8 Best Credit Cards for Travel: Free Miles, Reward Points & More

In order to make travelling hassle free, card companies have launched credit cards for travelers. The main benefits for such cards are as follows:

  • Discounts on hotel and airline booking
  • Free airline miles or flight tickets
  • Discounts on shopping, car rentals
  • Bonus points on base fare or tariffs
  • Exclusive access to lounge

Card issuers partner with airlines and hotels to woo customers. This strategy creates a win-win situation for all the three entities involved i.e. customers, card and travel companies. Customers save money whereas card and travel companies get easy business which in turn increases their profit. Such cards are basically called co-branded cards.

But before buying a credit card for travel, look for following important points:

  • When does airline mile expire: Every time card is used for travel, airline miles are credited which are redeemable in the form of cash discounts when the person makes next travel trip.
  • Free flights are also offered as a benefit to the card users. And similar to the airline miles they have an expiration date.
  • Shopping discounts too are offered but there is a minimum cap involved. So check this too.
  • Annual and joining fee: Every card comes with these two fees which are waived off when minimum spend is made within the first 30-45 days of issuance of the card. Annual fee is waived off mostly in the second year but condition is that minimum spend is done. The terms and conditions for these two fees vary for each company but there is a fee involved for sure.
  • Apart from these two fees, customers are also charged for cash withdrawal at ATMs, cash payment, late or overdue payment, foreign currency transaction, card replacement and many others. All these fees should be checked beforehand.

Which are the best credit cards for travel?

Many banks in India have launched credit cards especially for travel and here’s a list along with the select important benefits offered. For more details, terms and conditions visit respective bank’s website:

Card NameTravel Benefits: Free Miles/Rewards etc.Annual Fee
Axis Bank - Titanium Smart Traveler Credit CardAbroad: Get 8 eDGE Loyalty Rewards Points for every Rs. 200 spent
In India: 4 eDGE Loyalty Rewards Points earned for every Rs. 200 spent on hotel, holiday packages, airlines, train and bus bookings.
Citibank PremierMiles Credit Card1) 10 miles earned for every Rs.100 spent on all airline transactions which are redeemable at domestic and international airport
2) 10,000 Miles with your first spend of Rs.1,000 or more
100 points = Rs. 45
Rs. 3,000
SBI Yatra Card6X Reward Points when spent on Yatra.comRs. 499
Air India SBI Signature Card1) Get 4 Reward points for every ₹ 100 spent on Air India SBI Signature Card
2) Get up to 90,000 bonus Reward points annually
3) Earn 20 Reward points for every ₹ 100 spent on Air India tickets
Rs. 4,999
American Express Platinum Travel Card1) Rs.1.90 lacs spent in a year will earn IndiGo Vouchers3 worth more than Rs.7,700
2) Rs.4 lacs spent in a year will earn IndiGo Vouchers worth more than Rs.11,8004 and also a voucher worth Rs.10,000 from the Taj Group
3) Travel bookings benefits on MakeMyTrip.com
Rs. 3,500
HSBC MakeMyTrip Credit Card1) 5 reward points/Rs. 100 spent at MakeMyTrip
2) 1.5 points/Rs.100 spent at other merchants
Rs. 3,499
Jet Airways ICICI Bank Coral Credit Card1) Bonus of 2,500 JPMiles within 45 days post payment of your joining fee
2) Get 1,250 bonus JPMiles every year on renewal
3) Also earn accelerated JPMiles when you book a ticket through www.jetairways.com
4) Miles can be redeemed across Jet Airways and it's 20 airline partners
Rs. 1,250
HDFC Bank Regalia Card1) 4 Reward Points* for every Rs. 150 spent
2) Complimentary Taj Epicure Plus membership card which gets you exquisite benefits at Taj Hotels and Resorts
3) Points can be redeemed on travel booking on www.hdfcbankregalia.com on any airline
Rs 9,999

So for a frequent traveler, annual fee should not be a deterrent as they can get minimum one free flight provided they travel once in a month. Also remember to pay your bills on time to avoid impact on your credit score.

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