I am a credit card freak. I often do research on credit cards and keep an eye on the best available credit cards in India.
Many people avoid credit cards because they feel that they will spend more if they start using one. But you will be amazed by the money saving potential and benefits that some credit cards offer.
I am sure after reading this article you would be convinced of the need to apply for atleast one of the mentioned credit cards.
Most Important Point First: Always apply for a credit card directly from the bank website. Don’t apply from the online market place (XYZ-Bazaar) or telecaller, they will keep calling you to sell their other products.
Your financial information and documents are not safe with them.
I will help you choose the right card for your needs. You can ask your questions in the comments.
I interact with a lot of people, who ask me for advice on applying for a credit card.
- The first category is first time applicants, who need an all-rounder credit card because either they have just started a new job or are working in a government organization.
- The second category of people who want to apply for a second credit card, to avail benefits on shopping, fuel and travel.
- The third and last category of people want to apply for premium credit cards even if that means annual fees of 5000 rupees or more.
Then Apply for 3 Credit Cards
- Standard Chartered Manhattan for 5% cashback on grocery stores
- Amex Membership Reward for bonus points, loading money to Paytm and redeeming points for Amazon vouchers & hotel vouchers
- Amex Travel Platinum for Travel benefits
For fuel benefits, go with SC Super Value Titanium (5% cashback)
Continue reading the article until the end.
Best Lifetime Free Credit Card in India 2021
#1. Standard Chartered Platinum Rewards Credit Card
(Note: Application link may say joining fees of Rs. 250 but that will be waived off when you use your credit card within first 90 days – Actually it’s ZERO Annual fees but they charge so that you use the card after approval)
Personally, my favourite credit card is Standard Chartered Manhattan Credit Card for monthly grocery shopping (Reviewed at #3) but Platinum is best if you are applying for the first time and looking for a No Annual Fees credit card for life.
If you already have your first credit card from any bank, then skip to the Review of Manhattan Credit Card.
You have a high chance of approval of Platinum card if you are a salaried employee. You can request for an upgrade to Manhattan card whenever you need in the future (approval based on your salary & credit card usage)
Salaried people who want to own all rounder credit card.
(Approval rate is good if you have a salary of Rs. 25,000 per month from Private or Government job)
- Easy approval for salaried people
- Get an additional 1000 rewards points if you transact within 60 days
- Bonus 500 points for registering for online banking
- 20% cashback on Uber rides
- 5 points on spending 150 rupees on dining
- 5 points on spending 150 on fuel
- 1 reward points on spending 150 on any other category
- Additional discounts & offers from Ola, Uber, Grofers, Yatra, that keep on changing with time
…but there are some more choices for you.
Annual fees or joining fees
- 250 joining fees but waived off with the first transaction within 90 days
- Next year fees waived off when you spend Rs. 30,000 in the first year
Wait for the approval of your Platinum card and apply for your second credit card after 6 months.
Best Credit Card For Salaried Person in 2021
#2. Standard Chartered Manhattan Credit Card
As you can see, I got Standard Chartered Manhattan card approved in 2007.
It was my all time favourite card. I spent almost 90% of my expenses until I got approved for premium credit cards like Amex Platinum Travel and HDFC Regalia.
You can save a lot of money through cashback and reward points using Manhattan credit card.
This is the only card that offers 5% cash back on your grocery spends on supermarkets
Annual fee: Rs. 999 (but you can get it waived off with 1.2L annual spending)
Don’t worry about the annual fees, I get that waived off every year. It’s the Best credit card for Salaried people if can spend more than 1.2L per year.
- 5% cash back on credit card expenditure at supermarkets & department stores
- 3x rewards when you use your credit card anywhere
- You can earn up to Rs. 500 as cashback every month and Rs. 150 per transaction.
You can easily earn 6000 rupees every year (3000 in cashback and 3000 after redeeming points).
Best Credit Card for Fuel and Utility Bills 2021
You can get fuel benefits on following credit cards
- Citi IOC Credit Card
- SC Titanium Card
- ICICI HPCL Coral Card
- HDFC Bharat CashBack
- SBI BPCL
- RBL Platinum Maxima
#3. Standard Chartered Super Value Titanium
I am picking SC Titanium because you would get 5% cashback on fuel and utility payments.
Suitable card, if you are a first-time credit card applicant and most of your monthly expenses are on fuel, phone and utility bills.
Annual Fees – 750 rupees (Waived off if you spend 60,000 in the first year)
First-year fees can also be waived off when you use the card within 90 days of approval.
You should apply for this credit card if your monthly expense is at least 5,000 rupees (12*5K = 60K per year).
Benefits of SVT Credit Card
- 5% cashback on fuels
- 5% cashback on phone bills
- 5% cashback on utility bills
#4. Citibank IOC Fuel Credit Card
Citibank has collaboration with Indian Oil Petrol pumps. You can earn Turbo points when you pay using IOC credit card on Indian Oil outlets.
Not at all useful if you refill the fuel tank from HP or Bharat petrol pumps.
Annual Fees – Rs. 1000 (Waived off when you spend 30,000 per year)
Benefits of Citibank IOC Card
- 4 Turbo Points on spending Rs. 150 on Indian Oil Pumps
- 2 Turbo points on spending in Supermarkets
- 1 Turbo points on spending 150 elsewhere
- 1% fuel surcharge waiver
- 1 Turbo Point = 1 Rs. Fuel
Best Credit Card For Online Shopping in 2021
Almost all credit cards and banks keep offering some discounts on online shopping. But this is the list of the credit cards which are designed to get big offers and discounts online.
- ICICI Amazon Pay Credit Card
- SBI SimilyClick Credit Card
- SBI SimplySave Credit Card
- Amex Rewards Membership Card
- Standard Chartered Manhattan
- Standard Chartered Ultimate
- HDFC Diner Black
- HDFC Moneyback
#5. ICICI Amazon Pay Credit Card
ICICI Amazon Pay credit card made the top of the list in our collection of online shopping credit cards. Amazon launched this credit card in 2018 to give extra benefits to Prime customers.
Application Process – The problem is that you can not apply directly for this credit card. You would see an invite inside your Amazon Mobile App and receive an email from Amazon.
Make sure you add your existing ICICI credit card into Amazon account to get the invite. If you don’t have ICICI credit card then apply for lifetime free Platinum Credit Card.
Annual Fees – NIL
Benefits of Amazon Pay Credit Card
- 5% cash back on Amazon.in for Amazon Prime customers
- 3% cash back on Amazon.in for non-prime customers
- 2% cash back when paying to merchants using this card on Amazon Pay as a payment method
- 1% cash back on all other payments
- 1% fuel surcharge waiver
#6. American Express Membership Rewards® Credit Card
American Express is the only credit card that gives rewards on adding money to wallets like Paytm, Amazon Pay and Freecharge. I earn 1,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points every month by doing 4 transactions of 1000 rupees.
Amex degraded the benefits of their Gold charge card when they launched Membership Rewards Card in 2018. I dropped Amex Gold card from our recommendation list.
Annual fee: First Year Rs. 1000 (Second year onwards Rs. 4500)
Note: Annual fees is waived off when you apply using the below link, also earn 2000 bonus points.
Special Application Link with Referral Bonus for American Express Membership Card
- 2000 referral bonus points when you apply using the above link.
- 1000 Bonus points for using your Card 4 times every month.
- Earn 1 MR point on Rs.50 spent on all spends except for spending
Credit Card Expert Tip
- Load 4000 rupees into your Paytm, Freecharge and AmazonPay wallet to earn 1000 bonus points (worth Rs. 400)
- Pay using wallets wherever possible on the online shopping
- You would save the money twice if you find a deal with wallets.
- No rewards on Fuel, Insurance, Utilities and Cash Transactions.
I applied for this card and got approved in 2016. I am loving the benefits so far.
(Best, if you already have any other cashback credit card. Use it for earning 1000 bonus points worth 400 rupees every month)
#7. SBI Simply Click Credit Card
It’s hard to get the approval of SBI Credit cards. But If you get your salary in SBI bank account then approval becomes easy.
Simply click card gives you direct 10x rewards when shopping on Amazon, Flipkart, Makemytrip, Cleartrip and many more vendors.
Annual fee: 499 (waived off by spending 100,000 in one year)
Bonus: Rs 500 voucher from Amazon
Not for first-time applicants – You should have an excellent credit history for getting the approval of this card
- 10X rewards on online spends – Amazon / BookMyShow / Cleartrip / Foodpanda / FabFurnish / Lenskart / OLA / Zoomcar
- Earn 5X rewards on all other online shopping
- A welcome e-gift voucher worth Rs 500 from Amazon
- 1% fuel surcharge waiver (on 500+ transaction amount)
Cleartrip e-voucher worth Rs.2,000 on annual online spends of Rs. 1 Lakh (one more 2000 e-voucher on another 1Lakh milestone)
#8. Citi Bank Cashback Credit Card
Best for you if you watch movies and pay your bills online.
Annual fee: Rs.500
I hate their application process because it’s very difficult to fill up details in the online form. I don’t know why don’t they make the application easy like other banks.
- 5% cash back on movie tickets
- 5% cash back on telephone bill payments
- 5% cash back on Utility Bill Payments
- 0.5% Cash Back on all other spends
- You must have excellent Credit History before applying.
- 80% Citibank card applications decline because people do not have a credit history.
- The online form is complex and lengthy, be patient and fill the information.
#9. ICICI Instant Platinum Card
Apply for ICICI Platinum card in case you get denied for Standard Chartered Platinum.
It is not easy to get your first credit card in India. ICICI bank offers you instant credit card against fixed deposit if you have a saving account with ICICI bank. You can simply log on to ICICI online banking and apply for the card.
If you worry for your CIBIL score just because you want to apply for a credit card, you must try ICICI Instant Platinum Credit Card.
Annual fee: 199 rupees (waiver on spending Rs. 2000 within 60 days of approval)
Who should apply?
ICICI credit card is a good option for Students, Housewives and Non-Salary people if they want to apply for credit card against a Fixed Deposit.
- 2 payback points for every Rs. 100 spent
- 1 payback point for every 100 rupees on insurance & utilities
- Get ₹ 100 off on movie tickets twice a month.
- 1% fuel surcharge waiver can be availed on fuel transaction of maximum ₹ 4,000 at HPCL pumps.
ICICI bank will offer you a credit limit based on the amount you keep in the fixed deposit. You will earn regular interest on your fixed deposit. The bank just wants to secure itself against the risk of fraud by the first-time credit card user.
#10. HDFC Moneyback Credit Card
I am listing money back credit card from HDFC because it’s the basic credit card that you can apply as a first-time applicant.
Let me quickly tell you the benefits
- 4 reward points per Rs 150 for online shopping
- 2 reward points per Rs 150 for elsewhere
- 1% fuel surcharge waived off (above 400 rupees transaction)
The only reason for adding this credit card in the best credit list is the approval rate. You can get the card approved against the Fixed deposit or if you have a salary more than 25,000 per month.
#11. Axis Buzz Credit card
If you are existing customer of Axis bank then get this card for online shopping. Low annual fees and great benefits on Flipkart.
Annual Fees – 750 Rupees
- 10% instant discount on Flipkart from 1 to 5th of every month
- 5% instant discount on Flipkart from 6 to 31st of every month
- 2 axis eDGE reward points on every Rs 200 spent
- 6 axis eDGE reward points on online shopping
- make 3 transactions and get Flipkart voucher worth Rs 1000 within first 45 days of card setup
#12. IndusInd Iconia
IndusInd has only one credit card worth keeping. You can check with the bank to reduce the fees based on your relationship.
Annual Fees – One time fees of Rs. 10,000 (you can negotiate)
- 2 Reward Points for every Rs. 100 spent on weekends
- 1.5 reward points for every Rs. 100 spent on weekdays
- 1% Fuel surcharge waiver
- 2 complimentary lounge access per quarter
- 200 off on movie tickets per month on BookMyShow
#13. RBL Platinum Maxima Credit Card
RBL bank also offers good discounts on online shopping.
Annual Fees – Rs. 2000
- 10 Reward Points for every Rs.100 (dining, entertainment, utility bill payments, fuel and international)
- 2 Reward Points for every Rs.100 spent elsewhere
- free movie ticket free up to Rs. 200 from BookMyShow
- 2 complimentary visits every calendar quarter at domestic lounges
Best Credit Card For Travel Benefits in India 2021
Now I am listing premium & super-premium credit cards which are not easy to get approved without having a great CIBIL score and credit history.
#15. Citibank Premiermiles Card
There are two best credit cards for travel – Citibank PremierMiles and Amex Platinum Travel. You can not go wrong with either. Apply for both if you can afford the annual charges. You can redeem miles for any partner airline, means you don’t have to stick with a single airline.
Best for people who have 2-3L of annual spend on travel.
Annual fee: Rs.3,000
- Get 10000 Miles on activation.
- Earn 10 Miles for every 100 spent on airlines.
- Earn 10 Miles per Rs.100 spent with online partner merchants.
- Earn 4 Miles for every 100 of all other spends
Note: 100 Miles = Rs. 45 with preferred partners (4.5% worth benefits)
#16. American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card
American Express Platinum Travel Card offers great benefits for frequent travelers (like vouchers from Indigo and Taj)
Annual fee: First Year Rs. 3500 (Second year onwards 5,000 Rs.)
- Welcome gift of 5,000 Milestone Bonus Membership Rewards Points redeemable for Spicejet Vouchers worth Rs. 4000.
- Spend Rs. 1.90 lacs in a year and get Spicejet Vouchers worth more than Rs. 7,700.
- Spend Rs. 4 lacs in a year to get Spicejet Vouchers worth more than Rs. 11,800. Also, get a voucher worth Rs. 10,000 from the Taj Group.
- 1 complimentary visit to domestic lounges in India
Go for this credit card if your annual expenses are more than 2 lakh.
#17. ICICI JetAirways Saphiro Credit Card
ICICI has two variants of Saphiro Credit Card, you should get JetAirways Saphiro if you travel frequently by Jet Airways.
Annual Fees: Rs. 5000
- 12,500 JP bonus miles
- Jet Airways Economy Class base fare waived off domestic air ticket
- 0 JPMiles/₹100 spent on the card
- 5% discount on base fare when the ticket is booked directly from JetAirways
- dedicated check-in for select domestic flights of Jet Airways
- Complimentary Excess Baggage Allowance of 10 Kgs in Première and 5 Kgs in Economy
- 1% fuel surcharge waived off
- 4 complimentary rounds/ lessons of golf every month
- Buy one ticket and get up to Rs 500 off on the second ticket, twice every month, through BookMyShow
- 2 international airport lounge visits and 2 spa sessions at selected airports in India every year, through complimentary DragonPass membership
#18. Kotal Royal Signature Credit Card
Kotak came up with a premium card that has low annual fees yet powerful to be used for travel.
Annual Fees – Rs. 999 only
- 4X reward points on every Rs. 150 spent on Hotels | Restaurants | Travel Agencies & Tour Operators | Package Tour Operators | Airlines and Air Carriers | International
- 2X rewards elsewhere
- 2 Complimentary access to Airport Lounges every quarter in India
- Fuel surcharge waiver on transactions above Rs. 500
- Railway surcharge waiver for transactions on www.irctc.co.in
Premium Credit Cards in India 2021
#19. HDFC Regalia Credit Card
Regalia was super premium credit card a few years back but HDFC approved Regalia for each & every customer. Last year they degraded the benefits of Regalia but it still falls under the premium credit card category.
Annual Fees – Rs. 2500
- 4 Reward Points on every Rs. 150 spent
- 2% Foreign Currency Mark-up Fee
- 12 complimentary domestic lounge access per year
- 15 lakhs medical insurance for international travel
#20. SBI Prime Credit Card
Watch this video review.
Annual Fees – Rs. 2999
- 20 Reward Points per Rs. 100 spent on standing instructions of Utility Bills payments
- 15 Reward Points per Rs. 100 spent on BigBasket
- 10 Reward Points per Rs.100 spent on Dining, Groceries, Departmental stores and Movies
- 2 Reward Points per Rs. 100 on all other retail spends
- 1% fuel surcharge at any petrol pump
- 4 complimentary visits per year to International Priority Pass Lounges
- 8 complimentary visits per year to Domestic VISA/Mastercard Lounges
- Get Pizza Hut e-Voucher worth Rs. 1,000 on achieving spends of Rs. 50,000 in a calendar quarter
- E-Gift Voucher worth Rs. 7,000 from Yatra.com/Pantaloons on achieving annual spends of Rs. 5 Lakhs
#21. Yesbank Preferred Credit Card
The reward ratio of yes bank preferred card is very good. The free lounge access (domestic and international) makes the annual fees worth for the credit card.
Annual Fees – Rs. 2500
- 8 Reward Points on every INR 100 Retail Spends
- 1.75% Foreign Currency Markup
- 1% fuel surcharge at any petrol pump
- Domestic Lounge access (3 visits per quarter)
- 4 complimentary international lounge access through priority pass
Super Premium Credit Cards in India
#22. HDFC Diner Black Credit Card
This is the super premium credit card in India that you must have in your pocket. You would get a huge 33% cashback when you spend on their 10x partners.
For rest of the spending you would get 3.3% cashback worth of rewards.
Annual Fees – Rs. 10,000 (second year onwards Rs. 5000)
- 5 Reward Points for every Rs. 150
- 2% Foreign Currency Mark-up Fee
- Air Accident Cover of INR 1 Crore
- Emergency Medical Expenses Cover of up to INR 25 Lakh
- Travel Insurance Cover of up to INR 50,000 on baggage delay/loss
- Unlimited Airport lounge access to 700+ Lounges in India and worldwide
- 6 Complimentary Golf games (Green fee waiver) per quarter
#23. SBI Signature Credit Card (Elite)
SBI Signature Card comes with a bunch of offers from the online shopping portals with decent bonus reward points.
Annual fee: Rs. 4999 (+Welcome Gifts worth 4,999)
- 10 points per Rs.100 spent on Dining, Departmental stores, Grocery & International Spends
- 2 points per Rs.100 spent on others.
- Earn 10,000 bonus Reward Points on achieving annual spends of Rs. 2 lakhs, 3 lakhs and 4 lakhs
- Earn 20,000 bonus Reward Points on crossing annual spends of Rs. 5 lakhs.
- 1 Reward Point = Rs. 0.25.
#24. Standard Chartered Ultimate Credit Card
I applied for this credit card the moment it was launched in 2018. Got the cashback of 10,000 after booking my tickets from MakeMyTrip, that covered the cost of annual fees for 2 years.
Annual Fees – Rs. 5000
- 10,000 cashback on tickets booked through MakeMyTrip (One time benefit)
- 5 reward points on every INR 150 spent
- 5% cashback on duty free outlets, max 1000 per month
- 2% foreign currency markup
- 2 complimentary golf games per month
- 1 complimentary lounge access per month
#25. Yesbank Exclusive Preferred Credit Card
This is a high-end card from YesBank for their premium customers.
Annual Fees – Rs. 10,000
- A welcome privilege of 50000 Reward Points
- 10 Reward Points on every INR 100 Retail Spends
- Complimentary TAJ InnerCircle Epicure Membership
- Unlimited Complimentary Lounge Visits through Priority Pass
- One complimentary Golf Lesson every month
- 1.75% forex markup
#26. ICICI Emerald Credit Card
ICICI launched their high-end super-premium credit card in Jan 2019.
Annual Fees – Rs. 12,000
- 4 PAYBACK Points on every ₹100 spent
- Unlimited Lounge Access, Unlimited Spa Access at Airports
- Vouchers from Trident and Da Milano
- Zero Cancellation Charges for Travel
- 1.5% Forex Markup Fee
This qualifies for a must-to-have card for frequent travellers.
Who is the winner?
I trust and love Standard Chartered Manhattan card which is my favorite for last 8 years. I make more than 20,000 cashback and get annual fees waived off every year.
If you are first time applicant and looking for life time free card, then apply for Standard Chartered Platinum Credit Card.
(No brainer that it’s best reward credit card without any fees. Good for shopping and regular expenses)
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.