When you buy a credit card, do you look for the benefits it offers and sync it with your requirements? If you are not doing that, you are not optimally utilising a credit card. You must know that while most basic credit cards offer multiple benefits such as cashback, reward points, air miles and dining privileges, some credit cards contain exclusive benefits. These benefits are tailored for people whose requirements in one area are far higher than in another – for example, if you are focused on savings, you can choose a cashback-specific credit card; if you are a frequent flyer you should opt for a travel credit card; and if you like goodies, you should opt for a reward credit card.
Travellers have a variety of credit cards to choose from – because travel credit cards offer not only extra air miles and tie-ups with specific airlines, but also discounts on hotel stays, dining and easy transactions in foreign countries. Let us take a look at the top 10 credit cards in India offering travel-related advantages to you.
HDFC bank offers a host of credit cards in collaboration with Jet Airways. They are:
JetPrivilege HDFC Bank World Credit Card: This credit card offers a complimentary Jet Airways Ticket as welcome benefit – under which the base fee of the first domestic ticket bought with your credit card will be waived. The welcome benefits on JetPrivilege HDFC Bank World Credit Card also include 5,000 Bonus JPMiles when you use your card for the first time (this has to be within 90 days of buying the credit card), and another 5,000 Bonus JPMiles when you spend Rs. 75,000 or more on retail bills within 90 days of buying the card. The JPMiles can be used to travel with Jet Airways as well as its 25-odd international airline partners. You can also upgrade your ticket using JPMiles.
Every time you spend Rs. 150 on retail expenses, you get 6 JPMiles. And every time you book a flight ticket through the Jet Airways website using the JetPrivilege HDFC Bank World Credit Card, you get 18 JPMiles per Rs. 150. You also get premier check-in for all domestic flights and will be allowed to carry 10 kg more baggage on all domestic JetAirways flights as well as lounge access through MasterCard Lounge Access Programme and avail discounts on Priority Pass membership.
JetPrivilege HDFC Bank Diners Club Credit Card: The first use of your JetPrivilege HDFC Bank Diners Club Credit Card within 90 days of buying the card will get you 15 JetPrivilege Tier Points. You also get 15,000 JPMiles when you first use your card within 90 days, and another 15,000 JPMiles on retail transactions totalling Rs. 1,50,000 or more. You can also buy a ticket without paying the base fare on the Jet Airways website.
With JetPrivilege HDFC Bank Diners Club Credit Card, you earn 8 JPMiles on every Rs. 150 you spend on retail transactions and 24 JPMiles on every Rs. 150 spent on ticket-bookings through the Jet Airways website. If you are a golf enthusiast, you can also avail Green Fee waiver on golf games at 20 golf courses in the country and over 40 in other parts of the world. Other benefits include anytime concierge services, airport lounge access, premier check-in on domestic flights, additional 10 kg baggage allowance and over 15% discount on restaurants across the country.
JetPrivilege HDFC Bank Platinum Credit Card: This card offers you a complimentary Jet Airways domestic ticket with base fare waived and 4,000 Bonus JPMiles divided equally between retail transactions and ticket booking on the Jet Airways website, within 90 days of setting up the card. Retail spends in the multiples of Rs. 150 gives you 5 JPMiles, while ticket bookings on the airline website can give you thrice higher JPMiles as well as a 5% concession on the domestic tickets purchased. MasterCard airport lounge access benefits are also available to JetPrivilege HDFC Bank Platinum Credit Card holders.
JetPrivilege HDFC Bank Titanium Credit Card: The titanium credit card offers 2,000 Bonus JPMiles – 1,000 on first swipe and 1,000 on retail swipes worth Rs. 25,000 or more. You accumulate 4 JPMiles for every Rs. 150 spent on retail and 12 JPMiles for each Rs. 150 spent on ticket bookings on JetAirways website. The JetPrivilege HDFC Bank Titanium Credit Card also offers the MasterCard lounge access benefits like the other cards.
HDFC Bank also has 2 other credit cards focused on travel benefits:
HDFC Bank AllMiles Credit Card: Along with welcome benefit of 1,000 reward points, you also become part of the AllMiles Club, through which you can accrue double reward points when using your credit card on the HDFC All Miles website. With every Rs. 150 you spend using HDFC Bank AllMiles Credit Card, you earn 3 Reward Points, which can be collected and converted into air miles. The conversion rate is: 100 Reward Points = 75 air miles or Rs. 75 Air Voucher. The Reward Points can also be used to buy products on discount from the bank’s catalogue. You also get Priority Pass membership and access to airport lounges.
HDFC Bank Superia Credit Card: The Superia credit card offers a welcome benefit of 1,000 reward points and redemption of these points on international airlines through KrisFlyer and domestic airlines on tickets of Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Air India. The reward points that can be earned are similar to the AllMiles credit card. The reward point-to-air mile conversion ratio is 100 to 70 in the case of the Superia Credit Card. You also accumulate 50% more reward points than normal when dining in restaurants. Priority Pass membership and access to special discounts on products in the bank’s catalogues are the additional benefits of the HDFC Bank Superia Credit Card.
ICICI Bank also has a tie-up with Jet Airways to provide its customers with special travel and airline benefits. These card are available in both Visa and American Express card iterations.
Jet Airways ICICI Bank Coral Credit Card: As on-boarding privileges, a Jet Airways ICICI Bank Coral Credit Card offers membership to the JetPrivilege programme and 3,000 JPMiles. JPMiles can be earned through retail spends and on ticket bookings through Jet Airways. While American Express card holders get 3 JPMiles for every Rs. 100 spent on domestic and international retail swipes, Visa card users get 2 JPMiles. Similarly, American Express card owners get 6 JPMiles for every Rs. 100 spent on booking ticket through the airline website and Visa card holders earn 4 JPMiles for the same transaction. You can earn a maximum of 40,000 JPMiles annually. Both the American Express and Visa cards offer airport lounge access, while only Visa cards give you special rates on services from Hertz and Avis car rentals.
Jet Airways ICICI Bank Rubyx Credit Card: Rubyx credit cards offer 6,250 bonus JPMiles on joining along with a free (base-fare waived) Jet Airways domestic flight ticket. You can also avail 5% off the base fare for domestic/international flight tickets booked through Jet Airways website. With a Jet Airways ICICI Bank Rubyx American Express Credit Card, you get 4 JPMiles for every Rs. 100 spent inside India and 5 JPMiles for every Rs. 100 spent abroad, and 8 JPMiles on spends on the airline website. Jet Airways ICICI Bank Rubyx Visa Credit Card, on the other hand, gives you 3 JPMiles per Rs. 100 of domestic expenses, 4 JPMiles per Rs. 100 of international expenses and 6 JPMiles on the website. The maximum air miles that can be accumulated is the same as the Coral credit card, and airport lounge access and car rental benefits are also available.
Jet Airways ICICI Bank Sapphiro Credit Card: With the Sapphiro credit card, you earn 12,500 JPMiles as on-boarding benefit along with a base-fee waived domestic flight ticket and 5% rebate on domestic ticket fares. You also get dedicated check-in for domestic flights and an additional baggage allowance of 10 kg on domestic flights. Jet Airways ICICI Bank Sapphiro American Express Credit Card gives you 5 JPMiles for every Rs. 100 spent in India and 7 JPMiles when that Rs. 100 is spent outside India. Purchases through Jet Airways web portal is eligible for 10 JPMiles per Rs. 100. The Visa variant offers 4 JPMiles on domestic expenses, 5 JPMiles on international purchases and 8 JPMiles on website bills. The maximum JPMiles you can collect is 60,000 with this card. Airport lounge and car rental access remains the same as the other cards.
British Airways Premium Credit Card Account: In this card, ICICI pairs up with British Airways to offer the cardholder a welcome bonus of 8,000 Avios the first time you swipe the card. If you book a return ticket on a British Airways flight from India to London within 3 months of getting the credit card, you can avail 25,000 Avios. You can get both ICICI Bank British Airways American Express Credit Card and its MasterCard variant to earn optimum benefits. You also get the British Airways Executive Club membership.
Avios can be earned in the following ways through the American Express card: 4 Avios per Rs. 100 on retail expenses, 6 Avios per Rs. 100 when using the card on the British Airways website, and if your annual credit card expenditure is Rs. 2.25 lakh or more, the Avios earned on retail and website transactions will be 25% higher. Similarly, with credit card bills of Rs. 5 lakh per year or more, you can get a 50% hike in the number of Avios collectable for every Rs. 100. However, with the MasterCard variant, you only have the option to earn 1 Avios for any transaction in the multiples of Rs. 100.
Axis Bank offers a co-branded credit card and a travel-focused credit card to its customers. Let us take a look at their benefits:
Miles & More Axis Bank Credit Card: The Axis Bank Miles & More credit card comes in 2 versions: World Select and World. With a Miles & More credit card, you can get privileges on 9 airlines including Lufthansa, Austrian and Swiss. The World Card gives you a welcome bonus of 5,000 miles and an annual bonus of 3,000 miles, while the World Select Card gives you 15,000 miles when on-boarding and 4,000 miles as annual bonus. For every Rs. 200 spent on retail – except movie bookings – a World Select cardholder is eligible for 6 miles and a World card member can avail 4 miles. On movie bookings, expenses in the multiples of Rs. 200 earn both the World and World Select card user 20 miles each.
If you are a Miles & More member for at least 3 months and make at least one miles-related purchase in a month, the miles you accumulate will never expire. These miles can be used not only for flight bookings and ticket upgrades, but also on accommodation, shopping, car rentals and in supporting social causes. MasterCard airport lounge access and Priority Pass benefits are also available to a Miles & More member. The card also offers insurance benefits such as Lost Card Liability cover of Rs. 1.5 lakh for World cardholders and Rs. 3 lakh for World Select customers, and personal accident cover (air only) of Rs. 2.5 crore for World card users and Rs. 4.5 crore for World Select cardholders.
Titanium Smart Traveller Credit Card: Travel expenses made on the Titanium Smart Traveller Credit Card gets you extra eDGE Loyalty Rewards Points. You are eligible for 8 eDGE points for every Rs. 200 spent abroad, and 4 eDGE points on credit card payments for bookings of holiday packages, hotels, airlines, train and bus in India. Other domestic retail expenses gives you 2 eDGE points. These points can be converted to air miles, or discounts on products specified by the bank.
The State Bank of India, one of the largest banks of India, also has co-branded and travel-specific credit cards.
Air India SBI Signature Credit Card: This card offers you 20,000 reward points as a welcome gift and a free membership of Flying Returns, the Air India Frequent Flyer programme. Bonus reward points offered are: 20,000 for spending Rs. 5 lakh annually, 30,000 (plus 20,000) if you spend Rs. 10 lakh every year, and 50,000 (plus 30,000 and 20,000) if your yearly credit card expense is Rs. 20 lakh. You also earn tier upgrades in the Air India Flying Returns programme.
Every Rs. 100 spent using this credit card will give you 4 reward points. When you buy Air India tickets using your credit card, you become eligible for 20 reward points per Rs. 100. When converting your reward points to air miles, you get 1 Air India mile per reward point. You also get airport lounge access and Priority Pass membership.
SBI Yatra Credit Card: With the Yatra credit card, you will get vouchers worth Rs. 8,250 that can be used on the Yatra.com website as joining benefit. You can avail 6X Reward Points and an extra 6x points on base fare when you use your credit card on Yatra.com. Departmental and grocery store purchases get you 6X Reward Points and 1 point for every Rs. 100 spent in other retail shops. The reward points can be converted into Yatra.com vouchers, with 1 reward point equalling Rs. 0.25. Additionally, you also get a Yatra.com discount voucher worth Rs. 500 for every Rs. 30,000 spent on the website. SBI Yatra Credit Card holders also get MasterCard airport lounge access as well.
CitiBank’s travel credit card allows you to use the services of around 100 airlines. With a Citi PremierMiles Credit Card, you can avail 10 miles for every Rs. 100 spent on airline transactions, through services on the Premier Miles website and on spending with online partners such as MakeMyTrip and Flipkart. You can redeem your miles with airline as well as hotel bookings. The bonus welcome of 10,000 miles can be availed on your first purchase of more than Rs. 1,000 within 60 days of activating the card. The miles do not have an expiry date and you can book tickets for any date on the calendar. You also get access airport lounges.
With so many options available, you can pick the travel credit card that suits you the best. While privileges are all fine, ensure that you check the interest rates offered on the cards. A higher interest rate will mean that you end up paying more for the privileges, thus nullifying the benefits.
In a survey conducted by Yatra.com on 5,000 registered email addresses, it was revealed that approximately 90% of travellers booking on their website prefer to make payments for their tickets via credit cards and debit cards. Fortunately, demonetization has not had a major negative impact on the travel industry in the country, but as an alternate solution many travellers have opted to reduce the number of days for travel and have compromised on accommodation.
While 80% of travellers are looking to stay in hotels during their summer vacations, homestays have seen a 100% increase in the number of customers they are seeing. The increase in the capacity of new and incumbent players in the industry and the prevailing low oil prices have also brought the price of airfares down, encouraging people to book airlines for travel. Approximately, 40% of travellers prefer booking their tickets via mobile apps, while the majority still prefer using a desktop or laptop for this purpose. This summer, hill stations are the preferred destination for vacations followed by Goa and Kerala.
April 12th, 2017