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.

Cheers!

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 7 Comments

Jet Airways has existing co-branded credit cards with HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, American Express and a co-branded debit card with HDFC Bank. And now, they have launched the fifth product in the market, which is in collaboration with IndusInd Bank, called the Jet Airways IndusInd Odyssey Credit Card. There is also a lower product called the Jet Airways IndusInd Voyage Credit Card.

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The product is similar to ICICI Bank’s card in the sense that IndusInd is offering a Visa Signature version as well as an American Express version, and you can choose to have either or both for the same amount of annual fees. Lets go over the benefits then for these products:

Sign-up bonus: For the Odyssey cards, you get 15000 JPMiles as a joining benefit, along with a base fare waived ticket for domestic travel on Jet Airways. For the Voyage cards, you get 7,500 JPMiles as a joining benefit, along with a base fare waived ticket for domestic travel on Jet Airways.

Renewal benefits: 5000 JP Miles + 1 base fare waiver on Jet Airways for Odyssey card holders, and 2500 JP Miles + 1 base fare waiver ticket for domestic travel on Jet Airways.

Jet Airways benefits: Just like all the other co-branded Jet Airways cards, these ones also get you priority check-in, and 10 kgs extra baggage allowance on Jet Airways flights. Also, you get 5% off on all bookings made on Jet Airways and JetKonnect websites.

Regular mileage earnings: Interestingly, this card is aiming to give you spends basis weekday or weekend spending patterns.

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On weekdays, the Odyssey Amex cards earn you the normal miles, but on weekends, they earn you much much more. I’m sure there is some study that has gone into making this feature work. With the Odyssey Visa cards, weekend earnings are good but not great.

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For the Voyage card, the earning structures are similar, but lesser.

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The extra miles for spending on American Express are coming from the higher fees that Amex charges to merchants for transactions, which it is much despised for in the lower end of the market. Also, the mileage earning from regular spends is capped at 75000 JPMiles per annum for Odyssey Card holders, and 50,000 JPMiles per annum for Voyage Card holders.

Lounge Access: Amex Odyssey cards have unlimited access to the Altitude lounges in Mumbai and Delhi, which are also accessible by the ICICI Bank Jet Privilege Amex Cards. Voyage card holders get limited number of entries per annum. You can find my reviews of the Mumbai Altitude Lounge and the Delhi Altitude Lounge here.

You also get access to the Visa Lounge access program in case you do choose the Visa versions.

Early Bird Offer: If you achieve a spend of INR 125,000 on your Odyssey Amex within 100 days of card issuance, you get 20000 bonus JP Miles. This is valid for cards issued till December 31, 2014. Similarly, with the Voyage Amex, you get 10,000 bonus JPMiles for spending INR 75000 within the first 100 days. Also, you get 300 bonus JP Miles on every 5th transaction over INR 1000 on the credit card (Voyage or Odyssey both). Remember, this offer is only when you spend on your Amex versions, not the Visa ones.

Fees: The Odyssey card (Visa/Amex or combo) comes at a first year fees of INR 10000 plus taxes. Second Year onwards you only pay INR 4000 for the card. The Voyage card (Visa/Amex or combo) comes at a first year fees of INR 4000 plus taxes. You pay INR 2000 for the card the second year onwards. JP Platinum members get the card free till the time they hold Platinum Membership.

Bottomline: This is one more way of earning Jet Privilege miles, and I am sure hoping they hold on for the time being. I have a wallet full of JP co-branded cards, and I will get this one as well most probably. However, I am not sure how will I program my brain to use this card more on the weekends than the weekdays. But still, full marks to IndusInd for thinking up a new segmentation on how to award miles where I will be sitting with the calendar tallying up my statement every month.

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 11 Comments

Axis Bank took over the the Miles & More co-branded credit cards portfolio in Q1 2013, and had been offering an accelerated bonus of up to 20000 miles on signing up the card before March 15, 2014 and spending at certain benchmarks.

The promotion has now returned for a brief while, for card applications received till April 15, 2014. In summary, there are two Axis Bank Miles & More credit cards on offer:

  • M&M Axis Bank MasterCard World: This is the lower version of the credit cards, and comes with 5000 miles after first transaction, and 4 miles for every INR 200 of eligible spend.  The joining fee is INR 3,500 and the annual fee from the second year is the same. Axis Bank is offering another 5000 miles as a signup bonus if you sign on before April 15, 2014. Additionally, if you spend about INR 3 Lakhs on the card in the first 3 months, you get a bonus of another 10000 award miles.
  • M&M Axis Bank MasterCard World Select: This is the higher version of the two, and comes with 15,000 miles after the first transaction, and 6 miles for every INR 200 of eligible spend. The joining fees for the first year is INR 10,000 and the annual fee from the second year is INR 4,500. Here, again, Axis Bank is offering another 5000 miles as a signup bonus of your sign on before April 15, 2014. If you spend about INR 5 Lakhs on the card in the first 3 months, you get a bonus of another 20000 award miles. If you are a HON Circle member with Lufthansa, you get the added benefit of another 10,000 bonus M&M miles as well for signing up.

The good part is, that for Lufthansa frequent flyers (i.e., Miles & More members), there is a rebate on the joining fee as well. HON Circle & Senator members get the card for free, while Frequent Traveller members get 50% off on the card fee during the offer period. Here are the complete T&C of this promotion.

More details are there in my earlier post for the same offer in Q1 2014.

Like readers know, I won’t be signing up for this offer at the moment. There is only so much card fees I’d like to pay in a year and I don’t see much value in collecting Miles & More miles at this moment because I am concentrating on accumulating Air India, Jet Airways and PremierMiles.

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