When it comes to mileage transfer, credit card issuers in India have been pretty saucy about how they go about the changes. About a decade ago, Citibank overnight killed their golden goose, the Jet Airways co-brand card, and then a few months later, devalued the PremierMiles Card. A few years later, HDFC Bank pulled the transfer options on the then-fledgling Diners Club Black card programme overnight. They’ve tweaked their card programme a lot over the years since.
There is a new sheriff in town every few years, trying to woo the small subset of credit card users in India who are interested in miles transfers. They lure them like the pied piper, and then somewhere down the road, they realise the expense account they are walking into.
Axis Bank Credit Cards, the newest sheriff in town, added mileage transfer partners in August 2022 and added more partners in 2023, making the list of partners 19 in total.
Big changes are coming to Axis Bank’s policy for miles transfers.
As we hit the one-year mark of Axis Bank introducing mileage transfer partners, they’ve had a hero product in Axis Magnus, which offered the ability to get 25,000 bonus points per month on the spends of INR 1 Lakh. Coupled with the generous ratio (5 EDGE Rewards to 4 miles for the HNI Credit Cards) and unlimited transfer of points out, clearly, Axis Bank was sitting on a mammoth pool of points transfer requests over the past year. So, on the first anniversary of the introduced mileage transfer feature, Axis Bank will institute new limits on the transfers and change the ratio as well.
Axis Bank has now put out a document which outlines major changes to their Mileage Transfer Programme on an overall basis. These changes go live on September 1, 2023, so there is a full 40 days or so to get your money’s worth if any action needs to be taken at your end.
Capping introduced on Axis EDGE Rewards conversion to miles transfer
Axis Bank has introduced a cap, which was previously not there, on converting EDGE Rewards into miles/points in any of their 19 partner programmes. Effective September 1, 2023, the limit of total EDGE Rewards points (Across all your credit cards that accrue EDGE Rewards with Axis Bank) that can be converted into miles/points will be 500K per calendar year. As of 2023, September 1 to December 31, 2023, will count for the 500K limit. This will include points across your debit cards and your credit cards with Axis Bank.
- Customer Impact: Honestly, the customer impact here will depend on the customer’s size. Assuming an honest customer using the card as intended, 500K would perhaps be high north of how many points they’d earn in any given year. Let us not include the bad actors and churners in this mix who might have caused a deep dive in the first place.
- Bank Impact: Miles cost $$, and from an Indian perspective, they are expensive. Axis Bank is no Chase or Amex to get the absolute best price by putting up a billion dollars to support an airline during the crisis and buying miles on the cheap against the money. Axis Bank has put an upper cap on how much they’d get exposed.
Axis Bank introduces caps on loyalty IDs that can be linked.
For each airline/hotel transfer partner, customers can only link one partner program loyalty ID for each partner at a given time. If you intend to link another ID, the earlier linked ID will get delinked by default. A cooling period of 60 days has been introduced before you can change the linked partner ID on any programme once you’ve inserted one there.
- Customer Impact: Yet again, this is more to do with keeping the bad actors in check. Most customers would individually have only one account with a mileage programme/hotel loyalty programme anyway. This would help keep a tab and isolate those selling their EDGE Rewards to brokers or some such folks by identifying loopholes in the Axis Bank Mileage Transfer process. For the normal folk, this should not matter.
- Bank Impact: The bank is, yet again, protecting itself from all the misuse of its platform. Somewhere, an auditor or corporate security sounded the alarm for Axis Bank to have invested in fixing their IT solution and making this work.
Transfer Ratios will change in September 2023
The sweet spot of being an Axis Bank HNI credit card holder was that the bank offered 5 ER points to 4 Points in the receiving programme. Effective September 1, 2023, this will change as follows:
- Burgundy Private Credit Card will continue to get a 5 ER:4 Miles/Points Transfer Ratio across all 19 partners
- Magnus and Reserve EDGE Rewards will convert as a 5 ER:2 Miles/Points Transfer Ratio across all 19 partners
- Select and Privilege EDGE Rewards will convert as under:
- Vistara, ITC, Spicejet, AirAsia will convert as 5 ER: 1 Mile/Point Transfer Ratio
- All over transfer partners will convert as 10 ER: 1 Mile/Point Transfer Ratio
- Other Eligible Cards apart from the ones listed above (which earn EDGE Rewards) will convert
- Vistara, ITC, Spicejet, AirAsia will convert as 10 ER: 1 Mile/Point Transfer Ratio
- All over transfer partners will convert as 20 ER: 1 Mile/Point Transfer Ratio
- Customer Impact: The Reserve was a high-end credit card focused on Golf Benefits. However, the EDGE Rewards product construct was not bad either, offering 15 ER/INR 200 spent domestically and 30 ER/INR 200 spent abroad. Many Axis Bank Credit Card enthusiasts took the card because multiple cards were allowed on the Axis Bank platform, and once you got in the system via another card, the screening was not too high. I imagine many customers would no longer have a use case for the card.
- Bank Impact: The bank got tired of the virality of its attractive credit card ratio and decided to pull the plug on its generosity. In this, they are at the same place as the others before them, once bitten, twice shy. They figured it would be great to cut this up to size before this further goes out of hand.
What to do?
Honestly, your call. But if you are in the market for a vacation/trip today or in the coming years, you should transfer as many points as you can into programmes of your choice in the coming days. I will be putting out some recommendations in the coming days around it. Transfer points by August 31, 2023, if you can use them in the next couple of years.
While this is all from the same place of fixing issues concerning mileage transfers and putting the house in order in one go, some changes are purely to weed out bad actors (inability to change the linked transfer partners) and put a cap on transfers. Others are purely a gut punch because someone in Axis Bank was naive enough to think that the 5:4 transfer ratio would not be noticed. It was indeed a major rallying point for sales of their credit cards lately. The change to the transfer ratio is sure a devaluation, but at least it came with a notice period. There will be no death by a thousand paper cuts, just one-time decision-making (which will be implemented this time, not pulled back).
Axis Bank has started to roll out many changes to its credit card products. A main one of interest to LFAL readers would be the cap to be introduced on EDGE Rewards conversion to miles/points of 500K points per annum across all EDGE Rewards cards linked to a customer ID (including Reserve, Magnus, etc.). Another one of importance is that Axis Bank will change the reward transfer ratios from 5:4 to 5:2 on the Reserve/Magnus. Other cards have an even worse-off ratio. Everything goes live on September 1, 2023.
What do you think of the changes to Axis Bank’s transfer ratios and restructuring of EDGE Rewards?
Liked our articles and our efforts? Please pay an amount you are comfortable with; an amount you believe is the fair price for the content you have consumed. Please enter an amount in the box below and click on the button to pay; you can use Netbanking, Debit/Credit Cards, UPI, QR codes, or any Wallet to pay. Every contribution helps cover the cost of the content generated for your benefit.
(Important: to receive confirmation and details of your transaction, please enter a valid email address in the pop-up form that will appear after you click the ‘Pay Now’ button. For international transactions, use Paypal to process the transaction.)
We are not putting our articles behind any paywall where you are asked to pay before you read an article. We are asking you to pay after you have read the article if you are satisfied with the quality and our efforts.