Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access in India 2019

Many credit cards include fantastic, non-monetary perks as part of their benefits. Complimentary access to airport lounges can be an incredibly relaxing reprieve from the grind of travel and is a commonly included perk. Centered around lounge access, we've researched the best credit cards perks in India and compiled a great list of options for you.

Best Lounge Credit Cards
Best OverallJetPrivilege HDFC Diners ClubUnlimited global lounge, free Jet Airways tickets
Affluent RewardsHDFC Diners Club Black CardUnlimited global lounge, Rs. 15,000 in bonuses
Hotel PerksCiti Prestige Credit CardUnlimited Priority Pass, buy 4 get 1 hotel night
No-Fee, GlobalVijaya Rupay Credit Card12 lounge visits/year, 5% on dining & utilities
Best DomesticYatra SBI Credit Card8 lounge visits/year, Rs. 8,250 Yatra vouchers
No-Fee, DomesticAxis Bank Pride Signature Card8 lounge visits/year, 1.6% back on spend
Air IndiaAir India SBI Signature Card8 domestic visits/year, Rs. 11,250 in bonuses

Best Lounge Credit Card: JetPrivilege HDFC Diners Club Card

Consider this if you're a golfer

Age Requirement 21-60 (65 if self-employed)
Annual Income Requirement None listed by issuer
Bonuses
  • Welcome Gift: 1) 15,000 JPMiles (worth ~Rs. 6,750), 2) waiver of 1-way base fare Economy Class ticket, 3) Rs. 750 voucher for return ticket, 4) 15 JetPrivilege Tier Points upon first swipe > Rs. 50 and 5) an extra 15,000 JPMiles on Rs. 150,000 of spend within first 90 days
  • Renewal Bonus: 1) 10,000 JPMiles (worth ~Rs. 4,500), 2) waiver of one-way base fare Economy Class ticket, 3) Rs. 750 voucher for return ticket and 4) 5 JetPrivilege Tier Points

As long as you fly Jet Airways, the JetPrivilege HDFC Diners Club Card could be the best travel credit card for you. The card's annual fees are easily outweighed by the welcome gift and renewal bonus of 25,000 JPMiles (worth about Rs. 11,250), 2 one-way base fare tickets waived and Rs. 1,500 return ticket waiver, together the biggest value source of the card. Further, you'll get an additional 15,000 JPMiles (~Rs. 6,750) on spending Rs. 150,000 within your first 90 days as a cardholder, but most would find this difficult.

The card comes with unlimited access to the Diners Club airport lounge network, which has over 600 lounges globally. Additional travel perks include domestic airport premiere check-in and extra baggage allowance. The card's best perk outside of travel is its unlimited free golf games (green fee waiver) at ~20 courses in India and 40 worldwide. You'll also get unlimited lessons at 14 courses across 9 cities in India. On card spend, you'll get an excellent 7.2% rupee value back (24 miles per Rs. 150; 1 JPMile = ~Rs. 0.45) on Jet Airways bookings, and another 5% off base fare tickets. All other transactions (except fuel) earn a great 2.4% rupee value back (8 JPMiles per Rs. 150). If you’re a Jet Airways flier, there may not be a more valuable card out there for airline rewards and fantastic perks.

  • Annual Fee: Rs. 10,000 (first year), Rs. 5,000 (beyond first year)
  • Earn Rate: 8 JPMiles/Rs. 150 spent except fuel; 3X miles & 5% off Jet Airways base fare
  • Est. Point Value: 1 JPMile = ~Rs. 0.45
  • Perks: Unlimited Diners Club Lounge access (600+ lounges globally); unlimited free golf games (green fee waiver) at ~20 courses in India & 40 worldwide; unlimited free golf lessons at 14 courses in India; domestic airport premiere check-in & extra baggage allowance; earn JP Tier Points; dining discounts
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 400 – 5,000; max Rs. 1,000 waived per month
  • Annual Fee: Rs. 10,000 (first year), Rs. 5,000 (beyond first year)
  • Earn Rate: 8 JPMiles/Rs. 150 spent except fuel; 3X miles & 5% off Jet Airways base fare
  • Est. Point Value: 1 JPMile = Rs. 0.45
  • Perks: Unlimited Diners Club Lounge access (600+ lounges globally); unlimited free golf games (green fee waiver) at ~20 courses in India & 40 worldwide; unlimited free golf lessons at 14 courses in India; domestic airport premiere check-in & extra baggage allowance; earn JP Tier Points; dining discounts
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 400 – 5,000; max Rs. 1,000 waived per month

Best Rewards Credit Card for Affluent Consumers: HDFC Diners Club Black Card

Consider this if your annual income is at least Rs. 2,100,000

Age Requirement 21-60 (65 if self-employed)
Annual Income Requirement Rs. 2,100,000
Bonuses
  • Welcome Gift: 10,000 Reward Points (worth Rs. 10,000)
  • Renewal Bonus: 5,000 Reward Points (worth Rs. 5,000); not applicable when renewal fee is waived (requires annual spend of Rs. 500,000)

The HDFC Diners Club Black Card is a very profitable card for high spenders, but you must have an annual income of at least Rs. 2,100,000 to get approved. The card gives excellent bonuses totalling Rs. 15,000 from its welcome and renewal gifts. Then, on all retail spend (except fuel), you'll earn a top-of-market rate of 3.33% rupee value back (5 points per Rs. 150; 1 point = Rs. 1 in travel rewards). The card's fantastic perks include unlimited access to the Diners Club airport lounge network (850+ lounges) and 6 free golf games (green fee waiver) each quarter. Last, the card's foreign currency transaction fee is one of the lowest in the market at 2%. Overall, if you can meet the steep income requirement, this is one of the most valuable luxury perks cards for you.

  • Annual Fee: Rs. 10,000 first year; Rs. 5,000 beyond (waived on annual spend of Rs. 500,000)
  • Earn Rate: 5 points/Rs. 150 retail spend except fuel
  • FX Fee: 2.0%
  • Point Value: 1 point = Rs. 1 on HDFC Diners Club travel portal
  • Perks: Diners Club Lounge (unlimited free access to 850+ lounges); 6 free green fee waivers/quarter at 20 courses in India & 40 worldwide; air accident cover Rs. 2 crore; emergency medical expense cover; baggage delay cover
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 400–5,000, max Rs. 1,000/month
  • Annual Fee: Rs. 10,000 first year; Rs. 5,000 beyond (waived on annual spend of Rs. 500,000)
  • Earn Rate: 5 points/Rs. 150 retail spend except fuel
  • FX Fee: 2.0%
  • Point Value: 1 point = Rs. 1 on HDFC Diners Club travel portal
  • Perks: Diners Club Lounge (unlimited free access to 850+ lounges); 6 free green fee waivers/quarter at 20 courses in India & 40 worldwide; air accident cover Rs. 2 crore; emergency medical expense cover; baggage delay cover
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 400–5,000, max Rs. 1,000/month

Best Luxury Lounge Card with Hotel Benefits: Citi Prestige Credit Card

Consider this if you have Citigold Private status or you're a very high spender

Age Requirement None listed by issuer
Annual Income Requirement None listed by issuer
Bonuses
  • Welcome Gift / Renewal Bonus: 10,000 air miles (worth about Rs. 4,500) and vouchers worth Rs. 10,000 from Taj Group or ITC Hotels

Citi's Prestige Card offers perhaps the most lucrative perks in India, but you must be a very high spender or have Citigold Private status for the monetary value to outweigh the annual fees. Most of the card's value comes from its annual bonuses of about Rs. 14,500 in rupee value (10,000 miles + Rs. 10,000 in Taj/ITC vouchers). However, it also has great rupee value back of 1.8% on domestic spend (1 point per Rs. 100; 1 point = 4 miles = ~Rs 1.8) and 3.6% overseas (2 points per Rs. 100).

The card's fantastic perks include unlimited free visits to Priority Pass lounges, of which there are over 800 globally. Note that free access extends to supplementary cardholders, but other guests will be charged USD 27 per visit. You'll also be entitled to a free night at any hotel across the world if you stay 4 nights, as well as free golf games & lessons, among its other great perks. In all, if you can spend enough or have Citigold Private status and want perks like these, this is the card for you.

  • Annual Fee: Rs. 20,000 - waived for Citigold Private (account > Rs. 5 lakhs)
  • Earn Rate: 1 point/Rs. 100 spent in India, 2 points/Rs. 100 overseas
  • Point Value: 1 point = 4 miles (~Rs. 1.8) on 14 major airlines
  • Perks: Unlimited free Priority Pass, primary & supplementary cardholders (800+ airports, guest fee of USD 27); stay 4 get 1 night at any hotel; 1 year Taj Epicure Plus/InnerCircle Silver; 3 free green fees; 4 free golf rounds & lessons each year at 15 clubs; air accident cover Rs. 5 crores; overseas medical insurance; emergency cash if card lost
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions at Indian Oil on Citi EDCs
  • Annual Fee: Rs. 20,000 - waived for Citigold Private (account > Rs. 5 lakhs)
  • Earn Rate: 1 point/Rs. 100 spent in India, 2 points/Rs. 100 overseas
  • Point Value: 1 point = 4 miles (~Rs. 1.8) on 14 major airlines
  • Perks: Unlimited free Priority Pass; stay 4 get 1 night at any hotel; 1 year Taj Epicure Plus/InnerCircle Silver; 3 free green fees; 4 free golf rounds & lessons each year at 15 clubs; air accident cover Rs. 5 crores; overseas medical insurance; emergency cash if card lost
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions at Indian Oil on Citi EDCs

Best No-Fee Card with Global Lounge Access: Vijaya Rupay (Platinum or Select) Credit Card

Consider this if you're a relatively low spender

Age Requirement None listed by issuer
Annual Income Requirement None listed by issuer
Bonuses
  • Welcome Gifts: Rs. 500 Tata Croma voucher; discount up to 15% at Apollo Pharmacy

Vijaya's Rupay is the best no-fee credit card for lounge access if you don't charge very much each month. Off the bat, the card comes with a nice Rs. 500 Tata Croma welcome voucher. On dining and utilities, the card earns a fantastic 5% cashback (best-in-market rate for utilities), with a max of Rs. 50 cashback monthly for each. Note that other categories do not earn cashback, however. On lounge access, the card provides a great 8 free visits to domestic lounges and 4 internationally each year. Overall, if you don't charge too much on your card each month, go for the Vijaya Rupay to earn a great return on your dining and utilities spend and get solid lounge access.

  • Reward Earn Rate: 5% cashback on dining and utilities (max Rs. 50 cashback/month for each category)
  • Perks: 8 free visits/year across 30+ domestic lounges in 11 cities; 4 free/visits year across 500+ international lounges in 300 cities; loss of life and permanent disability insurance
  • Reward Earn Rate: 5% cashback on utilities and dining (max Rs. 50 cashback/month for each category)
  • Perks: 8 free visits/year across 30+ domestic lounges in 11 cities; 4 free/visits year across 500+ international lounges in 300 cities; loss of life and permanent disability insurance

Best Travel Rewards Card with Domestic Lounge: Yatra SBI Credit Card

Consider this if you book travel online with Yatra

Age Requirement None listed by issuer
Annual Income Requirement None listed by issuer
Bonuses
  • Welcome Gift: 7 Yatra vouchers totaling Rs. 8,250 (flights, hotels, holiday packages)

The Yatra SBI Card is one of the most profitable credit cards in India for many consumers. For such a low fee (Rs. 499, which can be waived after the first year on Rs. 100,000 annual spend), the card has an excellent welcome gift of Rs. 8,250 in various Yatra vouchers. Cardholders are entitled to 2 free visits per quarter to domestic MasterCard lounges (23 different lounges across 9 Indian cities). You'll also get a fantastic 6 discounts of up to 20% off flight and hotel bookings on Yatra each year, as well as great 1.5% rupee value back on international transactions (6 points per Rs. 100 spent, 1 point = Rs. 0.25 Yatra vouchers).

On non-travel, the card offers the same 1.5% value back on department and grocery stores, as well as on dining, movies and entertainment. However, beyond those categories, you'll get below average value back of 0.25% (1 point per Rs. 100). In all, if you book enough travel through Yatra, this card will give you excellent overall value and provide solid access to lounges domestically.

  • Annual Fee: Rs. 499 (beyond first year, waived on Rs. 100,000 annual spend)
  • Earn Rate: 6 points per Rs. 100 spent on department stores, grocery, dining, movies, entertainment, overseas spend; 1 point per Rs. 100 on other
  • Point Value: 1 Reward Point = Rs. 0.25 Yatra vouchers
  • Perks: 2 free domestic MasterCard lounge visits/quarter (23 lounges, 9 cities) valid until 12/31/19; air accident cover of Rs. 50 lakhs
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 500 – 3,000; max Rs. 100 waived/month
  • Annual Fee: Rs. 499 (beyond first year, waived on Rs. 100,000 annual spend)
  • Earn Rate: 6 points per Rs. 100 spent on department stores, grocery, dining, movies, entertainment, overseas spend; 1 point per Rs. 100 on other
  • Point Value: 1 Reward Point = Rs. 0.25 Yatra vouchers
  • Perks: 2 free domestic MasterCard lounge visits/quarter (23 lounges, 9 cities) valid until 12/31/19; air accident cover of Rs. 50 lakhs
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 500 – 3,000; max Rs. 100 waived/month

Best Rewards Card with No Fee and Domestic Lounge: Axis Bank Pride Signature Credit Card

Consider this if you spend at least Rs. 40,000 annually on your card

Age Requirement 18-70
Annual Income Requirement None listed by issuer
Bonuses
  • Monthly Bonus: 100 points (Rs. 40 in Yatra vouchers) on spend of Rs. 5,000

Axis Bank's Pride Signature Credit Card is the best travel rewards card with an easily achievable annual fee waiver. There is truly no fee in your first year as a cardmember, but you would technically be charged Rs. 500 in the following years if you don't exceed Rs. 40,000 in annual spend. The bulk of the card's value comes from general spend, with great 1.6% back on all transactions except fuel (8 point per Rs. 200 spent; 1 point = Rs. 0.40 Yatra vouchers). On lounge access, you get 2 visits per quarter across 5 major cities in India. If you want an (effectively) no-fee card for travel and lounge access, apply for the Pride Signature if you can meet the Rs. 40,000 annual spend minimum.

  • Annual Fee: None 1st year; Rs. 500 beyond 1st year, waived on annual spend of Rs. 40,000
  • Earn Rate: 8 points per Rs. 200 spent except on fuel
  • Point Value: 1 point = Rs. 0.40 Yatra vouchers
  • Perks: Access to 10 lounges across 5 cities in India, 2 visits/quarter; dining benefits
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 400 – 4,000. Max Rs. 400 per month
  • Annual Fee: None 1st year; Rs. 500 beyond 1st year, waived on annual spend of Rs. 40,000
  • Earn Rate: 8 points per Rs. 200 spent except on fuel
  • Point Value: 1 point = Rs. 0.40 Yatra vouchers
  • Perks: Access to 10 lounges across 5 cities in India, 2 visits/quarter; dining benefits
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 400 – 4,000. Max Rs. 400 per month

Best for Air India Rewards & Domestic Lounge: Air India SBI Signature Card

Consider this if you fly Air India

Age Requirement None listed by issuer
Annual Income Requirement None listed by issuer
Bonuses
  • Welcome Gift: 20,000 Reward Points (worth about Rs. 9,000)
  • Renewal Bonus: 5,000 Reward Points (worth about Rs. 2,250)
  • Anniversary Bonuses: Spend Rs. 5 lakh for 20,000 points, Rs. 10 lakh for an additional 30,000 points and Rs. 20 lakh for an additional 50,000 points (worth about Rs. 45,000 total)

The Air India SBI Signature Card is the best card out there for the frequent Air India flyer. Most of the card's financial value comes from its bonuses, including the 20,000 point (worth ~Rs. 9,000) welcome gift. Ultra-high spenders will additionally benefit from the card's anniversary bonuses (max value of ~Rs. 45,000). Outside the bonuses, you'll net a top-of-market 13.5% value back on Air India bookings for yourself (30 points per Rs. 100 spent; 1 point = Rs. 0.45). Booking for others on Air India will still net a fantastic 4.5% rupee value back (10 points per Rs.100). On all other spend, you get great value of 1.8% (4 points per Rs. 100). Of the card's 2 lounge programs, the 8 domestic visits per year with the Visa program is the best, since its Priority Pass is pay-per-visit. If you fly Air India, get this card for the best travel rewards you can find.

  • Annual Fee: Rs. 4,999
  • Earn Rate: 30 points per Rs. 100 spent on Air India for yourself; 10 points per Rs. 100 spent on Air India for others; 4 points per Rs. 100 on all other spend
  • Estimated Point Value: 1 point = 1 Air India mile = Rs. 0.45
  • Perks: Visa Domestic Lounge Program (8 free visits/year, max 2/quarter; lounges across 6 major cities), free Priority Pass membership (USD 27 charged/visit), Air India tier upgrade benefits
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 500 – 4,000; max Rs. 250 per month
  • Annual Fee: Rs. 4,999
  • Earn Rate: 30 points per Rs. 100 spent on Air India for yourself; 10 points per Rs. 100 spent on Air India for others; 4 points per Rs. 100 on all other spend
  • Estimated Point Value: 1 point = 1 Air India mile = Rs. 0.45
  • Perks: Visa Domestic Lounge Program (8 free visits/year, max 2/quarter; lounges across 6 major cities), free Priority Pass membership (USD 27 charged/visit), Air India tier upgrade benefits
  • Fuel Surcharge Waiver: Transactions Rs. 500 – 4,000; max Rs. 250 per month
Dan Grossman

Dan is a Senior Research Analyst at ValueChampion India, focusing on credit cards. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics & Economics from the University of Michigan, and previously worked in the financial services industry at Capital One and Moelis & Company.