Living with credit, Protecting yourself, Shopping

Defaulting on international credit card debt? Hmmm.

Julie Sherrier

I want to go shopping in Dubai. I hear it’s the ultimate retail experience. I want to be an expat with a Dubai bank-issued credit card. I’d shop until I dropped. I’d go to the Mall of the Emirates, then over to the Twin Towers. And I would charge it all. Then I would ship my purchases ahead, book the next flight home, and leave the credit card bills behind.


I wouldn’t be the only one committing this credit card crime, either. According to Reuters, a few United Arab Emirates (UAE) banks are having a little problem collecting on the credit card balances of expats leaving town — to the tune of up to 2,500 cardholders a month. Apparently, the rise in “skips” is attributed to the construction slowdown in Dubai — the hardest hit of the seven emirates in the UAE federation.

“The financial crisis triggered a real estate crash late last year that ended a six-year economic boom,” reports Reuters.  Can you even imagine the balances on some of those cards? From what I hear, Dubai is like Disneyland for shopaholics.

RAK Bank, which is purported to claim about 20 percent of the country’s credit card market share, blames massive construction layoffs for the increase in defaults in this tourist and trade hub. Alas, Dubai has not been immune to the financial crisis.

Unlike defaulting on credit card debt accrued in the country where you live — where there’s no escaping those pesky debt collectors who will make your life miserable until you pay them back — leaving credit card debt behind in another country seems, well, just a little too appealing.

And since there is no international credit scoring formula — yet — skipping out on a little felonious purchasing spree is just a little too enticing. It’s almost like the perfect crime! I’m sure the Dubai banks are doing a bit of their own cracking down on easy credit as a result of the increased skips, so, as usual, I missed riding the wave.

Oh well. So much for brightening up my closet with a little Gucci and Prada. Plus, I’d rather write about international crime than actually commit it.

See related: Criminal Charges, Vol. XXVIII: Doing 007 proud, Moving abroad? Your credit history might not follow

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  • Rescued Dubai Expat

    Credit card debt and personal loan defaults have been a major issue for banks in the region. Now, because of so many people who have skipped town and even those that have defaulted while in town, banks are motivated more than ever to settle the debt incurred by some borrowers. Third party firms that are well versed in these issues and not intimidated by the banks and collections agencies have helped expats stay out of jail! Reducing debt liability by as much as 60%. I wouldn’t suggest you run your credit card bill up with the Gucci and Prada purchases though. People have to have real problems and at least 6 months to a year of not paying their bills. WORKED FOR ME. Dubai: 043197476

  • NM

    My Dad has about 8 cards totaling the Debt to AED 80,000 which is proving difficult to close can you suggest something that I can do to get out of this mess

  • dushan

    one of my friend who worked in bahrain had some financial difficulities in his country hence he boorowed money from credit card and loan from three different banks amounting for 3000 BD, will it be a proble for him to work in other GCC countries?

  • Atif Naser

    These credit card are the main issue.This is our money is stealing. A decent fraction of credit card charges go to covering bad debt.May be stealing a tiny amount each from millions of people, but I’m one of them.

  • nawarr

    question for you ..:
    I lived in USA for 6 years , I moved to Canada in 2000, I had bad credit in USA from creditors ( credit cards ).. can they now put a lien on my car or house here in Canada?