ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card Review

By | January 21, 2019

For a very long time ICICI Bank never had a compelling product in the lifestyle premium credit card segment. Finally ICICI woke up to reality with good innovation and decent reward rate on their newly launched premium credit card offering: Emerald Credit Card. Here’s a detailed review of the same.

ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card

Annual Fee

  • Monthly membership Fee: Pay a monthly membership fee of Rs. 1,000+GST from the date of joining – waived off if spends on card is more than Rs. 1,00,000 in the previous month
  • Joining Fee & Annual Fee: Joining fee Rs.12,000+GST – reversed if spends on card is more than Rs. 15,00,000 in the card anniversary year. Annual Fee from second year onwards waived off if spends on card is more than Rs. 15,00,000 in the card anniversary year

I don’t see any point in the monthly plan as its not something a premium credit card user would prefer, at-least not me. So Annual plan is the best in my opinion. Yet, monthly plan would still fit in if you are not sure of spending 15L.

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.5k worth of Da Milano voucher. Only on Amex Cards.

Well, may that’s the type of vouchers credit card holders of this range use. Can’t complain, yet not in my likes.

Birthday benefit

  • Dining voucher worth ₹7,500 from Trident Hotels. Only on Amex Cards.

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

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. If you’re a movie buff, well, i don’t need to speak any further 😀

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: 50k (!)
  • 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

  • Salary: Rs. 3L/m
  • 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.

Verdict

Except the poor regular reward rate on spends, everything else has been perfectly crafted 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?

Author: Siddharth

I love Credit Cards! Minting reward points and cashback for years. Now exploring Airmiles & Hotel loyalty programs. Obsessed with aviation, airport lounges and luxury travel at affordable cost.

51 thoughts on “ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card Review

  1. Himanshu

    Hello Siddharth Sir,

    Do you ditch your ICICI jet sapphiro for Emeralde card?
    You are frequent flyer so unlimited spa sessions and lounge access are great value for you.

    Do share your thoughts. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      I’m waiting for 2X JPMiles to kick in, so i’ll have to hold on to Jet Sapphiro for few months before deciding. I’ll most likely get it at-least for one year. By then, with its current speed i assume ICICI will come up with a new card 😀

      Reply
  2. Captain Bishuddha Bharatiya

    Its very exciting to see such rapid addition of new contents by you Siddharth. Meanwhile would you like to get your hands on Emeralde card if you get a chance ?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Hopefully Yes. But there are other aspects as mentioned in other comment.

      Reply
  3. Priyansh Modi

    That was quick.

    Basis your review, though 4 star, not sure I would ever go for this card (though not yet eligible anyway).

    Not saying it doesn’t seem attractive with spa and BMS, but at the end of the day, many cards give nearly same benefit except spa one.

    And rewards rate too less tbh to make it a worthwhile card to consider.

    At 3L/month salary, eligible for many cards with much better rewards.

    Though if the joining benefits/reward rate was better, might have considered

    Reply
  4. Amex Guy

    In my books, this is a pretty light swing from ICICI. I’m still unsure which segment they are going after. The only card that’s threatened by this is Plat Reserve. And I don’t understand who that card targets as well. But that card is blessed with Amex retail folks convincing people with their sweet talk.

    For rewards, this is pointless. For other benefits, ICICI needs to realize that the segment they are targeting already have these privileges from other channels. They are clearly not going after super premium segment, so they made a card that’s much more affordable but gives the illusion of super premium. Same old Plat Reserve trick.

    If they really wanted a winner: Throw in a Hilton Diamond and unlimited PP along with existing Amex network perks they are throwing at 20-25K fee and you have differentiated yourself enough. But they want serious card holders. They want gullible customers. But they won’t be getting serious travelers or high spenders on this card.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Well, provided how BAD ICICI cards were in the past, this is far better in my opinion. Yet, of course this can’t be a primary card for high spenders, but worthwhile to put it as “one of the card” in wallet, as anyway they’re going to get a waiver.

      Reply
      1. Amex Guy

        They’ll get a waiver if they spend over 1L. The waiver is equal to value lost even if their favourite card gives 2%. So it is still 12K a year in value lost a year in best of situations.

        As for other benefits, I seriously doubt if anyone of 30L a year income doesn’t have them already. Most wealth management/premium-ish banking offerings give equal or better BMS offers. Citigold already gives me better version of this, along with DBS. Which is the very reason Citi/Amex/HDFC don’t bother competing with BMS offers as standard offerings on their cards — because they kind of get their market.

        Also, Dreamfolks line up has very few arrival spas, which is where the actual value is. After their Prime card I certainly expected better. ICICI will find it very hard finding takers for their perks at the income bracket they are targeting. I fully expect this card to be handed out as upgrade to existing customers and then get perks devalued in a year or two. Business as usual with Indian banks.

        Reply
        1. Siddharth Post author

          Why count only arrival spa’s?
          And its not the card for large set of ppl anyway. So this maynot favour their CC business in big level. They either need to strengthen Sapphiro or launch some other card inbetween to attract masses. Either way they need to get out of Payback, which i believe is the one that’s holding them down on reward rate!

          Reply
          1. Amex Guy

            “Why count only arrival spa’s?”

            Because that’s the real value. People want massage mostly after a long flight. And I hardly know of anyone who uses shower before boarding. It’s very useful after landing to shower or get a quick massage before heading directly to work.

            Dreamfolks knows this. Which is why there are so few arrival partnerships they could rope in.

            I agree with you Payback has to go. It’s also gotten harder to use since there is no more eBay left to easily redeem.

          2. Siddharth Post author

            If they give lounges/spa’s in arrival then no one will go out of airport. 😀

        2. Raja

          amex guy.
          have you recieved the amex diwali 25k Tanishq GV on spend of 4.75lac from Amex?
          Raja
          PS. last year they sent the GV on 21 Dec.

          Reply
          1. Amex Guy

            Can’t help with that. My card was excluded from the promo. 🙁

            You can always call in.

          2. Sarthak

            I haven’t received it either. Customer care told me that I’ll receive it by the end of February month.

    2. jude

      i agree with Amex Guy- they built up lot of expectation and then give this crap offering out. I dont think even 4 stars is deserved. TBH, i am not sure how many people really value SPA access. Unless u book a cheap economy tickets just to get a full body massage.

      Would have been nice to see them atleast given a Hilton Gold, if not diamond, or maybe some status with vistara/etihad.

      Also amex guy, regarding ur earlier post on Citi Ultima, u had mentioned that it is given absed on spends – i think that it is incorrect. the Citi team insist on a minimum ITR of 6 crores irrespective of spend

      Reply
      1. Siddharth Post author

        Introducing dual rating for the first time. 😀

        If you exclude Spa benefit, rating goes to 3/5 – Updated the article.

        Reply
        1. jude

          ha ha ha. Thats super cool of you. Kudos Sid!!
          Any clue on the SBI Etihad card?

          Reply
      2. Amex Guy

        Which Citi team are you talking to? The issue with Citi is that most teams are clueless about both Prestige and Ultima. I got consistently wrong information about Prestige from my Citigold RM, her boss, her boss’ boss and it took one phone call with Prestige folks to get it. Unless you’re talking to Ultima RM, you’re getting information read from sticker documents, all of which is legalese mostly.

        Citi team will insist for ITR of 40L or 25L cash (not NRV) in your Citi account for Prestige as well. I’m sure there’s enough people on this site that will tell you that’s not true.

        From what I know, people with spends over 60-70L a year have got invitation for Ultima.

        Reply
  5. Anoop E S

    Unlimited domestic lounge access (both MC and Amex lounges), unlimited international lounge access and unlimited Spa access for a fee of Rs.12000. Although we get unlimited lounge access through various other cards, an unlimited spa is something different and as per the dreamfolks website, their platinum package costing Rs.26000 gives us unlimited spa but with 16 lounge access.

    Birthday benefit, milestone benefit, BMS offer, Low forex markup and WiFi access adds a good topping to this card.

    There are no joining benefits or renewal benefits mentioned.

    But somehow I feel like this a lounge/Spa access card rather than a credit card. And it is very good in that aspect.
    The presence of payback points itself shatters the image of this card. Again they have not increased the reward rate.

    Any idea about American Express “Live the World” Privileges?

    And will they allow us to share the credit limit with existing Jet Sapphiro? Few months back, I was planning to get a normal Sapphiro MC version with limit shared with my existing Jet Sapphiro (which they were ready to give), but I dropped that plan.

    Plus any idea about MC version? MC world or some other variants?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      – Check Amex live the world site for more info.
      – ICICI always works on shared limit across cards. So it has to work that way.
      – MC world or other, but not elite. Anyway, why does it matter?

      Reply
      1. Poornith Ninan

        I am not sure if the shared limits applies to everyone. I personally have 5 cards from ICICI (2 Rubyx + 2 Sapphiro + 1 Amazon Pay). The Amazon Pay has an independent credit limit and the other four cards have shared limit. I have a friend who holds Jet Coral (Visa + Amex cards) where he has two separate limits for each of the two cards.

        Reply
        1. Siddharth Post author

          They can have different limits each but its in the same pool. The highest limit is the actual limit. ICICI isn’t clear in this part. Their netbanking shows confusing numbers often, like it shows in negative CL often to me even when there is no extra credit.

          P.S. Its surprising to see someone hold Rubhyx+Sapphiro. How was the 2nd card among this applied?

          Reply
          1. Poornith Ninan

            I requested for an upgrade from Rubyx to Sapphiro through the Customer Care. They denied my first request. I requested a second time and they offered a paid upgrade. I did ask them if they would cancel my Rubyx cards but they said that it’s up to me whether I wish to keep them or cancel them. Since both Rubyx and Sapphiro cards offer lounge access, I decided to keep them as the spend limits on both cards in order to get the renewal fee waivers weren’t too difficult for me to achieve.

  6. Anoop E S

    One more point. For checking eligibility, we need to send SMS EMERALDE to 5676766. Their representative will contact us.

    Reply
  7. AJ

    “Yet, this is an AMAZING benefit as it includes non-movie tickets too. Good to see ICICI (or BMS) being so generous here. If you’re a movie buff, well, i don’t need to speak any further 😀” This already works for some other cards like ICICI Jet Sapphiro – I have tried that in the past 🙂

    Reply
  8. A2Z

    Spa isn’t the benefit which can make this card worth 4
    I don’t see much value in this card
    Targeted only at select audience

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      4/5 because it gives value for the fee. But yes, it’s only for “the chosen few” as they call it themselves 😀

      Reply
  9. ravi

    BMS offer has conditions “First come first” unlike other cards ex. SBI Elite. thats a guaranteed BMS offer.

    Further rewards rate @1% is too basic.

    YFE much much better with 2.5% rewards rate and unlimited PP/MC lounge access for both primary and add on card holders . That too at a lesser fee of Rs10000/-

    Reply
    1. As

      That FCFS quota is card variant specific, so it will always be available in case of this card.

      Reply
      1. Amex Guy

        I’m fairly certain FCFS quota is not card specific, only the discount is. They have included this card in existing offer on BMS, and they show whether the quota has expired for the offer before you enter your card number.

        Reply
        1. manuj

          Yes the quota is card specific, you will get BOGO with ICICI sapphiro card , even though at the same time you might get a decline of BOGO with other gemstone card. I hold both of these cards and can confirm that with certainty.

          Reply
        2. As

          Rubyx visa quota exhausts before Rubyx Amex. Sapphiro quota rarely exhausts. So I am certain it is card variant and network specific.

          Reply
  10. Prashant Gupta

    does not appeal much. will have very less takers who have very little knowledge about cards. U only need 2 other cards to match its features with more reward points and less fees.

    Reply
    1. Priyansh Modi

      True. Except the spa lounge feature, guess every other feature can easily be covered.

      Reply
  11. Ashwin

    Folks,
    This BMS benefit is not the same BOGO BMS offer available with other channels. Generally BOGO offer limits to movie and a limit of Rs 250/500 discount only. Here we can book standup comedy, theater/plays, sports event, etc apart from movies upto Rs 750 discount. Also this Rs 750 discount is for four times a month rather than once per card per month.

    Reply
    1. ravi

      Yeah, thats right. But the main condition is first come first.

      It is not guaranteed.

      Most of the times BMS will display today quota is over for ICICI cards

      Reply
      1. Siddharth Post author

        BMS offer never went out of Quota on my Sapphiro since past 2 yrs. But my friend holding Coral often has the problem.

        Reply
  12. Pankaj Singhal

    Why would you not pay monthly fees on this? It is a good way to minimize the overall outgo. Even if one spends say 1 lacs each in 6 months, a person can save 6k on fees. This can improve the value proposition of the card.

    However, having both the YFE and the DCB LTF, I don’t see any reason to get this card.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      I never thought of even paying partial fee to this card and so felt Annual plan is best.

      Reply
  13. Aman Mahajan

    Can you also share your views on MMT ICICCI signature card? Is it worth spending 2500+taxes for the card?

    Reply
    1. Priyansh Modi

      I personally do feel it’s a decent card to have an ICICI card in wallet which is lifetimefree, has good joining benefits for its fees and decent offers.

      Reply
  14. Poorna

    Hi Siddharth, what are the cards do you hold and what do you use them for. (so that you get maximum benefit out of them.) I am holding yfp cc and spend is >300000, but don’t get any visible benefits. do share a post on your card utilisation so that we can get insights into how get the best benefits.

    Reply
    1. Shivi

      Just go through the YFP card review page. More than enough has already been written and discussed. That card is a gem!

      Reply
  15. Vikram

    Is this 2 cards in one account like Rubyx and Saphiro or separate Amex and Mastercard variants?

    Reply
    1. Vikram

      Looks like this unlike the Rubyx and Saphiro credit cards is either Amex or Mastercard variant.

      Reply
  16. Anynomus

    Hi Siddharth,

    Can I have this card, having 31.5 lakhs of yearly salary, (ICICI salary account)? Is there any way to get it free of cost?

    Reply
  17. Shivi

    Eligibility Criteria – All existing ICICI Bank Global Private Client customers are eligible to apply for the ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card ~ Anybody here who comes under that relationship with ICICI?

    Reply
  18. Vikram

    Hey Sid, new items like discounted premium gym memberships and salons seems to have been added now in the list of benefits. Please check and update.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *