Best Credit Cards in India for Airport Lounge Access

Between long and tiring flight journeys, the biggest respite for any traveller would be a comfortable and cozy airport lounge access pass to take a quick nap, grab a bite or utilise the long waiting hours productively. Although business class flyers and people with lounge memberships gain direct access to these lounges, it is not a free entry zone  for the others. However, a reliable credit card can give the economy class travellers free access to lounge services and they can enjoy quality services without burning a hole in their pocket. Therefore, it is important  to choose the right credit card that provides you the best services. At FinTown, we spend thousands of hours researching financial products in India to help our customers make the best possible personal finance decisions. So, here are the contenders for the best credit cards in India for getting free airport lounge access.

Card Name Annual Fee APR Initial Bonus
American Express Charge Card INR 50,000 plus taxes Nil Nil (Benefits Only)
HDFC Diners Club Black Credit Card INR 5,000 + GST Joining Fee: INR 10,000 + GST 23.88% 10,000 bonus points
Citibank Prestige Credit Card INR 20,000 20.99% 10,000 bonus on air miles
Citibank PremierMiles Credit Card INR 3,000 + GST A variable interest rate of 37% to 42% 10,000 Miles with your first spend of INR1,000 or more
YES First Exclusive Credit Card INR 1,000 14.40% or 23.88% 50,000 points
ICICI Expressions Credit Card INR 500 40.80% Nil

Best Credit Card in India for Complimentary Airport Lounges Access

American Express Platinum Charge Card

The American Express Platinum Charge Card, with an annual fee of INR 50,000, gives an unparalleled experience - be it hotel loyalty Memberships such as Hilton Hotels or Shangri - La Golden Circle's Jade Tier. Furthermore, you can get maximum benefits out of this card when you frequently fly from one city or country to another. You can make use of unlimited access to airport lounges of a good variety of chains such as Centurion, Delta, American Express Lounge and Priority Pass Membership etc.

Pros & Cons:

Reasons to Choose Reasons to Avoid
Airport Lounge Access No welcome bonus
Elite Hotel Memberships High Annual Fee
Golf privileges
Dining benefits, Invites for events

Rewards/Benefits:

  • Rewards Structure: On every INR 40 spent, you earn 1 point excluding fuel. For fuel spends, you earn 1 point on every spend of INR 100.
  • Airport Lounge Access: With the AmEx Charge Card you can enjoy access to Centurion Domestic Lounge, American Express Lounges, Priority Pass Lounge and Delta lounge.
  • Hotel Privileges: You receive benefits such as late 4 pm check out, free upgrade etc. across Fine Hotels and Resorts properties and savings at the Hotel Collection. Additionally, you get complimentary memberships to Hilton Hotels, Shangri - La Golden Circle's Jade Tier, Radisson Rewards Gold Elite Status and Starwood Preferred Gold Guest Programme.
  • Dining Benefits and Offers: Exclusive features such as Complimentary Membership to EazyDiner Programme, Club ITC Culinaire Programmme , Taj Epicure Membership etc.
  • Invites for cardholders: This card is truly rewarding in the sense that you could get exclusive tickets to events, shows, concerts etc.
  • Access to golf courses: You get access to over 26 golf courses in India with the American Express Platinum Charge Card.

Quick Figures:

Annual Fee INR 50,000
Initial Bonus Nil
APR No interest rate since it is a charge card
Minimum Requirements Should have a good credit history and company should be trading for at least 12 months if self-employed.

This super-premium charge card does a great job in giving you access to the best hotel and airport lounge experiences. However, it does not provide any initial welcome bonus and also comes with a very high annual fee.

Unlike other cards, this is a charge card and levies zero interest rate. Moreover, for those who have inculcated or want to inculcate financial discipline in their transactions and are sure about being able to pay in full every month, charge cards are safer bets.

HDFC Diner's Club Black Credit Card

Recognized for its excellent rewards programme, the HDFC Diner's Club Black Programme is the best HDFC credit card for airport lounge access. Not only does it provide unlimited airport lounge access but also free golf rounds. Every reward point can be redeemed for INR 1 on booking flight tickets or hotels. Furthermore, this card also comes with an impressive insurance policy. Additionally, you get 10X rewards on all your international spends.

Pros and Cons:

Reasons to Choose Reasons to Avoid
Great rewards, joining and renewal bonus High first-year membership fee and renewal fee
Unlimited Airport Lounge Access Difficult to get (High ITR of INR 20- 30 Lakhs a must)
Low Foreign Currency Mark-up Fee and low APR Card not accepted at many places
Golf games (Green Fee Waiver)

Rewards/Benefits:

  • Rewards Structure:
    • - 10x Reward Points on all International Spends and Smartbuy.
    • - 5X rewards on all other transactions.i.e. 5 reward points for every INR 150 spent.
    • - Value of each reward point equals Re 1. Up to 25,000 reward points a year.
  • Airport Lounge Access: Unlimited Airport Lounge Access at the best airports in India
  • BookMyShow Offers: 3 free movie tickets on BookMyShow.
  • Golf games: 6 complimentary golf games per quarter.
  • Insurance benefit: Air accident cover of INR 2 Crore; Emergency medical expenses cover of INR 50 Lakh.
  • Global Value Program at INR 199 Annual Fee.
    • - 500 Bonus reward points as a welcome benefit on 1st international spends.
    • - 1% Cashback on all International transactions.
    • - INR 2,000 worth Yatra voucher on reaching milestone spend of INR 1,50,000 on international spends.

Quick Figures

Annual Fee Year 1 Fee: INR 10,000 Renewal Fee: INR 5,000
Initial Bonus 10,000 bonus points as a welcome gift
APR 23.88%
Eligibility Criteria For salaried: Net Monthly Income > INR 1.75 Lakhs per month. For self-employed: ITR > INR 21 Lakhs per annum

The HDFC Bank Diner's Club Black Credit Card gives an impressive savings of up to 33%. With this card, you earn 10X rewards on all your international spends, making this card the best credit card for earning reward points. Additionally, you can earn up to 25,000 reward points, where every reward point equals INR 1. This card also offers a good deal when it comes to dining discounts and BookMyShow offers.

With one of the highest reward rates, this premium card gives you unlimited access to over 700 international airport lounges and 35 domestic lounges across the world, therefore, making it our first choice.

Citi Prestige Credit Card

The Citi Prestige Card primarily targets people who prefer luxury over other things. It offers unlimited airport lounge access, a good insurance coverage, Taj Epicuria and InnerCircle Silver Membership and golf privileges. Therefore, it is designed keeping in mind all the needs of a person wishing to travel in luxury.

Pros and Cons:

Reasons to Choose Reasons to avoid
Unlimited airport lounge access Very high annual fee
Golf privileges Unimpressive Rewards rate
A good insurance coverage
Taj Epicuria Plan and Inner Circle Silver Membership

Rewards/Benefits:

  • Unlimited airport lounge access: You get a Priority Pass Membership which allows unlimited access to lounges over 800 airports for primary as well as supplementary cardmembers.
  • Golf games: With the Citi Prestige Card, you get 4 complimentary golf games at 15 golf courses in India every year.
  • Insurance: The Citi Prestige Card offers an overseas medical insurance of USD 50,000. Additionally, the Citi Prestige card offers an air accident coverage of INR 5,00,00,000. The lost card liability insurance is for INR 3,00,000.
  • Complimentary nights in Hotels: On every 4 nights stay at partner hotels, you get to stay for an extra night free of cost.
  • Global Assistance: With the Taj Epicuria and Inner Circle Membership, you get to receive a personalized welcome worldwide with an elevated status on the loyalty programs of their global partner.
  • Rewards: For every INR 100 spent locally, you get 1 reward point whereas you earn 2x rewards on international spends. You can redeem your points for air miles.

Quick Figures:

Annual Fee INR 20,000
Initial Bonus 10,000 bonus air miles
APR 20.99%
Minimum Requirements A good credit history

The Citi Prestige Card is exclusively for premium customers and the existing Citigold Private Clients. Although it comes at a very high annual fee, the unlimited access to airport lounges, Taj Epicuria Memberships etc. make this a suitable choice for high income customers.

Citibank Premier Miles Credit Card

The Citibank PremierMiles Credit Card is one of the most popular travel credit cards for its all-rounder benefits on rewards, miles, redemptions across categories, excellent introductory benefits, and at least 6 access passes to airport lounges every quarter. Although the interest rate and the annual fee are a tad bit on the higher side, the introductory bonus does make up for it, thereby, making it your best travel partner.

Pros & Cons:<

Reasons to Choose Reasons to Avoid
Excellent Intro Benefits and renewal bonus High APR
No expiry date of accumulated reward points No golf privileges
PremierMiles on every time you spend
Airport Lounge Access

Rewards/Benefits:

  • Welcome benefit: 10,000 points as an introductory bonus and 3000 points on renewal.
  • Air Miles:10 miles per INR 100 on flight tickets and hotel stays on Citi Premier Miles website. Furthermore, the air miles earned never expire.
  • Airport Lounge Access: 6 or 8 visits to airport lounges depending on whether you have master or visa card.
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: The Fuel Surcharge gets waived off at Indian Oil Petrol Pumps
  • Rewards on airline spend: 3% reward rate on airline spends.
  • Dining Discounts:15% discounts on dining.

Quick Figures:

Annual Fee INR 3000 + GST
Initial Bonus 10,000 points
APR 37.20% to 42%
Minimum Requirements Should be a salaried employee or self-employed with stable monthly income

The Citi PremierMiles Credit Card is a useful credit card for those who are seeking good air miles and airport lounge benefits. The annual fee and interest rate are on the higher side, but the introductory benefits program somewhat makes up for it. With 10x points for airline spend, a frequent traveller surely gets rewarded well.

One of the major complaints many people have on this card is that the rewards categories have been devalued. Even after devaluation, the card continues to hold its own.With a variable APR ranging from 37.20% to 42%, one might want to stay away from this card unless they intend to make credit card bill payment in full every month.

YES First Exclusive Credit Card

The YES First Exclusive Credit Card offers unlimited access to domestic and international airports. Additionally, this card offers you a Taj Epicure InnerCircle Membership. Moreover, what would attract you the most is the welcome bonus of 50,000 reward points that you get on your first transaction.

Pros & Cons:

Reasons to Choose Reasons to Avoid
Welcome Bonus High Annual Fee
Unlimited airport Lounge access
Taj InnerCircle epicure Membership
MasterCard World Golf Programme

Rewards/Benefits:

  • Welcome Bonus: 50,000 reward points as welcome bonus and 40,000 points as renewal bonus.
  • Low interest rate and forex fee:Preferential interest rate of 14.40% for YES Bank customers whereas annual interest rate of 23.88% for non YES bank customers. A forex- mark-up of 1.75% is charged from YES bank customers.
  • Airport Lounge Access: Unlimited international airport lounge visits as Priority Pass Membership and free mastercard lounge access programme.
  • Taj InnerCircle Epicure Membership: Enjoy exclusive privileges on dining and your hotel stays at Taj group of hotels
  • MasterCard World Golf Programme: You get access to over 26 golf courses.
  • Insurance Cooverage: You get an INR 3 crore on you air accident
  • BookMyShow Discounts: 25 % discounts on BookMyshow tickets.
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Fuel Surcharge Waiver of 1% for transaction values of INR 400 to INR 5,000.

Quick Figures:

Annual Fee INR 10,000 + GST
Initial Bonus 50,000 points
APR 14.40% or 23.88%
Minimum Requirements Minimum Net Salary of INR 400,000 per month or Income Tax Return of INR 50.00 Lacs and above

The YES First exclusive Credit Card comes with a low revolving interest rate and provides unlimited airport lounge access and elite Taj InnerCircle Epicuria Membership. The welcome and renewal bonus compensate for the INR 10,000 annual fee. However, the problem with this credit card is the difficulty to get your application approved.

ICICI Bank  Expressions Credit Card (For personalized Card)

The ICICI Bank Expressions Credit Card allows card customization. You can upload your own picture or anything that takes you down your memory lane. Additionally, it comes with a low annual fee. You can also enjoy minimum 15% discounts on dining bills. Furthermore, you can make some savings on movie tickets with the Expressions Card. Nevertheless, the only features that are impressive or unique is the customization feature and airport lounge access. Except for that, other features fail to impress.

Pros & Cons:

Reasons to Choose Reasons to Avoid
 Personalised credit card High interest rate
Complimentary domestic airport lounge access No cash back
Dining discounts No welcome bonus

Rewards/Benefits:

  • Airport Lounge Access: 1 complimentary domestic airport lounge access per quarter.
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: 1% Fuel Surcharge Waiver at all HPCL petrol pumps.
  • Savings on dining bills: 15% dining discounts as per the Culinary Treats Programme offered by ICICI.
  • Movie offers: Up to INR 100 discount every month on a maximum of movie tickets, which is on first come first serve basis.
  • Annual Fee Reversal: Annual Fee Waived off on spending INR 1,50,000 over the previous year.

Quick Figures:

Annual Fee INR 499 + GST
Initial Bonus Nil
APR 40.80%
Minimum Requirements No eligibility criteria mentioned but a person should have a good credit history

The ICICI Bank Expressions Credit Card is perfect for you if you are one of those people who love personalizing their possessions. With 3 domestic complimentary airport lounge visits a year and an annual fee as low as INR 500, this is a good option. However, note that the Annual Percentage Rate is also on the higher side for this card. Moreover, you don't get any welcome offer or benefit with this card.

Bottom Line

Since one size cannot fit all, deciding on a credit card is often difficult. Unless they are tailored to the individual’s needs and goals, credit cards might prove detrimental to a person’s finances. Therefore, it is extremely important to be well informed and think smarter. To make the thinking process a bit easier we have compiled the list above to give you a comprehensive understanding of the best credit cards for airport lounge access. American Express Platinum Charge Card is our top pick in this segment.

If the high annual fee of this card puts you off, then you can consider the HDFC Diners' Club Black Credit Card. Furthermore, it not only offers you a low interest rate and  a lower annual fee but also gives you 10,000 bonus reward points  but unlimited access to over 700 international airport lounges and 36 domestic airport lounges.

If you want an annual fee as low as INR 1,000 and an extremely low foreign currency mark-up fee, then the YES First Exclusive Credit Card would do a good job for you. However, it's not easy to get an approval for this credit card. If you want to spend only INR 500 as annual fee, then the ICICI Bank Expressions credit card gives you the best offer with 3 complimentary domestic airport lounge visits in a year.

FinTown Advantage: We provide unbiased personal finance advice to help people make the best possible financial decisions. Our reviews and ratings of financial products are determined by customer financial wellbeing and not profiteering. Whether or not we make a penny, we do what is best for the customer. Our research team is made up of economists and market researchers who spend hundreds of hours researching and comparing products with the same mission in mind.

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