IDFC First Bank launched its credit cards a few years back. The major USPs of IDFC credit cards are LTF, even the most premium version; a decent reward rate of 0.75%-2%, reward points that don’t expire and a decent number of lounge access. Still, are these cards worth a place in your wallet? Read to find out
IDFC Credit Cards
IDFC credit cards are available in 4 variants:
IDFC Wealth – Premium version. USP is international lounge and spa access. 2 movie tickets of up to 500 every month. You typically get this card if you have another credit card with 5L+ limit.
IDFC Select – A notch below Wealth. Gives domestic lounge access and 2 movie tickets of up to 250 every month. You are likely to get this card if you have 1.5L+ limit on another card.
IDFC Classic – Entry level.
IDFC Millennia – Most basic. Amazing design but really not that great in terms of benefits.
Thoughts on IDFC Credit Cards
Positives of IDFC Credit Cards
Decent reward rate for LTF cards and points don’t expire
IDFC credit cards offer a 3x (0.75%) on offline spending and a 6x (1.5%) on online spending. Further depending on the card variant, you get 10x (2.5%) on spends above a certain threshold (20k-30k) every month. Thus on a blended basis, you are somewhere between a 1.5-2% reward rate. This is quite decent for an LTF card. Moreover, the reward points don’t expire.
Do note that all IDFC credit cards have the same reward structure of 0.75% on offline spending and 1.5% on online spending. While the 0.75% for offline spending is low, 1.5% for online spending is quite decent. Nonetheless, this is lower than what many other cards offer such as SBI Cashback(Apply Now) giving 5%, Axis Ace (Apply Now) giving 2%, and SBI Simply Click(Apply Now) giving 1.25-2.5%. However, do note that on IDFC credit cards insurance and fuel spending don’t earn any reward points.
Rent payment gets you a 0.75% reward rate
Nowadays, most credit cards don’t give any reward points on rent payments, however, IDFC credit cards still offer a 0.75% reward rate on rent payments. However, the catch here is rent payments are not counted towards the monthly milestone for a 10x reward rate. Thus you need to spend another 20-30k outside of rent payments to get 10x reward points.
10x points on spends above a threshold and on your birthday
IDFC credit cards have this unique feature where spending over 20k in a month will earn 10x (2.5%) reward points. This threshold for an IDFC Wealth card is 30k in a month. Therefore, for a strange reason, the higher variant card effectively has a lower reward rate. Further, do note that fuel, insurance and rent payments are not counted for threshold calculations.
In addition, IDFC also offers 10x on birthday spending i.e. a 2.5% reward rate. However, I could not find the T&Cs associated with this feature to understand if there are any capping and exclusions. Do let me know where can I find the T&Cs of this feature.
The interest rate on a revolving balance varies from 9%-42%
IDFC Bank is marketing this as the USP of the card. The concept is good, that someone with an impeccable credit record and credit history should have a lower interest rate. However, I have my reservations on actually how many customers will actually get a 9% interest rate. IDFC has offered me an 18% interest rate on the revolving balance. Nonetheless, this is nearly half of what my other credit cards charge. However, by god’s grace, I don’t revolve any balance on my credit card, so for me, this is just a number.
Interest-free cash withdrawals
Another unique proposition IDFC credit cards offer is interest-free cash withdrawals. I.e. one can withdraw cash up to the cash limit on the card and interest will be applicable only post the due date. This is again a good feature on the card, however, one has to keep in mind that cash withdrawal charges of 295 (250+ GST) will be applicable. Thus, for 20,000 cash withdrawals, one would end up paying 295 as implicit interest charges for 45 days, which is around an 11% interest rate. For someone with a higher cash withdrawal limit, the interest rate will be lower.
Lounge and airport spa access
IDFC Select and Wealth variants offer free lounge access. The select variant offers 4 domestic lounge access per quarter while the Wealth variant offers 4 domestic/international lounge and spa access per quarter. Again 4 lounge access per quarter on an LTF card is very good and not many cards will offer that. However, do keep in mind that now to access the lounge; you need to spend at least 5k in the previous month. Thus now you can’t keep this card only for lounge access, you also need to spend on it. However, do note that there is no spending requirement to access railway lounges.
IDFC credit cards offer 1-on-1 free movie tickets or discounts on movie tickets depending on the card variant. Wealth card offers 1-on-1 on movie tickets up to INR500 on Paytm mobile app (valid twice per month). Similarly, IDFC Select offers 1-on-1 up to 250, twice a month. Millennia and Classic offer a 25% discount of up to 100 once every month.
Negatives of IDFC Credit Cards
Your reward rate is never 2.5%
You get 10x points (2.5%) only on spends above 20k (for Select, Classic and Millennia variants) and 30k for the Wealth variant. However, your reward rate is never 2.5% since the spending done to reach the threshold level has a lower reward rate. Furthermore, since the rent, insurance and fuel spending are not counted, touching the threshold spending will be difficult for many. This is a serious drawback when compared to other cards, for e.g. even Amex (Apply Now) also doesn’t provide reward points for insurance spending but counts those towards milestone spending. This is not possible unless the IDFC credit card is your primary credit card. Maybe this is the whole idea of giving 10x reward points only above 20k spends that IDFC Bank wants this card to be your primary card.
Redemption charges at 99+taxes
This is a bummer. You offer your credit card as LTF but have reward redemption charges. Better, take a 100+GST annual fee. I believe the best will be to redeem once a year so that repeated redemption fees will be avoided.
Monthly spend target for lounge access
IDFC First has made changes to its free lounge access offering. You now need to spend a minimum of 5000 in the previous month to be eligible for lounge next month. That is you spend 5000 in April and then can get lounge access in May. You can consume your entire quarterly quota in May itself, with no issues. However, if your spending in May is less than 5000 then you won’t get lounge access in June. I am sure that the bank has realised many people took the Select and Wealth variants only for lounge access and never did any spending on them. Thus this rule.
Railway lounge access is a non-starter
All 4 IDFC credit cards offer 4 free railway lounge access every quarter. However, the lounge list is very short with just 5 locations. These are Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Ahmedabad and Kolkata. Mumbai is missing. Therefore, unless, one travels to these locations frequently, this feature will remain just a feature of most cardholders. Further, below is mentioned in the T&Cs.
Most premium Wealth variant has the lowest reward rate
Surprisingly, the most premium variant IDFC Wealth has the lowest reward rate within IDFC credit cards. This is simply because the 10x threshold is at 30k versus 20-25k for other cards. While one may argue that the Wealth card offers spa access and better offers on movies. However, it is very strange that your best card gives a lower reward rate than your most basic card.
How does IDFC credit cards compare with SBI Cashback card?
Given my long rant on the positives and the negatives of IDFC credit cards, the question comes as to how does it compares with say SBI Cashback card? Well the result is for you to see, the reward rate of IDFC credit cards is significantly lower than the SBI Cashback card. Thus sort of again I come back to my view that a trio of SBI Cashback(Apply Now), Axis Ace(Apply Now) and Amex MRCC(Apply Now) would give 5% cash back on nearly all spends. Moreover, you will get lounge access on Axis Ace too.
IDFC credit cards overall are a decent package. They come with 0 fees, a decent reward rate, reward points don’t expire and you get airport/railway lounge access. However, are they a must-have in your wallet? I would say NO. Again, since the cards are LTF you may think to apply for one. However, be sure as to why are you applying. Is it the lounge/spa access? Remember that you need to spend 5000 this month to access the lounge the next month. Is it the railway lounge access? Check the list of railway lounges allowed here. In case you apply for IDFC credit cards, apply only the Wealth or the Select variant. Don’t even take Millennia and Classic variants.
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