The Novice Perspective: Choosing credit cards to fuel the travel passion

Shipra is my fiancée and the first of contributors at the blog. She has worked with one of the largest airline conglomerates in the world, and is now based in Mumbai. Shipra has lived, worked and travelled across 4 continents. We travel often enough, together and separately. These are her perspectives, as she gets used to the world of business and leisure travel and our hobby!

If some asked me this question a year ago, “When choosing a credit card, how would you decide which one to apply for?”, my answer would be I want a cash back card.  It’s no hassle as I get an instant return on my spending.

A year down the line that answer has changed. My choice of credit cards today is completely based on my spending habit and where I want to gain with that spending. In my earlier days, I always thought it’s best to keep 1 credit card, and that which has a zero fee and some kind of return value.

In the past, I have been satisfied with Citibank’s Indian Oil Visa credit card that allowed me to earn 2 points for every INR 100 spend and redeem it for fuel at Indian Oil outlets. I have also used Citibank’s Rewards card that allowed me to earn 10X points when shopping at apparel and department stores. I am girl and I have made good use of the reward points earned here.

However, in the last year I have learnt that some credit cards with an annual fee give a higher return value and it is worth paying for them. Since I am new to the world of managing credit cards when I was exploring I decided to keep it simple and look for a return value that would add fuel to  my love for travelling. Based on this, today I carry 2 credit cards in my wallet both paid ones.

  1. The Jet Airways American Express Platinum Credit Card: I paid an annual fee of INR 5000 for the first year and received 15,000 JP miles so the fee was already set off in my book. Additionally, I will receive a free one-way ticket code from Jet Airways which will help me travel for free on a one-way trip on Jet Airways. Now apart from the fact that it is expediting my JP miles earning, what I really like about this card is that it gives me access to AMEX Lounges in Delhi & Mumbai, apart from lounge access in many other Indian cities.
  2. The Citi Prestige Card:  This is the second card I decided to pay an annual fee of INR 20,000 for. The return has totally been worth it. This is a great lifestyle card and comes with an array of benefits, unlimited access to lounges across the world and availability of a free concierge that can assist me with my requests from time to time: whether it is organizing flowers for my mom for Mother’s Day or researching wedding photographers, the concierge is a real time saving element and a great value addition in this card. As for the annual fee, I was never worried about it because I can take INR 10,0000 worth welcome vouchers for the Taj or ITC and I get 10,0000 bonus airmiles that I can credit across 10 airlines, apart from more miles and status from Etihad and British Airways, which pays for the card by itself.

Lesson #5: When looking at credit cards, be open to picking the right one, not just the free one

What is your favourite travel credit card, and why?

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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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