Looking for the best lifetime free credit card in India that gives maximum benefits? Well, then this is the article you are looking for. I have listed down the best lifetime free credit cards currently available along with a benefits calculator; so that you can decide for yourself, which credit card suits you the best.
I have already done a detailed review of the credit cards mentioned here. Thus, the focus of this post is identifying the card best suited for specific spending.
Criteria and Methodology for Lifetime Free Credit Cards
The criteria for selecting credit cards was simple. The annual fee has to be ZERO. In case, there is an annual fee then the spend requirement to get the waiver has to be low, say around 150,000-200,000 or lower. Reward points should be in form of cash or near cash equivalent. By cash equivalent, I mean you should be able to convert into cash easily.
Further, I am refraining from ranking the cards here because the spending pattern for everyone is different and thus the best card for everyone is different. However, with the dynamic benefits calculator, you can figure out which lifetime free credit card gives maximum benefits on your spending pattern.
Best Lifetime Free Credit Cards
Amazon Pay ICICI Credit Card
Amazon Pay ICICI Credit Card is a lifetime free credit card best suited if a majority of spends are either on Amazon or using Amazon Pay wallet. Prime members get 5% unlimited cashback on all purchases made on the Amazon website. Non-prime members get unlimited 3% cashback. Further, loading the Amazon Pay wallet gives you 2% cashback. The wallet can be used to pay most of the utility bills, insurance premiums, ordering food and travel bookings. All other (non-fuel) expenses fetch 1% cashback.
American Express MRCC Credit Card
American Express MRCC credit card is per se not a lifetime free credit card. However, the annual fee of 1,500+taxes is waived on an annual spend of 150,000. The unique feature of this credit card is monthly milestone benefits. You can get 1000 reward points (~400 bucks) on spending 20k per month. In addition, you get another 1000 reward points on doing 4 transactions of a minimum of 1500 each. So effectively if you do 4×5000 transactions in a month, you can get 2000 reward points, in addition, to reward points on every spend.
Further, though fuel spending doesn’t accrue any points, they are counted towards 4×1500 transactions and 20k spend limit. Thus, in a way, you can get a 4% reward rate on fuel spending, which is one of the highest in the industry.
Moreover, you can increase your reward points by participating in the Amex Rewards Multiplier program. Even here one can do double/triple dip with monthly 4×1500 transactions and a 20k spend target.
HDFC Regalia Credit Card
HDFC Regalia as such doesn’t meet the criteria for lifetime free credit cards as laid out earlier. However, HDFC Bank has started offering this credit card as lifetime free to most of its users, thus included here. This credit card offers 5% cashback on Amazon vouchers purchased through the SmartBuy portal. This in a way makes it equivalent to Amazon Pay ICICI Credit Card. Further, on specific spend milestones, i.e. 5lakhs and 8lakhs, one get 10k or 15k reward points as a bonus. Thus for someone who has high spending on credit cards and doesn’t really want to pay an annual fee but still want a decent reward rate, this card works well.
Moreover, HDFC Regalia offers generous 12-lounge access free within India. In addition, it offers 6-lounge access outside India thru Priority Pass membership. Not many cards offer these many free lounge access.
Axis Ace Credit Card
Axis Ace credit card launched by Axis Bank in partnership with Google is an excellent credit card that offers a minimum of 2% cashback on every spend (except fuel and wallet load). Further, it offers 5% unlimited cashback on utility bill payments made thru GPay. This makes it one of the best credit cards to hold. Moreover, since it is on the Visa platform there are no acceptance issues anywhere at all. The redemption option is very simple; the cashback earned is credited automatically in the next statement cycle. The icing on the cake is 4 free domestic lounge visits every year. Probably the only ruse with this card is it is not a lifetime free credit card. One can get an annual fee waiver though on spending over 200,000.
Pro tip: In case you hold any other entry-level Axis Bank credit card, just call up customer care and upgrade to Axis Ace. I did the same with my Axis Freecharge credit card recently.
IDFC Select and Wealth Credit Cards
IDFC First credit cards honestly are very run of the mill credit cards with mediocre credit cards. However, the add-on features on these cards make them useful. On a blended basis, one might earn somewhere between a 1-2% reward rate on spending. However, despite being lifetime free credit cards, these cards offer Buy-One-Get-One-Free on movie tickets every month and 4 domestic lounge access every quarter. The movie BOGO offer, even if used only once a month would save at least 3000 per year. Add these savings to your reward points; the reward rate would surely look much better.
SBI SimplyClick Credit Card
SBI SimplyClick credit card from SBI Card’s stable offers accelerated reward points (2.5%) on Amazon/BMS/Cleartrip and a few other partner websites. For all other online spendings, it gives a 1.25% reward rate, which is decent I would say. The one thing that beefs up the reward rate on this card is 2000 Cleartip vouchers on annual spending of 100,000 and another 2000 vouchers on total annual spending of 200,000.
One benefit of this card is it gives decent reward rates on annual spending of up to 200,000. Case in point, if online spends are not towards Amazon and annual spends are ~100-120k, then SBI SimplyClick offers around a 2% reward rate, which is bettered only by MRCC.
SBI Card does not offer lifetime free credit cards. However, the annual fee of 499+taxes is quite low and an annual waiver at 100,000 is also not difficult to achieve.
HDFC Millennia Credit Card
HDFC Millennia post the simplification of reward structure can offer around 2% reward rate on spending. However, given the capping on cashback, the reward on this card is capped at 3.3% on the spending of above 4lakhs. Below that, the reward rate is lower, but still good enough compared to many other credit cards. Moreover, not to forget that HDFC Millennia credit cards are one of the very few credit cards that still offer reward points on wallet loads.
Lifetime Free Credit Cards Benefits Calculator
Below is the dynamic calculator that gives indicative reward rates on the above-mentioned credit cards based on your spending. All you need to do is enter your indicative monthly spending across categories. Based on your inputs, the benefits calculator will calculate the reward rates post annual fees (if any).
In addition, you will this calculator beneficial in identifying which cards that you should apply. For e.g., if your major spends are on Amazon and fuel, you would be better off owning ICICI Amazon Pay credit card for Amazon spending along with Amex MRCC for fuel spending.
The driving force behind this calculator is that everyone is unique. Everyone has different spending patterns. Thus, a credit card that works for me may not work for you and vice versa.
Do let me know what you think about this calculator. Also, do point out any mistakes that I may have made in calculating reward rates.
Above is the list of lifetime free credit cards that offer decent rewards too. Amongst the card listed above, I hold ICICI Amazon Pay, Axis Ace, Amex MRCC and IDFC Select credit cards. I use Amex MRCC very frequently and try to achieve both monthly milestones. Apart from that, I rarely use other cards. However, given that movie theatres are now open, I may use IDFC Select credit card soon.
Which lifetime free credit card do you use and how do you maximise the reward points on the same? Further, do let me know your thoughts on the post and benefits calculator in the comments below.
In the interest of full disclosure, Credit Cardz may earn a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the links in this post. However, opinions and views expressed here are of the author's alone and not those of the bank, credit card issuer, or anyone else and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.