Online Credit Card-Related Fraud – What to watch out for?

One of the best things about the Internet today is that you can purchase literally anything from the comfort of your own home. Whether you are browsing Souq or your favorite online clothing retailer based in the UAE, your next item can be at your door with just one click of the button.

That being said, there are some downsides to online shopping. One of the most notable is online credit card-related fraud. There are plenty of bad actors out there who are looking to steal your credit card number. With your credit card in hand, they can do a significant amount of damage before they are caught.

Yes, popular credit cards do offer some fraud protection. However, you cannot rest on your laurels, as there is no guarantee that your credit card company will reimburse you. Because of this, we want to take this time to share some key things to look out for related to online credit card fraud. Whether you think that you may a victim or you are simply trying to be proactive, these tips can keep some of your hard-earned cash in your pocket.

Things to Monitor to Avoid Credit Card Fraud

One of the first and most effective ways to prevent credit card fraud is to familiarize yourself with popular credit card scams. While it’s impossible to know every online credit card scam out there, understanding what some of the most popular look like can help you avoid them. While it is a never-ending task, it is a great habit to build in your personal finance life.

You can find some of these popular credit card scams by clicking here. For example, there is a scam where criminals call your phone and pretend they are from your credit card company’s fraud department. They ask you to verify some personal information—including the security code on the back of your credit card. Another scam involves credit card skimming, where fraudsters will steal your credit card number through a skimming device and use it to make later purchases. And you cannot forget about common phishing scams, where scammers impersonate your bank and try to have you click on a malicious link and enter your login information. These are just some scams that you’ll need to evade in your day-to-day shopping life.

From being knowledgeable about credit card scams, you’ll next want to be cautious when actually using your credit card online. Many Internet retailers have done a great job making their websites more secure. Nonetheless, you should only enter your credit card information on a website that is legitimate. Some scammers create websites that appear to be real, but were set up solely to steal credit card information. Be especially careful when making purchases on websites that do not have an “https://” in the address bar or a lock in the lower right corner of your browser.

Next, be careful when shopping on websites that are too good to be true. This is another common-sense rule in the world of personal finance. While there are plenty of great deals on the Internet today, you should be wary of those that seem truly unique or out of this world. It may be that a scammer or bad actor is simply trying to entice you to provide your credit card information without sending you your purchase.

Finally, make sure to monitor your accounts. For as much as we may want to monitor all of our purchases, we may fall short. Life gets in the way. A seemingly benign purchase on a new website may lead to stolen credit card information. Yet even though we may not be able to monitor every threat, we can view our statements every month. By getting into a monthly habit of reviewing your credit card purchases, you can quickly discover (and correct) any fraudulent activity.

Stay Vigilant

 For as many benefits that Internet shopping brings to our lives, we must protect ourselves from the downsides. Credit card fraud certainly exists in the UAE and throughout the world. Whether you are a holder of several popular credit cards or just obtained a new credit card, we urge you to stay vigilant. By doing so, you will save yourself from tremendous headaches down the road.

Soulwallet is a personal finance comparison portal in the UAE. With a team of “out of the box” thinkers and a deep understanding of the UAE consumer banking industry, we help customers make the best choices while shopping for financial products such as credit cards and loans.

balance transfer

Five Reasons to Consider Doing a Balance Transfer on Your Credit Card

The sudden rise of COVID-19 has presented varying degrees of economic stress among UAE residents. Institutions like the UAE Central Bank and some of the UAE’s biggest banks have acted swiftly to relieve some of this unexpected, yet very real financial pressure. Yet even with that assistance, this is a great time for all UAE residents to take a hard look at their current finances.

There are several ways that you can proceed, but we believe that one of the first things you should do is closely look at the balances on your credit cards. For many of us, our credit card balances are some of our highest payments per month. While we may be able to pay off our monthly credit card balances during “normal times, COVID-19 this increased time of uncertainty may make those payments much more difficult.

If you are feeling this type of financial pressure, you may want to seriously consider something called a balance transfer. Balance transfers, put simply, let you move high-interest debt onto another credit card that has a lower interest rate. By doing this, you can keep some of your hard-earned money in your pocket.

To better understand the power of balance transfers, we want to highlight five reasons why you should consider them. Whether one or all of the reasons resonate with you, we believe balance transfers can be compelling options in this era of COVID-19.

Five Reasons to Consider Balance Transfers

The first reason to go forward with a balance transfer centers on your current credit card interest payments. Simply put, balance transfers can temporarily eliminate a high annual percentage rate on your current credit card, allowing more of your payment to go toward your principal. If you are in deep credit card debt, this is a huge deal. A significantly lower (or even zero) interest rate means that you are getting significantly closer towards a zero balance. Therefore, even if there is a small fee to complete a balance transfer, a lower APR may be worth it.

Directly tied with lower interest payments is the ability to save cash in the long run. It’s pretty simple. Allocating more of your monthly payment to your debt outstanding rather than interest is going to keep more cash in your pocket. It is a substantial step on your way toward financial freedom. A balance transfer can offer that unique opportunity, letting you have a few key months where you can make your outstanding principal more manageable.

Balance transfers can also be a great idea because they may be able to raise your credit score. The effect isn’t direct, but there are some ways that your credit score can be improved with a balance transfer. Most notably, it can reduce your credit utilization ratio. This is assuming that you don’t close your old credit card account. Along with paying off your principal, you may see a bump in your overall credit score.

Fourth, a balance transfer can help you build good habits and instill discipline. One primary reason why borrowers seek balance transfers is to obtain some breathing room from overbearing interest payments and debt. Balance transfers can provide this, but they also provide great opportunities to get into great financial habits. For instance, paying down your balance every month and spending less than you make are terrific habits to build.

Finally, credit card balance transfers can make you happier. They can provide both short-term and long-term financial relief. By capitalizing on this relief and getting a better hold over your finances, you’ll feel happier and less stressed. This is a real benefit—especially as we are living through COVID-19.

A Compelling Option

These are just some of the benefits of credit card balance transfers. Granted, you will want to read the fine print and find a balance transfer that makes the most sense for you. Some balance transfer arrangements have a low (or zero) APR, but ramp up significantly after several months or if you miss one payment.

Even so, balance transfers can be a valuable tool in personal finance. Whether or not you choose to use this tool, we encourage you to do your research. You may find that a balance transfer is just the thing you need to get your financial freedom.

Soulwallet is a personal finance comparison portal in the UAE. With a team of “out of the box” thinkers and a deep understanding of the UAE consumer banking industry, we help customers make the best choices while shopping for financial products such as credit cards and loans.

How to Cope With Your Personal Finances and Debt Amidst COVID-19

COVID-19 has been one of the most disruptive public health and economic stories in recent memory. The UAE has 42294 total confirmed cases (source https://doh.gov.ae/covid-19 as of 15th June 2020) and there will undoubtedly be more. Moreover, shelter-in-place orders and nightly curfews throughout major cities across the world (including in the UAE) have caused massive ripple effects throughout the global economy.

Even though the UAE has a relatively low case count compared to other nations throughout the world, it isn’t immune to the economic stress. In fact, you may be experiencing some of these financial pressures right now. It can be scary—especially because it’s unclear when normal life will return.

Having said this, there are reasons to be optimistic. While the situation is constantly changing, we wanted to share several personal finance suggestions and resources that you can leverage in these uncertain times. These resources will help you obtain some financial relief (and even unlock exciting financial opportunities) as we continue to battle COVID-19.

Take Stock of Your Current Finances

Generally speaking, one of the first things that you should do amidst this economic uncertainty is to take stock of your current finances. Take a look at your cash in hand (if any) and note any upcoming bills or payments, whether it is your rent or mortgage, credit card bills, or something else. If there is a significant chance that you cannot meet any (or all) of these upcoming liabilities, you’ll want to take action now.

We will shortly describe some of these opportunities provided by the UAE government and financial institutions. Putting that aside, you may want to contact your credit card companies and lenders if you feel like you cannot pay your bills on time. While there are no hard and fast rules here, your lenders may be able to defer some of your payments if you explain your current financial situation.

Whether or not you are facing imminent financial pressures, you will want to adopt more stringent spending habits. Think long and hard about your discretionary purchases. While you may have been eyeing that new car or purse for some time, it’s probably better to be conservative here. It’s unclear when the economic pain from COVID-19 will end, so cash is king. Cash gives you optionality and will eliminate some stress if this crisis lasts longer than expected.

On a more optimistic note, COVID-19 can be a great investment opportunity if you have savings or significant discretionary income. Asset prices have fallen in the UAE and throughout the world. Because of this, you may want to think about purchasing index funds or other equities. As we’ll describe below, the government is also offering incentives for first-time homeowners. You will clearly want to do your own due diligence, but the bottom line is that this may be a great time to enter the markets. However, if you foresee any near-term financial pressures, you will likely want to stay liquid and keep cash on hand rather than make any long-term investments.

The bottom line? As with all personal finance advice, you need to closely monitor your income and spending habits. Stay conservative and make sure that you’re not spending more than you are making. And if you foresee any potential issues paying your current or upcoming bills? We encourage you to speak with your lenders and take advantage of the financial relief described below.

Financial Relief and New Incentives

Because of the sudden disruption that COVID-19 has caused, the UAE government has ordered banks and other financial institutions to provide relief to individuals and families. These are some compelling opportunities, so we encourage you to pay close attention.

For instance, if you have a mortgage, car loan, or personal loan, you can apply for a one month repayment holiday with no extra fees. Borrowers who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 outbreak may also be able to obtain loan repayment deferrals for up to three months and interest-free installment plans of up to six months on things like grocery purchases, utility bill payments, and school fee payments.

To take advantage of these payment plans and deferrals, you’ll want to follow up with your bank. UAE banks (like First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank) have moved quickly to support their retail and SME customers. If you bank with a non-UAE financial institution, you will also want to read the fine print to understand all of the incentives that may be at your disposal. As just one example, if you bank with Standard Chartered, you will receive refunds for foreign currency translation fees on canceled travel bookings. Along with this, cash advance fees on credit cards are cut in half. Again, make sure you complete your due diligence so that you can take advantage of your bank’s available incentives.

Getting some more time to pay your upcoming bills can go a long way in providing financial relief. But along with this, you may be thinking that this is a good time to make some investments. First-time home buyers, for example, can obtain a reduced down payment of up to 5% on their home purchases. You can also obtain interest-free installment plans for school tuition. This includes the waiver of service of charges or a 0% interest loan until 30 June 2020. Ultimately, the UAE government has moved swiftly to relieve financial pressure on residents and to spur continued investment in the country. Therefore, don’t hesitate to take advantage of these opportunities (the sooner, the better).

Finally, if you are a small business owner in the UAE, there are additional financial opportunities available to you. For example, you can reduce their interest charges on new borrowings based on new prevailing interest rates for eligible customers. Along with this, you can reduce bank charges by half on the early settlement of existing borrowing for eligible customers until 30 June 2020. For some more financial relief opportunities available for small businesses, feel free to click here.

Riding Out the Storm

Unfortunately, we are likely nowhere close to the end of COVID-19. A potential vaccine is still far away and there is likely more economic pain ahead. We are truly living in uncertain times, so you must be proactive to minimize financial damage from this global pandemic.

The good news, however, is that there are plenty of resources to help you ride out this economic storm. The government has been proactive in helping you defer some of your upcoming payments. Also, there are new incentives to make a long-term investment in the UAE. Ultimately, we encourage you to take advantage of as many of these opportunities as necessary.

Soulwallet is a personal finance comparison portal in the UAE. With a team of “out of the box” thinkers and a deep understanding of the UAE consumer banking industry, we help customers make the best choices while shopping for financial products such as credit cards and loans.

How to choose between Personal Loan & Salary Transfer Loan

How to choose between Personal Loan & Salary Transfer Loan

Cash loans are a popular lending product in the UAE. These loans come in handy to service an immediate need which can be a purchase, holiday plan, school fee payment, medical expense not covered by insurance and so on. Cash loans offered by UAE banks can be classified into two categories.

a. Salary Transfer Loan: This is most probably the first loan one can avail from the bank where the customer holds a salary account. These loans are low in interest rates compared to the other personal loans without a salary transfer. Banks offer competitive interest rates for their customers for such loans. These loans generally require the following eligibility criteria.

i. A Salary Transfer letter from the employer of the customer stating that Salary would be transferred to the bank along with certain other clauses as required by the respective bank. Your HR department can help you with issuing such letter.

ii. A minimum salary requirement which might differ from bank to bank. This generally starts from AED 5000.

iii. Security checks as required by the bank.

iv. Debt ratio including the new loan EMI should not exceed 50% of monthly income which is a simple calculation of your total financial monthly liabilities over monthly income.

v. All other eligibility criteria as applicable by the bank including a meeting with the borrower.

b. Personal Loan without a Salary Transfer: These loans are offered by banks without a need of having Salary transferred. Such loans are popular and can serve the purpose when one already has a Salary Transfer loan running with a bank. Interest rates are higher for such loans and the lending amount might be lower than a Salary Transfer loan.

It is important to understand the difference between the personal loan and the salary transfer loan before applying for a loan. Reaching out to your bank which holds your salary account and enquiring for a salary transfer loan should be your first option. However, there are banks in UAE which provide attractive interest rates and higher loan amounts for the personal loan without salary transfer. SoulWallet can help you compare and choose the best personal loan and salary transfer personal loan from banks across UAE. Also you can apply for loans online.

Here are the key points to consider while deciding upon a loan?

a. Am I getting the best interest rate?
Most banks offer interest rate based on a multiple criteria like your income range, employer, bureau score etc. These rates are generally available with the Sales Executive who reviews your application profile. Make sure you review the interest rates before signing up. High interest rate means higher EMI and longer repayment period.

b. Am I getting the loan amount to suit my need?
Different banks offer different loan amounts, generally a multiple of your monthly income. This obviously can be customized based on certain criteria as mentioned in the previous point.

c. Will borrowing a loan be a hassle free process?
Loan application processing might take anything from an hour to 5 working days. Ask whether the process is simple and hassle free as this is a key differentiator between the financial institutions.

d. Are there any Hidden Charges?
Review if there are any charges pertaining to loan processing, early repayment penalty, late
payment etc. Read the fine print. Or at least ask the Sales Executive. You can always go and check comparison sites like SoulWallet.

e. What are the Payment Options?
Understand the various payment options available to you. While a direct debit from your salary
account is a standard process, there might be situations one would need to make a payment
through alternate methods. These options must be easy and inexpensive.

f. Will Top-up loan be available?
Enquire on when one can avail a top up loan while servicing first loan. Some banks have a resting
period of 6 to 12 months from the time the first loan has been issued.

g. Will there be Statement and Email alerts?
How does one get reminders on payments and loan balance? Verify this as these are important to know while servicing a loan. In today’s forgetful and fast paced life, we tend to forget the payment date. Bank might charge a penalty for late payment.

h. Any Special Features?
Does the bank offer a flexible interest loan which can adjust over a period of time based on EIBOR (which is Emirates Inter Bank Offered Rate).

So Salary Transfer Loan or Personal Loan Offers. Choice should be yours.