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Ruling on Using Zero Balance Credit Card

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
I have a credit card from one of the banks. I have made purchases of approximately 300 JDs while my card has zero balance. The bank informed me that it will deduct (1%) as allowance service and that I have to repay the 300 JDs in installments over a period of twelve months. As a result, the total of the debt became 336 JDs. What is the ruling of Sharia on this?

Answer:

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

It isn`t permissible for a Muslim to use zero balance credit card while aware that doing so entails paying interest.

It is also impermissible to repay that debt in installments or to reschedule it while knowing that doing so entails paying interest, regardless of calling it (Service allowance) or (Interest). 

In addition, charging what is called (Service allowance) isn`t permissible unless it was equal to the actual service presented by the bank and this requires the latter to use a certain policy to calculate the actual cost of issuing and using the card, but, unfortunately, this is practiced by a handful of Islamic banks.

As for non-Islamic banks, they impose this (Service allowance) on basis of forbidden (Interest). However, calling interest by another name doesn`t make it lawful. This is supported by the Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "People among my Ummah (Nation) will drink Khamr (Intoxicants), calling it by another name." {Related by Abu Dawoud}. And Allah the Almighty knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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