IRCTC SBI Credit Cards – Review

SBI IRCTC credit cards

SBI Card seems to be on a product-launching spree, thanks to the upcoming IPO. They have now launched IRCTC SBI Premier credit card. This new credit card along with IRCTC SBI Platinum credit card are probably the only credit cards in India targeting frequent travelers of Indian Railways.

If one recalls, SBI had recently launched two co-branded credit cards, SBI Club Vistara Prime and SBI Club Vistara, in partnership with Air Vistara.

SBI IRCTC credit cards

IRCTC SBI Premier credit card

IRCTC SBI Premier Credit card

Fees

  • Joining fees of INR 1499 + GST. The renewal fee is of INR 1499 + GST
  • Welcome benefits: 1500 reward points on payment of joining fees + a BMS voucher of INR 500 on spending INR 2000 in first 60 days. So one just needs to the GST of 18% on INR 1,500 to get the card.
  • Fee waiver on spends of 200,000 in a year. (The way it is worded; I get a feeling that first SBI will charge annual fees + GST. Only, if the spends cross INR 2lakhs, they will reverse the fees, but not the GST component. So effective annual fees would be 1499*18% = INR270/annum.)

Reward and Benefits

  • 1 reward point = INR1
  • IRCTC Railway Booking: Up to 10% in the form of points (AC1, AC2, AC3 and AC CC)
  • Flight and E-catering booking on IRCTC portal: 5% in the form of points
  • Dining and standing instruction for utility payments: 2.4% in points
  • Everything else: 0.8% in points (1 reward point for every 125 spent)
  • Waiver of 1.8% transaction charges on bookings made via IRCTC portal
  • Milestone benefits:
    • 2500 reward points on achieving annual “Travel” spend of 50,000
    • 5000 reward points on achieving annual “Travel” spend of 100,000
    • Here too, on the website they have not clarified what constitutes “Travel” spends. Further, on achieving “Travel” spends of 100,000, will one get 7500 reward points (2500+5000) or only 5000 reward point?

IRCTC SBI Platinum credit card

IRCTC SBI Platinum credit card

IRCTC SBI Platinum credit card is an entry-level credit card that SBI has been offering for many years now.

Fees

  • Joining fees of INR 500+ GST. Annual fees of INR 300+ GST.
  • No waiver of joining fees or annual fees
  • Welcome Benefits: 350 reward points on spending (non-fuel transaction) INR 500 within 45 days of card issuance.

Rewards and Benefits

  • 1 reward point = INR1
  • IRCTC Railway Booking: Up to 10% in the form of points (AC1, AC2, AC3 and AC CC)
  • Everything else: 0.8% in points (1 reward point for every 125 spent)
  • Waiver of 1.8% transaction charges on bookings made via IRCTC portal
  • No milestone benefits

Positives of SBI IRCTC credit cards

  • Very good reward rate of train travel. Minimum 3.2% reward rate on AC booking which can go as high as 10% during specific months.
  • 5% reward rate of flight booking ( on IRCTC SBI Premier credit card), without any upper cap, is useful when booking flight tickets for a large group.

Drawbacks

The devil always lies in details! For credit cards, the devil is hidden in T&C 😀 . I happened to read the FAQs on IRCTC SBI cards (available here).

Some interesting, or rather discouraging points about the cards

  • Cardholder must be one of the passengers and only his fare will get accelerated reward points
  • For 10% value back, payment must be done via HDFC or Citibank payment gateway
  • Only base fare will accrue reward points. Reservation charges, super-fast charges etc will not accrue accelerated reward points.
  • 10% reward rate is only available during off-peak season. During peak season, one only gets a 4% reward rate, instead.IRCTC SBI Peak Non Peak Dates
  • Part redemption not allowed. I.e. if the ticket is worth 1000 and one has points worth 900, no redemption is allowed.
  • No reward points for bookings done via the Mobile app.
  • In case of cancellation, 50% of the reward points will be forfeited, over and above the cancellation charges.

Personal Experience

My dad uses the IRCTC SBI Platinum credit card. The reason is, given his age only SBI was willing to offer a credit card and that too only this specific variant.

We initially had a very difficult time in linking our IRCTC login id with the loyalty number. As email id, mobile no., date of birth and name in IRCTC account should exactly match the details in the credit card application form. Given the long names we have, it was a five-year program for us.

The benefit of this card is very clearly only the 1.8% transaction waiver on IRCTC website. Beyond that, the reward rate has been just 1.3% till date. Which nonetheless, results in an overall reward rate of just over 3%, which is still good. Nevertheless, the whole benefit of accelerated reward rate seems to be lost in the T&Cs.

Verdict

These IRCTC SBI credit cards are designed for someone who just needs a credit card and is not in the reward/points game. For us, the biggest benefit of using IRCTC SBI cards is 1.8% transaction charges waiver for train tickets. However, beyond that, the SBI IRCTC cards have rather nothing to offer. The default reward rate of 0.8% is very low too. The reward points accumulation is also very complex and cumbersome.

For someone who has HDFC Dinersclub cards, one can get 10x rewards (13.3%-33% depending on card variant) for both train and flight bookings. Further, many entry-level cards such as HDFC Millennia, ICICI Amazon Pay or few from SBI’s stable itself, such as SimplyClick SBI card and SimplySAVE SBI card offer better features and benefits.

PS: Was trying to get in touch with customer care at SBI to clarify some queries. However, they were too busy handling other customers. Here are my queries, just in case if you happen to reach them, please ask the below for me. 😀

  • Annual fee waiver how it works?
  • 5% reward points on flight tickets, is it only for the primary cardholder?
  • What spends constitute “Travel” spends?
  • On achieving 100,000 “Travel” spends, how many reward points will one get- 5,000 or 7,500?
  • Can one redeem reward points against flight tickets?

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