American Express Credit Card (Charge Card) India Review

By | September 17, 2015

I have been using the American Express Credit Card for over a year now and it is time I posted a review on it. In India, people call the Amex card a credit card but in reality it is just a charge card. Which means that you will not be able to convert your spending into EMIs or move on by just paying the minimum dues.

amex card india

My American Express Gold Charge Card

You have 20-50 days interest free period just like any other credit card but you have to pay off the dues in full. Else you know what happens, your credit rating will go down and people will knock at your door!

Getting Your Application Approved

American Express Credit Cards are not that easy to get. You will be able to apply for a card only if you live in a major city like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai.

Also your income has to be more than Rs.50,000 a month and you should have a good credit rating. My application got declined once when my salary slips showed Rs.80,000+ a month in salary. I applied again after a year when my salary was more than Rs.1,00,000 a month and then it got approved.

My Amex card is a co-branded card with YesBank but apart from the YesBank logo on the card, there is no other interference from YesBank.

Amex Credit Card Fees and Charges

For the first year the charges / fees for holding this card is just Rs.1000 + Service tax. However from the 2nd year, the yearly charges are Rs.4,500 plus taxes. With taxes, your total cost of holding this card would be around Rs.5,100. But is it worth paying so much for a card?

It depends on how you are using it. The points and benefits that you get from this card will be more than what you pay as fees. Also if you ask the customer support for a waiver of the fees, they are likely to waive it for a year.

Also there is no charge for getting a replacement credit card if you lose your card or if it gets damaged. You can have up to 3 addon credit cards on your family member’s name but all of them will be linked to your card.

Rewards and Benefits

If you use the Amex card for 4 times a month with transaction value of more than Rs.1,000 in each transaction, you will end up getting 1000 reward points in that month. Based on the rewards catalog they have, these 1,000 points translate to around Rs.250 to Rs.300 in value. (keeps changing often)

If you end up getting 1,000 points every month, you will get 12,000 points in a year as a bonus apart from the regular points that you get for spending. Let’s say you earn 15,000 points in a year. This means that you will get at least Rs.3,750 worth of points. This means that around 75% of the fees are covered by your points itself. However you will end up spending more and you will at least make up for the fees that you pay.

Update as on April 2016: (updated by Siddharth)

To make the most of your card, you need to earn 18,000 Reward points (Get Rs.7,500 as statement credit) or 24,000 Reward points (Get Rs.10,000 as statement credit) to avail the milestone rewards.

To get 24,000 Membership Reward points and to avail Rs.10,000 as statement credit, you will need to spend approx 6 Lakhs, provided, you spend 4 times on transactions of Rs. 1,000+ every month. After deducting the annual fees, you will end up receiving ~1.6% reward rate on your spend.

To get 18,000 Membership Reward points and to avail Rs.7,500 as statement credit, you will need to spend approx 3 Lakhs, provided, you spend 4 times on transactions of Rs. 1,000+ every month (which is Rs.50,000 + 2.5 Lakhs Additional spend). After deducting the annual fees, you will end up receiving ~2.2% reward rate on your spend.

That’s too much of monthly discipline to follow to earn bonus rewards.

Downsides of American Express Credit Card

Like every credit card, Amex also has its downsides. In many places Amex is not accepted. If you are a merchant who uses a platform like Instamojo payment gateway, you can’t take payments via Amex cards

Also if there are any payment gateways that does allow Amex card payments, the fees for the merchant are higher than VISA and MasterCard. That’s one of the reasons that it is unattractive for merchants to take Amex payments.

Online Banking Interface

The online banking interface is not that great but it serves the purpose. Here’s a screenshot from my account:

amex online banking

To pay your dues you can make a payment via NEFT or pay online from any bank account. And just like any other credit card, you cannot pay your credit card dues with another credit card!

Features of American Express Gold Charge Card (India):

  • CardExpert Rating: 4/5
  • Reward rate: ~1.6%Β  normally, upto ~2.2%
  • Complementary Airport lounge access: No.
  • Foreign Exchange Markup fee: 3.5% + Service Tax
  • Special Features: Monthly Rewards.
  • Joining Fee: Rs.1000+ Taxes ~ Rs.1,140
  • Annual Fees: Rs.4500+ Taxes ~ Rs.5,130

Conclusion

Amex is not just a charge card or a credit card. It is more of a status symbol if you hold it. And if you are an entrepreneur who uses a lot of online services, the card will come in handy when you want to pay online out side India.Β Just like any other credit card a 3.5% mark up fee is included if you want to pay in USD.

Why Amex? Its a global brand, so, if you are thinking to move to USA or different country, its easy to get Amex credit card in new country on basis of your credit card usage history in India. Citibank as well has this advantage.

Its a good choice to hold one, if you can spend ~3Lakhs in a year so as to avail bonus reward points. Anything above or below that spend does no help in good earning rewards compared to HDFC cards. Check out HDFC Regalia which gives 2% rewards across all spends with no monthly spending rules. Its good for high spenders.

Any questions? Leave a comment below.

Author: Deepak Kanakaraju

Deepak Kanakaraju is a Digital Marketing Consultant from Bangalore, India. He blogs about Digital Marketing at DigitalDeepak.com

49 thoughts on “American Express Credit Card (Charge Card) India Review

  1. ramakant

    if you spend 4000 a month, you can pay 75% of charges? Yikes!! if you do the same thing with a citibank rewards card you get Rs 2000 as cashback. Maybe you can explain why amex has so much value?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth

      Ramakant,
      Amex is for super premium users who spend in Lakhs every month, its for those who need excellent customer support, customized and instant solutions, global presence, etc. It also gives you a great status symbol, respect & eligibility, like, when you take premium rented cars, etc.
      Ofcourse, our Indian bank credit cards provide better cashback πŸ™‚

      Reply
      1. GAJANAN

        Worst card among the cards I have used

        Please don’t take, What ever they tell initially is fake.

        Reply
    2. Pranay

      The best thing about Amex cards:

      1) Merchant disputes will be least of your problems – if the claim is genuine, Amex will side with customer 100% and there is no red tape unlike other credit cards.

      2) Amex is the only card which is transferable if you’re moving to countries like USA and Canada. This is possible because Amex is its own bank. Unlike other bank cards, which depend on Visa or Master.

      3) If you lose your card abroad, Amex will send a replacement pronto.

      Day to day use Amex has issues with acceptance etc.

      Reply
  2. Manish Lodaya

    The card is valuable if you do Airline transfer points. One can transfer airline points to Airlines such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Etihad and others in ratio of 2:1 for a nominal fee of Rs. 250. Monthly bonus points, along with initial membership points plus annual renewal points easily add-up to around 20,000 – 24,000 points that translate into 10,000 – 12,000 airline points. You can earn such points with various airline cards but not without spending 5-6 lakhs annually. Here, with AMEX, you can earn it while spending Rs, 48,000 annually plus annual fee. So, definitely lot valuable to hold the card.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth

      Manish,
      Agreed, Amex gold charge card is a good choice if used for reward points to airline transfers as the point value is pretty good in this case while usual redemption for gift-cards is not that worth.

      Reply
    2. Pranay

      Actually converting Amex points to airline miles is NOT value for money.

      The best value for money is converting 24,000 Amex points into a statement credit of Rs.10,000/- This gives you a points to INR ratio of 2.4:1.

      Now let’s take an airline. For example, Emirates Skywards

      1) Convert 24,000 Amex points into 12,000 airmiles of Emirates.
      2) Bangalore-Dubai Emirates redemption is 37,000 miles for round trip. The ticket cost is around INR 30,000 if bought.
      3) For 37,000 miles you need 72,000+ Amex points.
      4) Till this point, the airmiles and statement credit redemption offer equal INR value of 30,000

      But once you ask Emirates to redeem, then you realize that you have to pay INR 15,000 approx just for converting your 37,000 miles into tickets.

      So basically your 72,000 Amex points offers only Rs. 15,000 cash value, compared to statement credit of Rs.10,000.

      Of course, you can find loopholes like covert your Amex points into Emirates miles and then further convert that into Jet Privilege (physical presence at Jet ticket office required) which will give you close to INR 30,000 value, but as you can see it is complicated.

      Statement credit is the best way to redeem Amex Gold points.

      (Source: Have the Amex Gold Charge for 5+ years, also member of Jetprivilege Plat, Staralliance (United gold), Emirates Skywards Gold. )

      Reply
  3. Vijay

    Deepak, today sales guy was explaining me this card. If we spend 4000 rs transaction(each transaction minimum 1000 rs) every month, at the end of the year we will get gift card worth of 7500 rs. Is its so?please advise.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth

      Vijay,
      Confirm it with Amex Customer care. Their reward point value keeps changing from time to time.

      Reply
    2. anil Supraj

      True, I am using it for past 3 weeks now. you get a welcome bonus of 4000 points. And I got 1000 points for 4 transactions above 1000 rs. It also gives you a gift voucher of 1000rs from bookmyshow(need to call and register for service, i have registered but yet to spend :P).
      Apart from this, if you register for standing instructions(auto payment of your bills), you will get a 1000 rewards.
      And if you review your card for next year, you will get 5000 rewards.
      So on a total :
      1000 x 12 = 12000
      4000 x 1 = 4000
      5000 x 1 = 5000
      1000 x 1 = 1000
      ——————————
      22000, then get an extra 2000 with your spends, you will get 10000 rs cash card.
      else for 18000 points, you get 7500 rs cash card.

      Reply
      1. Siddharth

        Its the only “Charge” card that you can get at low joining fee in India.

        Reply
  4. Monil

    Thinking of getting a Jet Airways Amex Platinum card. Has a host of features and I fit the eligibility criteria too but just don’t know if spending 10k per year from the second year as renewal fees is worth it. I have the Jet Airways ICICI rubyx card which offers almost similar JPmiles, also Citi Premiermiles card offers similar JPmiles conversion ratio. Both charge relatively low renewal fees.
    A little confused. Would appreciate if you could advise.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth

      Its worth it if you travel very often on Jet Airways. Another card with high JP miles earn rate is JetPrivilege HDFC Diners Club card. If you travel locally, Amex plat travel card is best as you get close to 20,000 INR worth of Indigo vouchers on spending 4L a year.

      Reply
      1. Umang

        I just got the Jet Airways ICICI Sapphiro card. They have a promotion going on with joining benefits of 12500 bonus miles and one base fare waiver ticket with 2500 joining fees (instead of the usual 10000 miles and 5000 joining fees)

        First impressions – Online payments are just like VISA. Pretty straight forward. But my credit limit is pretty low (as compared to my visa card). Don’t know how they decided that. I have good amount of spends every month on my VISA card and have never been a defaulter in the past 2 years.
        Also, I found out that the PIN cannot be changed. You have to use the PIN provided by amex as its programmed inside the chip.

        Reply
        1. Siddharth

          Umang,
          True that, “Jet Airways Amex ICICI Sapphiro card” is one of the best cards ICICI has. I’ve reviewed about this card separately as well πŸ™‚
          Thanks for sharing your experience.

          Reply
  5. Praveen

    Nice article Deepak. One thing I would like to point out that Amex is not very good with acceptance globally. It is only accepted widely in USA and not in any other country. If you need a card that is accepted everywhere, stick to Visa or MasterCard. I live in USA and I have seen many small merchants here that don’t accept Amex.

    Reply
  6. Anand Sukumar

    Hi Siddharth,

    Could you write on the benefits of Amex Platinum Charge Card issued in India, it’s fees and benefits, something that’s not usually available on their webpage, also whether the benefits offered by Amex worldwide applies to Indian issued Amex cards.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  7. Rupesh

    @ Anil supraj
    Can you explain this.. I don’t understand that a review can earn u points

    “And if you review your card for next year, you will get 5000 rewards”

    Are they giving 4000 as welcome bonus?

    Reply
    1. Vishal

      I believe he meant renewal, not review. On joining you get 4000 pts as welcome bonus. On renewal it gives 4k/5k renewal bonus.

      Reply
      1. Mayank

        Do we have to do any number of transactions to get the welcome rewards points?
        Also This card in not good for utility, mobile payment as they charge Rs 50 per transaction:(

        Reply
  8. Anchit

    Hi, is there a way to get the annual fee for second year waived? 4999 in annual fee is outrageous. Someone told me after a particular level of spending they might waive off the fee, any idea what this level is?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth

      Spend as much as possible. Around 3-5 Lakhs would help for sure.

      Reply
    2. Pranay

      If you spend more than Rs.50,000 a month and account is in good standing (zero default), then there is a good chance your charges will be waived off on request.

      (I have had the Amex gold charge for 5 years now)

      Reply
  9. Yogi

    Hi. Every Rs.50 earns 1 point. So, to earn 18000 points one needs to spend 36000. Once you earn 18000 points you would get Rs. 7500 which can be redeemed to cash. This is how I understood from the sales guy. Not sure how does this spending of 3 lakh come from which you have put out in your blog? Can you please explain?

    Reply
      1. ramkumar nagaraj

        How did u calculate that Siddhartha that u get only 720 points???

        Reply
  10. Alisha

    I have been holding both AmEx credit and charge card from past 4 year’s.
    It’s worth paying their annual fee because of the superb customer service. Yes, there are few acceptance issue’s with Amex.

    Reply
  11. ravish

    can swap my amex jet credit card with amex platinum travel card in just fourth month after getting it…secondly can i apply for a gold charge as well now

    Reply
    1. Siddharth

      You cant swap the card as far as i know with Amex. You can take a new card after 6 months of usage of 1st card.

      Reply
  12. Krishnapratap Vedula

    Which Bank POS uses AMEX Gold Card (Offline Shopping)?

    Reply
    1. Pranay

      State Bank of India. Announced recently, so acceptance will increase.

      Reply
  13. Vivek

    So, from what ur saying –
    – hdfc religa is over all better (2-4%returns)
    – amex is better ( 2.2 returns) if we follow all the rules it lays and u don’t spend in hdfc religa specific places (in which case, returns would be 2%)?

    Amex had this bookmyshow show coupons, worth 1000/- every month ( with some rules), it’s not active now (will b active again Is what I’ve heard). If that is active, it’ll bring amex back on top (Regardless of the rules – i.e, 2.2% with 12000 bookmyshow vouchers)?

    Reply
  14. Vivek

    I have citi rewards – which is shit, had processed hdfc religa – it stopped coz they wanted some more of my docs which I was too lazy to go n mail them. Now, amex ppl came n offered me a card. I took gold, but yes they do have a lot of shitty rules – but the whole experience is great – literally no wait time on customer service calls and they are awesome in helping the customer. I don’t think I’ll get this with hdfc, then again the air insurance and religa specific returns do seem very tempting. Just wanted to know would the bookmyshow offer change anything when comparing the two.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth

      Vivek,
      BMS offers are only temporary. When you happen to have such confusion, always get both cards πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  15. Manmeet Singh

    Amex is offering me Gold Rewards Charge Card (Latest One) , which is same as Gold card but they also have Pay-in-Parts Privilege (EMI).
    I know its Charge Card so no Set Limit but having said that, there must be some extend that i can swipe that card.
    After all it’s not Amex centurion card (Black Card).

    Reply
  16. Iyyappan

    In Official site it is mentioned as “Earn 1 Membership Rewards Point for every1 Rs.50 spent except for spends at Fuel, Insurance, Utilities and Cash Transactions”

    Which means we will not get Reward Points if we use the Amex Card for Fuel, Insurance, Utilities and Cash Transactions? Please confirm as I need to Apply.

    Reply
  17. Iyyappan

    Thanks Siddharth for clarifying. Then it is very clear that it is not good to use Amex. Most people will use Credit Cards for these only:Fuel, Insurance, Utilities and Cash Transactions.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth

      Not actually. They’ve temporary promotion of 3% cashback on Fuel which is high.
      Also you get some bonus points regardless of txn type.

      All together, its a good one. Though not a great card with its basic features (Gold variant).
      Their Diwali Offers were awesome. Such thing are great here πŸ™‚

      Reply
  18. Prashant Gupta

    Nowadays no bank is giving points on fuels and utilities transaction atleast HDFC and Amex that i know.

    Reply
  19. GAJANAN

    One of the worst card I have ever seen and used. I want to cancel but they r not cancelling and adding 12% fine every month. Please don’t use this card

    Reply

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