SBI Card launches Etihad Guest airline credit cards in India

By | January 24, 2019

SBI Card teams up with Etihad Guest, the loyalty programme of Etihad Airways to launch Etihad Guest SBI Credit cards in India to complement the lifestyles of affluent Indians who frequently travel overseas.

The card will be available in two variants, Etihad Guest SBI Card and Etihad Guest SBI Premier Card to cater to different set of customers. Both of them runs on Visa Signature platform and the interest part is, the card comes with a vertical design.

Etihad Guest SBI Credit card Launch

Before we get into the details of the cards, here are some of the facts & figures.

  1. SBI Card – The country’s second largest credit card issuer.
  2. Etihad Airways: One of the top two international airlines for outbound international passenger traffic from India
  3. Global Loyalty Company (GLC) that manages Etihad guest, Mille Miglia, topbonus and Jet Privilege is in partnership with Visa since 2016.
  4. India to become the third largest aviation market by FY25
  5. Aviation passenger traffic in India has grown 12.7% annually for the past five years
  6. 33% of overall card spends in the SBI Card portfolio made within the travel industry
  7. Spends in Middle East by SBI Card customers have risen by CAGR of 66% from FY14 to FY 18, indicating the popularity of the destination among Indian travellers
  8. India is a key strategic market for Etihad Airways, currently offering 147 weekly flights across 10 gateway cities in the country.
  9. This is the first international co-brand partnership of SBI Card

So there are two variants, one with low annual fee and the other with high fee for premium segment. Lets have a quick glance into the details of each,

Etihad Guest SBI Credit cards (India)

#1 Etihad Guest SBI Card

Etihad Guest SBI Credit card

  • Annual Fee: Rs.1499+GST (Spend 3L annually for reversal from 2nd year onwards)
  • Welcome Gift: Complimentary Etihad Guest Silver tier status & 2 Free Wifi vouchers
  • Rewards: 3 Miles per Rs. 100 spent on; 2 Miles on every Rs. 100 spent on International Spends; 1 Mile on every Rs. 100 spent on other spends
  • Milestone Benefits: 5,000 Etihad Guest miles on 5 lakhs Spend & 1 companion voucher on INR 10 lakhs
  • Lounge Access: Domestic Only, 2/Qtr
  • Instant Discounts: 3% Off on Economy Class and 10% Off on Business class on direct Etihad Airways booking & Upto 10% discount on travel rewards miles redemption.

Okay, that’s a decent card for a decent fee. Ideally this helps for the existing flyers on Etihad and the companion voucher is a great addition, yet as i’ve not personally experienced it, i can’t comment on its value.

Returns on regular spend beyond 5L is pretty low but the major benefit i see is through the Etihad Guest Silver Status with which you get priority boarding & bit more as you see here:

While a lot of existing non-premium flyers might see the above card as a good value, we, at CardExpert are looking for a premium card, just like the one below πŸ™‚

#2 Etihad Guest SBI Premier Card

Etihad Guest SBI Premier Credit card
  • Annual Fee: Rs.4999+GST (Spend 5L annually for reversal from 2nd year onwards)
  • Welcome Gift: Complimentary Etihad Guest Gold tier status & 2 Free Wifi vouchers
  • Rewards: 6 Miles per Rs. 100 spent on; 4 Miles on every Rs. 100 spent on International Spends; 2 Mile on every Rs. 100 spent on other spends
  • Milestone Benefits: 1,500 Etihad Guest miles on 1.5 lakhs Spend quarterly & 1 companion voucher on INR 8 lakhs.
  • Lounge Access: Domestic – 2/Qtr via Visa; International – 4/yr via Priority Pass (max 2/qtr)
  • Instant Discounts: 3% Off on Economy Class and 10% Off on Business class on direct Etihad Airways booking & Upto 10% discount on travel rewards miles redemption.

So ideally you can get min. ~3% value on anywhere spends upto 6L, provided you hit quarterly targets. The returns might even be 6% or lot more if you’re aiming for redemptions in Etihad first class.

And as mentioned earlier, if you put the value on Gold tier status & companion voucher, you would definitely get a lot of value out of the card.

The Gold tier itself comes with great set of features, one of them being fast track immigration (yay!). Here’s a quick look into Etihad guest Gold benefits,


Etihad Guest credit card from SBI is definitely a surprise as I personally never thought about the concept of Indian banks partnering with an International Airline. Visa’s partnership probably made that all possible.

Speaking about the cards, they maynot be outstanding on quick look esp. with earn rate on regular spends but they’re good enough to rank it as a premium airline credit card in India. The key is in the redemption that could magnify the value.

Note that if you’re already holding an SBI card like SBI Elite or SBI Prime, you can still apply for Etihad card as a 2nd card.

While that’s all I’ve for now, expect a detailed review a week or two later. Etihad flyers here? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

67 thoughts on “SBI Card launches Etihad Guest airline credit cards in India

    1. Siddharth Post author

      Ah, thought of reviewing it separately. Anyway, added it now πŸ™‚

  1. Himanshu

    Everytime i request to SBI card i got denial, nothing else. Whether it is card upgrade or limit enchancement. I’ve been holding simplyclick for almost 2 years now.

    Net-banking says we have given you highest credit limit.

    Being a self employed a crime in eyes of banks?

    1. Siddharth Post author

      Yes, for first 3 years. Because stats says more than 90% of the businesses fail by then. But post 3yrs, you should be enjoying it. I’ve already said you, due to many other factors, you need some cooling period πŸ™‚

      But generally SBI does give good limit in long run.

    2. Nish

      It was the same case for me being self-employed, I requested limit increase and card upgrades every 3 months for about 1.5 years but to no avail. I even kept this simplyclick card in cold storage and began using my amex wherever it was accepted which is most places these days. One fine day, I was walking around a mall and the sbi guys stopped me and asked me to apply for a card. I informed them I already have a simplyclick card. He asked me if I wanted to upgrade, I wanted to upgrade to prime since long ago but the upgrade failed everytime and I told him but he was adamant that he could get it done and even get me a healthy credit limit increase. He asked for my id and took down my amex card details and statement(Relatively low limit of 1.25L). About 10 days or so later, I received my prime card with more than 3X limit replacing my simplyclick card(after my approval).

      I’m still baffled, why they weren’t able to do that online even when I requested the nodal officers many times. Hope this helps you and others.

  2. Ankit

    Hi Siddharth,
    Thanks for this quick and detailed info… I am already holding SBI Prime can I apply this as a 2nd Card. If yes, Limit will shared in both cards or separate ?

    1. Siddharth Post author

      Yes, you can apply for the 2nd card. You should be getting it with a separate limit AFAIK.

    1. Siddharth Post author

      My bad. Removed that line. Did they change the design? or even now its vertical only?

    2. Prashant Agrawal

      Actually Kotak Urbane was launched much later. Initially it was there on League and Royale.

      They have now moved to standard horizontal design.

  3. Captain Bishuddha Bharatiya

    What is companion voucher ?
    If you can give example of miles requirements for travel between two countries than it will be more easier for us to find value of the miles.

    1. Siddharth Post author

      The Etihad Guest Companion Ticket Voucher gives you an opportunity to take a companion with you for free when you redeem your miles for a Reward ticket on Etihad Airways.

      But yes, for the practical redemptions, only our travel expert “Amex Guy” can comment πŸ™‚

  4. Poornith Ninan

    I had great expectations from these cards but I’m personally disappointed. These cards make sense more for frequent Etihad flyers. For the rest, a JP Miles card makes more sense.

  5. AJ

    Sid, I read that one also gets 2 Tier miles apart from the minimum 2 Guest miles on 100 Rs spend. Else, a net 2 mile reward rate for generic 100 Rs spend would be too low. Can you confirm?

  6. Amex Guy

    Pretty much DOA on earning department for me. There is no way I’m booking direct on Etihad and not on Plat Travel. Etihad economy is not as good as Emirates, and has lesser routes to EU, making SC’s card still a great option to keep. It is 1500 more expensive, but then comes with 4K miles so that balances it out.

    Coming to the Gold status. If you book through Amex, again, pretty pointless as you get upgraded anyway. Etihad status is very hard to get status match to another airline. You can match to Air Berlin, I suppose, but they are not part of oneworld anymore so that’s pointless again. So I’ll put a really low value to Etihad Gold. Emirates might match you to their Silver tier if you push them.

    However, if you’re not into the Amex system, the premier one is good value because — Gold status instantly multiplies your earning value by 2. And it has a decent earning value already. With Gold, you get upgrade at 50% of required miles at the time of check in. Essentially multiplying the value by 2. Don’t worry, all outgoing and incoming routes to India almost always have space for upgrades. Pairs very well with Prestige for this very reason.

    BUT, if you’re planning to get on to the premier card, I suggest you wait a month before you ding an enquiry on your CIBIL. A very lovely bank is coming up with a very lovely card. Also, SBI always messes up on benefits in the first month of card launch. Everyone was confused even when Prime was launched. It took my cousin 3 tries to get MC version.

    1. Siddharth Post author

      Great info, as usual.

      Btw, “If you book through Amex, again, pretty pointless as you get upgraded anyway.”
      Is this a Plat Charge perk?

      1. Jude

        If u book the fully flexible business class ticket on etihad with amex travel, they give u an automatic upgrade to first class

      2. Amex Guy

        Yes. You need to book through Plat Travel desk. This is outside the usual business->first IAP upgrade. If you book through Amex, you’re put right behind Etihad elites for upgrades. What this means is that flying in and out of India you’re easily upgraded to business most of the times.

        The Amex travel website doesn’t count.

    2. Amann

      Hi Amex Guy

      Which new bank and card are you referring to?

      Do let us know when you can.

    3. Anonymous

      Air Berlin is bankrupt and no more in existance (I burned 80k
      Miles thanks to its bankruptcy)

      I am curious about the Amex benefit ? Personally I hold Amex Plat (non Indian variant) and I never knew about an upgrade offer – the only intel I have in this regard is an upgrade if you buy a fully flexible fare (too expensive and you can buy a discounted upgrade class almost every time for that price)

      Btw – I also heard about this upcoming β€œlovely” card but kinda clueless πŸ˜€

      Can you share more info (aka hints)

      1. Amex Guy

        Actually IAP upgrade is still a good amount of money saved. A ticket in J is still quiet a bit cheaper than cheapest F. Saves several hundred dollars each segment.

        But no, this is about you getting a leg up in upgrade listing due to booking with Amex.

        1. Manu

          Well yes – when we speak about F or Residence, I completely agree.

          Also, I wonder if award flights count for this “fly twice”. As its SBI – you never can trust their verbiage.

          PS – would love to know more about the upcoming card; please tell me it’s from a bank which starts with “H” as Axis and ICICI recently revamped their premium line up.

    4. AJ

      Lots of good info, but some bits went over my head. Can you please elaborate on the point that “There is no way I’m booking direct on Etihad and not on Plat Travel” – you are talking about Amex Platinum Travel Card (the one having Indigo vouchers) right?

      Also, can you please explain the following unknowns –
      1. “Gold status instantly multiplies your earning value by 2.”
      2. “you get upgrade at 50% of required miles at the time of check in”
      3. “Pairs very well with Prestige for this very reason”

      1. Amex Guy

        No, I meant Platinum travel desk.

        1/2 – You get upgrades at 50% of required miles if you upgrade at time of check in if you’re Etihad Gold.
        3 – Prestige earns highest Etihad miles in India (probably world). This card doubles it because of Gold.

        1. Jude

          But prestige earns 4 Miles on all spends (local). This card earns 1 mile on spends right? Am I missing anything

          1. Amex Guy

            My point was that it pairs well with Prestige. There’s nothing stopping you from earning on Prestige and using Gold status from this card to essentially double the return on Prestige.

        2. Abhinav Jain

          So if I understand this correctly, the Pretige miles are not getting doubled actually, however end up getting double value because of Gold given by this Etihad-SBI card? In that case, Jude’s statement “Gold status holders earn twice the amount of miles” is not worded correctly?

      2. Jude

        Gold status holders earn twice the amount of miles.
        at the time of check-in, as a gold member, u only need half the amount of Miles to upgrade to the next cabin

    5. ANKIT

      Hi Amex Guy,

      Thanks for your valuable feedback. Could you please through insight on your quoted statement “A very lovely bank is coming up with a very lovely card”…..

      Look like in year 2019, all major credit card companies will be launching their exclusive credit card especially in premium segment.

    6. SH

      “A very lovely bank is coming up with a very lovely card”. I have heard that song before. Waiting impatiently.

      1. Vinod Kannan

        1) A Very Lovely Bank = Rules out SBI, HDFC, ICICI
        2) I have seen the same lines quoted by Ajay Awtaney for ICICI emeralde card and Amex Guy for SBI Etihad = Rules out ICICI and SBI.
        3) The Only remaining Contenders are Amex and Citibank.
        4) The word ‘Bank’ Rules out Amex from the race, since it is just a credit card company and not a bank.
        So, i think the Answer to β€œA very lovely bank is coming up with a very lovely card” is Citibank. 😁😁😁

          1. Amex Guy

            @Sujit — Amex is not an NBFC. They have something called a “limited license”. It is one step above NBFC. Amex does offer institutional fixed deposits in India. Pretty good rates too!

            Here is more info

            NBFCs are now heavily discouraged by RBI to distribute cards, even with partnerships.

        1. Amex Guy

          I can neither confirm nor deny the outcome of this analysis. πŸ˜€

          1. Vinod Kannan

            Ha ha πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ. Got ur point… BTW Citibank reduced the Income eligibility Criteria for Prestige from 45 L per annum to 25 L per annum Plus an Existing Credit Limit of 3 Lakhs.

        2. Mouli

          Good Analysis and adding more to this
          Amex Guy is having CitiGold relationship since 2013 and he may have some info from the Manager regarding this

    7. Ram

      I don’t understand why this card is so much hated. If you know your way around and have atleast 1 round trip planned to Europe or NA, one can easily get 30% value by spending 8 lakhs (Even if i assume i have to purchase the monstrous guest miles required for open ticket booking + taxes) but if you’re holding citi prestige, don’t bother much, you will get similar benefit (except gold status)

  7. Ruhul Laskar

    Thanks for featuring this card Siddharth. This being the first co-branded card to be launched by Etihad in India, I thought it to be a game changer, however, being a holder of Citi Prestige, Yes First Exclusive, HDFC Jet Airways Diners Black, ICICI Sapphiro, AMEX Jet Airways Platinum and a few more, I don’t see much value in it. Nevertheless it is good proposition for non JP passengers flying with Jet Airways as they will be eligible for reciprocal tier benefits through Etihad Guest Gold and Silver.

    1. Siddharth Post author

      Oh yes, reciprocal tier benefits with Jet is yet another benefit. Thanks for pointing it out πŸ™‚

  8. Ashwin

    SBI doesn’t give status as long as you hold the card. It is for the first year only. Anyway, that was the case with Vistara Silver with Prime. If the status is given for as long as holding the card, and matched to JetPrivilege Gold, then it may make sense to have the card.

  9. Amex Guy

    Complementary Gold status is only for 6 months. Will extend another 6 months if you fly twice. Only for first year.

    What a bummer!

  10. Ket

    Please do an article on virtual credit cards. I’m sure fellow blog readers will find it informative!

    1. Shivi

      Does anybody actually use a virtual credit card on a regular basis?! I Doubt it!

      1. Abhi

        Yes, I do. (In fact, I feel this is a big missing feature for me since I upgraded to DCB. I am restricted to use YesPay wallet card & (occasionally) airtel money card ever since)
        I highly recommend using it for online purchase especially on site with low confidence (anysite site where card details are not entered on PG site and PG is not a bank)

  11. Himanshu

    Two days back i was approached my SBI card( Sales team). I am already holding click. He asked some info like add, company name, pan and ID proof. He told me that he is just doing a upgrade check + Limit enchancement for prime card.

    Further he told me you’ll get a call from verification team and you have to tell them that you are salaried person. Tho i told him i am self employed.

    Later i got a call from verification department and got to know this is new card application after verifying my details. As sbi already made enquiry on cibil. Will there be problem in getting cards in future like amex, citi or any other. I was not asked for my IT docs or salary slip ( don’t have any being self employed)

    As i am self employed. Won’t there be a mismatch in the info?
    What can i do now? Please help me.

  12. Amajeet Banerji

    I have two questions on Etihad primier card
    1.Alhough it mentions after one swipe it becomes Etihad guest gold I do not find that it is elligible for lounge access .is it right? I find that the lounge access is through priority pass which means it is not automatic and you have to ask SBI for the priority pass.
    2. I gather from the discussion above that etihad primier card gives you gold only for the first year.not for the entire Life of the it right?

  13. Hari

    Is there any further news on When this β€œ very lovely bank is coming up with a very lovely card”

  14. DG

    Hey AmexGuy

    Any update on β€œ very lovely bank is coming up with a very lovely card” ?

  15. Imran

    I am holding SBI air india card for couple of years with a meager limit of 1.5 lakhs. Tried upgrading to Etihad premier card but was denied. Later made a new application for Etihad premier and received the card yesterday itself with a limit of 6.55 lakhs.

    1. Pradeep

      Did you close the sbi air india card before applying for ethiad?

  16. JP

    Amex Guy- is the Citi Paytm card, the lovely card you were talking about.

  17. ARR

    Hi Sid,
    Ola launched a new credit card in collaboration with SBI.

  18. Rohith

    I tried applying for this card but was denied three times and have been following up with SBI Cards office but these guys are least bothered to sort my issue. I currently hold Jet Diners Club and HDFC Infinia Card. Can anyone tell me what could be the issue.

  19. ARR

    Hi all,
    I want apply for this card as I finished the spend threshold of Rs.5,00,000/- on my prime card and I don’t find any milestone benefits on Prime Card after 5 lacs. I want to apply for this to experience the Ethihad.
    Is it considered as a fresh card? Does the SBI do the verification once again? Does this card have a shared limit with the primary card or is it a separate card?

  20. Mers entertainmnet

    just want to check does this card keep ur Etihad gold status until u have the credit card even when ur not flying . I read some where gold status is applicable for only 6 months and its upon the airline to decide.

    Also platinum charge card do they upgrades only fully felxible business class to first class or economy flexible upgrade to business is possible as well is done also when you book through amex platinum travel

  21. Neo

    Any ideas on how we can get existing Etihad Guest account mapped to the credit card ? A mail popped up indicating a new Etihad account had been created. The tech interface for this card on web/app is stuck & I cant seem to go anywhere. CC as expected has no clue.
    Any pointers would be really appreciated

  22. Dr Ashok

    Have applied for this new card as I do plan to travel with etihad several times in the future. I already have a HDFC infinite card so rewards and lounge access isn’t as attractive. But the opportunity for an upgrade with 50% lesser points might be worth it i guess. Also the fast US emigration check at Abu Dhabi airport.

    My doubt is: will there be any benefit while travelling with Etihad’s codeshare partners?
    Not many US airlines on their codeshare list btw.


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