The Quest for India’s Best Credit Cards: An NRI’s Guide to Plastic Money in the Homeland
So, you’ve finally traded in your Starbucks’ daily fix for the local chaiwala’s authentic brew, swapped your Super Bowl evenings for IPL frenzies, and you’re now humming to Bollywood tunes instead of the Billboard top 40.
Let’s not dilly-dally. We both know that credit cards are as essential as WhatsApp these days.
But with countless options flooding the market, it’s like finding a samosa in a haystack. Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered.
Here’s an in-depth analysis of the best credit cards in India, specially tailored for the discerning NRI turned desi again.
In this article...
1. HDFC Regalia Credit Card
- Rewards: Earn 4 reward points on every ₹150 spent.
- Dining Benefits: Up to 15% discount at premium restaurants.
- Travel Perks: Complimentary airport lounge access.
- A relatively high annual fee (waived off upon hitting a specific spending threshold).
2. SBI Card ELITE
- Movie Tickets: Get up to ₹6,000 worth of movie tickets annually.
- Milestone Privileges: Earn up to 50,000 bonus reward points worth ₹12,500/year.
- Lounge Access: Complimentary domestic and international lounge visits.
- Its elite status comes with an elite annual fee.
3. ICICI Coral Credit Card
- Buy One Get One: On movie tickets.
- Dining Discounts: Up to 15% off on dining bills at over 800 restaurants.
- Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Save on those fuel expenses.
- A lower reward rate compared to some premium cards.
4. Axis Bank Buzz Credit Card
- Shopping Benefits: Up to 10% discount on Flipkart.
- Milestone Bonus: Flipkart vouchers worth up to ₹7,000.
- Dining Discounts: Great deals on dining out.
- Primarily tailored for avid online shoppers.
5. American Express Membership Rewards Card
- Reward Points: Exciting offers for spending on fuel, utilities, and more.
- Lounge Access: Complimentary domestic lounge visits.
- Fuel Convenience Fee Waiver: At HPCL petrol pumps.
- Higher annual fee, though there’s potential for waiver based on spending.
6. Citi Cash Back Card
- Cash Back: 5% on movie tickets, telephone bills, and all other spends.
- Savings: Up to 15% at select restaurants.
- EMI Privileges: Easy EMI conversion for high-value purchases.
- Limited travel-related benefits.
7. Kotak Royale Signature Credit Card
- Reward Points: High reward rate, especially on international spends.
- Lounge Access: Two complimentary domestic lounge visits per quarter.
- Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Save on those road trips.
- Limited dining benefits.
8. RBL Bank Platinum Maxima Card
- Reward Points: 2 reward points for every ₹100 spent.
- Movie Tickets: Buy one get one free, monthly.
- Lounge Access: Two complimentary domestic lounge visits per quarter.
- Annual fee, though it can be waived upon reaching a spending milestone.
9. Yes FIRST Preferred Credit Card
- Reward Rate: High rewards on all retail spends.
- Lounge Access: Unlimited complimentary lounge visits at domestic airports.
- Life Insurance Cover: In case of death due to flight accidents.
- Primarily suited for high spenders.
10. HSBC Platinum Credit Card
- Fuel Benefits: 5X rewards on subsequent fuel purchases.
- Dining Offers: Big discounts on dining out.
- Joining Perks: Amazon voucher as a welcome gift.
- Limited travel-related rewards.
In the vast ocean of credit cards, there’s a card for every type of spender. However, remember, the key isn’t just to find the best card but to find the best card for you.
So, whether you’re jet-setting across the globe, an avid online shopper, or someone who enjoys the simple pleasures of a dine-out or movie night, there’s a card waiting for you.
The “Not-So-Secret” Formula to Applying for a Top-Notch Credit Card in India
Hey there, fellow returnee! Still reeling from the cacophony of honking cars and the irresistible aroma of street food? Well, here’s something slightly less exhilarating but equally crucial: getting yourself a swanky credit card.
But wait! Before you rush out and apply for every shiny piece of plastic you set your eyes on, let’s chat about the best way to go about it.
After all, credit cards might just be the adult version of collecting Pokémon cards – gotta catch ’em all, but do it wisely!
1. Evaluate Your Spending Patterns
What kind of spender are you? Are you the jet-setting wanderluster, or perhaps the movie buff who can’t resist a big tub of caramel popcorn at the cinema? Understand where most of your expenses go. This will guide you to pick a card that gives you maximum benefits based on your spending habits.
2. Check Your Credit Score
“Credit what now?” I hear you, NRI friend. If you’ve been living the American dream, you’re likely familiar with FICO scores. In India, it’s CIBIL. A score above 750 is generally considered good. If you’re fresh off the boat and lack a credit history in India, some banks might consider your US credit report. So, keep that handy!
3. Research The Eligibility Criteria
Each card, like a Bollywood movie, has its own script (or criteria, in this case). This could range from income requirements to the type of employment. Make sure you fit the bill to avoid any heartbreaking rejection scenes.
4. Gather Your Documents
Remember the time you needed that one particular spice for your curry, but it was lost in the chaos of your kitchen cabinet? Don’t let your documents be that spice. Typically, you’ll need:
- Proof of Identity (Passport, PAN card)
- Proof of Address (Utility bills, Rental agreement)
- Income Proof (Salary slips, IT returns)
- Passport-size photographs
- For those with an NRI status, proof of NRI bank accounts or foreign income might be necessary.
5. Apply Online or Visit the Bank
Many banks have digitized the application process, allowing you to apply online. Fill out the application form, upload the necessary documents, and hit submit. However, if you’re feeling particularly nostalgic and miss human interaction (or just want to ensure everything goes smoothly), head to your nearest bank branch.
6. Wait Patiently (or Impatiently)
After applying, there’s a verification process where the bank checks all the information you’ve provided. This might take a few days, so hang tight. Use this time to daydream about all the reward points and cash backs you’ll be raking in.
7. Enjoy Your Card Responsibly
Once approved, you’ll get your card delivered to your doorstep. Welcome to the world of plastic money, Indian style! Just remember: with great power, comes great responsibility.
I know, I know, this seems like a lot. But hey, if you managed to pack your life into suitcases and fly across continents, this is a cakewalk! Welcome back, and happy spending (responsibly, of course)!
I’m an NRI returning after a decade. How easy is it to get a credit card?
It depends on your financial documents, credit score in India (if any), and the type of card you’re applying for. Usually, having an account with the bank helps.
Are there any credit cards specially designed for NRIs?
Most credit cards cater to residents, but NRIs can apply based on their Indian income. Some banks offer NRI-specific accounts and services, which can facilitate the credit card process.
What’s the deal with annual fees?
Some cards waive off the annual fee if you spend a particular amount in the previous year. It’s always good to check with the bank.
Are international transactions smooth with these cards?
Most premium cards offer smooth international transactions, but it’s wise to check for any additional fees.
Can I transfer my credit score from the US to India?
Credit scores don’t transfer across countries. However, your credit history might be considered if you’re applying for a high-value loan or premium card.
Welcome back home, fellow NRI. Now, swipe right (or left) on your perfect credit card match!