I thrive on credit cards. I love every aspect of them. The convenience, ease of paying and paying of purchases. Most importantly, the ability to mint reward points, cashbacks and offers that come with them.
My Stack of Best Credit Cards for earning Rewards
Over the past few years I have carefully curated and put together a stack of the top credit cards for myself. These are some of the best rewards card and travel cards that help me earn rewards, cash backs, air miles, discounts and bonuses.
What is so great about having the best credit cards stack?
Credit cards do not come in one-size-fits-all variants. Certain cards carry certain benefits. So if you have the right credit card stack, you will be able to optimally benefit from them. Example, I have the Amazon ICICI card, one of the best ICICI credit cards ever. It gives me 5% cashback for all purchases on Amazon and not just that. I also have one of the best Axis credit cards ever, the Flipkart Axis card. This gives me 5% cashback for all purchase on Flipkart.
Now when their “Great Sale” or “Super Duper sale just like every other sale” comes along, be it on Amazon or on Flipkart, I will be able to make use of it. While you will need to pay Rs.100, with the my ICICI bank card and Axis bank card, I will get a 5% cashback and pay just Rs.95. This is apart from all the other benefits and advantages that come with the cards.
My Stack of cards for earning great rewards and cashbacks
The best rewards and cashback card from Axis Bank
- Best Axis Bank Credit card for Cashbacks
- Cashback: 5% on Flipkart, 4% on Uber and Makemytrip.
- Other rewards:1.5% everywhere else. Yes, while you pay Rs.500 for Tata Sky, I pay Rs.492.5.
- Lounge Access: 4 domestic visits per year
- Annual Fee: 500 per year. Waived off if you cross spend limit
The best rewards and cashback card from ICICI Bank and Amazon
- Amazon ICICI Visa card
- Cashback: 5% on Amazon (Prime, 3% for non Prime), 2% on partner sites.
- Other rewards: 1% everywhere else.
- Lounge Access: None
- Annual Fee: None
The best travel card from HDFC and Diners for earning Air miles
- HDFC Diners Club miles card
- Rewards: 4 points per 150. They say each point if worth 50 paisas, it isn’t.
- Other rewards: What this card is great for is accumulating Air miles. There is a 1 is to 1 conversion ratio. Intermiles (earlier Jet) and few other good airlines are part of the program.
- Lounge Access: 6 International per year. This is one of the best credit cards for lounge access and cards for travel in general.
- Annual Fee: Rs.1000 (waived for spending over Rs.1 lakh)
- Travel credit: The points earned can be converted into Air miles with Intermiles at a 1:1 ratio
The best Offers and Discounts credit card from HSBC
- HSBC Visa Platinum Credit card
- Cashback: Pathetic. 2 points per Rs.150 and points are worth about 30 paisas. This is not a great card for it’s rewards program
- Offers and Discounts: Where this card scores is in the great tie-ups between HSBC and e-commerce sites. Expect 10% discount on paying mobile bills from Flipkart. 15% cashback offers on Amazon or Flipkart and a tonne of other food and travel benefits from this card.
- Lounge Access: None
- Annual Fee: None
The best rewards card SBI has to offer
- SBI Prime Visa Signature card – credit card stack
- Reward points: 2 reward points per Rs.100. Points are worth 25 paisas.
- Other rewards: +Comes with 1 Priority Pass (4 International lounge access) + Trident rewards program, Vistara rewards program etc. But these expire after 2 years. Mine is done, hence cancelling the card as it is worthless now. This still is one of the best credit card in the bunch offered by SBI.
- Lounge Access: 8 Domestic per Year
- Annual Fee: Rs.2,999 waived if you spend above an undisclosed (3 Lakhs?) criteria.
The best credit cards for Statement credits from American Express
Reward points: Earn 1 reward point per Rs.50
Other rewards: Use Charge card 6 times and Rewards card 4 times (min Rs.1000+) in a month, and you get 2000 reward points. In a year 24,000 points, plus the 1 point per Rs.50 spend. Their gold karat collection puts the value of each point at about 42 paisas. That is Rs.11,000 per year. I use these two cards for Fuel, Bills and groceries regularly in order to get the 2000 points a month.
Lounge Access: None
Annual Fee: None for Rewards card. Rs.4500 for Gold Charge card, 75% waived depending on spend threshold. I spent Rs.2 Lakh and pay about Rs.1700 fee per year. Still worth it as I get Rs.11,000 from the points each year.
This duo happen to be one of the best credit cards offered by American Express in India. The Amex Platinum collection and others are for flashy people who wish to show off. If you are looking at earning rewards and earning the best bang for your buck, this is the one. Read my review of American Express Gold cards
I’ve got something for you, as an Amex member, I can refer you and you will get special benefits. You get:
- the Membership Card for Rs.1000 and Charge Card for Zero fees because I referred you
- Plus 2000 points EACH of the AMEX Gold cards because I referred you
- Plus welcome bonus of 4000 points EACH!
- Altogether you get two Amex cards for Rs.1000 and 12,000 points worth Rs.5000!
Get them now! (sign up separately on each link to get 4000 points, else you only get 2000 points)
Use this link to get the Charge Card (note this link goes to the Platinum card, just select Gold Charge card from below, that is the one with points benefits)
My stack of cards covers quite a lot
I have cards from Axis, HSBC, HDFC, ICICI, American Express and SBI. In terms of issuers I have from Diners, American Express, Visa and Master. This ensures I am eligible for most offers at an online shop, restaurant, food apps etc across India and abroad too.
Reward Points/Loyalty Points
These are the icing on the cake. For each transaction (barring a few like fuel, wallet top ups) you get a certain amount of reward or loyalty points. Accumulated over a period of time, this can come up to a lot. I know friends who have accumulated enough to go for international holidays. I personally am sitting on enough points to take my family on a decent domestic holiday. This is after all the points I have encashed so far.
With my current credit card stack, I have a total of 12 Domestic and 10 International Lounge visits for free. Each visit is about Rs.2000. I travel abroad at least once in a year and domestic once in a quarter. The convenience this offers is awesome. Free food, booze, place to shower (most International lounges) and wifi. Keep in mind, food and alcohol inside an airport is pretty expensive.
Buy this with a HDFC card for 15% off. Buy that with an SBI card for 10% off. Heard that before? Of course, every decent e-commerce website in India has a sale with a particular brand card. Having a reasonable credit card stack means you qualify for most of those offers. You no longer have to ask your next door neighbor if he has a HDFC card to get 10% off something.
Purchases and balance transfers
Time to time there are card offers that allow you to balance transfer from one card to another and get additional rewards for that. Worth looking into as these rewards are pretty easy to get. You will need to pay the card, so you may as well transfer the balance and get a bonus to make it sweeter!
Tracking all your credit cards
Since I maintain a lot of rewards credit cards, I need to track the spends and annual fee on them too to ensure I reach the appropriate annual fee waiver limit every year. Just maintain a simple excel file that shows all your cards, and other important details on the card such as:
- Joining Fee
- Annual Fee
- Statement Date
- Monthly billing cycle
- APR or monthly Interest rate
- Annual fee waiver threshold
- Joining bonus and eligibility criteria for that
- Cash back rewards programmes
- Reward ratio (Points you earn or % per spend). Eg: 1 point for Rs.100 which equals to 1% reward ratio
- Points earned expiry dates if applicable
This tracker will help you stay on top of things and plan your purchases to max utilize your credit card stack.
Word of caution so you don’t go overboard with credit cards:
Credit cards are not for the fickle minded. If you do not have discipline then dont got for these. You dont want to be in a situation where for a 5% cashback you end up paying 35% p.a interest! Ensure you pay your card bills on time and in full to maintain a good CIBIL rating and avoid interest fees.
Other ways to get more points with credit cards
You will be able to earn CRED points if you use CRED to pay your credit card bills. Read my review of the CRED App here. Each CRED point is worth about 1% or so. You are also able to pay your rent using CRED and claim points for that.
Along with your credit cards, you can also explore using a cashback site such as Cashkaro. They allow you to earn an additional cashback on transactions. These rewards range from 1% to 20%. So, even at minimal, a purchase on Amazon for Rs.100 will mean, I get 5% back for my ICICI Credit card, 2.5% for my Cashkaro account and 1% when I pay back using CRED. A total of 8.5% for being smart! Read my review of Cashkaro here.
Here is an article I recently wrote on how to earn a tonne of rewards and cashbacks from credit cards.