Money Saver India
Battle of the Jet Airways miles cards

Battle of the Jet Airways miles cards

Pick HDFC Bank World (Rs2499 a year) if your spend is under Rs6.75 lakh, and the AMEX Platinum (Rs10,000) if it’s over. If you’ve got the ICICI Sapphiro (Rs5,000), it’s time to switch

Finding the right air miles card is complicated, even if there are only three providers to compare. The annual fees differ and free air miles and points vary for online and retail spends. For example, the ICICI Sapphiro card (Rs5,000 a year) will give you 5,000 free air miles on renewal and 5 air miles per Rs100 you spend while the HDFC Bank World Card (Rs2,499 a year) will give you 4,000 free air miles on renewal and 5 air miles per Rs150. So how do you tell which card is the one for you, particularly when each card says it’s the best on the market? Let’s find out.

What we did
Before jumping into an analysis of how many points you will earn with each card, let us understand what each card is offering – and at what price. Remember that we have only considered premium cards here, because only the expensive cards can afford to give you the number of miles you need to make frequent flyer programmes worth it. So the competing cards are the Jet Airways American Express Platinum Credit Card, the HDFC Bank World Card and the ICICI Sapphiro card.

Credit Card Annual charges Retail spends Ticket spends Free miles (Joining) Free Miles (Renewal)
AMEX Platinum Rs10,000 6 miles/Rs100 12 miles/Rs100 20,000 5,000
ICICI Sapphiro Rs2,499 5 miles/Rs100 10 miles/Rs100 10,000 5,000
HDFC World Rs2,499 5 miles/Rs100 18 miles/Rs150 5,000 4,000

As you can see above, you earn at a one rate (see under ‘Retail spends’) if you spend at regular stores, say online or at a mall, and at a higher rate if you buy tickets on the Jet Airways website. As they’re Jet Airways cards, we’ve assumed that 40% of all spends are on the Jet Airways website. To find out the rupee value of all these miles, we used the return ticket price of an economy Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Bangalore, which costs Rs7,000 and 8,500 points in frequent flyer miles. So if you have 17,000 frequent flyer miles, the value would be Rs14,000 (well thereabouts, because these tickets aren’t absolutely free).

First year: Amex rules all
The Amex card showers cardholders with points in the first year, with 20,000 points in the first year, twice what the ICICI Sapphiro offers and four times what the HDFC Bank World card offers (it is, however, twice and four times as expensive, respectively, as the two cards). These free points, coupled with the higher earning rate of 6 miles per Rs100 spent, are enough for this card to make it worth its price tag of Rs10,000 in the first year. It gives you enough miles (in rupee terms) to offset its higher price not only at Rs10 lakh, but even at Rs3 lakh, as you can see in the following tables.

First year at Rs3 lakh (miles) Ticket value Price difference AMEX better by
AMEX Platinum 45,204 Rs37,227 n/a n/a
ICICI Sapphiro 31,000 Rs25,529 Rs11,698 Rs6,698
HDFC Bank World 26,600 Rs21,906 Rs15,321 Rs7,820
First year at Rs10 lakh (miles) Ticket value Price difference AMEX better by
AMEX Platinum 104,014 Rs85,659 n/a n/a
ICICI Sapphiro 60,000* Rs49,411 Rs36,248 Rs31,248
HDFC World 77,000 Rs63,411 Rs22,248 Rs14,747

*ICICI Sapphiro is capped at 60,000 miles per year

Renewal years: HDFC, AMEX split the winnings
Under Rs6.75 lakh: If you spend under Rs6.75 lakh annually, the HDFC World Bank card is much more efficient at earning miles because despite its low cost, the points you receive on spends are close to what you earn with your AMEX and ICICI cards. Moreover, you receive 4,000 free miles each year with your HDFC card on renewal and just 5,000 miles on the twice-as-expensive ICICI card and four-times-as-expensive AMEX card. At Rs3 lakh, for example, the HDFC card gives you air miles worth Rs21,082, while the AMEX card only gives you miles worth Rs3,791 more, which makes the latter Rs4,029 more expensive than the former (the price difference between the two cards being Rs7501). The ICICI card is also better than the AMEX card at Rs3 lakh but isn’t as efficient at earning points as the HDFC card, so there’s no point picking it even here.

Second year at Rs3 lakh (miles) Ticket value Price difference HDFC better by
AMEX Platinum 30,204 Rs24,873 n/a Rs3,710
ICICI Sapphiro 26,000 Rs21,411 Rs3,462 Rs1,538
HDFC World 25,600 Rs21,082 Rs3,791 n/a

Over Rs6.75 lakh: If you spend over Rs6.75 lakh on your credit card each year, the AMEX card, the most premium of the cards here, is the only one to consider. This is because its faster earning rate offsets its high price at exactly this point. As you can see in the following table, from this point on, the HDFC Bank World card is able to earn points worth Rs7502 less in tickets, while being Rs7501 cheaper than the AMEX card. Of course, by this time, the ICICI card is long beaten. At Rs6.75 lakh, the AMEX card would already be more beneficial by Rs2790.

Second year at Rs6.75 lakh (miles) Ticket value Price difference AMEX better by
AMEX Platinum 61,709 Rs50,819 n/a n/a
ICICI Sapphiro 52,250 Rs43,029 Rs7,790 Rs2,790
HDFC World 52,600 Rs43,317 Rs7,502 Rs2

Pic credit: Joe Ravi/Shutterstock.com

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