In another post on travel credit cards, I had mentioned their advantages and how you can use them to score free flights, hotel stays and more.
So many of you may have questions on where to begin and which travel credit card to apply for…especially given the choices that are available. This post simply aims to cut through the clutter and narrows down your choices to just 3 (three) travel credit cards. I not only explain the important benefits of these cards (which are available on their respective websites and many others), but also the logic behind why that particular card has made it to this list – this analysis may help you understand your requirements and accordingly go for the required credit card/s.
Yet another question asked repeatedly, especially by frequent travellers, is – Should / can I get multiple travel credit cards? The short answer – depends. The long answer is that you should first ascertain your travel habits – for example, do you travel frequently to other countries or just domestic? If international travel is frequent, is it skewed towards a particular region e.g. South East Asia or Middle East etc? Which frequent flyer program that you are member of earns the maximum points? Is the frequent flyer program part of any airline alliance e.g. Star Alliance, OneWorld etc? Ask similar questions for hotel loyalty programs too. Then based on the responses, get no more than 2 or 3 travel credit cards. Any more and it will be difficult to manage them as also you will pay extra for maintaining them.
I have listed and explained them based on my experiences as well as detailed research online. Here they are:
Citibank Premier Miles Card
I would stick my neck out in saying that this is the best travel credit card in India at the moment. I say this because this is the ONLY card which is airline and hotel agnostic i.e. you enjoy the flexibility to redeem miles for air ticket of many international and domestic airlines as also hotel chains. 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. Moreover, these points will never expire till they are in your Citibank card account…but the moment the points are transferred to your airline or hotel loyalty program, they are subject to that company’s policies on points expiry. Yet another benefit of this card is that you can get double the miles – let me explain – if you are a Frequent Flyer of any airline, and you book a ticket on that airline using your Citi PremierMiles Card, you earn miles for the ticket purchased at the rate of 10 Miles per Rs.100. In addition, you also earn your regular miles for flying that airline. Hence double miles.
Joining and Annual fees are Rs 3,000.
- 10,000 Miles with your first spend of Rs.1,000 or more on your Citi PremierMiles Card within 60 days of Card issuance and 3,000 Miles on Card renewal.
- Earn accelerated 10 Miles per Rs.100 when you book flight tickets, hotel stays, and car rentals at the dedicated PremierMiles website at www.premiermiles.co.in
- Earn 10 Miles per Rs.100 spent on all airline transactions – with any airline in the world
- Earn 10 Miles per Rs.100 spent with their online partner merchants
- Earn 4 Miles for every Rs.100 spent on all other transactions.
Earn 1 frequent flyer air mile for every 2 Miles (PremierMiles) you transfer on Cathay Pacific, Delta Airlines, British Airways, Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Eva Air, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Air India, Flying Blue, Jet Airways, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic.
You can also transfer your PremierMiles to the loyalty program of domestic and international chains like:
Club Carlson (Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn etc) at 2 Miles = 1 Point
Taj InnerCircle (all Taj properties) at 10 Miles = 1 TIC Point
Hilton HHonors (Hilton, Conrad, Waldorf Astoria etc) at 1 Mile = 1.5 HHonors Points
IHG Rewards Club (Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Intercontinental etc) at 1 Mile = 1 Point
You can also redeem your PremierMiles on www.goibibo.com as also on IndiGo Airlines at www.goindigo.in
Get complimentary access to select airport lounges across India, and enjoy refreshments as well as business facilities.
One can get Air Accident Insurance Cover of upto Rs 1 Crore and Lost Card Liability Cover of Rs 2 Lakh.
Based on the benefits Citi PremierMiles Credit Card offers, I have rated it the best travel credit card in India.
American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card
Amex has a history for interesting offers and tie-ups…and you get access to Amex lounges at the airports. This card’s earning and redemption structure is simple.
Annual fee First year fee: Rs.3500 plus applicable taxes.
Second year onwards: Rs.5,000
- You get a welcome gift of 5,000 Milestone Bonus Points redeemable for IndiGo Vouchers worth Rs. 4,000. If you spend Rs. 1.90 lacs in a year, you get IndiGo Vouchers valued at Rs.7,700 and if you spend Rs. 4 lacs in a year you get IndiGo Vouchers of Rs.11,800 value, plus a voucher of Rs.10,000 from the Taj Group.
- You earn 1 Point on expenditure of Rs. 50 on this card
- Discounts on Makemytrip.com
Besides Amex lounge access, you can also get a complimentary Priority Pass membership worth $ 99 (however, you pay $27 per visit)
Up to 30% discount and additional 5% cashback at over 1200 restaurants
JetPrivilege HDFC Bank World Credit Card
The reason I chose this card is because of two major Indian brands viz HDFC Bank and Jet Airways. Jet Airways runs a frequent flyer program (FFP) called JetPrivilege (read this post I have written on JetPrivilege). This card offers you to earn JPMiles (the JetPrivilege currency) and redeem them for Jet Airways flights in India and abroad.
First Year and Renewal Fee on JetPrivilege HDFC Bank World Credit Card is Rs. 2,500
- On joining, you get one complimentary Jet Airways ticket (Base Fare Waived) as also 5,000 Bonus JPMiles on the first usage of the card AND additional 5,000 Bonus JPMiles on the total retail spends of more than Rs. 75,000, both within 90 days of the card activation.
- Every year on renewal, get the complimentary Jet Airways ticket and 4,000 JPMiles on the first use of the card within 90 days.
- Earn 6 JPMiles for every Rs. 150 spent.
- Earn 18 JPMiles for every Rs 150 spent on www.jetairways.com
- Get one ‘Tier Point’ in your JetPrivilege FFP on spends of every Rs. 2,00,000. Tier points contribute to accelerated promotion to higher JetPrivilege membership levels (Silver, Gold etc)
- Renewal Fee Waiver – Spend Rs. 3 lac within 12 months of card activation or renewal and get renewal fee waived off
Free membership of Priority Pass worth $ 99. Primary card holder can enjoy upto 5 free visits to the Priority Pass lounges every year. In addition, get access to select lounges at airports in India under the MasterCard Lounge Access Program.
There are other Jet Airways co-branded cards offered by other banks (ICICI Bank, IndusInd etc) which are a variation of the HDFC one and the deals are more or less the same. Hence, it is your relationship with the issuing bank which will then play a role in applying for the Jet Airways co-branded card.
A note about Air India – SBI co-branded cards – these used to be a good deal till April 2016 – now after devaluation of the miles by Air India as also dilution of earning by SBI, this card is off my list. So there!
And that’s it! I will endeavour to add or replace the cards as newer AND better travel credit cards come up. I will also update the changes as and when they happen, but would certainly appreciate if you let me know about them in the comments below.