Credit Cards are a really good way of building your Credit History and if they are given for free, I don’t think there is any point in not taking them. In this story, I will be sharing 10 such credit cards. I am not talking about FD backed Credit Cards (or any security for that matter, except for your income documents, obviously!). You don’t need to be in any sort of privilege banking for them. These cards are actually free for lifetime. (No Annual Charges), no charges with any sort of spending conditions. No wavier off conditions, no nothing. Completely free.
Note: Obviously you need to use them in order to avoid inactive fees, but 1 transaction in 3–4 months is no big deal I believe.
10. CBI MasterCard Titanium
Not everyone will know about this bank, Central Bank of India but this is a Public Sector bank and actually not many public sector banks offer Lifetime Free Credit Cards. They mostly have some sort of spend based waiver off conditions. This is not one of them. This credit card does not have any special features, so the reason for me to apply for this was to increase my Credit Score.
The only downside currently is that this is issued with Mastercard and with the latest RBI ruling, Mastercard cannot issue any new Credit Cards, so it is not possible to apply for this Card at the moment, maybe in future when the ban is lifted after Mastercard complies to the rules and regulations or maybe when CBI partners with Visa or RuPay to provide this Credit Card.
9. IndusInd Bank Platinum Aura Edge
This is an average Credit Card, they don’t have any such noticeable rewards and also they tend to give the Credit Limit on the lower end.
I have this card solely for the purpose of increasing my Total Credit Limit, increasing the on time payment count and reducing the Credit Utilization Ratio. Sometimes once in a while I get offers on Zomato, Supr, Swiggy, etc. But nothing too fancy. This card has a weird Rewards system where we have to decide what rewards do we want to boost. Other than that, this has Fuel Surcharge waiver as well.
They issue both Mastercard and Visa Variants, so with the restriction on Mastercard, someone should still be able to get the Visa Variant.
8. Indigo 6E Rewards Ka-ching
This is a co-branded card in partnership between HDFC Bank and Indigo Airlines. This is helpful if someone uses Indigo or it’s services a lot as this gets 2% cashback on flight tickets and discounted service fees on the Airline website. This card also features fuel waiver off condition and up to 15% off with their partner brands including Accor Hotels, Lionsgate Play, etc.
This card is good to have if someone is using indigo or otherwise this is just for the sake of keeping Credit Cards to increase the total credit limit or reduce the Credit Utilization Ratio.
Currently, because of the imposed restrictions of RBI on Mastercard and HDFC Bank, this Credit card is not available for new customers but once they start issuing again, I will try to get this Credit Card.
7. ICICI Bank Platinum Chip
This was one of the initial Credit Cards I got in my financial journey. This is a good card and the reward points are also okay-okay. In fact, if you already have an account with ICICI Bank, then there are chances that you might get a higher tier Credit Card (Maybe one of their Gemstone Series), but that depends on various factors, including but not limited to the type of account, the Monthly Average Balance, etc.
ICICI Bank has partnership with Payback and provide 0.5% cashback. This Credit Card also has fuel surcharge waiver and sometimes offers on Sites like Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, etc. But this is not their USP.
The basic card has a cap to the maximum Credit Limit they can offer, but if someone is able to score a higher tier card, then obviously the Credit Limit will also be pretty good. To apply for this, you can visit any ICICI Branch or apply on their Website.
6. ICICI Bank Amazon Pay
This is a co-branded Credit card issued by ICICI Bank in partnership with Amazon. This credit card has the Credit Limit shared with the existing ICICI Credit card (if someone already has one). But still they report as a separate Credit Card with it’s own Credit Limit to the Credit Bureaus. It is weird, but it is what it is. They share the Credit Limit but report separately.
The process for applying for this Card is pretty straightforward, you just need to go to the Amazon Website, Search for Amazon Pay ICICI Credit Card and then apply on that screen. If you have an ICICI Credit Card already then the card will be issued in under 60 minutes. If not, then you will have to fill all the details and it will be done as a regular Credit Card application.
This is good in terms of rewards, provided we have the Amazon Prime membership and use Amazon for online shopping. Then we can get 5% cashback on Amazon purchases and 1% cashback on all other purchases. The caveat is that the Cashback is in terms of Amazon Pay Balance which can not be used for every thing, but mostly it is valid.
5. IDFC First Visa Select
This is a recently launched card offered by IDFC First Bank, therefore they are not giving this Card to everyone. They are very selective amongst the eligible applicants as well. There are other Credit Cards offered by IDFC First Bank which also are free but I chose this one for this list because it is in the middle of the spectrum of cards which they offer.
This credit card comes with Complimentary Domestic Airport and Railway lounge access program, which is not very common amongst free credit cards. (Some cards of ICICI has this feature but they have spend threshold which needs to be achieved in a quarter to unlock this benefit). Other than that, this also has benefits on Movie Tickets and Road side assistance.
It also features Fuel surcharge waiver. There are some joining bonuses as well. At the time of writing this story, they are giving welcome Gift vouchers of 500 on spending 15,000 within 90 days of card set-up and 5% cashback on the first EMI transaction performed within 90 days of card set up. I am also planning to get this card and add it to my portfolio.
4. One Metal
This is offered by a company called FPL Labs and they have launched this in partnership with IDFC First Bank. They claim that this is India’s First Metal Credit Card. This is a good flex to have as Metal Credit Cards are not that common in India. Feature wise, it has decent rewards system, not best in this list but not the worst either. They also have promotions running from time to time which is a good time to grab some extra reward points. Other than that, there is no special benefit like Airport lounge access or anything similar. They might have promotions with specific platforms like Zomato, Swiggy, BookMyShow, MakeMyTrip, etc. But that is not there always, so need to check in the app from time to time. I got this card not for it’s features but mainly to improve my credit score as well as a Metal Credit Card in my portfolio. (Trust me, that flex feels pretty good as people are not used to seeing a metal credit card in India). Actually I have also written a detailed story on this Credit Card, you can check that out here. 👇
OneCard, India’s first Metal Card
This is my review of India’s first Metal Credit Card. OneCard #teammetal. I have been using this card for a couple of…
3. HSBC Visa Platinum
This is another average Credit Card I have just for the sake of improving my Credit Score. They don’t give the best in line Credit Limit, neither they give a lot of offers. At the time of writing this article, they have introductory benefits of up to 2250 on a spend of 20,000 over 10 transactions in a period of 30 days from the Card activation. They do have a reward point program but it’s not that good to even consider counting. But one thing is to be said, out of the Card I have, this was one of the smoothest application process, it was quick, to the point, there were updates for each process and the card was delivered in comparatively less time. (Specially compared to other banks, not NBFC companies). Another reason to have this is that this Credit Card is accepted internationally and has comparatively lower foreign transaction fees. (Not the lowest but in the lower side of the spectrum). I have this purely to increase my Credit score and make some purchases once in a while.
2. RBL Bank YOUnique
This is a unique offering by RBL Bank, literally! This Credit Card is customizable and the offers on this card can be chosen by the user every card membership year. Now these additional offers and reward point benefits comes at an annual cost (depending on the benefit we select). But it is much like shopping for benefits as we can select what we want for our card and make it truly “YOUnique”.
They have benefits like free movie tickets, Cashback on Zomato, Discount/Cashback on Big Basket, Cashback on MakeMyTrip, Discount/Vouchers of Myntra and more. The exact benefit list keeps on updating time to time, so that needs to be checked on their Website.
The basic variant does not offer any good rewards or benefits but then that is the one with no annual fees as well. Since my primary requirement is to have more cards to improve my Credit Score, I have opted for the base variant without any additional benefits. I use it once in a while to keep it active and the bank happy.
1. Uni 1/3rd
Uni is a startup company providing Credit Card services. They have partnered with RBL Bank for their banking infrastructure. They are currently in their Open Beta stage and accepting new users. (Obviously, depending on the Customer’s Credit Score amongst other factors for deciding the credibility).
Their USP is that this is a 1/3rd Credit Card, meaning all purchases made on this Credit card will be converted into a 3 month No Cost EMI automatically. Generally other cards have requirement that the minimum purchase value needs to be a couple of thousand (roughly between 3,000 and 5,000 INR). But this card has no such limit. Also, if we don’t want to convert into the 3 month EMI, then they reduce 1% from that transaction. Thereby giving flat 1% cashback on all the purchase.
This cashback is a good cashback because unlike other Credit Cards, this does not have any rewards point system and the cashback amount is directly reduced from the total amount payable against the bill. This in true terms is Cash Back!
However, as I have said before as well, this Credit Card is in beta stage and these are the benefits at time of writing this story, so there is good chance that they might change things without prior notice. You should take this with a grain of salt.
So, this was my list of 10 Truly Lifetime Free Credit Cards in India. I believe there are more in the market like Zomato Edition Credit Card, Ola Money Credit Card, PayTM First Credit Card, HDFC Millenia Credit Card, etc. But they are either not free at the moment or not being issued or not in my bucket list to get. Out of this list of 10 Credit Cards, I have 7 and the other 3 I am planning to get (Obviously not all at once, I want to keep my credit applications spaced out otherwise the banks will think that I am in desperate need of a Credit Card and will not give me the best offer they have).
None of this is any sort of advice, I recommend you do your own research like I do before applying for any Credit Card. 👇
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But you should be careful of what you are getting into, it is very easy to fall in the trap of debt and there is no one suit fits all situation in finance, therefore I always say Do your Own Research!
If you like this story, consider showing some love by applauding below and also share your thoughts on what Credit Cards do you have that are truly Lifetime free. And if you want similar content, consider following me because I will be sharing stories about Credit Cards and other financial instruments towards my goal of becoming Financially Independent someday.