Credit Card Reward Points & Cash Back Comparision – Unearthed

Do you know which is the best credit card in India in terms of rewards points which you can redeem at different categories ? Have you ever wondered how different or close these credit card reward points are ? Let me take an example!

Ever thought the difference between how does 5X rewards from Standard Chartered differ from 10X rewards from Amex, ever wondered whether taking a 5% cash back is better than going for 10X rewards. Ever thought how can you save in excess of 16K per annum only by having a few cards in your wallet, well continue reading.

credit cards reward points in India

Every credit card company offers rewards in the form of Cashback / Reward Points to its customers. These rewards are funded by what is called as interchange. Interchange is transaction fees charged by the bank from the merchant. Its usually 2 – 3 % of every transaction. This is the reason, why some merchants ask an excess 2% if you tell them you would be swiping your card instead of paying them in cash (Read some must know points about your credit card).  Cash is the preferred mode for another reason and that is to save taxes, as every credit card transaction goes into the books of the merchant, but that’s a separate discussion and we’ll leave it to some other day.

A few disclaimers before I proceed. This article is about rewards points and how you can save maximum through credit cards. “A rupee earned is a rupee that earned 6 percent” – So lets save some money for all of you. Again the entire article has been based on my experience and research, so am open to suggestions and feedback. Also I haven’t included Airlines spend, as I still don’t fully understand the Points to Miles conversion for different Airlines.

Following are some of the points that I hope the readers will have a much better understanding of, by the end of the article.

  • Comparing Credit cards by their rewards proposition – If you have multiple credit cards, how to figure which one has a better reward structure?
  • Accelerated Rewards: Most of the credit cards have an accelerated reward structure. So how should that impact your spending pattern so as to maximize the rewards?
  • Wallet of Credit cards that one should own – Using the methodology explained above, this would be a list of credit cards that will help maximize your savings.

Credit Card Reward Points & Cash Back Benefits

Lets start of with , How should one go about comparing credit cards by their rewards proposition.  To understand this, there are two important concepts that one should be aware of

  • Earn Rate:  Earn Rate is number of points earned per amount spent.
  • Burn Rate:  Burn Rate is the Rupee value of a reward point.

For Example – For a HDFC Silver/Gold card, you earn 1 reward point for Rs. 150 spent, so the earn rate is 1/150. Whereas each credit card reward point of a silver/gold card is worth 15 paise or Rs 0.15 only. So the burn rate is 15 Paise. You multiply the two and you will get a metric which you can use to compare credit cards from different companies.

Using the Burn Rate and the Earn Rate, I have come out with a very simple metric  Rupee earned per every Rs. 100 Spent” , which can be used to compare some of the top credit cards in the market.

Rupee earned per every Rs. 100 spent = Earn Rate (Calculated on Rs. 100 Spent) * Burn Rate

Also the comparisons below are based on the basic earnings. Most of the cards have an accelerated reward-earning proposition. We shall factor that when we calculate the monthly earnings from different spend scenarios. Also will show you how to create your own savings through your own spend numbers.

Example – 1

I will give you an example of how this metric would be useful to differentiate between two cards of the same bank or different cards across the bank.

hdfc credit card reward points

The above tables give us an idea of hdfc credit card reward points benefits in the market. If you look at the value proposition of different cards, they are vastly different in terms of Rupee Earned per Rs. 100 spent. Rs.100 spent on a HDFC silver/gold card will give you Rs. 0.10 whereas spending the same amount on Regalia will give you a Rs. 1.08 in terms of reward points. But again Regalia and Infinia are fee based cards and hence one needs to factor this in when computing the relative reward proposition of the card.

Example – 2

Now lets compare HDFC reward points with CITIBANK rewards points

hdfc vs citibank credit card reward points

If we compare the same metric Rupee Earned per Rs. 100 spent, Platinum and Ultima cards are decent options and in the premium segment HDFC provides better rewards.

Accelerated Rewards – Categories of Spend and Best card in each category

Apart from the basic reward proposition that’s present with every credit card, most of the cards in the market offer an accelerated rewards earning proposition. These accelerated rewards can be in a variety of forms. E.g. 5x rewards on Departmental Stores, 10X rewards on Online spends or a 5% cashback on Departmental Stores.

Now lets use the concept above and factor in the accelerated rewards propositions, (That some of these cards offer) to get to the best cards in each of the spend categories. The formula to calculate the rewards is a simple one: Just multiply the basic rewards earned above by the accelerated reward earning multiple.

Formula

Rewards Earned = (Rupee Earned per Rs. 100 Spent) * (Accelerated Reward Earning multiple)*Spend/100

Example – Rewards earned if you have spent Rs. 2000 on Citibank Rewards card.

  • For Citibank Rewards, Rupee Earned per Rs. 100 spent = Rs. 0.4
  • Accelerated Reward Earning : 10X on Departmental Stores
  • Rewards Earned = 10*0.4*2000/100 = Rs. 80

A few disclaimers here:

  • A few credit card companies even though offer accelerated rewards proposition but offer it only on select merchants. For e.g. Amex offer 10X rewards on its partner merchants, CITI rewards card offers it on select merchants, etc.. If you do not shop on these merchants then you won’t be earning any accelerated rewards. That’s the reason I prefer credit cards which offer a flat accelerated rewards structure so that I get the freedom of shopping wherever I want to
  • Also some of these accelerated rewards have a validity, which means have an expiry date. You are eligible for accelerated rewards only in that period.
  • Also I have a preference for Cash back as compared to reward accumulation, reason being two fold. First: Cashback impact my outflows directly as compared to rewards (where one has to go through the process of reward redemption and its benefits). Second: Its faster.

Keeping the above in mind, lets factor in the accelerated rewards to the basic rewards proposition of credit cards and figure out which card will give you the maximum advantage. Also the following will give you a chance to rate your card with respect to the cards available in the market.

The data has been collected from the sites and catalogues of different credit card companies. Since the accelerated rewards are mostly provided in specific categories, so we shall consider each category separately and figure the best card in that category.

Credit card reward points apparel

Winner – Manhattan Platinum Card

Even though it seems, owning a Citibank Rewards card will give you, Rs. 80 cash back, but that’s just superficial because the 5X rewards on Citibank card is limited to only a few stores. Lifestyle being the major one of them.For Manhattan Platinum card, even though the offer tells only about Departmental stores, it covers all kinds of retail spends. Spends in malls are covered by this offer

Credit card reward points stores

Winner – Manhattan Platinum

Again it’s a straight fight between Manhattan Platinum and Citibank Rewards. And Manhattan Platinum wins hands down.

Credit card reward points dining

Winner – Kotak Trump Card

Clearly Kotak Trump card is the clear winner. With you saving almost Rs. 600 per month if you are a heavy diner. There are a few finer points, that the total spends on Movies and Restaurants should be more than Rs. 4000. There are a few other cards, where the card issuing companies have a tie up with specific restaurants in different cities. Citibank being one of them where they have tied up with more than 200 merchants across India and offer a 20 % discount flat.

Credit card reward points fuel

Winner – Standard Chartered Titanium

Standard Chartered Platinum Rewards, Standard Chartered Titanium, IOC Titanium and ICICI Bank HPCL card are quite close in terms of the monthly earnings. But I like cashback more than earnings through reward points. Also the 5% flat cashback on any petrol pump as compared to IOC and HPCL for Citibank and ICICI bank cards respectively make Standard Chartered Card a winner in this category.

Credit card reward points movies

Winner – Standard Chartered Titanium

Standard Chartered Platinum Rewards, Standard Chartered Titanium, IOC Titanium and ICICI Bank HPCL card are quite close in terms of the monthly earnings. But I like cashback more than earnings through reward points. Also the 5% flat cashback on any petrol pump as compared to IOC and HPCL for Citibank and ICICI bank cards respectively make Standard Chartered Card a winner in this category.

Credit card reward points utility bills

Winner – Standard Chartered Titanium Card

Again , both the cards are equally good, but the additional condition of paying your bills via Citibank billpay turns my preference towards Standard Chartered Titanium card.

Carrying a similar analysis on categories of Movies and Entertainment and Utility Bills reveals that Kotak Trump card and Standard Chartered Titanium card emerge as the top card in the respective categories.

Wallet of Credit cards that one should own

Having done the hard bit of analysis, calculations and comparisons we come to the easier bit of creating a wallet of credit cards for you which will accelerate the reward earning and help you save a substantial amount over a period of time. To give you all an idea about savings that can be done by having this wallet, I have created a few scenarios and the respective savings.  One can create his/her own spend/rewards scenarios using the table below.

Category of Spend Name of the Card Value Proposition Monthly Spend Monthly Savings Annual Savings
Apparel Standard Chartered – Manhattan Platinum 5% Cash Back on All Departmental Stores Spend, (This includes all kinds of Retail Spends) 2,000 100 1,200
Departmental Stores Standard Chartered – Manhattan Platinum 5% Cash Back on All Departmental Stores Spend, (This includes all kinds of Retail Spends)  4,000  200  2,400
Dining Kotak Trump Card 10% Cashback on all Restaurants, 10% cashback on all restaurants  5,000  600  7,200
Fuel Standard Chartered – Titanium Card 5 % Cashback on Fuel/Telecom/Other Utility Bills  5,000  125  1,500
Movies and Entertainment Kotak Trump Card 10% Cashback on all Restaurants, 10% cashback on all restaurants  2,000  200  2,400
Utility Bills Standard Chartered – Titanium Card 5 % Cashback on Telecom/Other Utility Bills  3,500  175  2,100
 21,500  1,400  16,800

This is a guest post by Gaurav Thakur, who is currently working as an analyst with a mutual fund company. An IIT Kanpur alumnus, he has primarily worked in the financial services industry, working with Citibank India Credit cards for a couple of years and also spending time in Citibank’s personal loans division.” This article has appeared first on gaurav blog here.

Which credit card you have already and are you satisfied with your credit card reward points and cash back benefits ? Did you get any insights from this article on credit card rewards points ?

133 CommentsAdd Comment

  1. mohan

    Very good comparison.
    However, I would prefer to just keep one card and use it in emergency or where the merchant does not offer me discount on MRP and does not charge the additional 2% (branded goods and signature stores-which i visit ocassionally for some special product). Otherwise , these CC’s are huge money drainers. The word Burn Rate is aptly choosen in the article, if you are not careful they will burn a hole in the pocket. Used prudently and safely they definetly help you.
    Thanks for the insights.
    Mohan

  2. Ram

    very interesting article. Have been doing most of this with one card “IndusInd Platinum” but the advantage of multiple cards is you get better savings provided you dont mind carrying so many cards and esuring its used for the right purpose.

    one update, Kotak has stopped the “Trump Card” now and its replaced with “Delight card” which has an important catch that you need spend 10,000rs min in other categories before you can get cash back for the dining and movies

    • Thanks for sharing that Praveen .. Yes Manhattan card might be having a annual fees, but what matters is Are you getting enough value ? If you are able to save more than 5000 per year on that, then does the fees still matters ?

    • Sridhar

      Praveen,

      The annual fee of Manhattan Platinum can be “redeemed using Reward Points which you hold” in you account (Customer Care team itself saying many of the Manhattan users not aware of this Annual fee redemption using Reward points) . Last year it was 1000 points for annual fee of 999. Not sure about this year, but I got info that it will be around 2500 points.

    • Sivakumar

      ICICI debit card and ICICI platinum credit card gives 10 payback points per 100 spent on international websites and abroad ie Rs2.50 per 100. But remember you pay a currency conversion fee of 3.5% and service tax which is about 3.87 per 100. But this fee is charged by almost all the banks while ICICI bank gives more benefit.

      • Alekh Khanna

        Thanks for the info Sivakumar.
        And yes, since forex & ST is charged by all the cards, any return on those is a welcome addition. Will lookout for these cards. :)

        • Ankush

          There are several cards that offer a lower Foreign Currency Conversion charge, however most of them would fall in the premium to super premium category. I know for sure that HDFC Bank Regalia and Diners Black have a 2% charge compared to others at 3.5%. That makes it better than a cash back or points accrual.

  3. Sivakumar

    Although the premium credit cards give more reward points, user should be aware that these cards come with Joining fees and annual fees ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 2000 per year + 12.36% tax.

    I currently have a Citibank IOC titanium card that gives 4 reward points per Rs 150 spent (2.66 per 100), Kotak Trump card which gives 1.8% surcharge waiver on rail booking, ICICI debit card which gives 5 Payback points on online transactions ( Rs 1.25 per hundred) and ICICI credit card which gives 10 points per 100 for international transactions (Rs 2.50 per hundred). All these cards are free of joining fee and annual fee.

  4. Mayank Arora

    Hi Manish,
    Our lives are already in-tangled with so many bills to pay, so many chores to do everyday and so many errands to clear (On top of it, I am sure the married guys always have a list of chores to do from their wives as icing on the cake!!!)….. Why to make it more complicated with so many Credit Cards now!!!….. Just use one card, if you have enough white cash to burn, from whichever bank you are banking with for a long time and are comfortable with their security procedures. The headline of this article really catched my fancy to earn while you spend. But with so many cards advised with different purposes killed the mood.
    We always expect our financial managers to make our lives simple!!! This one will not fall in the same line…… Cheers Mayank

    • Mayank

      The article is for information purpose. You can just pick 1 credit card if you want based on some category. Its not mandatory for you to pick 5 :) . You have to do what you want to do and people will say what they have to say, there is no much corelation :)

      Manish

      • Ram

        In fact, having multiple cards is one way of enhancing your credit score. Having more than 2-3 cards with good credit record gives you a higher score

        • Hi Ram

          I would say 2-3 is good number, however just having 2-3 is not better compared to single card, many other things like what is your overall limit, how much utilization you have also matters.

          • Ram

            Agreed, I remember reading in JI that one card should be kept idle which will help increase the score as it shows that one if capable of planing well

  5. Ramakrishna

    This is a good article. I find standard chartered manhattan platinum card as very useful as I have been using this. apart from that I like HDFC platinum card for the EMI facility (with 0% processing fee and 0% interest – during some occasions) when you purchase gold. These cards were very useful. I have taken Amex as well, but will cancel it in sometime – as I didn’t find it useful for my kind of spends. I have already cancelled Kotak card – just based on the similar analysis done by the author.
    After going thru this article, I might go for stadard chartered titanum card ( if it is given for free ). As a whole I think this article is very good.
    But better to maintain as less credit cards as possible.

  6. Ayush Jain

    I find that while Manhattan Platinum Card is pretty good, they have some restrictive clauses – like the 5% cashback is applicable only for minimum purchase of Rs 1000, and has a cap of Rs 200 per-transaction. This means that if you use the card to do a large purchase (anything greater than rs 4,000), the cashback received reduces as a percentage of the transaction. It would actually have been better to get the 5X reward points instead for that transaction, but that is not possible.

    • Thanks for that point Ayush

      I know that things are not perfect, how ever you must have got some ideas out of the post, which now you can utilize to figure out the best credit card for some category ?

    • Rajat Jindal

      But if you want to pay bill more than 4000K u can pay it in multiple transaction as it is valid , i am paying my electricity bill in multiple transaction and getting the 5% cash back on each transaction.

  7. Karthikeyan

    Hi Manish,
    You seem to have chosen limited number of cards while deciding the cashback and rewards points calculations in the post. I am using an Axis Bank My Zone credit card and I enjoy the privilege of 25% on all movie ticket purchases but the thing is the amount of cashback is limited to Rs 1000 per calendar year. Though most of the cards provide cashbacks i believe that there would be such limits on Kotak Trump Card too. If there is something like that can you please let us know so that your post might not be misleading. I see from their site that Rs 5000 should have been spent on a billing cycle on dining and movies to be eligible for the cashback and also there are no new issuances of the card.

    • Karthikeyan

      Yes, we have used limited cards only, cant take into consideration all the cards .. also take this article to understand the method used, and then apply it on your end too . Thanks for Gaurav to take this pain, lets appreciate that :) . Its a guest post

  8. G.Saravanan

    Hello Manish & Gaurav,
    Its a well thought and well written article, credits to Gaurav for writing this article and credits to Manish for sharing with us.
    I have used only HDFC lifetime free credit card,which is now HDFC World- Master card for almost 6 years.
    Its a eye opener for me, as i thought I have the best credit card.

    I would like to mention on small mistake
    Below “Movie and Entertainment” the paragraph from “Fuel ” is repeated.

    Now I know how to analyse a Credit card with the terms you have mentioned Gaurav, thanks for that.

    Regards,
    G.Saravanan

  9. Sushil

    Oh My God!!!!!!!!!!That much deep comparison………..could not ever thought abt this much deep…………by the way excellent collection and comparison of Fact…..I have a single Credit Card and NEVER want second credit card…Recently HDFC Bank Increased my Credit Card Limit to twice which i got decreased with much efforts because higher is credit limit , higher is risk……..

  10. Ashish

    This is awesome post and thanks for doing all the grunt work! This is post for financial savvy power card user (unlike most personal finance post which aim at debt ridden fellow)!!

    I own Manhattan and find it perfect for my needs. Will checkout other two.

  11. Gayathri Iyer

    Hi Manish.. Excellent Article.. I can now share this with ppl who constantly criticize me – for being extremely particular in choosing which card – I use for which transaction.. !! :)

    One query – Just read in the comments that having multiple cards improves your credit score. Am not sure if that is true. It basically shows that you are exposed majorly to credit. And given that it is unsecured exposure – it may be a negative point in your credit profile. Of course, utilisation and payment patterns will over-ride this.

    • Yes. too many cards will be negative , especially if you are not handling them properly . Its not right that just because you have more credit cards, your score will be better. However 2-3 cards are fine . What really matters is your credit limit and your usage (should be atmax 50% of the limit) .

  12. Vijay Zanvar

    I have StanChart Manhattan and Titianium cards, as well as Kotak Trump card.

    I have stopped using Kotak since the 10% cash back offered is applicable only if there is a minimum monthly spend of Rs. 5000/-. I mainly use this card for booking train tickets, since surcharge of 1.8% is waived.

    Manhattan card is unbeatable, which I have been using since last 4 years now! Luckily for me, I got this card in a lifetime-free offer. However, few months back they increased minimum amount to spend to Rs 1000 from Rs 500 earlier to be eligible to earn 5% cash back. This one is a winner.

    I have another card from StanChart – Titanium card. While I have been using the 5% cash back on fuel and utility, I find MY choice card from Axis bank more competitive with respect to annual fee: Rs 750 vs Rs 500. However, Axis bank lets you choose only 2 categories. I am considering to switch to Axis bank MY choice and cancel the Titanium card since that fits my need.

    • Gaurav Thakur

      Good find Vijay .. I just checked the My Choice cards, and it seems they have made it a free card.If that’s the case I guess you should make the switch and use the Fuel and Utility Bills as your two categories. A word of caution, just check if the Fuel cashback is limited to petrol pumps of specific companies (IOC or HPCL).

        • Gaurav Thakur

          The first year fees has been waved off. They have a joining fees of Rs. 250 which I’m not very sure off. Fees from the second year is Rs. 250. Yes you are right its a no free card. But still a better choice than standard chartered titanium which charges an annual fees of Rs. 500.

  13. sandhu

    toooooooo muuuucccchhhhhh.

    arrya bhaai, keep life simple.

    why spend if you want to save.

    north and south , both are great, but they never meet, and those who try hard to make them meet only finaly EXHAUST.

    any way a knowuledgeable article.

    how we use this knowledge is our KARMAs.

    for the mental peace of new generation, i pray

  14. ANAND

    hi

    It was a nice article. It should open the eyes of many – ever spenders. I have a citi card which i almost use as a debit card. The reward points I accumulate, will be used for only Petrol – nothing else. I book my air and train tickets after filling up the card and then do transaction. Since I know my fuel consumption pattern, I load my card well before in advance so that it is more of a convenience than always carrying cash. However this is my practice and i have never delayed any payments even during distress. May be the input from others having similar practices will enlighten me better

  15. Amit

    Stand Chart Titanium Card – As per Website,
    5% Cash Back on Fuel across ALL Petrol Pumps You’ll receive 2.5% surcharge reversal + 2.5% cashback on transaction amount, be it BPCL, IOC, HPCL or Reliance.

  16. NSreedhar

    Hi Manish,

    Good study.

    Another imp aspect payment date, I used to have a TATA card (SBI card) and with good offers from TATA stores, and was satisfied with payment due date on 5th of every month. All my purchases till 10th of month would be paid in next salary and purchases after 10th would be in next to next month salary. One fine day without consulting me they changed the payment due to date to 30th thus disturbing my plans. I promptly submitted the card.

    Currently I have one Master Card (Citi Oil), One VISA card (HDFC Chip) and one AMEX card, with billing dates 05, 15 and 23.

    Another reason for having multiple cards at time it could happen that the store may not be able to swipe particular brand cc on the day with some techinical difficulties.

    Thanks,
    N Sreedhar

  17. RD

    Hi Manish,
    Hi Manish,
    I have been regular visitor of jagoInvestor but from last 0ne or two week not visiting regularly because of my tight schedule but trying my best to atleast visit it once in a day :).

    I have not read current your article till now but will read it ASAP and comment on it. Again Thanks for all your efforts that you put in to give us everytime something new that we did not know before.

  18. Kapil

    Hi Manish,

    Thanks for this post. It is quite a comparison for the cards.
    I have a point to make here.

    You have shown StanC Manhattan Platinum as winner in couple of categories below bases on its 5 % cash back the card holder receives in Departmental Stores.
    I have recentely faced one issue or should I say glitch in the way this 5 % cash back works.

    “The cash back on StanC Manhattan Platinum Card is not a straight forward phenomenon. Though T&Cs mention it but not clearly. Whether the one will get the cash back on the seemingly eligible transaction depends on the acquiring bank on whose EDC machine the transaction has been done and that is because the bank [of the EDC machine] may not be rightly registered with StanC under the cash program. E.g. if at a merchant store; it has the EDC machiens from two banks viz XY & ZX, it is very much possible that the transactions done on the machines of bank XY would be eligible and the transactions done on machines of bank ZX will not be eligible for cash back. And no where there is mention of this list or agreements; in the T&Cs for the card. So if you visit a departmental store which has only machines from bank ZX; you will not get cash back and nobody has the idea which banks’ machines they should swipe their card to get the cash back.”
    StanC blames it on the MCC [Merchant Category Code] provided by VISA / Master to the merchants and Banks; but it is simply beyond one’s speculation how the consumer should be bother about it. And how can anybody know which bank [merchant at least they list in T&Cs] is registered for this program which bank is not.

    Following is the link to detailed post on Mouthshut:
    http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Standard-Chartered-Card-review-utoosppuor

    • Sridhar

      Hi Kapil,

      This happens with Manhattan Platinum Card and as of my understanding it is nothing to do with which bank’s EDC machine is swiped. It is based on how the merchant has registered his EDC machine with VISA. I am regularly using Manhattan Platinum and asked some of the merchants and they know on what category it is registered with VISA. It works well for known departmental stores (which we tested for cash back) and it fails some time (when we use it in unknown stores) . Unknown fact is some of the apparel shops, baby shops, toy shops also registered their EDC in Dept Stores category so for our surprise we used to get Cashback there also.

    • Sridhar

      Hi Kapil,
      The cash back is clearly based on the Merchant code which dept stores should use while registering with VISA. Yes, you are correct you never know which machine you will get Cash Back. I am a regular user of Manhattan Plantinum and when I spoke to couple of dept store billing guys, they’re aware of this Merchant code and they said it is registered under dept store so I got cash back. Since we identified couple of dept stores which is registered properly we are continuing our purchase to get Cash Back. The best part is some of the Apparel Shops, Toy shops, Baby Shops were registered as Dept Stores in Visa for my surprise I got cash back from there so I am continuing my purchase with those shops also. So there is no guarantee to get cash back with this card if we have not tested the card in that dept store.

      • Kapil

        Hi,
        First of all a clarification- now for cash back , the transaction has to be minimum 1000 Rs, not 500.
        Secondly, I have been following it up with StanC since December, even with the bank on whose EDC machines the transactions were done.
        I have given the complete details in the mouthshut link.
        I did swipe my card on HDFC machines in BigBazaar, I have been getting cash back on Big Bazaar, but this time I did not get and the reason as per StanC is that HDFC’s MCC code is not registered with them for cash back. And I think everybody agree that Big Bazaar as a merchant is rightly registered for cash back since I have been getting it for more than two years.
        So I think in addition to the merchant being registered under right MCC code, the aquiring bank [bank of EDC machine] of the merchant also has to be rightly registered with StanC. I say with StanC because here in my case, I have even got the HDFC’s MCC code which they shared with me, HDFC is registered under right code [I have no means to confirm it] with VISA but StanC says that the MCC code of HDFC is not right. So is it the banks’s battle or lack of proper terms in mutual arrangement between banks.

    • Tarun

      I am also a user of Manhattan Platinum and would like to bring to your notice:

      1. For a transaction to be eligible for a cashback, a minimum amount of Rs. 1000 needs to be swiped. This was earlier Rs. 500

      2. A maximum cashback of only Rs. 200 is possible per transaction and Rs. 500 in a month

      3. In a retail store where you can get cashback, if you do not spend Rs. 1000 minimum, you do NOT get even reward points

      4. Any fuel transaction is liable to a surcharge of 2.5%

      Manhattan was good when it started but has become so restrictive now that I am thinking of getting it cancelled (even though I have a life time free card)

    • Gaurav Thakur

      Hi Kapil

      Fair point. But if you think about it, the data capture issue is bound to exist. You might be shopping in a section of Life Style where the EDC machine has been registered under Departmental Store but you actually buy some furniture and get everything billed in the furniture section. There’s no way for the bank to know what portion of the transaction is under apparel and if you were supposed to get a cashback, you will probably not.

      This is only one such example. We have also seen a number of mis-classifications, where some of the merchants are incorrectly classified and banks have to rectify their records at times.

      But again that’s one of the assumptions that has gone behind writing the article. All the credit cards will be similarly impacted by such mis classifications. Just to add, if you are good with your convincing skills, you’ll probably get your cashback.

      • Gaurav Thakur

        Good luck with your fight with the bank Kapil. So just to explain the process a little more, banks have a mapping given by them from Visa/Mastercard and this mapping gets updated periodically. And as I stated earlier there are a lot of misclassifications. One mis-classification I can remember is Taj Hotels getting classified as a departmental store.

        I have a question, you are saying you had swiped your card on the same EDC machine in the same store of Big Bazaar, earlier you would get a cashback, now you don’t. – If that’s the case then any previous bill where you have got a cash back should help you deal with the issue.

        If its a different store – then quite likely the EDC machine has not been registered under the proper spend category. In that case, you can ask the bank to make a case with Visa/Mastercard.

        But as you said, the acquiring bank EDC machine’s has to be registered with STANc, that’s not correct. Banks get this information from Visa/Mastercard.

        Hope the above helps :)

  19. Anand

    I use stan chartd manhattan platinum. It gives 5% cash back if purchase is above 1000 Rs. in supermarkets.

    Also I use points to refill my vodafone prepaid talktime. I dont remember charging vodafone no on my own in the last 6 months. FREE TALKTIME !!

  20. Sumit Nathany

    Hi Manish,
    I would like to correct one fact regarding citibank cash back card. You get 5% cash back even if you pay through your telecom company’s website (I am not sure if the same is true electricity/water bill payments). I am using it for past 1 year and i always pay my bills from Airtel website and i always get 5% cash back.. If you call their customer care and ask them to provide a detailed cash back per transaction, they will do so. So you can find out which transaction of yours got how much cash backs. Apart from these, you also get a 5% cash back when you do a prepaid mobile recharge (also from a telecom companies website).

  21. Thanks Gaurav & Manish for this informative article.

    Completely agree that Stan Chart – Super Value Titanium is The Winner in most of the categories. Its the Best card for me as its Lifetime free as I got it in 2007. SCB Manhattan is also great card but SCB informed that two rewards cards (Titanium & Manhattan) cant be issued to one consumer! Not sure if that is true?

    I never thought of comparing my 11 Credit Cards (issued by 8 Different Banks); the way Gaurav has done. However, I do have a simple excel sheet which I use to keep a track on which card to use on which date of the month depending upon Shopping date and Statement date.

    In process of making a comparative statement on the basis of “Rupee earned on every Rs. 100 Spent” .

    Presently, I hold
    1] ICICI – i) HPCL Gold ii) Platinum — Not of much use
    2] Citibank – iii) First Citizen — Shoppers Stop iv) IOCL Titanium — Fuel at IOCL
    3] SBI GE – v) Gold — Not of much use
    4] SCB -vi) Super Value –Telecom Bills, Fuel Purchase vii) Inner Circle — Lifestyle
    5] RBS – viii) Gold — Not of much use
    6] Kotak – ix) Trump — IRCTC for Rly Surcharge waiver
    7] HDFC – x) Visa Signature — Visa Signature offers
    8] Indusind – xi) Platinum Aura — Free Auto Assist and Inbuilt Card Protection

    All these cards except Indusind Platinum Aura (Refundable Joining fee) are Lifetime free and I have not paid a single penny as Interest / Fee / Charges / penalty since the time I started using Credit Cards in 2005 and I have a CIBIL Score of more than 800.

    That is why I disagree with people who oppose having many cards as collectively from all my cards I save atleast Rs. 10 K to Rs. 12 K per Annum if not Rs. 16 K :)

    Thanks again to Manish, Jago Investor team and Gaurav…

    • Vijay Zanvar

      Yes, StanChart does not issue Titanium and Manhattan to a single customer simultaneously. Therefore, I took Titanium card on my wife’s name and “fake” the sign on the charge slip! 😉

        • Vijay Zanvar

          Instead of StanChart Titanium, consider Axis Bank’s MY Choice credit card. Same features at very competetive annual fees: Rs. 750 p.a. of StanChart’s vs Rs. 250 p.a. of Axis Bank’s.

          • One of my friend was having Axis My Choice card which have 5 percent cash back on 2 category spends. While applying he was informed that max cash back per Annum is Rs. 1000 only and Axis Bank no where mentioned in T&C about max limit per month. Later he got to know that max cash back per month will be 250 only. So he have advised me not to go for it…

            Stan Chart Titanium gives max Rs. 500 cash back per month; what is the limit for Stan Chart Manhattan?

    • Ashish G

      Dear Pankaj,

      Must say you are managing really well. Always heard that having many credit card may create problems for you with delay in payments, interest charges, dispute but you are managing quite nicely it seems

  22. Sachin

    Manish, Thanks a lot for in depth analysis but here’s a caveat in the amount you have shown in the table above. As per the rules of Standard Chartered, no single customer of them can hold both Stan chart Titanium & Manhattan Platinum cards together as both are cash back cards. So effectively its impossible to have that kind of annual savings as shown in the table. So, I carry Stan Chart Titanium card along with Stan chart Platinum rewards card as secondary card in my wife’s name. Wherever 5% cash back is applicable, I use titanium card and for everything else we use Platinum Rewards card which earns 5 points on every Rs. 100/- to maximize the returns. :)

    • thanks for that point Sachin .. Focus more on the take away from the article , its more about the benefits these cards offer .. if it makes sense to carry them, then go ahead, else dump . at the end it you who have to decide what you want to take out of the article :)

  23. Kunal R

    Movie as a Category should be seperated from Dining, Although Kotak gives a 10% cashback .

    ICICI Coral card has a “Buy One Get One Free” offer applicable for 4 Free tickets in a month.

  24. Mahesh

    Hello Manish

    I have recently upgraded from HDFC Platinum Plus Credit Card to Signature Card. The Customer Care executive told me that my Cash Limit will be increased by around 1 Lac Rupees and my annual fees would also be increased by Rs. 100. I usually use my credit card in case of buying costly things (as I can pay in easy installments) or for flight tickets (used only twice till now in the past 3 years though).

    Based on my usage, do u think firstly think I should own a credit card? And if yes, is it worth upgrading?

    Thanks.

    • Mahesh

      I am sure that Rs 100 extra in fees is worth if you can save a lot more than that .. also think of it as a emergency tool which can help you in future. Also with regular usage you will be able to maintain your credit history.

  25. Ashish G

    Hi,

    As far as I know, Stan Chart Super Value Titanium that gives 5% off on fuel is actually 2.5% Cash Back and 2.5% Surcharge reversal. Also it does give reward points on purchases done for Fuel and Utility bills payments coz cash back is already there. I have been using it for my fuel and utility bill payments only and saving about 200 to 250 every month.

    • Ashish G

      Apologies,
      Stan Chart Super Value Titanium DOES NOT give reward points on purchases done for fuel and utility bill payments.

  26. Prakash reddy

    Great work Manish….I would like to fine tune your work.
    I completely agree with the winner
    Manhatten platinum card(5% on super markets and 5X on all others).
    Constraint:-
    1) Supermarkets/depot store : min Rs.1000 (if not no cashback or points)
    Solution:- Standard chartered Bajaj Platinum card 5X on supermarkets (no minimum)
    Conclution:
    Manhatten with bajaj platinum will be good combo for people who want to restrict their cards(max 2) and good part is both you can have on same person name.

  27. Amit

    The author should also consider travel cards such as ICICI/HDFC/AMEX Jet cards and CITI Premier miles card. All these cards have sign-up bonuses and even if you are not a very frequent traveler and doing just 3-4 round-trips a year, these cards can save you a lot of money.

    For Example, consider the ICICI Jet (Amex ver) Sapphiro Card. It has annual fees of 5000+taxes, with which you get 15000 miles and an earning rate of 7 miles per 100. If you consider an average spending of 20000 pm, you earn 15000 more miles. A total 30000 miles can take you 2 round-trips of BOM-DEL which will surely exceed the annual fees. You also get other benefits such as lounge access at airports etc. as addons.

    The Citi premier miles is also a good option if you do not want to stick with Jet. It has 3000+taxes fees with which you get 10000 rewards points (equivalent to 5000 INR) plus earning rate of 2 rs per 100 on normal spends and 5rs per 100 on airline spends. It also has other addons like lounge access with the card.

  28. Pranav

    I do lot of spending on my credit card, couple of lakhs every month and most of it in departmental store category, and I prefer the cards where I can redeem the reward points towards credit card balances, or more or less same as cash back cards.
    I had Citi Platinum Select which use to give 5 points for every 125 spent and each point is equal to a Rs 1/- when redeemed towards balances. This was beautiful as it use to give 4% cash back of sorts. Unfortunately they retrieved the product and eventually I had to close the card, as they were asking me to go for a different card which was not even half beneficial as this one was.

    Now I am using IndusInd Platinum card which has one time joining fee and it gives 1.5 points for every hundred spent irrespective of the category and when you redeem them towards credit card balances you get 85 paise per point. so effectively getting a cash back of 1.275%.

    I spend a lot every month which typically runs into couple of lakhs and I am still looking for any card which can come close to Citi Platinum Select or better than IndusInd Platinum. IndusInd Signature is little better where you can make upto 1.5% but it has whopping one time joining fee of 10K or 25k where they give you some GV in return which I am not interested. Can any body suggest any better cards ?

  29. Maninder Singh

    Don’t go for any card of Standard Chartered. You will have a lot of “Dard” while facing their Customer Care, which is pathetic. It is “Kashtmer uncare” in real sense. I have already cancelled my titanium card and I am happy with my decision..

  30. dharmendra jain

    Now this is what i call perfect analysis………I was looking for a cash back card on utility payments since long back………….Thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!

  31. Prem Taparia

    Nice article…but since its been almost a year now, some updates need to be highlighted:

    Kotak Trump (Now Feast) card no longer offers surcharge waiver on Railway Tickets.
    Manhattan Card is still the best for Departmental Purchase (Cash back available on minimum 1000 and maximum 4000 spends per transaction with an annual cap of Rs500 cash back)
    Standard Chartered Titanium is still the best card for Fuel, Telecom and Utility Bill Payments (Cash Back available on minimum 750 and maximum 2000 spends per transaction with a monthly cap of Rs500 cash back)
    Citibank Cash Back Card is also a good choice for Movie, Telecom and Utility Bill Payments, though maximum cash back limit is only Rs100 per BILLING CYCLE in each of the category with an additional restriction to pay utility bills through Citibank website.
    Kotak Feast Card can get you 10% cash back (maximum 600 cash back per month) on your movie and dining expenses, if your total spends in that BILLING CYCLE is more than Rs5000
    HDFC credit card is offering 5% cash back on all telecom and utility bills registered for automatic payment through SmartPay (maximum cash back Rs 200 per month). Again additional caveat is that this cash back is only for the first six months.
    For petrol transactions less than Rs750, use HSBC credit card for the surcharge waiver. Other credit cards now also provide fuel surcharge waiver but most of them will have some restriction of minimum transaction of 400 or 500, but not HSBC.

    American Express Gold Charge card offers 1000 bonus points on minimum four transaction of Rs1000 each in a month – thats a whopping 12000 points per annum!

    Axis My Choice Credit Card also provides cash back…but too many restrictions viz. maximum per month 250, maximum per annum 1000…still not a bad option

    I feel the most useless credit cards are IndusInd, SBI, HDFC and RBS. They have least benefits. ICICI would have also joined this list, had it not been affiliated with Payback Points which have their own set of benefits. Plus ICICI regularly come up with some offers on its credit card every year.

    A note: Almost all the cards with an annual fee, may waive that fee if you are good in negotiating, especially if you have been regularly using that credit card. A little threat of cancelling the card is all it takes them to waive off the annual fee.

      • Sankha

        Some more update regarding this:-

        1. Manhattan Platinum Standard Chartered: 5% cash back for per transaction minimum of Rs 1000/- and maximum of Rs 3000/- (ie max cashback Rs 150 per transaction) limited to toal cashback of Rs 500/- per month.

        So if you are shopping apparels worth Rs 8000/- at one go (with number of apparel items), request at the time of billing, to break the purchase in 3 bills (each between Rs 1000-3000) and swipe the card 3 times. Then you will get entire cashback of Rs 400/-, or if you swipe entire Rs 8000/- at one go, cashback you will get Rs 150/- only.

        2. Amex Gold card is a great card where you can get bonus 1000 pint per month, but sometimes it is difficult to make 4 transactions a month of Rs 1000/- or more each. Say, you are booking a flight ticket of Rs 8000/- but its not possible to break it in 4 transactions.

  32. Ajay Meda

    Excellent article here.

    I use HDFC Platinum Plus card for Fuel expenditure since they do not charge any surcharge and use the Citibank Rewards Card for all other expenditures.

    BookmyShow and Vodafone are accepting payment with Citi Reward Points, so in this way I’m saving some money.

    Cheers,
    Ajay

  33. priyajitgh

    Hi Manish
    Great Research.I have two queries
    1.Std Chattered Titanium crad 5% cash back on fuel,is this 5% inclusive of 2.5% surcharge or exclusive of surcharge?
    2. does LIC premium comes under utility bill payment option for Std Chattered Titanium??

  34. Saurabh Mhatre

    Does anyone have a valid list of outlets that are under “Grocery Stores, Supermarkets, Departmental stores” MCC code.

  35. DBhat

    Nice article and nice comparison, would like to see some updated numbers as these terms and services change all the time. I am quite happy with my ICICI platinum credit card.
    1. No extra charge for fuel at HPCL pumps.
    2. Swiping Payback at the pump and participating stores such as Central gives me extra points.
    3. I can actually buy with the payback card from the stores. Greater choice. No calling up customer care and waiting for vouchers. :)
    Would you recommend a different card to me? I spend between 50k to 1L a month on the card.

  36. DBhat

    One more thing. The article doesn’t seem to have a ‘published’ date, I had to guess when it was written based on the dates in the comments. I have visited your site earlier and appreciate the quality of information available.

  37. vishal singhani

    Respected sir,
    I want to know about credit card.I am in a business of newspaper agency and also work as a lic advisor.I need a credit card of Hdfc bank.but I have no account in that bank.is it possible to get card or am I eligible for credit card.my IT return is above 200000 p.a.suggest me how I get it

  38. Hari

    Manish, at the beginning of last year, this post helped me zero-in on the Citibank rewards card (that you very much!), and I was pretty happy with it at that time as I started accumulating the points pretty quickly. But after a 3 or 4 months I realized that I wasn’t getting the 10x rewards at the grocery stores that I was previously able to. After inquiring, Citibank told me that the list of stores that are eligible for this offer is maintained by Visa and they are not responsible if they update it. So, I shopped at a different chain the next month and I was pretty sure I got 10x rewards, but soon the same thing repeated. Sometimes, I got 10x rewards at one location but not at another (judging by my rough calculations) though both belong to the same chain. By now, I have tried every major grocery store there is in Hyderabad and none of them are eligible for 10x rewards. And on top of that, they recently announced the reduction in value of the points from 0.40p to 0.25p making them even less of a value. At this point, I can only think that it is all a big Gimmick. They either personalize the rewards for each person until they get hooked up (sort of like cheating unsuspecting consumer) or no longer want to keep the card competitive (too good to be true to begin with).

    I want to replace it with a better card and wonder if you can come up with a new post based on the latest offerings.

    • Hi Hari

      This article was a guest post wrote by another reader :) . So I am not sure how feasible it is to edit the article now . I suggest you do your own research comparing benefits from other banks credit card pages.

      Manish

  39. Mohit Jain

    Hello all

    I just discovered this article (old but very good) while searching for the reputation of HDFC Regalia CC. I am a Classic banking customer with HDFC. I started out with a very basic HDFC Platinum Plus CC exactly 2 years ago. Since I came back from US, my credit history was pretty much non existent in India.

    Slowly but surly, I got upgraded from Platinum Plus to Superia CC. Now I was just offered their super premium Regalia card which I took. The next in line would be to be eligible for HDFC Infinia card (in about 5 years of time) which is top of their stack as of this writing. I am just 30yrs of age, a young entrepreneur trying to get hands, on things which most can’t. The rewards are a very small incentive for people like my. Exclusivity on the other hand is a bigger drive. The only other card I have is an AMEX Gold Charge card( I was offered their Platinum Reserve CC which I turned down). I was under the impression that Charge cards are harder to qualify for. But in my experience, especially in Gurgaon, pretty much every other person is having this card. Maybe I made a wrong choice but my next target is to get AMEX Platinum Charge card (in about 3 years of time). This might make me eligible for the ultra exclusive, by invitation only AMEX Black Card(in about 10 years of time).
    I am just an ordinary guy trying to build my credit history slowly. I intend to keep only 2 cards throughout.

    Do let know if any of the best financial practices ( apart from making more money :)) may help me accelerate my goal of entering in the ultra exclusive club when I reach my 40s.

    Current status

    Credit score : 7/6/14 – CIBIL 860
    CC Limit : HDFC Regalia – Rs 3,00,000.00 – 2 year old history with HDFC
    Amex Gold Charge – Rs 1,75,000.00 (Theoretically it’s unlimited but ) – 6 month old history with Amex.

    Thanks

    Mohit

  40. doke dada

    Hello namste sir this posht is vrry usefuLl and i got idea about credit cards. I have one question that i am a primary teacher in maharashtra i have 4 debit cards but not credit card i want to take one credit card and it will be free from any annual fees or etc my use is little like recharges onkine shooping ets plz sir suggest me any card plz

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