For a very long time ICICI Bank never had a compelling product in the lifestyle premium credit card segment. Yes they do have gemstone cards but they’re too bad when it comes to rewards & benefits.

ICICI Emeralde Credit Card Review

Finally ICICI woke up to reality with a nice product and decent reward rate on their newly launched super premium credit card offering with Emerald Credit Card. Here’s a detailed review of the same.

Annual Fee

The Emeralde credit card comes in two fee options for you to choose from: Monthly/Annually. Here is the fee structure:

Monthly membership FeeRs. 1,000+GST
Monthly membership Fee WaiverSpend Rs.1L in previous month
Joining / Annual FeeRs.12,000+GST
Joining / Annual Fee WaiverSpend Rs. 15L in the card anniversary year

Annual plan is the best in my opinion for most card holders. Yet, monthly plan would still fit in if you intend to do regular spends on the card.

Also, its given as first year free for select individuals both as an upgrade and also as a fresh card, based on the profile.

Variants

ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card Variants
  1. Mastercard
  2. American Express

You can choose only one between the two. If you plan to take this card, you should probably be taking the Amex variant because both the Da Milano & Trident dining voucher comes only with the Amex variant.

You can also change the variant to the other just incase if you took the wrong one by mistake.

However switching the variant seems to be a problem for some users at the moment (as of July 2020).

Rewards

Regular Rewards

  • 4 PAYBACK Points on every ₹100 spent, except fuel (1% Value)
  • 1 PAYBACK Point on every ₹100 spent on utilities and insurance categories (0.25% Value)

This is the most disappointing part of this card – POOR reward Rate on regular spends. So high spenders >15L might need to switch to other cards.

But the good thing about Payback rewards is that you can convert the points to cash credit on statement.

Moreover, you can expect decent spend based offers on the Amex variants occasionally that will raise the overall reward rate a bit.

Milestone Benefit

  • Spend 2L to get Rs.5,000 worth of Da Milano voucher. [Amex Variant only]

Decent option. I was able to redeem it at Da Milano outlet at Mumbai Airport T2 – Domestic departures.

Birthday Benefit

  • Dining voucher worth Rs.7,500 from Trident Hotels. [Amex Variant only]

Nice value again. Yet, I wish they had given Marriott Dining voucher or maybe Dineout voucher instead.

You get dining voucher not only for the 1st year, but also for the remaining period, as long as you hold the credit card.

Airport Benefits

Lounge Access

They haven’t mentioned anything about add-on cards but chances are you may be able to access atleast domestic lounges with add-on cards.

Spa Access

  • Unlimited Spa Access via Dreamfolks

This is the most lucrative benefit of this card. If you’re flying frequently within India, this will get you unbelievable value. 

For Ex, if you fly once every month for an year, that’s 2*12 = 24 Spa visits. Even if you assume cost at just Rs.1k per visit, this alone gives you 24k value.

The surprise is, this is not the first card in India to get unlimited spa benefit. ICICI silently has been already issuing unlimited spa access to Diamant card holders.

Bookmyshow Benefit

  • Buy one ticket and get up to Rs.750 off on the second ticket, up to four times every month through BookMyShow

That’s technically 750*4=Rs.3000 value per month. But a typical person living in non-metro can’t get that much value.

Yet, this is an AMAZING benefit as it includes non-movie tickets too. Good to see ICICI (or BMS) being so generous here.

Wifi Access

  • Unlimited complimentary access to Boingo Wi-Fi across the globe. Amex benefit.

This is again a wonderful benefit if you travel often internationally as every airport shows like 10 wifi hotspots around and you never who which is legit one to connect to. Problem solved!

This is first of its kind in India and we must truly appreciate ICICI for bringing this benefit to us. This could be a game changer.

Other Benefits

  • Credit Shield: Rs.50,000 (!)
  • 1.5% Markup Fee on Intl Txns
  • No late payment fee, no overlimit fee
  • Discounts on Gym/salon & health clubs across India
  • 15% off on all services at O2 Spa
  • 20% off on gold making charges at Joyalukkas across India
  • American Express “Live the World” Privileges
  • Golf access based on spends

Eligibility

  • Fresh Application: Salary: Rs. 3L/m (or) Annual Income: Rs. 30L
  • For Upgrade: Existing ICICI Card Limit of 6 Lakhs

Now this is the most challenging part for many and we never know how strict ICICI is planning to handle it. Only time will tell.

My Experience

I was able to extract a value of Rs.15,000 in my first year of membership. This includes benefits such as: Da Milano voucher, Trident dining voucher & Bookmyshow benefit.

Check out my Hands on experience with ICICI Emeralde credit card in detail.

Verdict

Except the poor regular reward rate on spends, everything else has been crafted well to position it in the super premium credit card segment. If you put a value to the benefits like Spa/BMS/Wifi among others, you’ll find the overall return to be reasonably good.

  • Cardexpert Rating: 4/5

Note: If you donot avail airport spa benefits, the rating will go as low as 3/5.

Yet, if you’re a very high spender, you may simply use this card as a Spa/BMS card and continue with other super premium credit cards for regular spends.

What’s your take on ICICI bank’s Emerald Credit Card? Anyone planning to apply anytime soon?

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