Life beyond Credit Card Rewards 

By | February 18, 2022
Life beyond Credit Card Rewards 

We’re quite busy almost every day tracking 2x/5x/10x rewards and offers, so much so that we don’t have time to view the big picture of life. 

While credit cards does give a very good return on spend, I often feel that the time spent by most on this game is too MUCH, for too LITTLE. This holds true for most, unless you’re running on high 7 digit annual spends.

Value of Time

Hence, it’s crucial for one to focus on other aspects of life that gives better return on “time” spent and not just blindly chase rewards day and night.

Here’s an example as to why I say that.

I recently did a rough calculation on the “total rewards” earned/saved on spends in last 10 years and compared it with the “net return on investment” in stocks. 

I wasn’t surprised to see that my inv. in last ~2Yrs has given me a decent 7 figure return and is almost same as the rewards that I earned in last 10 years! 

This means, I roughly spent 5x more time to get the same value and maybe another 5x more time to look at the complicated reward redemption system to extract little more value. 

So the time spent on rewards vs stocks is 10:1

In other words, I could just spend one year with stocks and save 9 years of my life spent in optimising spends for rewards. That’s huge isn’t it? Indeed it is!

This however is more of a personal choice as I enjoy exploring rewards vs looking at the charts. But at the end of the day, money matters the most in the world we live in. Infact, rewards are also a type of money in a way.

Not to forget, I’m no expert in stocks either. I was almost running on no-return for the first 3 yrs or so when I got into stocks. That said, almost every Tom, Dick and Harry also gained well in stocks in last two years. 

Infact, that’s a key takeaway too, as market gives a grand opportunity once in every ~10 years. 

This reminds me of the old & kind gentleman with whom I flew on my first business class flight, who was expecting a crash back then. No wonder he knows it as he had 9 figure investments. 

I’m forever grateful to the universe for giving me an opportunity to talk to such an amazing person from whom I’ve acquired certain concepts of travel.

Coming back to the point, this doesn’t mean everyone has to get into stocks. In-fact that’s the worst idea if you don’t have a helping hand. It’s just an example. 

You may work on other aspects of life with the time spent on rewards, like upgrading your skills for a “career” that gives you a better pay or improve your “business” that may increase your bottomline.

The idea is to make “best use of time”.

Final thoughts

All this doesn’t mean one has to ignore credit card benefits and rewards altogether. The key is to find a “balance” and moderate the time spent on optimising the rewards.

It’s “OKAY” to extract 90% value via credit card rewards if not 100% by being less active. That kind of time if spent right can bring you gains in very many ways, much more than what one could imagine.

And to extract 90% you don’t need to spend much time. If your annual spends are under 10L, you wouldn’t need more than few minutes every 3 months to optimise your strategy. All you need is this article

If your spends are on higher side and want to stay updated frequently, you may perhaps sign-up for the instant email alerts which will send all important updates right to your inbox. 

Speaking about time, it reminds me of the Lucy’s statement,

Time is the only true unit of measure.

And fortunately many super premium cardholders truly value their time much more than we do.

From my experience, more than 80% of those super premium cardholders (truly eligible) don’t have an active social media a/c.

They’re busy LIVING the life.

This also means, if one is good enough to realize this soon and utilize time productively, you never know what could happen next, maybe you could get an invite for a Centurion and be in a good enough position to even decline it. 😀

So let’s make use of the time effectively!

Author: Siddharth

Helping Indians to choose right credit cards, pick right offers and enjoy luxury vacations for less. Day & night exploring the spiritual reality of our human existence.

50 thoughts on “Life beyond Credit Card Rewards 

  1. DareDevil

    So you mean leave these counting, take an Axis Ace, use for all spends, invest time in better ways, Enjoy!!

    Reply
    1. Vikram

      That would be a good strategy too. But if you can add an SCB Ultimate to it then you’ll have everything covered. This means you can use the Ace for 5% and 4% and then the Ultimate for everything else at 3.3%.

      Reply
    2. Bhavik

      Unfortunately, Axis Ace has revised its reward points policy.
      You won’t earn any reward point on wallet, fuel and rent payments from 15th March, 2022.

      Reply
  2. Sandeep Kumar

    I agree with you. The time we spend on credits card is to much for the return we get!

    Reply
  3. AAJ

    As you rightly said it was once an opportunity to have that kind of profit on stocks and rewards are more passion driven than actual profit made on this. I had similar one few years back on mobile phones changes and getting updated on features, suggesting others on it. Now May be on cards and rewards.. Can relate

    Reply
  4. manoj singh

    He means to say that just spend whatever card you want without thinking of the reward and spend criteria. Really this is taking much time for rewards which is nothing.

    Even if you spend 10 lacs a year. You can earn Max reward about 30-40k. Deduct the fees then you will get max 20-30k in a year. For just this penny amount we are spending hours and extra unwanted spends and getting happy that we saved this much or so.

    I can suggest that just spend from one of your most rewarding lifetime free credit cards and pay bill on time. Have a happy life.

    I am happy that siddarth was very bold enough to write such post. The person who make us addicted to rewards.
    Sid you finally got Nirvana. I am also going in the same direction

    Reply
  5. Vikash Singh

    Perfectly analysed Sid. अति सर्वत्र वर्ज्यते। (Excess is everything bad.) And this saying works everywhere and for everything and for everyone.
    People must utilise their time in a balanced way. For example; if you miss your kid smile and talk searching and toglings on mobile then you missed far more valuable than you think you gained.

    Reply
  6. ismail

    Truly said Sid..
    I would like to add a little more. Time and HEALTH are truly important.
    And best way to use time is to spend it with your near and dear, and in things which give us immense satisfaction

    Reply
  7. Varun

    I have earned in 8 digits on cryptocurrency investment in last 4 yrs and in 7 digits on stocks/mf in 6 yrs.

    Credit card spent and Rewards points accumulation does not come under an investment class.

    To be honest, if one start using cash and debit card they will save a lot more, because with credit card one always over spent. But life is not all about money, its more about lifestyle and experiences !!!

    Reply
    1. AbhiKohli

      I strongly disagree with one word ‘always’.
      I do agree that it hurts me less when paying through CC than cash. However, using CC in last 17-18 years (maybe more) I’ve NEVER revolved, spent more than salary, bought anything which I did not need or spent without thinking (except at Tanishq once when there was offer on spending more than 50K using HDFC card had discount but my bill was less so my wife bought an extra piece just to cross 50K. BUT that was applicable on debit card as well.)

      Reply
  8. Vikram

    Sid, you seem to have missed the most important point here. I mean you haven’t accounted for the savings we all, readers of your blog, managed from the inputs you’ve provided. If you account for all that, based on a rough estimate, then I am sure you’d see it as time well spent. 🙂

    I do the research upfront and and get different cards based on that. After that I don’t spend much time to keep track of the offers. I only go by the intimations I receive from the bank through email and sms. Other than I check here too, almost everyday. So I see what you do as a service, which I and everyone else here too definitely appreciate.

    Back to how I manage it, I use my Axis Ace for bill payments and recharges on GPay for 5% returns and on Swiggy and Zomato for 4% returns. I don’t use it for anything else. I use my Amex MRCC for the monthly 4 X 1500 spends. I use it mostly to clear out my Simpl Pay dues, which I incur via spends on Dunzo. For Amazon I use my HDFC Infinia for the 5X returns. However unlike most others I only get 50% returns on my points on Infinia because I use it mostly for vouchers and rarely for travel. Still it is better returns than any other card. I use my SCB Ultimate for most of the other spends because it gives me 3.3% returns for everything. I have an Amex Platinum Reserve which is the only card I very rarely use.

    This strategy has been rewarding me really well. I am able to mint out enough from mostly my SCB Ultimate card alone that I can make it account for all the annual fee I pay for all my cards together. So anything else I get is an added bonus. But if you’re always trying to get the best out of your cards, then like you said, you’ll end up spending too much time on them. However again the time you spend is benefiting many others too and so it’s more of a social service. I’d tip my hat to you for that.

    Reply
    1. Vikram K

      SC Point redemption has always been a bummer for me. Why not just use Infinia with an equivalent 3.3% return.

      Reply
      1. Vikram

        If you use the Infinia points for max value like hotel or flight ticket bookings then the Infinia gives better value (in the normal 3.3% rate and not accelerated rate). But I’ve never used it for hotel bookings. I do use it for flight tickets at times. Other times I mostly use it for vouchers where the conversion rate is on 50%. So it effectively becomes ~1.6% instead of the 3.3% returns. That’s why I use the SCB Ultimate wherever Infinia is not 3X or 5X. You’re right. SCB redemption options are not that much variety. But I’ve been able to find value with options like Croma vouchers etc.

        Reply
    2. Srik

      Because of this site, I travelled 10+ countries, Visited Taj properties using the cards & rewards points ( Almost all flights tickets are paid thru points ) .
      I personally feel this site as encyclopedia of Indian credit cards.

      Reply
    3. Harshit

      Completely agree Vikram.

      @Sid, please keep up the good work that you have done for the credit card community.

      Reply
  9. Rajesh

    Well said Siddharth, humility and honesty appreciated.
    Someone can focus on stocks or IPOs and make more money. Even though taxable (versus cc rewards), it can could return better profits.
    Still we indians are wired to love a good deal on rewards/cashback and we are bound to still optimize our jugaad for max value for money and perks associated with credit cards.
    Yes, absolutely bottomline “time and life, peace of mind” is the biggest “reward” which most don’t realize and making the right balance is an excellent advise to all of us

    Reply
  10. Lav Kanodia

    Happy for you Sid 🙂
    This post reflects maturity and reflection on the paucity of time.
    Very refreshing to read!

    Reply
  11. Sud

    Excellent post..

    I have personally shifted all my spends to Ace and Infinia. Saving lot of time and energy

    Reply
  12. The Conscience

    This is what My father says maturity is. There is nothing Important than peaceful and free mind . Today, we are slave of cellphone and rest we Cardexpertiians are into chasing maximum rewards. No Peace. Seems Sid is getting enlightenment. I already knew this post because I’ve already anticipation from your tweeter. Well, God bless everyone.

    Reply
  13. Rajesh

    Very well said. I was after rewards as well – May be for savings, May be for pleasure, May be for accomplishments. But then I slowly realized, its too much time for very little return. If only we invest in more important things career/family/stocks/personality, its 100x better. Now, m still looking for offers (but only during big ones > 10k+ – may be once in a month or even less), but only for few moments rather than optimizing it to 100%. Its such a relief!

    Reply
  14. Shiv Kumar Singh

    That is why I just spend on Credit Card regardless of rewards, and stocks and mutual funds are in the hands of my wealth manager, providing me ample time to sit back, relax and enjoy the elite pleasures of life.

    Reply
  15. Vikram K

    The biggest pain of following bank offers is fulfilment tracking which is where cashback cards like Axis Ace make things simple.

    Reply
  16. RKR

    Gem of an article.
    Sid, you should consider Mr. Vikram’s comment (1st para) also. If you consider the popularity of cardexpert, the brand value and the goodwill you earned in last 10 years then ………

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      The article is written from a reader’s context so one can relate more to it. Thanks. 🙂

      Reply
  17. AmitSark

    Great post sir. Are you thinking of retiring? Or a sabbatical?

    I could not agree more with your thoughts. As professor Virus said in the movie 3 idiots, “Life is a race. If you do not run fast, you will get trampled”. Fortunately, when it comes to credit card points & rewards, it is about opportunities, so one does not get trampled literally. Loved your point on devoting more time towards investments than on card spends. I have been following your posts for many years and upgraded gradually from a basic card to Hdfc Infinia with the guidance from your posts and your replies to questions at the bottom of the posts. Please continue the fantastic research and guidance that you provide to all.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Its complicated about what I’m thinking to do. 🙂

      Glad you’re enjoying the content.

      Reply
  18. Priyansh

    Agree to an extent. I mean some comments convey my views best..

    I have always felt, when applying for a card, need key information. After that, I don’t think too much for many spends.

    So smartbuy, utilities are fixed. Insurance via sc ultimate.
    And for everything else, don’t care if it’s infinia Or ultimate or vistara infinite or citi prestige. As most are small spends. So dont bother calculating for that.

    I do spend disproportionate time on loyalty points and benefits on discord but it’s more of an interest rather than something I do to save that 50-100 rs. It’s more fun in terms of feeling of having taken advantage of system and came out ahead.

    I guess for many it’s same, if u say I will give you 10k and u dont read up on cards or points or such, there would be many who might say no. Because it’s just an interest and fun thing to do in spare time.

    I would say if it’s either Or, definitely focus on things which can improve your life or upscale you or can giv better returns.

    But if it’s small time more about feeling of coming out ahead or interest or such, it shouldn’t be an issue as long as it doesn’t impact rest of your schedule.

    Reply
  19. Siddarth B

    Thanks for the article Sid, Nice to know that I was not alone in thinking the same. I think we should create a simple strategy for ourselves and work with it instead of being pennywise and pound-foolish.
    P.S: Does not mean I will stop chasing cards and rewards 🙂

    Reply
  20. Vijay Chand

    Great article Siddharath, though I have a different perspective-
    1. Majority of retail investor who are into equity investments by themselves lose more time and sleep over their portfolio than mutual fund investors. Warren Buffet’s guru Benjamin Graham had proved with data that passive investment strategy generates more return in long run than active investment strategy.
    2. Market giving 100% return in 18 months is a once in a blue moon phenomenon. Like a pandemic.
    3. So let professionals take care of equity portfolio.
    4. Debt investment is a no brainer and is generally a one time investment per year like PPF.
    5. Crypto is too volatile and one will definitely lose more sleep over crypto investments. Not denying more risk more return theory.
    6. Saving= Income- Expenditure
    So only thing one needs to focus on is reducing his/her expenditure. So if he/she is giving half an hour a day on finding best offers on credit card it’s fine in my view coz-
    a) Returns are riskfree unlike equity or crypto
    b) Flying business class on reward points is priceless 😀

    Reply
  21. Praveen Perumalla

    I’m glad you’ve written this Sid. A brave post.

    Many of us (including me) have been addicted to this rewards game. It is hard to accept but it is a fact. Eye openers like these are essential to pause and reassess our time investment and refocus our time on more rewarding aspects of life.

    Reply
  22. Praveen Katiyar

    @Sid
    This is the entirely different from all of your article..
    Loved the underlying thot behind it..
    Best wishes..

    Reply
  23. Rohit

    Why in the world you would track 10 years of reward points? That’s absolutely waste of time.
    What ever reward points I get is just bonus is what I consider. And tracking making an excel sheet on daily basis takes just few seconds. One thing I am great full is I made points worth lakhs in few years. I feel sorry for people who got card recently (infinia and dcb)
    Even before infinia and dcb in 2016 or 17 regalia was super premium and I ended up getting free flights to Malaysia, thailand etc used their priority pass to the core .
    The main purpose of this article is for young generation who get crazy with these cards. I know people who gave 20 to 30 lakhs FD just to get infinia. People should stop these madness.
    Some Wiseman in this site said you would save more without these cards because un knowingly we would spend on unwanted things. Unless you have control on your self I would advice to stay away from credit cards.

    Reply
  24. Suyog

    Credit card causes stress. Alot of stress. And more cards you have, more stress there is. And it is really hard to draw the line.

    Reply
  25. Aditya

    If you were not sharing your R&D with public may be your time-value concept would have made sense i.e. at a personal level. However since you maintain this amazing blog, the value(wealth) you have created for the followers would be exponential. Just imagine 1000s of people following this blog optimising their usage and savings 1000s of rupees per annum for multiple years. It could easily be 10’s of 1000s of people saving 10’s of 1000s of rupees annually too, I was just being modest.
    Its more like you took “one” foe all of us and we thank you for that!

    So the wealth you created via this blog is not 7 digits but easily in 9 digits.

    Reply
  26. Iyer

    As someone who entered the share market at 14 years of age during harshad mehta time, my advise to you is don’t get carried away by stock market returns.

    Reply
  27. Saumya S

    Very well said Sid the different view. It got me thinking to…where I want to invest time. Thanks for sharing..

    Reply
  28. Rahul

    I agree with the perspective presented.

    I have often thought about it and realized that the dopamine rush of maximizing the offers/cashback/rewards is the driving point not the actual monetary value. Because I can much more money doing something else in those hours.

    Once I became parent, all gone and I don’t complain. I reduced my number of cards to just 2 (the best one) and don’t wait for offers, don’t track the promised cashbacks or rewards (the 90days one) or any other thing. Trust bank and even if they cheat, those extra 1000 points are not worth spending even one hour a month today.

    Reply
  29. Nick

    Finally… ICICI Bank is ditching Payback reward program from 01.04.2022

    Reply
  30. Kiran Thakkar

    Hello my name is kiran thakkar
    I have 5 lakh itr and I have sbi simply
    save cc and hdfc millenia cc I want 3 rd credit card my all spending is offline only so which good card for me can u plz suggest?? And how to apply

    Reply

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