Emirates and ICICI Bank have recently launched their co-branded credit cards Emirates Skywards ICICI Bank credit cards. There are 3 cards in this portfolio; Emeralde at the top end, Sapphiro at the mid-level and Rubyx at the entry-level.
Recently StanC had decided to discontinue its partnership with Emirates airlines for credit cards. At that point, it was widely speculated that Emirates would launch a co-branded credit card in partnership with HDFC Bank and Dinersclub. However, that didn’t happen and we have Emirates announcing ICICI Bank as its co-branded credit card partner.
Let’s deep dive into Emirates ICICI credit cards and see whether owning them makes sense or not.
Emirates ICICI Credit Cards
Should you apply for Emirates ICICI credit cards for reward points?
The short answer is No. The long answer is in the dynamic benefit calculator below. That is the airmiles earned on Emirates ICICI credit cards are low except maybe on the Emeralde variant. At almost all spend levels you get more Emirates Skywards miles on Amex MRCC or Amex Platinum Travel credit card. Thus, you will be better off using Amex credit cards, if you have one. Another benefit of Amex credit cards is that you have multiple airlines and hotel transfer partners.
Further, the airmiles earned on the Emeralde variant are slightly higher at a higher spending level. That is only because of the annual benefit of 10K miles. That too comes only after you pay the annual fee of 10K+ GST, which in my opinion is on the higher side.
In addition, what I find strange is that these credit cards don’t give any accelerated reward points on spending done on Emirates or its affiliates. Something like 2-5x on spends done on Emirates using these cards would have been great.
On the positive side, while they have clearly mentioned that fuel spending won’t accrue airmiles. I couldn’t find anything for wallets. Thus my assumption here is that wallet spending is not excluded and you will get reward points. In case someone has more insights on these credit cards, please help here.
Should you apply for Emirates membership tiers?
As discussed above, the reward earning capabilities of Emirates ICICI credit cards is very limited. Thus, one might assume that these cards would offer very good membership tiers on Emirates airlines. Sadly, that’s not the case either. The base variant, Rubyx doesn’t really offer anything in terms of benefits.
The Sapphiro variant offers Silver tier membership on Emirates airlines. However, to maintain that status you need to spend 5lk on the card every year. This may be a challenge given that the Sapphiro variant will be the second or third credit card in your wallet. Further, the benefits of Silver-tier are complimentary seat selection, excess baggage allowance and lounge access which are not very exciting, in my opinion. The reason is, nowadays lounge access is available on nearly every credit card and thus there is no exclusivity. The excess baggage allowance can be helpful for sure. But just for that, I won’t spend 5lk on a card every year.
The top-end variant, Emeralde, offers Gold tier membership on Emirates airlines. It offers priority service, priority check-in and boarding, and priority baggage delivery in addition to Silver tier benefits. Further, the Gold tier also offers status matches across partner airlines, which can be handy in case you are flying a non-Emirate airline.
However, here again, one needs to spend a whopping 15lk per year on the credit card to maintain Gold tier membership. Which according to me is too much unless the Gold tier offers something much more and I am not aware of it.
My final thoughts on Emirates ICICI credit cards
Assuming that I own an Emeralde credit card and spend 15lk in a year. What do I get in return? 47500 Skywards miles. Just enough for a return economy flight between Mumbai and Dubai, which is currently going for ~25k, that’s just a 1.5-1.6% reward rate. In addition, the Gold tier membership. Other Emirates ICICI credit cards won’t even fetch a return flight ticket.
Thus, my take is that you would be better off using other credit cards instead of Emirates ICICI credit cards. If you want to bank your miles in the Emirates then Amex credit cards will be a better option. You get more miles are lower spending and much lower annual fees.
In case you are looking for a airmiles credit card, I suggest you should consider Air Vistara credit cards or Indigo Ka-ching credit cards.
What are your thoughts about ICICI Emirates credit cards? Do you think the Gold Tier membership is worth spending 15lk per year in addition to 10k annual fees? Do share your thoughts in the comments below
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Santosh Kumar Arasavilli
Very detailed review Harsh. I see, you had put a lot of efforts to write this review. Much appreciated. It helps a lot of guys in deciding whether or not to go with this card. Honestly, I really like this blog.
Thanks for taking the time to write this, really appreciate it, was considering switching the emirates card, but much better options out there.