Co-branded travel cards in India are still a long way to go as compared to the US. But, there are a few nifty credit cards out there which you should consider. While you must have at least one, I would recommend at least two, if you don’t mind paying the annual fee. The reason is simple – the credit limit for one card may not cover the expenses for the trip. Okay, sure you can stagger the bookings over a month, but it still may not be enough. So, unless you have a handsome credit limit (if you do, congrats!), you should go in for two cards.
So, here are some of the credit cards you should consider to sign up for:
Citibank Premier Miles
Although, you need to pay annual fees (Rs. 3000) for this card, it is definitely my preferred choice for the following reasons:
Miles Earning. Firstly, on joining you earn 10,000 Miles on your first transaction of Rs 1000 within 60 days of card booking. You get 3000 miles for every subsequent annual renewal. You can earn 10 Miles for every Rs 100 spent on airline tickets* (on airline websites or counters) or for all purchases on www.premiermiles.co.in,www.yatra.com,www.goibibo.com and www.expedia.co.in. For expenses other than airline tickets, you earn 4 Miles for every Rs 100 spent elsewhere. One important feature of this card is that you can earn double miles for each ticket you book. Let’s say, you book your ticket on Etihad, you get 10 miles for every Rs. 100 you spend and you get the airmiles on Etihad Guest too!
Redeeming Miles. Now this is easily the best feature of this card. This card is airline and hotel agnostic in that you enjoy the flexibility to redeem miles for air ticket of over many international and domestic airlines. Moreover, you can also redeem your miles for hotel bookings and car rentals. What sets this card apart from others is that you retain the flexibility of choosing your favourite airline frequent flyer program or hotel loyalty program (More on frequent flyer and hotel loyalty later). The PremierMiles will earn you an equivalent number of miles in your preferred Airline and Hotel Loyalty Program So you have the flexibility of topping up your miles in any of the listed airline without being limited to only one Frequent Flyer or hotel loyalty program To transfer your PremierMiles, you just need to call the 24 hour CitiPhone helpline. You must look out for changes to the phone numbers and policies on their website www.premiermiles.co.in . At present you can redeem your miles on IndiGo, GoIbibo.com and Yatra.com You can also transfer your miles to many airlines (including Etihad, British Airways, Singapore Airlines and more) and hotels (Taj, Hilton, Intercontinental Hotels Group). The list keeps updating, so you should keep track on the website at http://www.premiermiles.co.in/premiermiles_features/
Lounge Access. You get access to airport lounges where you can have the pleasure of complimentary snacks and beverages in a luxurious sanctuary away from the milling crowds. The full list of lounges you can get access to, is available on the Premier Miles website.
Dining Offers. You can get up to 20% off while dining at over 1000 of the finest restaurants in Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai. On joining and for subsequent annual renewal, you get a booklet of coupons with dining coupons for you to enjoy.
Special Attention. This being a Platinum card, you get special attention. There is a dedicated website for all your travel needs at www.premiermiles.co.in. There is also a Special Travel desk for your bookings when you are on the go – the telephone number is 1800-209-4484.
Insurance. You can feel secure as this card comes with complimentary Air Accident Insurance cover worth Rs 30 Lakhs.
No Fuel Surcharge. You have been paying surcharge at petrol stations? Now, with PremierMiles card, you enjoy waiver of the 2.5% fuel surcharge at select IndianOil Outlets
Fraud Loss Protection. There is a coverage of Rs. 1,50,000 against any fraudulent use of your Citibank PremierMiles Credit Card, in case it is lost or is stolen. The loss is covered up to 96 hours prior and 48 hours after reporting of card loss
Golf Deals. If you are a golfer, you will be delighted. This card offers complimentary Green Fees TWICE a year at specified locations and also discounts on green fees at many locations. What’s more, you can get complimentary golf lessons which will be at least 30 minutes in duration and will include green fees, the cost of instructors fees, range golf balls (@ 50 Golf Balls per Lesson)
Notable Credit Cards
You may also like to consider other credit cards (in the brackets are the various flavours of the card which are Platinum equivalent and above) from the following:-
American Express (Amex) Jet Airways Platinum. Besides Visa and MasterCard, Amex is the third most popular credit card issuer. In India, the usage is much less as compared to the US and some other places. But, Amex always has credit cards which offer excellent value in terms of travel benefits. If you are a Jet Airways frequent flyer, this is a good card to have. Amex also has other cards for which the annual charges are Rs. 50,000! Hmmm…
HDFC Bank Jet Airways (World, Platinum & Titanium). Everyone agrees with the exalted place HDFC holds in the financial markets. So when they offer a credit card co-branded with Jet Airways, many frequent flyers rejoiced. Definitely worth a look.
Axis Bank Miles & More (World Select & World). This credit card has been launched recently and has affiliation with Miles & More, which is the loyalty program of Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines. Miles & More allows you to earn points from other activities too, like car rental, shopping etc.
SBI Air India Card (Platinum & Signature). If you are a frequent flyer with Air India, this is the card you should go with. The Platinum comes with 5000 miles on entry, whereas the Signature card gets you 20,000 miles.
ICICI Bank Jet Airways (Sapphiro, Rubyx and Coral). Jet Airways certainly has worked on their relationships with banks and credit card issuers to corner the corporate traveller market. But, what the heck, even if your address does not read somewhere up between two airports, you can take advantage of the card.
Do read up on these cards on the respective websites before you get any of them And yes, don’t go berserk and get all of them. Two, at the most three, are what you will need. I will cover on consolidation later so that you don’t spread yourself thin and get points / miles in so many airlines that they are useless to take advantage of.
Keeping Track of Credit Cards
It makes sense to keep track of the new credit cards that may have better value. You can do this by visiting various blogs and forums on the web to know about any latest cards. More than just knowing about new cards, what is more important is knowing about changes to terms and conditions of the credit card and also for news and updates related to promotional offers, events, discount codes and much more. In case of existing cards in your possession, you should sign up for the newsletter at the respective credit card issuer’s website. Newsletters are sent by the card issuer or banks to inform you about the changes in any terms & conditions like downgrade / upgrade of point value, addition or deletion of airlines, hotel loyalty programs and other features. They also send promotional offers during the holiday or festival seasons or when the sales are down. e.g. Citibank offers double miles say, during the month of December. This will allow you to plan your major purchases during that period; in the bargain help you earn more miles. Of course, these air miles that you accumulate will be useful only if you have a membership of airline frequent flyer program/s.