I’ve been a big cheerleader of Citibank’s credit card products, and earlier this year I posted about the Citibank Prestige Credit Card being launched in India. The product indeed seeks to take the premium product space that was vacated by the Citibank Ultima, which sort of went downhill last year.

Citibank, with this product, has been put in the same league as American Express Platinum, which wants to target the premium end of the market, what they lovingly call the affluent segment.

Anyhow, when I reviewed the product, I decided to get me one as well. However, I finally went about the process a few days ago and I just received my welcome package late last week which included the cards (including add-ons), a nice booklet about the features and the Priority Passes. Also, I got a call, which invited me and a +1 to a client event which featured Nicolai Friedrich.

I accepted the invitation, and it turned out this was an event for early customers of Citibank’s Prestige Card in Mumbai, to formalise the launch and offer them a World of Unforgettable Experiences. Yep, that was the theme of the evening which was held at Hotel Trident, Nariman Point yesterday, and I could only figure out the theme as we went along.

I arrived at the venue with my Fiancee, and it was pretty much the Citibank way of doing things, understated, but chic.

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We were escorted to a bar, with appetizers and drinks being served in plenty. I was not drinking, but my fiancée tells me the customized wine cocktail she requested was one of the best she’d had in a long while. After the registrations were complete, we were all brought to the main hall for the event, where we were in for a visual and mental treat, with Nicolas displaying his magic/tricks/antics and getting the audience all involved. Hey, they even had an orchestra playing!

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After an hour long session full of magic, if you so want to call it, he did leave the audience with a memorable, i.e., unforgettable experience. Nicolas continued to mingle with the audience later, and show them some more illusions on a personal level. People could not definitely not figure out what happened here, but they all clapped.

One of my favourite illusions was when he borrowed a INR 10 currency note from someone in the audience, made them mark the note, and later convert it/claim to convert it into a INR 1000 currency note. I wish I could give him all the tenners in my pocket and get a 100 times returned from him as well.

Next up, the Executive Chef of The Trident Hotel, Mumbai, Joy Bhattacharya trouped in with his team of chefs. There were no less than six of them on stage, and each one of them had crafted a section of the vast spread on offer for dinner, in line with the global nature of the card and the audience. He requested an audience with the food his team created, and I thought that was a nice touch because at such events, the chefs usually are lost in the background.

While I do confess I click food pictures, yesterday, I was too hungry to be clicking pictures. All I can tell you is there were spreads from Spain, South East Asia, Latin America, Nordics, other parts of Europe and a massive closet full of desserts. I’m sure there was more stuff out there than what I sampled.

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There were business executives from Citibank present, and these are the people responsible for the products that I like. Right from Muge Yuzuak, who is the Country Head for Card Products, Citibank India to the entire team of Citibankers who I can credit or brickbat with features of this or various other products, they were all there.

Of course, all good things come to an end, and on our way out, a box of desserts was also, still on our way out with us.

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It was one interesting evening and I was glad to be a part of it. Of course, the Prestige is now one more option for me to put all my spends on, more so when I am travelling abroad, since I get 2 Prestige Points per INR 100 spent, which convert to 8 airmiles in my book, and hence, one of the best cards to spend out there on when you’re travelling I say!

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 9 Comments

One of the favourite features I have with my various MasterCard products in India is the ability to access lounges at various airports. Why would MasterCard do this? Well, to increase the spread of their cards with clients via Banks. Banks also look at this feature as a differentiation factor, and chip in for a few lounge trips as well.

I realise I last wrote about the ability to access lounges with MasterCard products way back in 2012. Since lounge contracts change all the time, I figured it is a good time to write a new post. Under the program, holders of premium MasterCard products (issued in India by select banks) are admitted to select lounges across India, if they are validated for the same by a Rs. 25 swipe on their credit/debit cards (this transaction is cancelled immediately so no monetary cost to you).

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Here is the list of lounges/restaurants that are participating in the MasterCard Lounge Access program in 2014:

  • Mumbai: Clipper Lounge (Terminal 2), Carnations Lounge (Terminal 1C)
  • Kolkata: Clipper Lounge (Terminal 2, before security hold)
  • Cochin: Clipper Lounge (Domestic, before security hold)
  • Chennai: Travel Food Service (International Terminal, First Floor)
  • Delhi: Masala Twist (Terminal 1D, Food Court), Good Times Bar (Terminal 3 Domestic), ITC Green Lounge (Terminal 3 International)
  • Bangalore: 380 Bar, Above Ground Level (Terminal 3 International)
  • Hyderabad: Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)

Now, in my past experience, I’ve also noticed that lounges turn away passengers who try to access lounges via credit cards to accommodate those who are invited by airlines, so you may have to factor in that holding a credit card is not a guarantee to access the lounge.

Here are the banks and their cards which can provide access under this program.

  • SBICards: SpiceJet SBI Card, Yatra SBI Card. (T&C)
  • Axis Bank: MyWings Credit Card (2 entries per quarter), Miles & More World Select Credit Card (8 entries per quarter), Miles & More World Credit Card (4 entries per quarter). (T&C)
  • HDFC Bank: JetPrivilege World Credit Card, JetPrivilege Platinum Credit Card, Infinia, Doctors Superia, Superia, JetPrivilege World Debit Card. (T&C)
  • ICICI Bank: Diamant, Sapphiro, Rubyx.
  • ING Vysya Bank: Galaxia Credit Card, MyWorld Debit Card, World Exclusive Debit Card (T&C)
  • Yes Bank: Yes First Debit Card (T&C)
  • Citibank: PremierMiles Credit Card only in Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai (6 visits per quarter), Citigold Private Client Debit Card, Citibank World Debit Card (T&C), Citibank Platinum Debit Card (T&C)
  • HSBC: HSBC Premier MasterCard (T&C)

If there are other cards which you know of, please leave a note in the comments below and I will add them to the list.

You get access to the F&B, internet (complimentary) and all facilities available to the regular visit of the lounge. At the international lounges, this also includes access to the bar if that counts as a benefit for you.

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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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Last week, I had written about the opportunity that existed to get Gold and Silver Status with Air India, depending on your Air India SBI Credit Card and your status with certain other competing airlines. While I had sent in my request for a status match a few days before I wrote about this post, […]

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When I first started out to review the SBI Air India Signature Card, I was basing my review on the information that was provided by SBI Cards in this respect. Now, just like all other new products, I’ve had my fair share of sparring with SBI Cards as well, but yesterday, I got third time […]

Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 16 Comments

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