Consider this a crash course in becoming a credit card ninja
Make money while you spend money
Entrepreneur Shreya Nayak swiped right on the wrong match last year. “I’d just started my business, and needed a credit card that would reduce travel expenses and offered interest-free credit to scale up. Instead, I applied for one that gave me complimentary movie tickets and reward points for shopping online,” says the 38-year-old Mumbai resident. Perusing the list of credit cards in India, Nayak didn’t think enough about what would work for her long-term needs.
Credit cards often get a bad rep. Owning one means digging your own debt trap. Because, as dadi always said, “Chadar jitni lambi ho, utna hi pair phelana chahiye.” The fear of credit card debt is so ingrained in our DNA that as per a survey from financial-advice website Credible, 33% of millennials find it scarier than death.
But the right credit card can elevate your life, as long as you stay on course. So just like you’re exercising, meditating and eating the right foods (#TeamTurmeric) to stay fit, tracking your spending, reading the fine print and paying your debt off every month are good habits to form.
Best credit cards in India for your lifestyle
For globetrotters who are ready to switch airplane mode on, the Axis Bank Vistara Signature credit card offers a ton of benefits such as one complimentary premium economy ticket upon signing up, Club Vistara points on every ₹200 spent on the card (can be redeemed for flight bookings and for upgrades), and up to 4 complimentary premium economy tickets upon achieving spending milestones.
Meanwhile, the HDFC Diners Club Privilege offers complimentary annual membership of MakeMyTrip Black, big savings on forex markup (it charges a fee of only 2%), and 12 complimentary airport lounge access to 1000+ lounges in India and globally. You also have the option to convert reward points into air miles and redeem them to book flights on select networks. Alternatively, you could make hotel bookings using points earned.
Hate missing a bill payment? There are a few credit cards in India that reward the Conscientious Chachis among us. For instance, the Standard Chartered Super Value Titanium credit card offers a cashback of 5% on every utility bill payment enabling you to save more on gas, electricity and water.
The Cashback SBI card, on the other hand, offers a 1% cashback on all offline spends and utility bill payments, and 5% cashback on every online spend without any merchant restriction.
On a health kick? Grab a detox drink and a credit card that offers discounts on annual doctor checkups, free video consultations with doctors, and more. For instance, the Yes Bank Wellness credit card comes with benefits such as six free fitness sessions (gym, yoga, zumba, etc.) every month, complimentary annual health, eye and dental checkups, unlimited consultations with nutritionists and general practitioners, and 20 reward points for every ₹200 spent at pharmaceutical stores or chemists.
Similarly, the Axis Bank Aura credit card gives four free video consultations with doctors every month via Practo, four interactive video fitness sessions via Fitternity and access to 16 recorded sessions, an annual discount of up to ₹500 on health checkups, and minimum 30% off on nutritional/diet consultations and healthy foods.
If you spend (read waste) hours commuting, the BPL SBI Card is one for the road. It offers benefits such as 13x reward points on fuel purchases at BPCL petrol pumps and 1% fuel surcharge waiver on every BPCL transaction up to ₹4000. You also get 2,000 reward points worth ₹500 upon joining, which can be redeemed instantly against fuel purchase at BPCL outlets.
On the other hand, the ICICI Bank HPCL Super Saver credit card welcomes you with a joining benefit of 2000 reward points on activation, and ₹100 cashback on the HP Pay app. Fuel purchases made by the HP Pay app at HPCL outlets earn an additional 1.5% reward points. These can be redeemed for fuel at HPCL pumps.
If you see your online delivery guy more than your neighbours, it may be time to check out the American Express SmartEarn credit card. Transactions on Flipkart, Amazon and Uber get 10x reward points for every ₹50 spent. You also earn 5X reward points for every ₹50 spent on Paytm Wallet, Swiggy, Blinkit and Big Bazaar.
While the above card rewards you for additions to your virtual shopping cart, the Standard Chartered Manhattan Platinum credit card is best suited for those who make big purchases at supermarkets. It offers 5% cashback on your spends at supermarkets, with no maximum cap. You also earn 3x reward points on purchases in other categories.
Tailor-made for startups and entrepreneurs, the Kotak Wealth Corporate credit card offers interest-free funds for up to a period of 48 days, fuel and railway surcharge waiver during business travels, and cash redemption of reward points accumulated. You also have increased control over employee-made expenses. You can monitor spending patterns, access statistical data on every employee’s spends, get a consolidated credit limit for all your employees’ cards, and make one payment for all the credit cards.
The Volopay Corporate Card, too, makes tracking and managing business expenses hassle-free. It supports multi-level approvals, and transactions can be tracked in real-time to ensure transparency and reduce expense frauds. You can also restrict out-of-policy spending, set an auto-lock rate, and allow multi-currency spendings so work goes on seamlessly.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to problems in the real world. So, credit cards in India, too, can now be tailor-made. Axis Bank MY Choice Credit Card, for example, allows you to customise your card based on your saving and spending needs. Cardholders can get a cashback of 5% on any two spending categories of their choice – dining, electronics, fuel, utility bills, travel and supermarkets.
Yes Bank goes a step further with its BYOC (Build Your Own Card). This credit card lets you pick your perks (unlimited cashback or rewards) and customise merchant offers as per your needs. You can change plans monthly and even choose the material with which the card is made (regular or eco-friendly).
That’s it. Swipe or tap, but always remember that the goal is to maximise benefits and minimise the risk of hurting your credit and paying unnecessary fees.
*The joining and renewal fees vary for these credit cards in India. Please confirm before signing up.