Pakistani banks offer conventional credit and debit cards along with various other cards, such as Islamic bank cards and virtual cards. Users can also obtain prepaid cards from certain banks without opening a bank account.
Banking in Pakistan formally started right after independence in 1947. Since then, it has grown significantly to become one of the biggest sectors in the economy.
There are 41 scheduled commercial banks operating in Pakistan, according to the SBP. These banks cater to the banking needs of Pakistanis and provide them with services tailored to their respective needs.
Much like the rest of the world, banks in Pakistan allow their users to obtain banking cards for their money transactions. This guide will identify the various types of bank cards in Pakistan and the banks that provide them.
Debit cards are used to purchase goods via money already present in the user’s account. All Pakistani commercial banks allow users to obtain debit cards with no or minimal fees.
Debit cards are the most widely used bank cards in Pakistan, allowing users to purchase goods and services while using their own money. Every time customers use their debit cards, money gets deducted from their accounts.
Debit cards are also more popular in Pakistan than credit cards due to the absence of interest. Since there is no borrowing involved, Pakistanis can easily perform transactions without worrying about paying interest.
All commercial banks in Pakistan allow users to get debit cards for their bank accounts.
Pakistani banks offer debit cards in various categories, such as:
- Classic debit cards
- Gold debit cards (with increased transaction limits)
- Platinum debit cards (usually up to PKR 200,000 daily transaction limits)
- World debit cards (for high-net-worth customers looking for exclusive benefits worldwide)
- Titanium debit card
- Foreign currency debit cards (For Roshan digital accounts and foreign currency bank accounts)
Debit cards in Pakistan are often integrated with Visa or Mastercard. These financial gateways allow users to make international money transfers and purchase things online.
Some debit cards also come integrated with UnionPay or with PayPak, and the former is a local initiative to offer POS and ATM transactions by users within Pakistan. You cannot use your PayPak ATM debit card to pay for goods online.
Credit cards allow users to make transactions by borrowing money from the bank. Several Pakistani banks allow users to obtain credit cards with increased borrowing limits with minimal fees.
Credit cards in Pakistan are not a usual sight among most Pakistani bank account holders. This is because the basic principle of debt and interest goes against the no-interest policies of the population. However, if used right, credit cards can be a great asset.
Credit cards allow users to borrow money from the bank to make money transactions. This borrowed money must be returned to the bank within the stipulated time. Failure to do so results in accrued interest and lower credit ratings.
Banks in Pakistan offer credit cards in several categories, such as:
- Premium credit cards
- Gold credit cards
- Platinum credit cards
- Auto/Fuel credit cards (for customers targeting cashback and discounts on fuel)
- Green credit cards
- World credit cards
- Cashback credit cards
Much like debit cards, credit cards in Pakistan are usually integrated with Visa or Mastercard. Currently, no credit card in Pakistan is integrated with UnionPay or PayPak, although 1LINK has announced to launch PayPak supported credit cards in the country.
Virtual cards are debit or credit cards that are created virtually to facilitate users. Several Pakistani commercial and digital banks provide their users with virtual cards for their online purchasing requirements.
Virtual cards are a recent phenomenon that has become popular due to the smartphone revolution. These are online versions of physical debit or credit cards with 16-digit numbers and CVVs. These cards allow users to carry out online transactions without having a physical card.
Virtual cards are less likely to get lost as they are only present on your banking app. Various Pakistani banks and mobile wallets have launched their virtual cards to facilitate users.
Some of the notable banks with this feature are:
- United Bank Limited
- Faysal Bank
- Bank Alfalah
- Sadapay mobile wallet
- Nayapay mobile wallet
- JazzCash mobile bank
- HBL Konnect
Some Pakistani banks also provide shariah-compliant cards to their users due to the growing Islamic banking sector in the country.
Pakistan is an Islamic republic which means that the guiding principles of the state must follow Islam. Due to this, the government of Pakistan has ordered every commercial bank in the country to facilitate their users with Islamic banking products.
There are some full-fledged Islamic banks in Pakistan, while other commercial banks have opened Islamic banking windows for their users.
Debit cards are shariah-compliant, which means that every bank can offer them as they do not involve the process of interest on the principal. On the other hand, credit cards are not Shariah-compliant as they involve the element of interest.
Fasyal Islami bank was the first bank in Pakistan to offer a shariah-compliant credit card called “Noor.” Other banks have followed suit and launched their Islamic alternatives, and Standard Chartered and Meezan bank are some examples.
Prepaid cards allow users to purchase goods or services without opening a bank account. Only a few Pakistani banks facilitate their users with prepaid cards.
Prepaid cards are not much popular in Pakistan compared to debit or credit cards, and this is because these cards provide almost the same benefits as debit cards. One thing that separates them from other cards is that prepaid cards do not require users to open a bank account.
These cards can be purchased at various authorized retailers. Users need to add funds to the card before they can perform any transaction.
Only a few banks are providing prepaid card services to users in Pakistan. The most popular options are:
- Allied EZ cash prepaid card
- UBL wiz prepaid card
- MCB Lite prepaid card
Other Variations of Cards in Pakistan
Pakistan banks and mobile wallets have recently started providing improved bank card services to their users. Numberless cards and contactless payment services are a new concept in the Pakistani banking industry.
Banking in Pakistan has changed dramatically in the past few years. With the arrival of newer and modern technologies, banks have to keep up to date with the changing trends.
Some of the variations in conventional Pakistani banking cards are provided below.
Numberless cards are debit or credit cards without a number imprinted on the physical card. These cards have hidden 16-digit numbers that can only be accessed via the bank’s application. Sadapay was the first Pakistani digital bank to provide its users with numberless ATM debit cards.
Other banks have yet to follow this trend. Sadapay was also the first Pakistani bank to provide vertical cards instead of conventional horizontal ones for added aesthetics.
Contactless payment allows users to tap on the POS machine and pay for their purchases. These types of cards are relatively new in Pakistan. Meezan bank was one of the earliest entrants into this field. Now, several Pakistani banks provide their users with contactless payment cards such as:
- Bank Islami
- Bank Alfalah
Gift cards are much like prepaid cards except that they cannot be topped up, and once the funds have been utilized, these cards can no longer be used to make any transactions. Daraz is one of the biggest online marketplaces in Pakistan, and users can buy gift cards to purchase goods from the brand.
Other local and international gift card brands are:
- PlayStation Store
- Steam Wallet
Banking in Pakistan has steadily grown to become one of the largest industries in the country. Several local and international banks provide debit and credit cards to their users with varying degrees of benefits.
Most debit or credit cards in Pakistan are integrated with Visa or Mastercard, which allows users to make local and international payments easily. Shariah-compliant cards were launched in Pakistan to tackle the issues of credit and interest payments.