HDFC Bank and IRCTC have partnered together to launch a co-branded credit card the HDFC IRCTC Credit Card. The card is on the Rupay platform. As the name suggests this credit card targets people who travel frequently on trains. So, what are the features of the HDFC IRCTC credit card and does it deserve a place in your wallet? Read on to find out.
HDFC IRCTC Credit Card Review
- Joining and Annual fees of 500+ taxes.
- Annual fee waived on spending 150,000 or more in an anniversary year
Rewards and Benefits:
- Welcome Benefit: Gift voucher worth 500 on card activation within the first 30 days. No minimum spending criterion is mentioned.
- Reward Points:
- 5 reward points for every 100 spent on IRCTC ticketing website and Rail Connect app. 1 reward point = INR 1, if used for train booking. Thus, effectively 5% discount on train bookings. Capped at max 1000 reward points per month.
- 1 reward point on all other spends, i.e. 1% cashback. No capping.
- Additional 5% cashback on train ticket booking using the HDFC SmartBuy platform. Bear that this is a platform offer and not a card offer.
- Exclusions – No cashbacks on following spends – Wallet, Rent, gift vouchers, government payments, fuel, jewellery, EMI etc.
- Milestone benefit: INR 500 voucher on spending 30,000 every quarter. Most of the above exclusions are allowed towards milestone benefits.
- No renewal benefits
- 8 complimentary access to select IRCTC Executive Lounges every year (2 per quarter).
Thoughts on the HDFC IRCTC Credit Card
As the name suggests the HDFC IRCTC credit card is targeted towards people who travel frequently in the Indian Railways. With this credit card, you get a 10% off on nearly all train tickets when booked using the HDFC SmartBuy platform. Even the monthly cap is quite liberal at 1000 per month. At a 5% earn rate, this translates into a monthly train ticket spend of 20,000. More than enough for 99.9% of the users.
That’s not all, even outside of that HDFC IRCTC credit card comes across as a very decent card. You get a 1% reward rate on nearly all spends and a 500 voucher on spending 30,000 in a quarter i.e. just 10,000 a month. So effectively, you get somewhere around a 2.7% reward rate on spending just 10,000 a month. Not bad.
The only downside is that the 1 reward point = 1 INR value stands true if you redeem points for train tickets, not otherwise.
10% discount on train tickets
With the HDFC IRCTC credit card, you can get a 10% discount on all train tickets booked thru the HDFC SmartBuy platform. 5% reward points and 5% cashback, which is a SmartBuy feature.
I have been using the HDFC SmartBuy platform to book train tickets for a few years now. The platform works well and I haven’t really faced any problems as such.
Quarterly milestone benefit
The quarterly milestone benefit of 500 on spending 30,000 a quarter is quite good. Effectively you get a 1.67% additional benefit thru this. Further, the T&Cs nowhere mentions that fuel, rent, or gift voucher purchase are excluded from the milestone. This means, you effectively get a 1.67% reward rate on these spends too.
Unlike the SBI IRCTC or the BoB IRCTC credit cards, the reward points with the HDFC IRCTC credit card are not linked to your IRCTC id. The issue with SBI IRCTC or BoB IRCTC credit cards is since the reward points are in the IRCTC account; only the account holder can redeem points for personal travel. He cannot redeem points for anyone else.
Nonetheless, since the reward points in the HDFC IRCTC credit card are with the HDFC Bank and not with the IRCTC, you can redeem points for any ticket without restrictions.
Credit card is on the Rupay platform
The HDFC IRCTC credit card is available on the Rupay platform, which means that you can link this credit card to your UPI app and make UPI payments. This means that many small value transactions that tend to clutter your bank statement can be moved here. Not to forget that these small value transactions are eligible for the quarterly spend milestone i.e. effective reward rate will be at least 1.67% on these transactions.
However, I strongly believe that HDFC Tata Neu credit cards are among the best Rupay credit cards, given that they give accelerated reward rates on the Tata Neu app. Not to mention that you get a 5% reward rate even for utility bill payments thru the app using the HDFC Tata Neu Rupay credit card.
70% redemption limit on reward points
Like with many redemptions on SmartBuy using other HDFC credit cards, you can only redeem points worth 70% of the ticket value. You need to pay the remaining money with the card. This creates a nuisance or a sore point in the whole redemption process. However, the good thing is there is no monthly cap for redemption. Thus, my assumption is you can redeem as many points during a month.
Redemption charges of 99+GST
Another sore point with this credit card is the redemption charges of 99+GST for every redemption. Effectively for every ticket where you redeem reward points, you will pay 118 bucks extra.
A limited list of railway lounges
While the HDFC IRCTC credit card comes with 8 complimentary access to select IRCTC Executive Lounges every year (2 per quarter). The sad part is only 11 railway lounges in just 9 cities across India are part of this program. The cities are Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Ahmedabad, Sealdah (Kolkata), Madurai, Varanasi, Asansol and Durgapur.
I fail to understand how come many large cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad are missing from this list? Thus, I think the railway lounge benefit just remains a benefit on paper.
So to quickly answer the question, does this card deserves a place in your wallet? No. The HDFC IRCTC is a very basic credit card. Its reward rate is decent but scores very low on features and redemption flexibility. Having said that, it does serve well to the specific set of audiences who travel often on the Indian Railways. 10% discount on train booking is very good.
However, if you have an HDFC credit card you can get 5% cashback anyways using the SmartBuy platform. Thus, for existing HDFC Bank users this card may not be useful.
Further, since this credit card will come under the cashback segment, I would still suggest that you explore other better cashback credit cards such as SBI Cashback (Apply Now), Axis Ace (Apply Now), Axis Airtel (Apply Now), Amex MRCC (Apply Now) and the HDFC Tata Neu credit card (Apply Now). The overall reward rate on these credit cards will be much better than the HDFC IRCTC credit card.
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.