In recent times, premium credit card features have undergone some substantial changes. Major banks such as HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, and ICICI Bank have made adjustments to their once-generous lounge access privileges, affecting numerous credit cardholders. Despite this, the demand for lounge services remains steadfast, according to recent statistics provided by Dreamfolks, a prominent player in airport services. In the July-September 2023 quarter, 2.73 million individuals utilized lounges, showcasing the continued reliance on these facilities amidst the evolving landscape.
One prominent factor driving these changes is the rising cost of lounge access. Industry experts have indicated that the surge in prices has compelled banks to reevaluate these benefits. A comparison by Live from a Lounge reveals a staggering increase in the average cost per lounge visit over the past two years. From approximately ₹600, the cost has now reached ₹990 in the second quarter of FY24 (July-September 2024), reflecting a considerable 60% surge within a relatively short period. Moreover, lounge access costs have risen from 0.10% to 0.25% of the product cost, further motivating adjustments.
Despite these transformations, there are still credit cards available that offer excellent lounge access benefits. According to Paisabazaar, here are some of the top credit cards as of November 2023:
1. SBI Elite Credit Card: This card charges an annual fee of ₹4,999 and provides up to six complimentary international visits and eight domestic visits per year. It also offers various rewards and perks such as a welcome gift voucher, 5x rewards on specific categories, and free movie tickets.
2. HDFC Diners Club Privilege Credit Card: With an annual fee of ₹2,500 (waived off on spending ₹3 lakh in the previous year), this card offers 12 complimentary lounge visits across airports in India and abroad. Cardholders also enjoy additional benefits like complimentary annual memberships and rewards from partner organizations.
3. Axis Bank Select Credit Card: With an annual fee of ₹3,000, this card allows users to enjoy up to six complimentary international and eight domestic lounge visits annually. In addition, cardholders receive bonuses and discounts on various purchases.
4. SBI Prime Credit Card: The annual fee for this card is ₹2,999, waived off on meeting a certain spending threshold. It provides four complimentary visits to international Priority Pass Lounges and eight domestic lounge visits per year. Cardholders also benefit from milestone rewards and vouchers.
5. YES FIRST Preferred Credit Card: This card stands out with an annual fee of ₹999, which can be waived off on meeting specific spending criteria. It offers four international and eight domestic lounge visits per year, along with generous rewards and perks.
While changes in premium credit card features may have reduced some lounge access privileges, there are still options available for individuals seeking these benefits. By carefully considering the available credit card offerings, consumers can find the right fit for their lounge access needs.
1. Why have premium credit card lounge access features been reduced?
Due to a significant increase in lounge access costs, banks have made adjustments to these benefits to maintain profitability.
2. Is there still a demand for lounge services?
Despite the changes, recent statistics indicate a steady reliance on lounge facilities, highlighting ongoing demand.
3. Which credit cards provide the best lounge access benefits?
As of November 2023, some credit cards offering excellent lounge access benefits include SBI Elite Credit Card, HDFC Diners Club Privilege Credit Card, Axis Bank Select Credit Card, SBI Prime Credit Card, and YES FIRST Preferred Credit Card.
4. Are there any additional benefits or rewards offered with these credit cards?
Yes, along with lounge access, these credit cards offer various rewards and perks such as welcome gift vouchers, reward points, discounts on specific categories, and complimentary memberships for partner organizations.