Travel Credit Cards

Travel credit cards are a type of credit card that is designed to help people earn rewards and benefits related to travel expenses. These cards typically offer rewards points, miles, or cashback for purchases made on travel-related expenses such as flights, hotels, rental cars, and more. Some travel credit cards may also offer additional benefits such as travel insurance, airport lounge access, waived foreign transaction fees, and more.

Travel credit cards are a popular choice for frequent travelers or those who enjoy earning rewards for their travel expenses. These cards can help people save money on travel expenses, earn rewards points or miles, and enjoy additional travel-related benefits. However, it’s important to note that travel credit cards often come with annual fees, high interest rates, and other fees and restrictions.

How Do Travel Credit Cards Work?

Travel credit cards work by allowing cardholders to earn rewards for making travel-related purchases. These rewards can then be redeemed for travel-related expenses such as flights, hotels, rental cars, and more.

Here’s how travel credit cards typically work:

  1. Signup Bonus: Many travel credit cards offer a signup bonus when you first apply and are approved for the card. This bonus may come in the form of points, miles, or cashback, and often requires you to spend a certain amount within a specified timeframe.
  2. Rewards Earning: Once you have the travel credit card, you can earn rewards by using it to make purchases, especially on travel-related expenses. Many travel credit cards offer bonus rewards for specific categories, such as airline tickets, hotels, or rental cars.
  3. Rewards Redemption: You can redeem your rewards for travel-related expenses, such as flights, hotels, rental cars, and more. Some travel credit cards may also offer other redemption options, such as cashback or gift cards.
  4. Additional Benefits: Many travel credit cards come with additional benefits, such as travel insurance, airport lounge access, waived foreign transaction fees, and more. These benefits can help you save money and enhance your travel experience.

Eligibility to Apply for Travel Credit Cards

Different banks have different requirements for people who want to apply for a travel credit card. However, there are some common things that most banks look for:

  1. You should be an Indian citizen.
  2. You should have a job, either working for someone else or running your own business.
  3. You should have a good history of borrowing and repaying money on time.
  4. You should be at least 21 years old and not older than 60 or 65 years old.

Documents Required to Apply for Travel Credit Cards

To get a travel credit card, you need to give some documents to the bank. But the documents required can be different for different banks and for different types of people. Some common documents needed for a travel credit card are:

  • A copy of your PAN card
  • A copy of your Aadhaar card
  • A passport size photo
  • Your past 2 months’ salary slips or IT Returns
  • A document showing your address, like Aadhaar, Voter’s ID, driving licence, passport, etc., which has your current address on it.

How to Apply for Travel Credit Cards in India?

You can apply for a travel credit card in India both online and offline. Here are the steps to apply for a travel credit card in India:

Online Application:

  1. Research: Research different travel credit cards offered by different banks in India. Compare the rewards, benefits, fees, and eligibility criteria to determine which card is best for you.
  2. Check eligibility: Once you have identified the card you want to apply for, check the eligibility criteria and ensure that you meet the requirements.
  3. Fill out application: Fill out the online application form on the bank’s website. You will need to provide personal information, contact details, and financial information.
  4. Upload Documents: Upload the required documents, such as a copy of your PAN card, Aadhaar card, salary slips, and address proof.
  5. Submit: Review your application and submit it. The bank will review your application and let you know if it has been approved.

Offline Application:

  1. Visit a branch: Visit a bank branch that offers travel credit cards.
  2. Collect application: Collect the travel credit card application form from the bank.
  3. Fill out application: Fill out the application form, providing personal information, contact details, and financial information.
  4. Attach documents: Attach the required documents, such as a copy of your PAN card, Aadhaar card, salary slips, and address proof.
  5. Submit: Submit the application form and documents to the bank. The bank will review your application and let you know if it has been approved.

Once your application is approved, the bank will issue you a travel credit card.

Best Travel Credit Cards for Beginners

Best Travel Credit Cards for Beginners

There are different types of travel credit cards, but some are easier to get and are called entry-level travel credit cards. They are usually made in partnership with an airline or IRCTC. These cards don’t have as many fancy benefits like free access to international airport lounges, but they do offer some nice things like free access to domestic airport lounges or IRCTC lounges. They also give you more rewards or points when you spend money on travel. Here are some of the best entry-level travel credit cards for beginners:

IRCTC SBI Platinum Credit Card

The IRCTC SBI Platinum Credit Card is a travel credit card that has been launched by SBI Card in partnership with IRCTC. You have to pay Rs. 300 per year to get this card (Rs. 500 in the first year). As it is a co-branded card, it offers special benefits when you book railway tickets. Some of the features of this card are:

  • You get 10% of your money back as Reward Points when you book railway tickets using the official IRCTC app/website.
  • You get a waiver of 1.8% transaction surcharge when you book railway tickets using the IRCTC mobile app/website.
  • You earn 1 Reward Point per Rs. 125 spent on the card, except for spends on IRCTC or fuel (for IRCTC spends, you get a 10% value back as Reward Points).
  • You can redeem your Reward Points to book railway tickets. The Reward Points are transferred to the IRCTC wallet of the IRCTC account linked with the card, and 1 Reward Point is equal to Re. 1.
  • However, the card does not entitle you to any complimentary railway lounge access, as it is an entry-level offering.

IRCTC RuPay SBI Credit Card

The IRCTC RuPay SBI Credit Card is a credit card that is a partnership between SBI Card and IRCTC. It is similar to the IRCTC SBI Platinum Credit Card in terms of rewards and benefits. However, the IRCTC RuPay SBI Credit Card also gives you a complimentary visit to an IRCTC lounge every quarter, which the IRCTC SBI Platinum Credit Card does not. The IRCTC RuPay SBI Credit Card costs Rs. 300 per year, and a joining fee of Rs. 500 is applicable in the first year.

MakeMyTrip ICICI Bank Platinum Credit Card

The MakeMyTrip ICICI Bank Platinum Credit Card is a credit card offered by ICICI Bank in collaboration with MakeMyTrip, an online travel booking platform. This credit card allows users to earn rewards, which are called My Cash, on all their purchases, including flights and hotel bookings through MakeMyTrip. Users can earn more My Cash when they use the card to make purchases on MakeMyTrip. The card also offers a complimentary MakeMyTrip Holiday Voucher worth Rs. 3,000 on successful joining, as well as discounts on BookMyShow, complimentary access to airport lounges, and discounts on dining at partner restaurants.

Yatra SBI Credit Card

The Yatra SBI Credit Card is a travel credit card offered by SBI, in collaboration with Yatra.com, an online travel booking platform. This credit card allows users to earn reward points on all their purchases, including flights, hotels, and other travel-related expenses. The accumulated reward points can be redeemed for Yatra.com vouchers, which can be used to book flights, hotels, and holiday packages on Yatra.com. The card also offers various discounts and benefits such as fuel surcharge waiver, discounts on domestic and international flights, complimentary lounge access at airports, and more.

Best travel credit cards to make your trips affordable

There are several travel credit cards that can make your trips more affordable, depending on your spending habits and travel preferences. Some of the best travel credit cards in India are:

  1. HDFC Regalia Credit Card 
  2. SBI Card Elite Axis Bank
  3. Vistara Signature Credit Card 
  4. American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card 
  5. Citi PremierMiles Credit Card 
  6. ICICI Bank Rubyx Credit Card
  7. Yes Bank Preferred Credit Card 

These credit cards can help you save money on travel expenses and provide various travel benefits to make your trips more comfortable and enjoyable.

Comparing the best travel credit cards

Credit Card Name
Annual Fee
Welcome Bonus
Reward Points
Travel Benefits
Other Benefits
HDFC Regalia Credit Card
Rs. 2,500
2,500 reward points
4 reward points per Rs. 150 spent
Complimentary airport lounge access, travel insurance, dining and lifestyle benefits
Complimentary Zomato Gold, Club Vistara Silver membership
SBI Card Elite
Rs. 4,999
10,000 reward points
2 reward points per Rs. 100 spent
Complimentary airport lounge access, travel insurance, dining and lifestyle benefits
Complimentary Trident Privilege Red Tier membership, Club Vistara Silver membership
Axis Bank Vistara Signature Credit Card
Rs. 3,000
3,000 bonus Club Vistara points
6 Club Vistara points per Rs. 200 spent
Complimentary Vistara lounge access, discounts on Vistara flights, travel insurance
Dining and lifestyle benefits
American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card
Rs. 3,500
5,000 bonus membership reward points
1 membership reward point per Rs. 50 spent
Complimentary domestic airport lounge access, travel vouchers, dining and lifestyle benefits
Complimentary Taj InnerCircle Silver membership, hotel and car rental discounts
Citi PremierMiles Credit Card
Rs. 3,000
10,000 miles
4 miles per Rs. 100 spent
Complimentary airport lounge access, travel insurance, discounts on travel bookings
Dining and lifestyle benefits
ICICI Bank Rubyx Credit Card
Rs. 2,000
2,000 reward points
2 reward points per Rs. 100 spent
Complimentary airport lounge access, travel insurance, dining and lifestyle benefits
Complimentary BookMyShow vouchers, airport transfer service
Yes Bank Preferred Credit Card
Rs. 2,500
15,000 reward points
2 reward points per Rs. 100 spent
Complimentary airport lounge access, travel insurance, dining and lifestyle benefits
Complimentary Taj Epicure Plus membership, BookMyShow vouchers

This table can help you compare the key features, benefits, and fees of these travel credit cards and choose the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

When Should You Use a Travel Credit Card?

Travel Credit Cards are great for people who travel frequently, but they often come with a higher annual fee. So, you should only get a travel credit card if you meet the following requirements:

When Should You Use a Travel Credit Card

  • You travel often domestically and internationally.

 

  • You want to enjoy luxury perks when you travel, like lounge access and exclusive deals.

 

  • You are responsible with your credit card use.

If you don’t meet these requirements or aren’t a responsible credit card user, a travel credit card might not be the best choice for you. It’s important to consider your spending habits and needs before getting a travel credit card with a high annual fee.

Do’s and Don’ts While Using a Travel Credit Card

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind while using a travel credit card:

Do’s:

  1. Pay off your balance on time: Always pay off your balance on time to avoid any interest charges or late payment fees.
  2. Know your credit limit: Keep track of your credit limit to avoid overspending and additional charges.
  3. Use rewards points wisely: Use your rewards points wisely and maximize their value by redeeming them for travel expenses like flights or hotels.
  4. Keep your card secure: Keep your travel credit card secure and report any lost or stolen cards immediately to your issuer.
  5. Check for additional perks: Check for additional perks like complimentary travel insurance, free lounge access, or other discounts before booking your travel.

Don’ts:

  1. Overspend: Avoid overspending on your travel credit card to avoid high-interest rates and late payment fees.
  2. Use ATMs for cash advances: Avoid using your travel credit card for cash advances at ATMs, as it comes with high-interest rates and additional fees.
  3. Ignore foreign transaction fees: Be aware of foreign transaction fees when using your travel credit card overseas, as they can add up quickly.
  4. Share your card details: Avoid sharing your travel credit card details with anyone, and keep them secure at all times.
  5. Use expired rewards points: Don’t forget to check the expiration date of your rewards points and use them before they expire.

Travel credit cards can be a great way to make your trips more affordable and enjoyable, but it’s important to choose the right card based on your needs and usage patterns. Remember to compare different cards, consider the annual fees, and understand the rewards and benefits before applying for a travel credit card. Additionally, it’s crucial to use the card responsibly and follow the do’s and don’ts to avoid overspending and accumulating debt. With the right approach, a travel credit card can help you earn rewards, save money, and enjoy a hassle-free travel experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Travel Credit Cards

Yes, there are eligibility criteria for getting a travel credit card. These may include a minimum age requirement, a minimum income level, and a good credit score. The exact eligibility criteria may vary depending on the credit card issuer and the specific travel credit card. It is important to check the eligibility criteria before applying for a travel credit card to increase the chances of approval.
Yes, travel credit cards can be worth it for frequent travelers who are responsible credit card users and can benefit from the rewards and perks offered by the card. However, it's important to choose a card with a suitable annual fee, rewards program, and benefits that align with your travel needs and usage patterns.
No, you cannot use a travel credit card for anything. Travel credit cards are specifically designed to offer rewards and benefits for travel-related expenses such as airfare, hotels, rental cars, and dining. While some cards may allow you to use the rewards for non-travel expenses, it's important to read the terms and conditions carefully and understand the restrictions before using the card.
Yes, travel credit earned through travel credit cards or other travel rewards programs usually has an expiry date. The exact expiry date varies depending on the card issuer or rewards program, but it is important to keep track of it and use the credit before it expires to avoid losing its value.
Travel credit cards are different from other credit cards as they are specifically designed for frequent travelers and offer rewards and benefits that cater to their travel needs. These benefits may include complimentary airport lounge access, airline and hotel discounts, travel insurance, and rewards points that can be redeemed for travel-related expenses. Other credit cards may offer rewards and benefits, but they may not be as focused on travel and may not offer as many travel-related perks.
You can apply for a travel credit card online or offline through the bank's website or branch. Before applying, compare different cards, check eligibility criteria, required documents, rewards, and fees. Fill out the application form with accurate details and submit the necessary documents. Once approved, activate the card and start using it to earn rewards and enjoy exclusive benefits.
Travel credit cards work by offering rewards, perks, and discounts on travel-related expenses. Cardholders earn points or miles on their purchases, which can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, or other travel-related expenses. Some travel credit cards also offer complimentary lounge access, travel insurance, and other exclusive benefits. However, these cards typically come with an annual fee, and it's important to use them responsibly to avoid overspending and accruing debt.
To choose a travel credit card, consider your travel habits, compare different cards, understand the rewards and benefits, evaluate the annual fees, and check for any additional features such as travel insurance. Make sure to choose a card that suits your needs and usage patterns, and use it responsibly to avoid accumulating debt.
The main benefits of having a travel credit card include earning rewards and cashback on travel-related expenses, getting access to exclusive travel benefits such as airport lounge access and travel insurance, having no foreign transaction fees when using the card abroad, and the ability to earn and redeem rewards for various travel-related expenses.
The credit score requirement for a travel credit card can vary depending on the issuer and the specific card. Generally, a good to excellent credit score of 700 or above is recommended to increase the chances of approval for a travel credit card. However, some entry-level travel credit cards may have lower credit score requirements. It's important to check with the issuer for specific credit score requirements before applying for a travel credit card.
When choosing your first travel credit card, look for one with no annual fee or a low annual fee, a sign-up bonus, rewards points or miles, travel-related benefits such as free checked bags and travel insurance, and flexible redemption options. Additionally, make sure the card aligns with your spending habits and travel preferences.
The HDFC Regalia First Credit Card is one of the travel credit cards with the lowest annual fee in India. The card comes with an annual fee of Rs. 1,000, which is quite affordable compared to other premium travel cards. However, it still offers many travel-related benefits, such as airport lounge access, travel insurance, and rewards on travel spends.

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