The market today offers a galore of options for credit cards. The flip side of too many options is too much confusion. After doing a comprehensive research on the lifestyle credit cards, I have shortlisted the top 7 lifestyle credit cards available in India. Remember, you don’t need to change to own a specific credit card. All you need to know is which card is best complemented with your personality. In all my editorials, I always insist the buyer to understand their spending habits and then make the selection of a Credit Card that works best for them. In my earlier piece on “Top 10 Credit Cards of 2014!”, I suggested top 10 best credit cards for salaried wherein the focus was on value for money (earning more reward points and redemption convenience). In this article, I present to you the cards that offer a range of travel, golf, fuel and premium lifestyle privileges.
The USP of this card is it offers gourmet experiences through luxurious travel & fine dining (tie up with ITC & Taj Hotel), access to airport lounges, free membership to selected golf courses and complete wine experiences. It facilitates the payment to FineWinesnMore that offers exclusive services to the wine lovers like delivery of finest wines, gifting ideas and organizing wine tasting events etc. If you are a connoisseur of fine wines, then maybe this card is best for you. American express, through this credit card has simplified the process of enjoying all these experiences. If you are holding this card, then you need not spend your time in reaching the merchant for booking the services. You can simply call the platinum concierge (call center) for making dining reservations, arranging a round of golf, booking movie tickets, delivery of gifts or flowers to someone etc.
With this card, you also get access to their service of “Global Assist” which helps you when you are travelling abroad and lost your card or luggage. With the Global assist feature, you can get money transferred abroad through emergency cash wire services. You can rely on to your card provider to trace your lost luggage, relay an urgent message home, or even provide referrals for physician and lawyers. You can also get embassy addresses, assistance on visa requirements, inoculation information, even a translator to overcome the language barrier with Global Assist online destination guides. In other words, this card is a complete solution for you when you travel to other countries frequently.
All you need to do is to pay an annual fee of Rs.5,000 during the first year and Rs.10,000 from second year onward. Once you avail this card, you are automatically subscribed to the American Express membership rewards program that provides 1 membership point for every Rs 40 spent on your card. You also get a welcome benefit of 11,000 membership points. These points can be redeemed for an array of rewards that include hand-picked selection of couture labels, accessories, and escapades.
2. ICICI Bank Rubyx American Express/ MasterCard Credit Card (by ICICI bank):
This is a unique credit card that gives you freedom to choose between three different reward plans based on your likely spend categories i.e. shopping, travel and essentials (like groceries). It gives you opportunity to earn accelerated reward points on spends done on your chosen category. Not only this, there are several complimentary benefits labelled with this card like joining gift, 2 domestic + 2 international complimentary rounds of golf per month, 2 complimentary movie tickets every month, complimentary access to airport lounges and minimum 15% savings on dining bills at participating restaurants across India.
You can enjoy the privileges provided by both ICICI Bank and American Express/ MasterCard (depending on the affiliation). All these privileges can be availed after paying a joining fee of Rs.3000 and an annual fee of Rs.2000 from second year onward. The annual fee is waived off if you spend more than Rs.2,50,000 in previous year.
The best feature of this card is its flexible rewards plan. Based on your spending habits, you can pick any one of the following plans for earning accelerated rewards:
|Grocery and Supermarkets||Travel Portals||Groceries|
|Retail Fashion||Travel Agents||Supermarkets|
|Departmental Stores||Airlines||Utilities/ Bill Payments|
|Consumer Durable||Car Rentals||Healthcare (Hospitals)|
You have the freedom to change the reward plan every 6 months as per your pattern of spending. The buyer, can make a choice between the affiliation i.e. MasterCard or American Express at the time of buying this credit card. Following are the reward points that you can earn when you opt for any one of these cards:
|ICICI Bank Rubyx American Express Credit Card||ICICI Bank Rubyx MasterCard Credit Card|
|Purchases as per selected reward plans (Shopping/Travel/Essentials)||6||4|
These rewards are paid in the form of PAYBACK points that can be redeemed for gifts or cash. Each reward point is equivalent to Rs.0.25 when redeemed for cash.
Please note that the privileges offered by MasterCard are different from those by American Express. On one hand, MasterCard has tie-ups with more domestic airport lounges. And on the other hand, American Express through its unique “global-e-shop” offers a “Shop For Me” program wherein the user can shop from more than 3 lac US websites and get the order delivered to his doorsteps here in India at a nominal charge.
3. Indian oil Citibank Titanium Credit Card (by Citi Bank):
As petrol expenses are shooting up, the best thing to have as a reward is free fuel in your vehicle. Citibank claims to provide up to Rs.8,143 of free fuel in a year to their card users who stick to the monthly spending plan drafted by them. This card is fully loaded with benefits. The card users can earn 4 turbo points on every Rs.150 of fuel purchases at authorized IndianOil Retail Outlets across the country, 2 Turbo Points on Rs.150 at grocery and supermarkets, 1 Turbo Point on Rs.150 spent elsewhere like Shopping, Dining and more.
The card is one of the best in this category because it gives you a wide variety of redemption options. You can redeem your turbo points instantly over the counter for free fuel, shopping at stores, online shopping, air miles, adjust against card outstanding, purchase gift vouchers or Citibank rewards merchandise. However, the best way to redeem your rewards is to buy free fuel (At over 800 participating IndianOil outlets). Following is the list of redemption options along with the transactional value of 1 turbo point:
|Redemption Options||Value of 1 turbo point|
|Fuel at authorized IndianOil Outlet||Re. 1.00|
|Shopping (at participating stores)||Rs. 0.40|
|Air Miles (on Air India & Jet Airways)||0.75 Miles|
|Adjust against card outstanding||Rs. 0.35|
|Merchandise from Rewards catalog||NA|
The annual fee of this card is Rs.1,000 which is waived off when you spend Rs.30,000 or more on your card in one year. The good thing about the reward points is that they never expire and you can redeem the points as per your convenience.
4. Jet Privilege HDFC Bank World (by HDFC Bank):
If you travel frequently by air, then JetPrivilege HDFC Bank World card is suitable for you. HDFC bank has tied up with one of the leading airlines in India. With an annual fee of Rs.2499, you can enjoy the benefits ticketed with this card which are primarily in the form of earning JPMiles (Jet Privilege Miles). These miles can further buy you free air tickets and provide you other facilities like access to premier airport lounge, additional baggage allowance, VIP access at airport etc.
You can earn 18 JPMiles on every Rs 150 spent on every flight ticket booked onjetairwaysand jetkonnect.com and 6 JPMiles on every Rs. 150 spent on retail expenses with your HDFC Bank World Credit Card. With an accelerated JPMiles earning program, you can earn EXTRA JPMiles also. As a JetPrivilege HDFC Bank Credit Card holder, you are instantly eligible to enjoy the following benefits:
a) Avail of a 5% discount on all domestic air ticket bookings, made on jetairways or jetconnect.com
b) Enjoy premier check-in for all domestic flights of JetAirways and JetKonnect.
c) Benefit from a 10 kg additional baggage allowance on all domestic JetAirways and JetKonnect flights.
d) A complimentary Priority Pass membership that allows you preferential access to airport lounges around the world with complementary use of business facilities like phones, fax, Internet access and conference rooms.
e) Spend Rs. 3,50,000 on your JetPrivilege HDFC Bank World Credit Card within 12 months of the card setup date or within 12 months of card renewal date and get the renewal fee for the subsequent year waived off
f) Get 1 JP Tier Point on every 2 lakh spend on your credit card. Moving to next JP Tier exposes you to additional benefits provided by Jet Privilege.
5. Platinum Elite Credit Card (by Standard Chartered):
This is one of the coveted cards by standard chartered and is perfectly suitable for those who enjoy refined elegance. This card works best for the golfing fans as it provides access to over 2,000 golf courses across the world, including 20 premier golf courses in India including:
- Aamby Valley Sahara Lake City
- Agra Golf Club
- The Grand Greens
- Kashmir Golf Club
It also provides complimentary membership to over 600 lounges globally, with a usage fee of USD 27 per member, and exciting offers at leading restaurants all over the world.
This card can be purchased after paying a joining fee of Rs.4,995 and an annual fee of Rs.6,000 every year. This card gives you 5 reward points for every Rs.100 spent on hotel, fuel and fine dining outlets and 2 points on every Rs.100 for all other categories. The reward points can be used to buy gifts from their exclusive catalogue.
6. Infinite Credit Card (by Axis Bank):
Axis Bank’s Privee Infinite Credit Card targets the enriched lifestyle of the elite. It provides a complementary insurance cover of Rs.4.57 crores including air accident cover, travel related covers, and lost card liability to its customers. It offers round the clock international concierge services accessible from around the world through phone or internet. Through its Visa affiliation, you get priority pass access at over 500 VIP lounges around the world. The other benefits that are associated with this card are fuel surcharge refund, 25% cash back on movie ticket bookings, and can also earn accelerated reward points. The users can earn 10 reward points for every Rs.200 spent on domestic spends and 20 reward points for every Rs.200 spent on international spends. These reward points can be redeemed to purchase exclusive gifts listed on Axis Bank’s catalogue.
The best thing about this card is that there is no joining fee and no annual fee on the card. However, this card is offered to Axis Bank Privee Clients only. So you have to be the privilege customer of Axis Bank to avail this credit card.
This card is one of the simplest card available. The best feature is its reward points program and redemption options. You earn 1.5 reward points on every Rs.100 spent. These rewards can be redeemed as cash credit to your monthly statement or as JPMiles. Each point is equivalent to Re.1 or 1 JPMile, which is impressive! Not only this, it has other complementary benefits like:
a) Joining Gift
b) Signature Golf: The card users get the complementary green fees and also complementary golf coaching lessons by paying a nominal fees at the selected golf clubs in India.
c) Signature Life: The customer gets movie offers under buy one get one free program
d) Signature Travel: The Visa affiliation enables you to enjoy priority pass program benefits which gives you access to 600 lounges across the world. With the “Travel Pack” and “Travel Plus” program, you also enjoy special waivers on lounge usage charges outside India. These services, however can be availed after paying an additional annual charges.
e) Fuel Surcharge waiver of 2.5% at any petrol pump across India
You can enjoy all these benefits after paying a joining fee of Rs.25,000. No annual fee needs to be paid in the coming years.
Disclaimer: The above research is based on individual’s opinion and the cards are not ranked in any particular order. We leave it to the buyer’s discretion to decide which credit card is better for them.
The rule of thumb is to first analyse your personal requirements and spending habits and then select the card that works best for you.