My Credit Card Strategy 2014 update

In the beginning of the year, I wrote my credit card strategy for 2014. I’ve been meaning to give a mid-year update, but not been able to do so far. Anyhow, lets take a look now at how things are going, and what may be the plan ahead.

Here are the credit cards I already have, and my view on them.

  • Citibank PremierMiles Visa (Keep): This is my favourite credit card all around, and if you’ve poked around this blog, you would have noticed I love this product. I intend to keep it and use it as my primary card to book airline tickets and make use of all the special Citibank promotions that come 3-4 times a year, such as the International Spend promotion that concluded recently. In fact, I’ve gone out and recommended this card in the current edition of the Conde Nast Traveller as well.
  • Citibank Prestige (Keep): Like I wrote earlier, I’ve recently swapped my 2011 signed up Citibank PremierMiles MasterCard for the new Citibank Prestige. I intend to keep this card and use it as my primary card for all day to day expenses, and put all my international travel expenses on this card as well, since I can get about 8 airmiles for international spend that ways on an on-going basis. Also, Priority Pass for everyone in the family, that too unlimited use and various other perks.
  • ICICI Bank / Jet Airways co-branded Sapphiro cards (Keep): I have the card for a while now, and as a Jet Platinum member it comes to me free of cost. I intend to keep this card, specially since it also gives me access to the Altitude Lounges in Mumbai and Delhi airports. Also, I get to buy movie tickets as Buy One Get One free every month.
  • HDFC Bank/ JetPrivilege co-branded credit cards (?): I am still thinking about this one. Although the credit card comes free to me, the bank took 4 months to deliver my replacement credit card. Bad customer care experience, and they still haven’t posted my annual renewal miles. I might just replace it by the end of the year with the HDFC Diners Club Black.
  • American Express/ JetPrivilege co-branded credit card (Keep): In 2012, I paid INR 10,000 to sign-up for this card, in spite of the fact that , it would have come free to me as a Jet Platinum, or under the Wheel of Fortune contest. The reason was that only paid card holders would have gotten the mileage offered on sign-up (30000 miles under a special launch offer). I find it one of the best amongst the Jet Airways mileage earning lot, and I keep it also because of the access to the Amex lounges in Mumbai and Delhi. However, I don’t pay a fee anymore (as a JP Platinum), and hence I did not get the renewal miles this year.
  • SBI Card/Air India co-branded credit card (Keep): This is my first year with this credit card, and I’ve already paid up the fees. I got a status match to Air India Gold, and I am now a Star Alliance Gold by virtue of this. I’ve also hit all the milestones on this card very recently, and would only use this card to book Air India tickets for the rest of the year.
  • American Express Platinum Charge Card (Cancel): Like I’ve written earlier, I signed up for this card when American Express offered INR 40,000 worth of vouchers with Taj Hotels for signup. However, the vouchers never came, the services were bad, and I’ve cancelled the card ever since. They also gave me grief while letting me go, having taken over two weeks to refund my card fees.

New Cards I might look at during the rest of this year:

  • Jet Airways IndusInd Bank Odyssey Credit Card (applied): I’ve already applied for the new Jet Airways co-branded card with IndusInd Bank. Apart from the usual sign-on JP Miles bonus and free Jet Airways ticket, I also get another 20000 JPMiles if I manage to spend INR 1,25,000 within the first 100 days of getting the card. Also, it offers access to the Altitude Lounges in Mumbai and Delhi. Then, there is also the factor of earning more miles over the weekend, and every fifth transaction getting a bonus of 300 JP Miles.
  • HDFC Diners Club Black: I’ve been pondering on this card for a while now. I love earning some American Airline Miles or some Hyatt Points while being in India, and Diners Club seems to be the only card offering those. Fees is INR 20,000 per annum, but if you spend INR 40,000 on the card it is reversed. Comes with a signup bonus of 20,000 points which can be converted to Hyatt/Marriott points or airline miles with AA, DL, Virgin Atlantic and many others.

Cards that I am still not looking to book:

  • Lufthansa Miles & More Axis Bank Credit Card: Nah. I don’t find accumulating Lufthansa Miles as a great proposition for the money I spend, and I guess only people who are very well entrenched with Lufthansa must be taking this card, given the reduced award availability on LH in the past months.

I’d love to hear your reactions and strategies in the comments section as well. So, do drop me a line around here.


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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Hi Ajay,

    I added the Citi, IndusInd and SBI cards after reading this blog.

    What is your take on HDFC Black? As of this blog, you were still pondering. Made up your mind yet?

  2. vikasr, missing out on the 20k bonus on meeting the spending target is downer! Can you give a idea of what kind of annual promos they run

  3. I have been using the HDFC Diners Black card for a year now. The card is still not accepted at many establishments but the best part is you can get AA or Hyatt points. They also have promotions once a year or so. Good card overall.

    Keep in mind that if you end up spending the Rs. 40000 in the first 3 months then you do not get the 20000 point bonus.

  4. @Ashwin : Any references for the lifetime free HDFC Diners Rewardz? I had an eye on it, but i found it chargeable everywhere, and i would have to cancel my existing HDFC cc for it.

  5. Hi AJ,

    I agree with your comments. One card worth looking is HDFC Diners Rewardz. currently it is life time free and has unlimited access to lounges in India so worth applyin for as especially Mastercard has cut back on lounge access in India and Visa is only 8 per quarter. This is useful for folks who do not have tier status say like JP Gold or Platinum.

    Thanks for sharing these valuable nuggets, as always.

  6. Dear Ajay,

    Glad that you shared this very personal info on Credit Cards. This subject has always been confusing and striking the correct balance has always been so complication.

    I have always limited myself to 3 Cards –
    1) Amex : Platinum Charge Card : Gives me sense of Security
    2) Visa : Citi Prestige : Best Point Program in terms of Miles
    3) Mastercard : Jet HDFC World Credit Card : Best Value for Money

    I must confess that I have this unconditional love for Amex, and am a member since 2001. Ultima came in 2 years back (replaced by Citi Prestige) for me & so did JET HDFC.

    I had gone up to 6 Cards last year, but couldn’t manage. Idea is to built up points with limited hassle. I also wanted to replace Amex Jet with Jet HDFC, but would have lost MasterCard here.

    Now I am seriously getting tempted with this HDFC Diner’s Club Card, though my inability to trust anyone outside Amex is holding me back.

    Quite disappointed to know that you were let down badly by Amex. I have been with them since 2001, started my Journey with their Green Credit Card at a very young age. Believe me, they have never let me down. Their Reward Program though is horrible!

    I have no experience with ICICI or Axis, though my experience with IndusInd was horrible. Had to surrender my Lufthana Miles & More Signature Credit Card within a year of the Account coming to IndusInd from Deutsche Bank.

    Do make suggestions!!

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