Best Credit Cards in India with Comparison

Best Credit Cards in India with ComparisonCredit cards have been in use in India for many decades now. The last three decades or so have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of users of business credit cards, Visa Cards, Mastercard, Cash back cards, Cash rewards credit cards, Travel credit cards, No annual fee credit cards and Debit cards. Quite often, you can find people talking about the best credit cards and the best business credit cards out of those that are available in India. Thanks to the economic growth and the push by Government towards digital payment, the popularity of credit cards is growing. The hot topic of the day is what are the Best Credit Cards in India with Comparison?

This well researched blog gives a great deal of information. In addition, we strongly recommend these articles:

Best Credit Cards in India

Best Credit Cards in India with ComparisonIf I give you a list of the three best credit cards or best business credit cards, would you readily agree with me? The chances are that you would have your own list of the best business credit cards or the best credit cards and the two lists may be vastly different from each other. This would essentially be so because the two of us would be having different priorities and usage patterns. Our needs and requirements for the credit card/s could be poles apart. We shall look at some of the main reasons for this major variation in the two lists of best credit cards or the best business credit cards as we proceed with this write up.

Growing Popularity of Credit Cards in India

You would have observed in the last few months that India is fast moving towards being a cashless economy. “Demonetisation” was a decisive move forward by the Government of India in this direction. Emphasis on “digitization” is another critical factor which will make India move towards a cashless economy. Other efforts by various government agencies are also directed towards reducing the number of cash transactions in the country. While cheques, demand drafts, Aadhaar enabled payments, mobile wallets, RTGS, E-wallets are all very important contributors towards making India a cashless economy in the near future, the role of credit cards is also vitally important in this regard.

Dozens of credit cards are already available in India. These credit cards have been developed by the banks and other institutions in different categories to suit the specific requirements of people who may be looking for satisfying their needs pertaining to making day-to-day purchases, travel needs, online shopping requirements, making of business payments or even for use as a status-symbol. With a credit card, you can easily meet all these requirements by carrying only a small piece of plastic with you instead of large wads of currency notes. In addition, you don’t need to have that much balance in your bank account or equivalent cash in your pocket as the credit card extends instant ready credit to you.

Precautions that you need to take while using your Credit Card

Credit card interest rate is generally very high in comparison to the rates prevailing otherwise in any economy. Credit card bills must, therefore, be paid well within the due date for payment. Further, by using the credit card money, you tend to develop a habit of using funds without actually having them with you in the hope that you would pay them by the due date. Any mismatch between your anticipated receipts and actual inflows could really have a drastic impact on your financial position as you would be forced to pay exorbitant interest on the total amount outstanding against you. While short listing the credit card, you must pay attention to the annual charges, joining fees and interest rates that the bank issuing the credit card intends to charge you. You must also look for the ideal card in the category that you decide to go in for, namely, shopping, travel needs, business needs, utility bill payments, online shopping etc.

How do you decide as to which are the best Credit Cards or the best business Credit Cards?

Well, each individual has his own criteria for deciding as to which credit card or business credit card is best suited to his needs and requirements. The main factors which people consider are as under:

  1. Joining fee
  2. Annual fee
  3. Ease of obtaining the credit card
  4. Cash back available
  5. Reward point schemes available
  6. Ready acceptability of the credit card at most locations
  7. Option to withdraw cash against the credit card
  8. Option to go for EMIs instead of paying the amount outstanding as a lump sum and
  9. Interest rate for delayed payments

Are the above factors uniformly applicable to all card users?

The applicability of the above factors depends upon whether you are applying for your first-ever credit card or is this going to be your second credit card. Also, it depends on whether you are applying for a particular premium card to be used as a status symbol or for using the card on a day to day basis. In the latter case, you may not feel inclined to pay a hefty joining fee or annual charges for the credit card.

Visa Card and MasterCard

Most users of credit cards find no big difference between MasterCard and Visa as both are accepted at almost all locations. It may be interesting to note that neither MasterCard nor Visa issue any credit cards themselves. MasterCard and Visa are both only methods of payment. MasterCard and Visa both compete with each other to have a larger reach in the credit card segment.

Both MasterCard and Visa depend on banks to use their payment methods while issuing credit cards. MasterCard and Visa do not fix the rewards, annual charges, interest rates etc. and it is up to the banks to do so. Also, while paying, you are making the payment to your bank and not to MasterCard or Visa.

MasterCard and Visa both make money by charging the retailer who uses their payment method. So, a Visa issued by a bank would be similar to the one issued by another bank. MasterCard and Visa make competitive offerings to various banks with a view to attracting more business.

Visa and MasterCard offer their Platinum card customers various concierge and assistance services along with exclusive offers to concerts, sports events etc. to tempt banks to promote their product among customers.

Best Credit Cards in India with Comparison

Since the customers are looking for so many different things in their credit cards, we have made an attempt to short list the best credit cards in India in different categories and drawn a comparison within a given category. Accordingly, brief details of the best credit cards in India are as under:

Best Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

In every country, credit card users and potential users have somewhat different patterns and styles of thinking. In India, a large number of users do not prefer making any commitments regarding fixed annual charges for their credit cards. This is particularly applicable to those applicants who are applying for their first-ever credit card. Many of them would already be using their Debit cards and would be quite happy but for the fact that they can spend only till the limit of the balance in their bank account. When they look for easy credit and that too without any interest, though for a short duration, they prefer to go for a credit card that does not have any annual charges or fees. Best credit cards available for such people are given below:

1. Standard Chartered Platinum Rewards Card

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • Joining Fees – Nil
  • Annual Fees – Nil
  • 20% cashback on Uber cab rides
  • 5 points for every Rs.150/- spent on fine dining and fuel
  • 1 point on every spend of Rs.150/- on other items
  • 1,000 additional reward points for transacting within 60 days of joining
  • 500 bonus points for registering for online banking
  • Discounts on BigBasket, FirstCry, UrbanClap, Puma, BlueStone and Abof

2. ICICI Instant Platinum Credit Card

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • Annual Fees – Nil
  • Discount of Rs.100/- on up to 2 movie tickets every month at BookMyShow
  • 15% savings on dining at over 800 restaurants.
  • 2 PAYBACK Reward points for every Rs.100/- spent except fuel expenses

This credit card is suitable for Housewives, Students and non-salaried individuals and for those applicants who wish to have a credit card against a Fixed Deposit with the bank.

Best Credit Cards for Salaried persons in India

Most salaried people in India do not have any supplementary source of income, though some may be having spouses who are also in jobs getting a salary of their own. Whichever may be the case, such salaried people (and their spouses) need a credit card more by way of a convenience than for any other reason. Of course, they would welcome any small benefits that come with such a credit card. To that extent, their needs and requirements are best met by the following credit cards. These are the best credit cards available for salaried persons in India.

1. Standard Chartered Manhattan Credit Card

  • Main highlights of this credit card are as under:
  • Ideal ‘entry level’ credit card with good customer service
  • Joining Fees – Rs.499/- (Waived off if you spend Rs.30,000/- or more in the first year of joining)
  • Annual Fees – Zero for the first year and Rs.999/- per year thereafter, which is waived off when you spend Rs.60,000/- or more during the year
  • 20% cashback on Uber cab rides
  • 5% cashback on shopping for grocery items with a monthly cap of Rs.500/- (Minimum spend of Rs.1,000/- to be eligible for this)
  • 1,000 additional reward points for transacting within 60 days of joining
  • 500 bonus points for registering for online banking
  • Discounts on BigBasket, FirstCry, UrbanClap, Puma, BlueStone and Abof
  • 3x Reward points for payments to Hotels, Airlines ticket reservation, Dining and Fuel

2. Citibank Cashback Credit Card

  • Main highlights of this credit card are as under:
  • Annual Fees – Rs.500/-
  • 5% cashback on telephone and utility bills
  • 5% cashback on movie tickets
  • 0.5% cashback on all other spends
  • 15% savings across Citibank participating restaurants

Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Online Shopping in India

Online shopping is fast catching up in India. With attractive offers and full-refund policies of most online sellers, a credit card with specific benefits to online shoppers is a bonanza for the users. Given below are the best credit cards for online shoppers in India:

1. SBI Simply Click Credit Card

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • 10x Reward points on popular shopping websites, namely, Amazon, BookMyShow, Foodpanda, Lenskart, Cleartrip, FabFurnish, Zoomcar and OLA
  • 5x Reward points on all other online shopping
  • 1 Reward point per Rs.100/- on all other spends
  • 2.5% Fuel surcharge waiver on transactions of more than Rs.500/-
  • Cleartrip e-voucher worth Rs.2,000/- on annual online spends of Rs1 lakh and above
  • Annual Fees – Rs.499/- (Waived off if you spend Rs.1,00,000/- or more in the first year of joining and a Bonus e-gift voucher worth Rs.500/- from Amazon)

This credit card is ideal for first time applicants and those who have a salary account in SBI.

2. American Express Gold Credit & Charge Card

The main difference between a credit card and a charge card is that while in case of a credit card, you can pay a minimum balance and carry forward the balance to the next month by paying a higher interest, in case of a charge card, the entire amount outstanding has to be paid by the due date. In India, majority of the people pay their credit card dues in time. So, it is advisable to avail the benefits of a charge card, if other things are found comparable by the applicant concerned.

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • Annual Fees – Rs.1,000/- for the first year and Rs.4,500/- thereafter
  • OYO vouchers worth Rs.2,000/- on Card approval
  • 4,000 Reward points after the first 3 spends within 60 days of joining
  • 1,000 Reward points for using your card 4 times every month
  • 1 Reward point on every Rs.50/- spent on fuel, insurance, utilities and cash transactions
  • 5,000 Reward points on renewal for the second year

Best Petrol Credit Cards in India

A large number of first-time applicants want to start using a credit card primarily for the convenience at petrol filling stations, where waiting for change may be a taxing experience. Banks have, accordingly, designed some credit cards to suit the mind sets of such users. Here are the best credit cards for the people who may be on the lookout for Petrol credit cards in India.

1. Standard Chartered Super Value Titanium Credit Card

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • The only credit card in India to give 5% cashback on the amount spent on fuel purchases
  • 5% cashback on telephone and utility bill payments
  • Joining Fee – Rs.499/- (Waived off if you spend Rs.30,000/- or more in the first year of joining)
  • Annual Fees – Zero for the first year and Rs.750/- thereafter (Waived off when you spend Rs.60,000/- or more during the year)
  • 20% cashback on Uber cab rides
  • 1,000 Reward points on your first transaction
  • 500 Reward points on registering for online banking
  • 1 Reward point for every Rs.150/- spent

Important Note: Minimum transaction amount for cashback eligibility is Rs.750/-

2. Citibank Indian Oil Credit Card

This credit card is quite popular with the users despite the availability of a few other attractive credit cards. Citibank awards you turbo points for using this credit card at fuel stations and elsewhere. These turbo points can be redeemed while refuelling at Indian Oil retail outlets and each turbo point gives you free fuel worth Re.1/-. This offer has been found very attractive by many users of Citibank Indian Oil Credit Card.

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • Annual Fees – Rs.1,000/- (Waived off when you spend Rs.30,000/- or more during the year);
  • Limited Time Offer – Activation benefits worth Rs.250/- if you apply before 31st October 2017
  • 4 Turbo points for every Rs.150/- of fuel purchases at authorized retail outlets of Indian Oil;
  • 4 Turbo points for every Rs.150/- spent at featured partners like MakeMyTrip
  • Full waiver of the fuel surcharge of 1% on fuel purchases
  • 2 Turbo points on every Rs.150/- spent at grocery stores and supermarkets
  • 1 Turbo point for every Rs.150/- spent elsewhere for shopping, dining and more

Important Note: Your credit card must be swiped only on Citibank EDC (Credit Card Swipe Machine) for availing the above benefits

Best Credit Cards in India for Travel

More and more people in India are realizing that carrying a credit card for meeting all their travel needs is a bonanza which provides them super convenience. Two types of travel cards are available –

Generic miles – Miles credit card is for the people who wish to redeem their ‘miles’ at any hotel or through shopping vouchers

Frequent flyers – With this co-branded credit card, you earn ‘miles’ on all types of shopping but you can redeem those ‘miles’ only at the brand that the credit card is associated with

Best credit cards in India for travel are as under:

1. Amex Platinum Travel Credit Card

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • Facility to accumulate points or ‘miles’ which can be redeemed as Indigo or Taj voucher
  • If you spend Rs.4 lakhs or more in the first year after joining, you get Rs.11,800/- worth of Indigo vouchers and Rs.10,000/- worth of Taj vouchers in addition to the reward points
  • Annual Fees – Rs.3,500/- for the first year and Rs.5,000/- thereafter
  • 5,000 Welcome Milestone Bonus Points which can be redeemed for Travel vouchers worth Rs.4,000/-
  • Travel vouchers worth Rs.7,700/- on spending Rs.1.90 lakhs or more in a year
  • 3% cashback at selected leading fuel stations
  • 1 Reward point for every Rs.50/- spent
  • Complimentary Priority Pass for free access to airport lounges

2. Citibank Premier Miles Credit Card

This card is suitable for people who spend over Rs.4 lakhs per annum on travel. All transactions through your card earn you ‘miles’ which can be redeemed or transferred to any of the listed airlines, namely, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, Etihad Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Eva Air, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines or Air India. For every 2 miles, you earn 1 Frequent Flyer Air Mile. You also have the option to redeem your ‘miles’ with Citiban preferred partners GoIbibo, Yatra or Indigo at Rs.45/- for every 100 ‘miles’.

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • Annual Fees – Rs.3,000/-
  • You earn 10,000 ‘miles’ on your first spend of Rs.1,000/- or more within 60 days of joining
  • 3,000 ‘miles’ on Credit Card renewal
  • 10 ‘miles’ for every Rs.100/- spent on any airline transactions
  • 10 ‘miles’ for every Rs.100/- spent with online partner merchants like MakeMyTrip
  • 4 ‘miles’ earned for every transaction of Rs.100/- elsewhere
  • Complimentary access to airport lounges

Best Business Credit Cards in India

Many businessmen in India wish to maintain their personal and business expenses separately. Such people as also some other businessmen prefer to have a business credit card which has some exclusive benefits. Given below are the best business credit cards in India:

1. HDFC Regalia Credit Card

HDFC Regalia Credit Card offers foreign transaction fees at 2% against 3.5% being charged by many other credit cards. This means a clear saving of 1.5% on transactions involving foreign exchange when you buy business tools from overseas vendors.

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • Annual Fees – Rs.2,500/- (Waived off if you spend Rs.40.000/- or more within 90 days of joining)
  • 4 Reward point for every Rs.150/- spent
  • 1% Fuel surcharge gets waived off on fuel transactions of Rs.400/- and above
  • Complimentary airport lounge access through Priority Pass membership
  • Complimentary Club Vistara Silver membership

2. RBL Titanium Delight Credit Card

RBL Titanium Delight Credit Card offers a few exclusive benefits to the users on Wednesdays.

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • Annual Fees – Rs.750/- for the first year and Rs.2,000/- thereafter (Waived off if you spend more than Rs.1 lakh during the year)
  • 1+1 Movie ticket on BookMyShow once a month on any Wednesday
  • 5 % Value back and 20 x reward points on grocery purchases on Wednesdays
  • 10% Value back on pizza ordered online from Domino’s or Pizza Hut
  • 2,000 Reward points on the first use and 1,000 points on spending Rs.10,000/- within 60 days of joining
  • 1 Reward point for every Rs.100/- spent
  • 4,000 Bonus reward points on spending Rs.1.2 lakhs or more in a year
  • Waiver of fuel surcharge on transactions above Rs.500/-

Best Premium Credit Cards in India

There are certain businessmen who wish to carry a Premium Credit Card or two with them because of the prestige attached to such credit cards. Obtaining such a credit card is somewhat cumbersome as compared to the relative ease with which one can get any of the other credit cards mentioned earlier in this write up. Generally, a businessman would tend to apply for a premium credit card only when he already has 2 or 3 other credit cards from the Shopping, Cashback or Travel categories. Given below are the best premium credit cards in India for such businessmen:

1. HDFC Diners Premium Credit Card

HDFC Diners Premium Credit Card offers complimentary access to Golf lessons. This feature is liked by many lovers of the game. Further, this credit card offers some great deals under the travel category. Its only drawback is that it is not as widely accepted as a MasterCard or Visa.

Main highlights of this credit card are as under:

  • Annual Fees – Rs.2,500/- (Waived off if you spend Rs.40.000/- or more within the first year. For the second year, you need to spend Rs.3 lakhs or more to avail the waiver factility);
  • 4 Reward points for every Rs.150/- spent
  • 8 Reward points on every Rs.150/- spent
  • Complimentary Golf lessons at select Golf courses in India
  • Air accident cover of Rs.1 crore
  • Emergency medical expense cover of up to Rs.25 lakhs
  • Credit liability cover up to Rs.9 lakhs
  • Travel insurance cover of up to Rs.50,000/- against baggage loss/delay
  • Complimentary access to airport lounges
  • Foreign transaction fees at 2% only

2. SBI Elite Credit Card

This is the only credit card from a public sector bank that finds a mention in the list of best credit cards here.

Main highlights of this premium credit card are as under:

  • Annual Fees – Rs.4,999/-
  • Rs.5,000/- worth of welcome vouchers from any of the selected brands, namely, Hush Puppies, Bata, Yatra, Marks & Spencers, Shoppers Stop and Westside
  • Rs.500/- off on BookMyShow once every month
  • 5 x Reward points on Dining, Grocery, Departmental stores and international spends
  • 10,000 Bonus reward points upon achieving annual spends of Rs.2 lakhs, Rs.3 lakhs and Rs.4 lakhs
  • 20,000 Bonus reward points on crossing the annual spend of Rs.5 lakhs;
  • Complimentary membership of the Elite Priority Pass program worth $99;
  • 2.5% Fuel surcharge waiver.

Conclusion (Which Credit Card should you apply for?)

From a careful perusal of the details given above for various types of credit cards, you would have already observed that the number of variables in this case is so large that you cannot ideally have a single credit card which fits the bill.

You would be aware that many people do not pay enough attention while applying for a credit card. They later get frustrated because of bad service, many hidden charges and other factors. You must, therefore, spend sufficient time to analyze your exact requirements as to whether you need a ‘free-for-life’ credit card with no annual fees; one for your monthly shopping of groceries with cashbacks; for meeting your travel needs with many ‘miles’ in return; for your online shopping with attractive payback points; for meeting your business expenses or you simply need a fourth (premium) credit card as a status-symbol.

Once you know your needs and estimate your usage pattern, you must check the exact offerings being made by various banks and institutions for the credit card short listed by you. This is important since the banks keep on changing their offers at frequent intervals in addition to adding some new card every now and then.

Last, but not the least, please note that which is the best credit card for you can only be decided by you as what is best for someone else may not be so for you. Spend some time, effort and energy to do your homework well and find out which is the best credit card for you.

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