Updated: January 2019
[this guide has been updated to cover nearly every good reward credit card in India, main features & opinion about them. Thus the guide is now over 6000 words long. If you are looking for quick recommendation, then click here]
Personally, I am big fan of credit cards. When used properly, they can help you a lot in managing your regular finances in best way possible.
In fact, I analysed different offers extended by debit and credit cards of same bank and found that owning and using a credit card offers more benefits as compared to a debit card. Here is the article if you are interested.
In this post: How many credit cards you should have?
You can find the details of each one of the top credit cards in the list below. If you like a quick look, here is the list:
- Citibank Cashback Credit Card – Best Cash Back Card
- HSBC Visa Platinum Card – Maximum offer for regular uses
- Standard Chartered Super Value Titanium Credit Card – Best Card for Fuel Cash Back
- Standard Chartered Manhattan Platinum Credit Card – Flat Cashback at Supermarkets
- HDFC Regalia: Use rewards points to book flights and hotels
- American Express Membership Rewards Credit Card – Rewards point into outstanding balance credit
Types of credit cards available in India
The issue commonly faced is which credit card to apply for? The reason it is difficult to decide, is due to number of choices in the market currently.
Each bank offers credit cards in three categories:
- Basic or entry level credit card: Entry level doesn’t mean low limit cards. They are the most basic credit card, simple rewards system & easiest to qualify for.
- Co-branded credit cards: These credit cards are result of a partnership between the bank & a service provider. If you are frequent user of that service, then this card makes the most sense. Though, you should spend some time to decide if you want to lock your choices to one service platform. Here is a low down on co-branded credit cards available in India.
- Premium credit cards: These are the one most difficult to qualify for and in most cases, unless you use the card for minimum amount, you will charged an annual fee. This card is recommended for seasoned credit card users only.
Citibank Cashback Credit Card
This one is the best basic credit card for salaried people. The reward structure is simple.
The best part, the cash back is automatically deducted from your future credit card bills.
No need to login and request for cashback or any lengthy redemption process.
Here is the list of benefits on Citibank cash back credit card:
- Make contactless payments of up to Rs.2,000. No PIN required. Simply tap the card at the contactless terminal to pay.
- Get 5% cashback on movie tickets and phone bill payments.
- Get 5% cashback on utility bill payments, if paid through Citibank Online Bill Pay.
- Get 0.5% cashback on all the other spends.
- Enjoy exclusive dining and shopping benefits.
- Make purchases on EMI at over 2,000 mobile phone, electronics and retail outlets.
Annual Fee: Rs. 500 /- (You can bargain for annual fee waiver for a minimum spending per year).Joining offer of Amazon Voucher if you join before March 15, 2019
HSBC Visa Platinum Card
This card is preferred for various offers it provides right from joining. My advice is to apply for this card when you have planned some purchases within next 90 days.
The current offer is : 10% Cashback up to ₹2500 in the first 90 days of issuance.
Benefits of HSBC Visa Platinum Card:
- You get 10% cashback on all spends, provided at least 3 transactions are made and the minimum spend is Rs.10,000.
A secret tip: When you get this card, ask if any one of your friend would like to order a phone. You will get free cash back on your card and offer your friend share too 🙂
- If you are a movie buff, then you will be happy to know that if you spend 50,000 per month, then you get Rs. 500 movie voucher each month.
- 3X Rewards on Dining, Hotels and Telecom for first 12 months.
- Enjoy fuel surcharge waiver when you pay for fuel using the card.
- Enjoy discounts on dining under HSBC Dining Privileges.
Joining Fee: Rs. 0 /-
Annual Fee: NIL
Standard Chartered Super Value Titanium Credit Card
One of the best card if you have a travelling job profile. Like people into sales profile. The cashback you receive will be sweet when get to know that this is the only credit card in India which gives such cash back on fuel spends.
SC Super Value Titanium Credit Card gives 5% cash back on fuel spends. The minimum spend has to be Rs.. 750/- for cashback.
Here is the small list of benefits provided by this credit card:
- 1,000 Additional reward points on your first transaction
- 500 Additional reward points on registering for online banking
- 1 reward point for every Rs. 150 spent
Joining Fee: Rs. 499 /- (Waived off with spending Rs. 30,000 in the first year)
If you spend 60,000 per year then you annual fee is also waived off.
Standard Chartered Manhattan Platinum Credit Card
The very best from Standard Chartered for a salaried person. The reason: A flat 5% cashback at Supermarkets.
If you living in a metro, then it means the money you spend in supermarkets on weekends comes with automatic 5% cashback.
Benefits of Manhattan Platinum Credit Card:
- 1000 additional rewards points if you transact within 60 days
- 500 bonus points for registering for online banking
- 3x rewards when you use your credit card to pay for Hotels, Dining, Airline ticket reservation and Fuel
- Special discount offers on BigBasket, BlueStone, FirstCry, Puma, Abof and UrbanClap.
Joining Fee: Rs. 499/- ( Just like Super Value card, joining and annual fee are waived off when you spend above the threshold of 30,000 in first year and 60,000 thereafter).
HDFC Regalia Credit Card
I am using this one for last 8 years now and one of the main reason is that you can use their reward points to book air ticket and hotels.
And if you spend more than Rs. 60,000 per year on their card, your annual fee is also automatically waived off.
You earn reward points on every spend. And you earn more reward points for spending on their specified days.
Even if you use the card for some big time spending once in a while, your points will add up quite fast.
So, if you like to travel, then this feature alone is worth it. I have used it to book tickets, hotels over years and it feels great to spend next to nothing for a nice vacation.
Benefits of HDFC Regalia Credit Card:
- Complimentary Airport Lounge Access through Priority Pass Membership
- Now get 15,000 bonus points(worth approx Rs. 7500/-) every year on spends of Rs.8 Lac(wef 1 Apr’18)
- Earn 4 Reward Points on every Rs. 150 spent and redeem rewards against exclusive lifestyle options
- Exclusive dining privileges that offer upto 15% discount on dining at premium restaurants across India.
Joining fee: Rs. 2500/- (Normally waived off if your credit score is good or some offer is going on)
Renewal fee: Spend Rs. 3L in 12 Months and get Renewal Fee waived for next renewal year.
American Express Membership Rewards Credit Card
A unique card. This Amex card allows you to redeem your reward points as credit in your outstanding balance. No other card offers that.
Benefits of American Express Membership rewards Credit Card:
- 1,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points for simply using your Card 4 times on transactions of Rs. 1,000 and above every month.
- Earn 1 Membership Rewards Point for every Rs. 50 spent except for spends at Fuel, Insurance, Utilities and Cash Transactions.
- Welcome Gift of 4,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points.
Joining Fee: Rs. 1000 plus taxes
Renewal Fee: Rs.4500
Renewal fee will be 100% waived off if total spends on American Express Credit Card in the immediately preceding membership year is Rs.150,000; else 50% waived off if total spends on American Express Credit Card in the immediately preceding membership year is Rs.90,000 to Rs.1,49,999.
How many credit cards you should have?
I am using credit cards for over 15 years now. In my experience, you should have two credit cards (maximum 3, but no more) to take maximum benefits offered by the banks.
Whether you are salaried or not, one of the card should be for reward points and one for cash back.
There are few things, which works well with reward points, because the redemption platform supports that only. Like Citibank premier miles club or HDFC Regalia.
In case of cash back cards, it is quite simple. The cash back is credited to your credit card only. You don’t get any credit in your bank account. Except Amex Membership card.