India reportedly has 75 million passport holders, of which over 20 million travelled overseas in 2019. Of course, this number was probably lower in 2020 due to Covid-19 flight restrictions, but we can safely assume that over 20 million Indians might have travelled overseas in 2020 too, had they been allowed to. A logical outcome of this burgeoning jet-setting population is a demand for international credit cards. This demand is sparked by two key factors:

  1. Several destinations frequented by Indian travellers accept a photocopy of one’s international credit card as a proof of finances for visas. This is true for one of India’s favourite destinations, Thailand. Many travellers find it hassle-free (not to mention much cheaper) to submit a proof of possessing an international credit card than to show a forex stamp on their passport, which most often is the alternative. To obtain a forex stamp, the traveller needs to actually go and exchange currency, which also involves paying the chargers involved in currency exchange. It feels like a terrible slap in the face if, after collecting forex, one does not get one’s visa. Also, most travellers today prefer to travel with less hard cash so as to safeguard themselves against theft and loss. This is also linked to the second factor that is influencing the growth in demand for credit cards.
  2. Indian travellers are big spenders. While they might scour the web for the cheapest flights and the cheapest hotels, they splurge in-destination on food, activities and a ton of shopping. An international credit card gives the globe-trotting Indian a safe alternative to carrying around a suitcase full of cash. Moreover, reward points earned on purchases made with the credit card overseas earn heavy reward points. As a result, people do not even mind the small percentage of the fee that has to be paid when swiping one’s credit card internationally.

Indians who travel frequently could definitely benefit from signing up for international credit. We have handpicked three options, each with a ton of benefits, for you to choose from. But before we talk about specific cards from specific brands, here are some guidelines that will help you evaluate any card set before you. You should ensure that the card offers some or all of the below benefits:

  • Interest-free period of at least 50 days.
  • EMI-based purchases
  • Safe and hassle-free payment in foreign currency
  • Withdrawal of cash when you’re in an emergency
  • Instant access to credit, or to be precise, instant loan availability

Additionally, evaluate the suitability of the card to your specific set of needs as follows.

  1. Check that the credit limit is extended to you suits your needs
  2. Hold the benefits against what you are paying for the card. Are these benefits that you will definitely utilize? And are these benefits worth the charges you will pay on the card?

Bajaj Finserv RBL Bank SuperCard

Charges: Rs 5,000

Key rewards: You can earn up to 20,000 reward points as a welcome gift. Reward points are also provided upon reaching milestones.

Key benefits:

  1. Discounts at partner merchants and partner brands. Users can get up to 5% cash back upon down payment at partner stores
  2. Personal loan for 90 days on your credit limit amount, with no processing fee and an interest rate of 1.16% per month
  3. Interest-free cash withdrawal from ATMs for up to 50 days
  4. Complementary health benefits up to Rs. 14,000 on the Bajaj Finserv Health App

HDFC Infinia Credit Card

Charges: Rs 10,000

Key rewards:

For every Rs 150 spent, credit card users earn 5 membership points.

Key benefits:

  1. Complimentary Club Marriott membership for the first year of having your card
  2. Unlimited airport lounge access across the globe for primary and add-on members
  3. Up to 50 days of the interest-free period from the date of purchase (subject to the submission of the charge by the merchant)
  4. Global personal concierge 24 X 7
  5. Unlimited free golf games at select golf courses in India and abroad

American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card

Charges: Rs 5,000 (but a first-year discount might be available)

Key rewards:

Credit card users can earn 1 membership rewards point for every Rs. 50 spent, except for purchases categorised under fuel, insurance and utilities

Key benefits:
  1. 4 complimentary visits per year (restricted to 1 visit per quarter) to airport lounges in India
  2. Taj Experiences E-gift card worth Rs. 10,000 from the Taj, SeleQtions and Vivanta Hotels
  3. One might be able to get a welcome gift of 10,000 Membership Rewards points redeemable for Flipkart12 voucher or Pay with Points option in Amex Travel Online3 worth Rs. 3,000.
  4. Users who spend Rs. 4 Lacs in a membership year unlock additional benefits like getting Flipkart vouchers or travel benefits worth Rs. 7,500.