Qatar is continuing the slow build-up to the FIFA World Cup competition which the Gulf state is hosting in 2022. Even at this very early stage, the prestigious soccer extravaganza, which is being held in the Middle East for the very first time, is much-anticipated across the region. So is the spending power of the millions of fans certain to attend the event. By then, many will have been saving their hard-earned income for months, some maybe even for years, just so they can support their teams in person. During the duration of their stay, too, the vast majority of fans will likely be using debit and credit cards in local hotels, shops and restaurants, thus providing an incredible boost for the local economy.
Today’s soccer fans are much-travelled and they know using a credit card in Qatar, or anywhere else overseas for that matter, is a smart move. Financing the trip that way means they don’t have to worry about currency conversion, for example, or be weighed down carrying lots of money around. However, not every small shop or market trader has card facilities. So they also know it’s still a good idea to have a little cash with them, just in case.
Even although Qatar has an extremely low crime rate, nevertheless it’s advisable to take precautions. Pickpockets and thieves will invariably target anyone they see splashing the cash or who show off their wealth by unwisely adorning themselves with expensive jewellery, watches and the like. If your credit card is stolen then you can immediately take action. Simply report the theft to your bank and from then on they’ll put a stop on any unauthorised purchases.
Credit and debit cards come in all sorts of flavours nowadays with many tailored to suit individual lifestyles. If you’re part of the super-rich set then you could be offered a card made of gold and studded with real diamonds. Not kidding! Such a Visa card was issued by Russian banking giant Sberbank to their top 100 customers in booming, energy-rich Kazakhstan. The story was featured in Britain’s Sun newspaper towards the end of last year.
Each card, says the newspaper, weighs between 40g and 50g and costs around $100,000 – $65,000 for the card itself, with the remainder of the purchase price acting as credit. The card is embedded with 26 diamonds totalling 0.17 carats. However, despite the massive price tag, it lacks a magnetic strip and cannot be used in cash machines, making it only work for chip-and-pin transactions. It is intended as an accompaniment, not replacement, for plastic Visa Infinite credit cards, one of the finance firm’s more exclusive offerings.
Sadly, most of us lesser mortals have to make do with the simpler and cheaper pieces of plastic. And if you do intend taking a credit card with you on vacation, whether at home or overseas, then you can minimise any risks with a few simple precautions.
Watch out particularly for skimming, which involves stealing your card information through the use of a swiping machine or even a smartphone app. Keep an eagle eye on the person taking your card away and watch out for any suspicious behaviour.
When you do get your card back, check it out carefully to make sure it really is your card and not a similar card belonging to someone else. Otherwise you may not notice your card has been swapped until much later, perhaps when a payment has been declined.
You can check out the Sun newspaper story here.