, debit card, money exchange, and online credit or debit card. The idea is parents should not be required to travel long distances for making fee payments.”

For parents, the card payment “service charge” is an unwanted burden. M.Z., a Pakistani father in Dubai, said: “I used to pay school fees by card and get charged an extra two per cent for the transaction amount by the school. I did it only because it saved me the effort of going to the school, or carrying cash or writing cheques. But I wasn’t happy about it. The school then decided to stop taking fees by card. I suppose they didn’t want to go against the rules and didn’t want to absorb the costs either.”

Abrar Quazi, an Indian father in Sharjah, said: “I pay my school fees online using my bank card and my school doesn’t charge me any ‘service fees’ for it, which is only fair. It’s easier to pay by card, so that’s why I do it. The fees are the same whether you pay by card, cash or cheque, as it should be.”