Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Place We Adopt

A strange question may it appear... But let me ask it anyways.

Did you ever happen to adopt any part of this universe or to be more realistic a particular place in the city that you live in as your own. I guess knowingly or unknowingly everyone has a special place like this all the time. As kids these spaces are very pronounced and visible to all. It may be the unused corner of the room where one takes refuge after getting a scolding or the shade in the garden that one rushes to after completing homework and the list is endless. As we grow older and older it gets split into separate segments for separate actions and some of them are very formal while some are relatively more private and personal. There are many such places and to name a few there could be a few locations to hang out with friends; places to hang out with a closer friend and sometimes a spot to sit and reflect. The last one in the list is the one that I was referring to at the beginning. Physically you may not anywhere close to own those particular spots or place and they may not always be public property either, but you can still adopt it spiritually.

The attached images are of my piece of sea and beach which I had adopted while I lived in Kuwait. This is a tiny section of the gulf road cornice where we used to go for walking and jogging. I had adopted that piece of sea with the tiny beach as mine. My tiny beach used to be covered fully under water at times and in its shiny sandy self at other. I used to feel very sad if someone else was occupying that place.

This is the place where I used to visit once in a while on and sit on the fence with my legs hanging to reflect on Life…the present .. the Future and sometimes on the Past...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Giving credit where it is due

How does one define the Credit Cards? Are they the basic necessity of life or a necessary evil or do you call it an ally who have the potential to ruin your life if let loose! The card companies are very aggressive in promoting their products and it is true that these companies are striving to enhance their services to further promote customer satisfaction. To entice customers, banks have introduced cards that boast a wide range of benefits.
There are a wide variety of benefits starting with introductory gifts and following that up with offers of the like of cash-back, Air miles, free holidays. As you can take your pick of the offers, it means you can make the most of your credit cards and if you do your research well it will definitely be to your credit.
Cash Back Credit Card is the perfect solution for those who need a little more savings to stretch their monthly budgets. Cash Back Cardholders get a fixed portion of their daily expenses refunded in the form of hard cash. While most cash back cards usually offer cash back benefits on transaction made at select retailers or based on spending slabs, the card that I use offers flat 5% cash back for all purchases.

Loyalty cards
Loyalty card schemes are increasing in popularity. Super markets, bookshops, hotel, shopping centers and even spas are offering incentives to keep customers visiting then regularly. Research says that loyalty cards can influence customers spending decisions. These programs see high returns and works as a clever marketing tool that is beneficial to both parties. We feed sad that we could not redeem our last set of incentive points of our supermarket loyalty card in Dubai.

Avoid Debts
The principle prerequisite of using a card is to avoid the debt trap. To get it right one need to follow some fundamental rules. Here are a few from the experts:

  •  Stick with one card (It is difficult and I myself have quite a few)
  • Learn the difference between ’need’ and ‘want’ for each purchase you consider making.
  • Charge your card only that much which you can pay off in full each month. Never carry a balance. Do not max out your cards or charge up to the limit, even if you intend to pay off the balance in full at the end of the month.
  • Ignore additional credit card offers.

 Safety matters

 One has to take extreme measures to secure the cards so that these are not misplaced or stolen. Follow these simple tips to keep your credit card safe.

  • Ensure cards are stored safely
  • Keep sight of the card at all times – don’t let a merchant swipe it through multiple readers or keep it to run up a tab
  • Never disclose your pin to anyone
  • Encourage the use of new, more secure technologies whenever you shop, if they don’t use it already.
The morning after

What to do if your credit card is used fraudulently. The following procedure could be very useful as advised by the expert.

  • Notify the bank immediately to cancel your card
  • Keep the card in your possession so you can show your bank you still have it, in case the transaction was made elsewhere.
  • Remember you last transaction so you can identify all fraudulent use.
  • Complete a dispute form or follow your bank’s procedure to confirm you did not make the fraudulent transactions. 
Your bank will then instigate an investigation.

Islamic Credit cards

Banks in the Middle East are looking at Islamic credit cards as a sector with potential for huge growth. While they operate in a similar way to conventional credit cards but these niche products are governed by Shariah law which requires them to be interest-free. Following this principle most of these products are based on Shariah complaint interest-free Üjrah” concept whereby only a fixed monthly maintenance fee is charged against the outstanding balance.

A few interesting fact about Credit cards:

  • While the Credit Cards are made of plastic these days the first t credit cards were made of metal.
  • The first bank credit card “Charge It” was invented by John Biggins in 1946.
  • The first Credit card company was Diner’s Club and it was founded in 1950 by 3 individuals: Frank Mc Namara, Bloomingdale and Sneider.
  • The American Express Company was formed from the merger of 3 express transport companies in the USA.
  • In 1958 American Express issued its first credit card to coincide with its 108th anniversary.
  • The original name of the now popular VISA card was “Bank Americard” and it was issued by Bank of America.
  • The original name of “Master card” was “Master Charge Card”.