SBI Air India Card goes from Best to Worse to Worst now!

Long long time ago, I remember having recommended the Air India SBI Credit Card as one of the best in the market. And why not? You could earn 4 AI miles for normal spends and 20 AI miles for spending on Air India. Not just that, on spending of INR 5 lakhs, you would get Gold Status on Air India which is usable across Star Alliance airlines. Heck you could even status match from a competing airline.

Cut to 2015 & 2016, and multiple changes were made, which made this not a good card to hold but a bad one. First, they limited the process of conversion of miles to AI. Hey, shouldn’t there have been an auto sweep in the first place? Then, they doubled the requirement to get the status & bonus points to INR 10 Lakhs. Then, they devalued it further by removing the opportunity to earn status with the card spend. I cancelled my card earlier this year because it was no longer worth my wallet.


How do you add further insult to the injury? This is the newest email they sent everyone, which will devalue earning with Air India itself as well:

Dear Air India SBI Signature Cardholder,
We are pleased to add more miles to your Air India SBI Signature Card – Reward Program. Currently, you earn 20 reward points for every Rs. 100 spent on Air India tickets booked through, Air India booking offices, Air India mobile app and Air India call centres.

Effective 10th May 2017, the accelerated reward program on purchase of Air India tickets will be upgraded as under:
You can now earn 30 Reward Points for every Rs. 100 spent on Air India tickets booked through, Air India mobile app, when ticket is booked for self; 10 Reward Points for every Rs. 100 spent when ticket is booked for others.

You continue to earn:

  • 4 Reward Points for every Rs. 100 spent on regular spends.
  • Upto 1 lakh bonus Reward Points ever year on achieving annual retail spend milestones.
  • 5000 Reward Points as anniversary gift every year.
  • Convert your Reward Points into Air India Air Miles. 1 Reward Point = 1 Air India Air Mile
  • Redeem your Reward Points for exciting gifts and vouchers from SBI Card Rewards Catalogue.

Note: You will earn 10 Reward Points for every Rs. 100 spent on Air India tickets for self or others, booked through Air India booking offices or Air India call centres.
This communication will supersede the Air India SBI Signature Card – Reward Program benefits mentioned in all previous communications, including card application, card welcome kit, website and any other printed or digital media. T&C Apply.
Warm Regards
SBI Card

Alright then. Air India just added employment for their people. Henceforth this is how it works:

  • Book tickets for self on digital channels, get 30 AI Miles/INR 100 spent.
  • Book tickets for others on digital channels, get 10 AI Miles/INR 100 spent.
  • Book tickets on human channels such as office and call centre, get 10 AI Miles/INR 100 Spent.


I am not a frequent Air India traveller, so I did not have a hard time cancelling this card. However I knew of others who still saw value with Air India given their travel patterns and used this card often. I don’t see how this card stays relevant to them anymore, given other cards such as HDFC Bank Diners Black give 33% points value, and Jet HDFC Diners Black gives 24% JPMiles.

Would you continue to hold the SBI AI Signature Card still? Do I miss something in the equation about how it continues to be useful? Do share your thoughts below.

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 folks
    I have been holding this card right from its release but hardly used it once or twice but from yesterday this has become my primary card reasons
    1)All my jet airways cards have become useless now
    2) both CITI prestigie and Amex are refusing to transfer points to air india
    3) so only flight who issues award tickets to domestic flight is airindia and the only card who gives fr points is Sbi
    Irony of life

  2. i am having 40000 rewards points in SBI air india card ? Where I can use this points which gives me best benefits to me ?

  3. How do I upgrade my Tier status initially when i get my card?
    I spend like 4Lakh per month, So its quick to earn points but i wanted to know how do i upgrade status and do i need to request every time to convert my points from SBI to Air India?

    Please someone answer me these.

    Thank you.

  4. But AJ, for people spending on or around rs. 5 lacs pa, total points come to 40,000 (incl 20,000 bonus) which means 8 miles per rs. 100 spent. Not bad i think, not many cards give that. Any thoughts? But may not be good for higher spenders though.

  5. Hi,

    I did not understand your statement “HDFC Bank Diners Black give 33% points value, and Jet HDFC Diners Black gives 24% JPMiles.” Would be great if you could elaborate.

    • @Ankur, HDFC Diners Black gives you 50 points/INR 150 spent on 10x partners such as goibibo. that makes it much better to book via Goibibo than with AI.

      • Ajay,

        Thanks for clarifying. I looked at it in more detail. This 10x offer is the best I have seen so far. I have a question though. I have 4 family members enrolled with JP. Is it possible to convert reward points to JP miles for any of them or just the card holder? I am just trying to see what way I can book reward flights for all of us using Diners black card. Please respond if you know the way to do this.

  6. Hi AJ

    Can you please suggest any other card to get this as a replacement from SBI. I wanna keep my hefty credit line preserved!

  7. I concur on all the points, the worst card to have in my wallet. I only use with it for retail / online purchases when SBI Card runs (discount / CB) promotions during festival season and the Annual Fee pays itself back. I also get a annual 5000 miles as pittance.
    I am a sporadic AI flyer.

    • For that, I use the SBI SimplyCLICK Card. ₹500 + Tax is the annual Fee. One discounted shopping and that money is worth spent. No other SBI Card is gives better ROI.

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