Standard Chartered Ultimate credit card is the top offering from the bank in India that is targeted at HNI customers. But, is it actually comparable to the super-premium credit cards from HDFC Bank and Axis Bank? Even today, Standard Chartered India is a far smaller player among behemoths like HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, and SBI Card. But it does have some ‘different’ credit card offerings targeted toward certain audiences. The Ultimate credit card is one of them – aimed at the high-spending customers who don’t mind paying an annual fee for benefits. In this article, we review the Standard Chartered Ultimate credit card and its rewards & benefits.
Standard Chartered (SC) Ultimate has a higher entry barrier than other credit cards. SC does not mention the exact salary entry criteria. But, it has internal rules when it comes to determining eligibility for this card.
If we have an existing SC credit card with a limit of more than Rs 4 Lakhs, we can get this card by applying online. Standard Chartered allows holding more than one credit card with a shared credit limit. In my case, I already had a Standard Chartered Super Value Titanium credit card with more than a 4 Lakh limit. So, I applied for the card online and received the card in 2 weeks. Simple process!
If you are self-employed, you may face issues while applying for Standard Chartered credit cards. Stan Chart India has an internal list of employers against which they approve credit cards. So, higher chances of rejection.
Fees and Charges
|Joining Fee||Rs 5000+GST|
|Welcome Benefit||6000 Reward Points|
|Annual Fee||Rs 5000+GST|
|Renewal Benefit (Every Year)||5000 Reward Points|
|Utilities and Bill Payments||3 RP/Rs 150||2%|
|Rent and Property Management||3 RP/Rs 150||2%|
|Duty-Free Spends||3 RP/Rs 150||2%|
|Other Spends||5 RP/Rs 150||3%|
|Duty Free Spends||5% cashback|
The recent devaluations have tried to control the uncapped rewards in some high-spend categories like rent, insurance, and bill payments. But, the Supermarket spending reward rate of 2% is ridiculous. They could have kept it at 3.3% with some cap to prevent misuse.
The 3.3% rewards rate is comparable to premium credit cards like Diners Club Blackand Infinia. But there is a small advantage here. We get reward points on the Ultimate card even if the transaction value is less than Rs 150. So, when we pay for a coffee for Rs 30, I get 1 reward point for this transaction. HDFC DCB and Infinia do not issue reward points for transactions below Rs 150. This is the only card to give flat 3.3% rewards making it an everyday spend card even for smaller transactions.
- Foreign Currency Markup: 3.5% but we also get a cashback of 1.5% of the transaction fee.
- Fuel Surcharge Waiver: This is capped at Rs 1000 per calendar month.
Complimentary Airport Lounge Access
- Airport Lounges in India: 4 complimentary visits/quarter with Visa Infinite. The list of eligible airport lounges for access through Visa is available here.
- International Airport Lounges (outside India): 1 complimentary visit/month with Priority Pass. This is only available if spending more than Rs 20,000 in the previous month on the card.
Each reward point earned on the Standard Chartered Ultimate credit card is worth Rs 1 for all rewards on its redemption portal. There are six categories for reward redemption:
- Electronics – Mobile phones, headsets, and tablets are the primary options. We can get high-end phones like Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or Galaxy S20 Ultra. Most of the items are at MRP though and we will miss out on the discounts that retail shops/websites offer.
- Home and Family – Games and home appliances like mixer grinders.
- Lifestyle – Limited options like personal care and grooming electronics.
- Travel – Backpacks and other luggage options.
- Charity – Donate points to charity organizations
- Gift Vouchers – This is the one that gives the best benefit. We can redeem points for a wide range of gift vouchers from apparel brands like Arrow, fashion retail shops like Lifestyle/Pantaloons, and electronics shops like Croma.
The big question – is whether SC Ultimate is still a good credit card after the devaluation in April 2023. For what it’s worth – our answer now would be No. For the 5K annual fee, we can do a lot better with other credit cards. Even a combination of cashback credit cards with a fee of less than Rs 1000 can be a good option. Some of the cards you can look into are SBI Cashback, Axis Ace, and Flipkart Axis.
The second worry for Ultimate now is limited options for reward redemption. Some popular options like gold/jeweler GVs have been removed now. No Amazon Pay GVs either. All GVs can be bought outside for a minimum of 10% off. This means the real-world reward rate would be less than 3%. We are even better off using milestone credit cards like Amex Platinum Travel.