Are you a frequent traveler on Indian Railways and looking for an ideal credit card to complement your journey?
HDFC Bank, in partnership with IRCTC, has launched the HDFC IRCTC Credit Card, specifically designed for train travelers. Offering a host of benefits, including a 10% discount on train tickets, this card seems promising. But, is it worth your wallet space?
In our detailed review, we examine its features, rewards, benefits, and drawbacks to help you decide if it’s the right fit for you.
From the reward points system to redemption flexibility, we’ve scrutinized every aspect.
So, let’s dive in and explore if the HDFC IRCTC Credit Card can truly enhance your travel experience or if there are better alternatives out there.
Table of Contents
HDFC IRCTC Credit Card: Charges and Welcome Benefits
|Features||HDFC IRCTC Credit Card|
|Joining Fee||INR 500 + taxes|
|Annual Fee||INR 500 + taxes (waived off on spending INR 150,000 or more in an anniversary year)|
|Welcome Benefit||Gift voucher worth INR 500 on card activation within the first 30 days.|
The HDFC IRCTC Credit Card comes with a standard joining fee and annual fee, which are common among most credit cards in the market. The annual fee waiver on reaching a certain spend threshold is a nice touch that encourages card usage.
The welcome benefit is quite attractive, especially considering there’s no minimum spending requirement to avail it.
This immediate reward upon card activation can be a pleasant surprise for new cardholders.
Features of HDFC IRCTC Credit Card
The HDFC IRCTC Credit Card comes packed with an array of features designed to enhance your travel experience on Indian Railways.
Below, are these features and how they work:
- 10% Discount on Train Tickets: The card offers a 10% discount on all train tickets booked through the HDFC SmartBuy platform. This is split into 5% reward points and 5% cashback.
- Reward Points: Users earn 5 reward points for every INR 100 spent on the IRCTC ticketing website and the Rail Connect app. These points translate to a 5% discount on train bookings, capped at a maximum of 1000 reward points per month.
- Quarterly Milestone Benefit: On spending INR 30,000 in a quarter (i.e., INR 10,000/month), cardholders receive a voucher worth INR 500. This effectively increases the reward rate to approximately 2.7%.
- Additional Benefits: Besides these, the card gives you 8 free visits to IRCTC Executive Lounges every year (2 per quarter).
How the Card Works:
- Booking Train Tickets: When you book train tickets through the HDFC SmartBuy platform, you get a 10% discount. This is divided into 5% as reward points and 5% as direct cashback.
- Earning Reward Points: For every INR 100 spent on the IRCTC ticketing website and Rail Connect app, you earn 5 reward points, effectively giving you a 5% discount on train bookings. However, these points are capped at 1000 per month.
- Redeeming Reward Points: The reward points can be redeemed for train tickets. Note that 1 reward point equals INR 1 when used for train booking.
- Achieving Milestone Benefit: If you spend INR 30,000 in a quarter, you receive a voucher worth INR 500. This equates to an additional benefit of 1.67%, enhancing your overall reward rate.
- Availing Lounge Access: Each year, you’re entitled to 8 complimentary visits to select IRCTC Executive Lounges (2 per quarter).
Benefits of HDFC IRCTC Credit Card
The HDFC IRCTC Credit Card is a great companion for those who frequently travel by train.
Let’s take a closer look at its benefits and how they can enhance your travel experience:
1. 10% Discount on Train Tickets
One of the most attractive features of this card is the 10% discount on all train tickets booked through the HDFC SmartBuy platform.
When you book your train tickets through the HDFC SmartBuy platform, you get a 10% discount. But hey, it’s not just a simple discount.
This 10% is split into two equally rewarding parts – 5% comes back to you as reward points and the other 5% as cashback.
So, you’re saving money AND earning rewards at the same time.
Let’s take a quick look at how this works with a table:
|Cashback on HDFC Bank SmartBuy||Get 5% cashback on train ticket bookings via HDFC Bank SmartBuy. Plus, earn 5X HDFC Bank Reward Points for IRCTC Train ticket booking. Maximum cashback: INR 1000/month or INR 12000/year.|
|HDFC Bank Reward Points||Earn 1 base HDFC Bank Reward Point + 4 additional points on IRCTC spends via IRCTC Ticketing Website/Rail Connect App and HDFC Bank SmartBuy for every INR 100 spent. Maximum earnings: 1000 points/month or 12000 points/year.|
Now, just remember that these benefits are calculated based on the Merchant IDs (MIDs), Terminal IDs (TIDs), and MCC (Merchant Category Code) shared by the respective merchant partners.
If a TID is not available in the setup, such transactions won’t qualify for the benefit.
2. Quarterly Milestone Benefit
If you’re a frequent spender, you’ll love the quarterly milestone benefit. Once you spend INR 30,000 in a quarter, you receive a voucher worth INR 500.
This effectively increases your reward rate to approximately 2.7%, adding more value to your spending.
3. Reward Points Not Linked to the IRCTC Account
Unlike other co-branded cards, the reward points you earn with the HDFC IRCTC credit card are not linked to your IRCTC account.
This means you have the flexibility to redeem points for any ticket without restrictions – a feature that enhances user convenience.
4. Credit Card on the Rupay Platform
The HDFC IRCTC Credit Card operates on the Rupay platform, enabling you to link it to your UPI app for easy payments.
This feature helps keep your bank statement clutter-free and ensures that even small value transactions contribute towards meeting your quarterly spending milestone.
The HDFC IRCTC Credit Card offers a tailored solution for regular train commuters, providing them with substantial discounts and rewards.
It’s a worthy addition to your wallet if Indian Railways is your primary mode of travel.
5. 1% rewards on All other expenses.
Let’s talk about this amazing perk of your HDFC IRCTC Credit Card: the 1% reward on all other expenses.
Earning Points: For every INR 100 you spend, you get a reward point. So if you’re spending INR 150 on groceries, you get 1 point. If you spend INR 200, you get 2 points. Easy peasy!
Spending Categories: When you use your card on the IRCTC website and app for non-EMI retail spending, you earn 5X reward points. For all other non-EMI retail spends not on IRCTC, you earn 1X reward points.
Point Value: Each reward point equals INR 1 when you make transactions through ‘Points + Pay’ on HDFC Bank SmartBuy.
But hold on a second. There are a few things you won’t earn reward points on:
- Fuel Spends
- Wallet loads / Gift or Prepaid Card loads/ Voucher purchases
- Cash Advances
- Payment of Outstanding Balances
- Payment of card fees and other charges
- Government-related transactions
- Smart EMI / Dial an EMI transactions
- Rental transactions
- Interest amount of Merchant EMI
Drawbacks of HDFC IRCTC Credit Card
While the HDFC IRCTC Credit Card does offer some enticing benefits for frequent train travelers, it’s important to consider its drawbacks as well.
Here’s a detailed look at some of the negative aspects of this card:
1. 70% Redemption Limit on Reward Points
One of the most significant limitations of this card is that you can only redeem reward points worth 70% of your ticket value. The remaining 30% needs to be paid with the card.
This could be a potential drawback for those who accumulate a large number of points and wish to fully redeem them for their train bookings.
2. Redemption Charges
Another downside to consider is the redemption charge. For every ticket where you redeem reward points, you will have to pay an extra INR 99+GST.
This means you’ll be paying an additional INR 118 for every redemption, which could add up over time and diminish the value of your rewards.
3. Limited Access to Railway Lounges
The HDFC IRCTC Credit Card offers complimentary access to select IRCTC Executive Lounges, but the list of participating lounges is quite limited.
There are only 11 railway lounges across just 9 cities in India that are part of this program. Major cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, and Hyderabad are missing from this list, making this benefit more of a theoretical advantage than a practical one for many cardholders.
While the HDFC IRCTC Credit Card does offer some attractive benefits, especially for frequent train travelers, these drawbacks could potentially limit its appeal.
Therefore, it’s crucial to weigh these negatives against the positives before deciding if this card is the right addition to your wallet.
Comparison with Other Credit Cards
|Credit Card||Key Benefits||Drawbacks|
|HDFC IRCTC Credit Card||10% discount on train tickets, Reward points not linked to IRCTC account, Quarterly milestone benefit||70% redemption limit on reward points, Redemption charges of INR 99+GST, Limited list of railway lounges|
|SBI Cashback||5% cashback on all departmental store and grocery spends, Fuel surcharge waiver, No annual fee if you spend INR 90,000 or more in a year||Lower reward rate on non-grocery spends, No travel benefits|
|Axis Ace||5% cashback on bill payments, DTH, and mobile recharges done through Google Pay, 2% cashback on all other spends, No upper cap on cashback||No specific travel benefits|
|Axis Airtel||Up to 25% cashback on Airtel recharges, 1% cashback on all other spends, No annual fee||Benefits mostly limited to Airtel users|
|Amex MRCC (Membership Rewards Credit Card)||Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every INR 50 spent except for spend at Fuel, Insurance, Utilities, and Cash Transactions, 4,000 bonus membership rewards points on using the card 3 times within the first 60 days||High annual fee, Limited acceptance in India|
|HDFC Tata Neu Credit Card||5% cashback on Tata Neu app, 2% cashback on all other spends, No annual fee||Benefits are mostly limited to the Tata Neu app, Lower reward rate on non-Tata Neu spends|
If you don’t travel by train often or if you prefer more flexible redemption options, the HDFC IRCTC Credit Card might not be the most rewarding option.
The SBI Cashback and Axis Ace cards, on the other hand, offer a lot more flexibility when it comes to cashback options.
HDFC Bank Rupay IRCTC Credit Card Eligibility
|Criteria||For Salaried||For Self Employed|
|Nationality||Indian National||Indian National|
|Age||Min 21 yrs & Max 60 Yrs||Min 21 yrs & Max 65 Yrs|
|Income||Gross Monthly Income> ₹25,000||ITR > ₹6.0 Lakhs per annum|
The HDFC Bank Rupay IRCTC Credit Card caters to both salaried and self-employed individuals with specific eligibility criteria for each.
This card is an excellent choice for frequent train travelers due to its unique benefits and rewards. However, it’s essential to meet the eligibility requirements to apply successfully.
The HDFC IRCTC Credit Card is a basic credit card designed for frequent train travelers. It offers a decent reward rate and some attractive benefits like a 10% discount on train ticket bookings.
MyCreditCardClub Rating: 3.5/5
However, its redemption flexibility and additional features may not be as expansive as other cards in the market.
If you travel often by Indian Railways, this card could certainly help you save on your train journeys.
However, if you’re an existing HDFC Bank user, you might want to note that you can get a 5% cashback anyway using the SmartBuy platform, which decreases the unique appeal of this card.
For those who don't travel by train frequently, or prefer more flexible reward redemption options, there are other cashback credit cards in the market such as SBI Cashback, Axis Ace, Axis Airtel, Amex MRCC, and HDFC Tata Neu credit card which might serve you better.
These cards offer higher overall reward rates and potentially more useful benefits depending on your lifestyle and spending habits.
Have you used the HDFC IRCTC Credit Card? We’d love to hear about your experiences.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. Remember, your insights could help others make more informed decisions about which credit card is right for them.