Let's face it: There are days when huge unexpected expenses come up, pushing you to either dig deep into your savings or, worse, take out a loan. Or, there may be times when you feel like getting something extra special but there's just no space in your budget for the month.
If you're living in the UAE, however, it's easy to find a way out of a tight spot. Once-in-a-lifetime luxuries are within reach, too — all thanks to buy-now-pay-later options.
Easy payment plans are not only for big-ticket purchases like cars and properties, as UAE banks and shops boast long lists of items that customers can pay for in three, six, and 12 months (sometimes even 24) at zero per cent interest.
Here are some things you can get, services you can book, and bills you can settle in instalments:
1. Flight tickets
Whether you're flying out because of an emergency or you're booking a one-time, big-time trip, you don't have to worry about airfares being too expensive. After all, major UAE airlines have partnered with banks to give customers the flexibility of booking now and paying "down the line".
Emirates flight tickets can be split into three monthly instalments at zero interest for customers of at least 10 banks. Flydubai has also partnered with a couple of banks to offer 3 to 6-month instalments. National carrier Etihad Airways allows similar schemes for Visa and Mastercard users, though eligibility will still depend on one's bank.
For Air Arabia, payment can be stretched to two years for some passengers.
A number of travel agencies offer such options, so you can book the entire holiday — from flights to hotel rooms and tours — without burning a hole in your pocket.
2. Traffic fines
Fines are among those expenses that rarely get into budget considerations, so when that dreaded SMS alert comes in, it may require skipping some planned fancy dinners.
If the penalty is too hefty, it can easily be converted into instalments. Authorities in different emirates have specific policies in place.
Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) allows residents to settle fines over a year through their credit cards at zero interest. Not all banks cover this, though, so it's best to check with your provider. The Dubai Police also offer flexible schemes so the public can pay in 3, 6 or 12 months, depending on their banks.
The Abu Dhabi Police have partnered with a number of banks so drivers in the emirate can pay off penalties within a year.
3. School fees
While schools offer monthly payment schemes, banks still offer instalment options. Parents who go the credit-card route often find it more practical as schools may offer discounts for making full payments. By swiping their cards to settle tuition fees, they can avail of the school's discount, plus the bank's monthly payment scheme at zero interest. Another bonus is the card reward points one can get for making big purchases.
However, not all banks cover all schools. Also, terms and conditions will apply. It's best to check with your bank and the educational institution you're signing up for.
4. Car insurance
Yep, even car insurance costs — which can go beyond Dh4,000 a year — can be split into monthly payments. However, the number of providers that offer interest-free schemes may be limited. RSA Insurance is among those that have partnered with four banks for 3 to 6-month plans.
Some have tied up with other payment gateways, such as Tabby, allowing clients to pay in four months.
5. Utility bills
For those times when you need to free up some space in the budget to cover an unexpected expense, remember that utility bill payments can be deferred.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) customers can avail of the zero-per cent instalment service using credit cards from Emirates NBD, Mashreq Bank, Emirates Islamic, Dubai Islamic Bank.
Abu Dhabi residents also have the option to pay their utility bills in instalments. Though eligibility is limited to certain banks.
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