The Truth about Your Lifetime Free Credit Card

By | August 28, 2017

I’ve grabbed multiple credit cards as Life time free and maybe you could have too. So you might think that credit card will be free for the rest of your life and there is no need to think about annual fees of the card. So good to be true isn’t it? The real fact is it’s not lifetime free as you might be thinking. Here’s why,

Lifetime free credit card

3 Reasons why your LTF card is NOT actually Life Time Free

#1 Benefits Keeps Changing:

if you had been having any good rewarding credit credit for few years, you can see that the card benefits has got changed or, usually devalued in 3-5 yrs of card issuance. A good example is Hdfc Moneyback card – which has got devalued by close to 50% in ~3 years.

This happens because of changing needs of people and their usage pattern. Back in time not everyone were transacting online. But now due to faster internet penetration and ecommerce boom, the online usage surged, leading to more online txns.

Hence, banks has to alter the benefits to make sure they’re not running in loss. Same with regalia and others where lounge access made the difference.

#2 Upgrades are Essential:

I’ve recently got Yesbank Preferred Card as lifetime free. Does this mean I’ll stick to it for the rest of life? Ofcourse not. To get maximum benefit, I need to upgrade it to Yes Exclusive variant sooner or later. And by doing so, I “may not” get LTF Offer on that.

Hence, your LTF is not transferable on upgrade.

Not just that, every year new cards are introduced with better reward rates and benefits as banks compete with each other to get better market share. When it comes to credit cards, it’s all about getting maximum value out of it.

Will you stay with your existing 3 year old devalued LTF card or upgrade to the new card by paying the fee? Most will prefer the latter as long as it gives a good value back.

#3 Your card maybe Discontinued:

Every credit card you hold bears a validity. There is a reason for that. Most banks discontinue their cards after 3-5 yrs of issuance. For ex: hdfc discontinued their platinum credit card and replaced them with moneyback credit card once the old card gets expired.

New card maybe LTF too or sometimes issued as first year free only and maynot be having same benefits as old one. Sometimes it can be better, while most times it’s not.

While the above points are very important for most of the crowd who had grabbed a lifetime free credit card, there is other side too. There are situations when grabbing LTF card is a best thing to do. Here’s why

3 Reasons why you SHOULD opt for lifetime free card:

#1 Super Premium cards:

Super premium cards comes with excellent benefits and when you’re offered for free, just go – grab it. This is because super premium cards are usually not devalued that easily as the needs of super premium card users remains same for many years – in most cases.

Super Premium Credit Card India

Those who get hands on with super premium cards are very less, hence banks won’t see any potential loss for them to reconsider the offering. Moreover, these ppl are usually HNI and tend to spend a lot which gives banks enough money to keep the card benefits untouched.

Lucky are those who grabbed Yes First Exclusive Credit card on Lifetime Free Offer. It comes with an immense value.

#2 American Express Cards:

All American Express cards carries a fee and when it’s issued for LTF, you should never miss the opportunity. Most of the American Express cards donot have great reward rate by default. However, what makes the Amex card work is – their incredible merchant offers that pays back multiple times.

Hence, even if your American Express LTF card gets devalued 5 yrs down the line – you can still have access to their offers and services for the rest of your life, which makes it no brainer to opt for one.

#3 Just for Credit Line:

Many credit card users hold a card for the credit line or for the EMI facility. There are hell a lot of people in this category, though they may not be reading this article.

If at all you just need the credit line with EMI facility for basic usage that’s less than 1L a year and never bother about the offers and benefits- you can very well take the LTF card from any bank, as it may just serve your purpose.

So, when you’re issued a LifeTime Free credit card, do remember above points to make a wise choice!

Do you have LTF credit card? What’s your experience with it? Feel free to share your views in comments below.

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.

45 thoughts on “The Truth about Your Lifetime Free Credit Card

  1. swatanter gupta

    Again Superb article clearing meath of lifetime free credit card,
    good job siddharth

  2. Ponbala

    Exactly ! My HDFC Moneyback is a gud example . Still Keeping it as it is a LTF Card and also they gave good limit.
    Thinking of Getting another one. May be Citi Indian oil card,Since it has good value for reward points and multiple redemption options though .

  3. Manu Kumar

    Why MoneyBack is always the punching bag.. Add Hdfc Diners here.. A nice card Like Diners Premium is stripped off most of its benefits 20% reward is reduced to 13% which is useless as it can be used only on Tickets and hotels which are always on the higher side at Diners Platform.

    1. Siddharth Post author

      Diners 10X is a Godsend! Just that God decided to trim that so early and so badly on Diners premium/rewardz.

  4. Sumeet Gupta

    Excellent article again sid sir, really been a great fan and follower of your page. Great knowledge gained in just two months of liking the page and already have become the guide for distributing credit card benefits in my colleagues circle, many thanks to u. Keep up the good work going…

    1. Siddharth Post author

      Sounds so good to hear!

      Sharing is caring. Continue to share the knowledge with others, as you do ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Rex

    I want to use credit card to improve my credit score since i am new to credit world. Recently after 3rejection from sbi, SC, icici i got sbi unathi secured card to build credit history.
    I have few questions, it will be great if any of you know answers.
    1. What is the best credit utilisation ratio? ( I read somewhere that lower is better but how much lower to get most points. Less than 10% ??
    2. When does bank report credit utilisation ratio to credit bureau? ( Any fixed date for all customers or at the end of repayment day)
    3. How many months does it usually take to generate first credit score for beginners?
    4. What should be the gap between application of two credit cards to keep credit score healthy? ( 6 months or more?)

    1. Siddharth Post author

      1. <30% ALL TIME
      2. Different for each bank
      3. Should be up in 1-6 Months of loan/cc activity
      4. ~6 Months for fresh ac's and ~2 Months for established ac's

      1. M-one

        dear sid ,
        for first time borrowers it takes 6 months to generate the credit score ( in cibil ), before 6 months it shows N/A in report , I have wasted my money by purchasing the report .

        1. Siddharth Post author

          I’ve seen it reflecting relatively faster, updating the comment though.

          Btw, you can get free CIBIL/Experian report once every year ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Captain Bishuddha Bharatiya

      2. I checked my CIBIL recently and I found that all accounts are reported at the last week of the month.

  6. Sahil

    Hi Sid,

    I am being offered the MRCC card by Amex LTF. I am already holding the Platinum reserve Card from Amex. Should I opt for the MRCC card??

    1. Siddharth Post author

      I doubt if Amex gives LTF for existing customers.

      Anyways, reg. MRCC, it depends on “what’ benefit you’re looking for.

    2. Sahil

      I rarely used Amex platinum reserve card. But there offers are good from time to time. MRCC is being offered for a limited time. Or should I get the Gold Charge card. However they have made 6 transactions mandatory for gold card to earn reward points.

  7. Nitin Arora

    I lost out on Amex LTF offer , as I got my MRCC card in Aug itself. How can I keep track of Life Time free offers like , if any on Yes Bank cards. I doubt SBI makes any such offers !!

    1. Siddharth Post author

      You’re already in a right place to know any new existing offers ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Rahul Shrivastav

    Again a very relavant article Sid, helping people navigate the maze pelting of cards create.

    Personally I have a different line of thought. Any thing that comes free doesn’t have value, atleast in the long term.

    As long as one can afford, always go for the premium/Paid cards. Almost all the paid cards will give you the “Annual Fee” back in one way or another & benefits are far far better in paid cards.

    Use it for a year and if you feel renewal fee is not worth the benefits, close the card account.

  9. Gaurav

    i just got a call from Amex corporate team to have feedback of the corporate credit card that i am holding(which i have never used personally, used only when i am travelling).
    instead of giving feedback, i asked for the deal if they can provide on MRCC card. to my surprise, the guy gave me the following deal on AMEX MRCC card.
    * First year free.
    * renewal fee – 1500+ tax
    * renewal fee waived off if spend 1.5L or more in the year.
    * extra 5% to 10% cashback or discount on every trxn on Amazon or flipkart or any other online shopping site if i apply for a supplementary card .
    * Movie blockbuster offer: it is not the one which is there online. the offer he gave me is that just make 4 trxn of 500 or more in a calendar month and you’ll get the voucher of 1000INR (generally you’ll have to make 2 trxn of 2500INR each to get the voucher)
    * other offers and benefits are same as of the MRCC card specified online.

    i had just got SBI Prime yesterday and haven’t done a single transaction yet. i will be closing SBI as and when i recieve the MRCC card( have availed the MRCC offer)
    I am confused if i have made a right deal or not?

    1. Siddharth Post author

      Seems to be nice offer. You may go ahead with MRCC. Just cross check if the the guy is sure about above benefits, as its completely different.

      1. Gaurav

        I have had a word with him thrice about it.
        He assured me that if anything is different that what i said, you can directly call my supervisor.

        I am even amazed that the mails that i have got is having the mobile numbers of the persons indulged in the deal. Thats really assuring.

        Even on the web when i was applying, these offer details were present in the offer details under header-
        Deal to Mr. Gaurav (Corporate customer with F******* In********* services)

        To my utter surprise, the verification call just came within an our of the application.

        1. Siddharth Post author

          Ah, interesting. Then you may proceed.

          I’ve been hearing such incredible corporate offers(free cards usually) run by Amex, but this is one of the best!

          1. Gaurav

            Is it worthy to close my SBI prime which i just have received?
            Will it impact my cibil? It is currently ~860

          2. Siddharth Post author

            Better close after an year. It’ll help to fix the damage it caused ๐Ÿ™‚

          3. Gaurav

            won’t it be good if i close the sbi card now?
            this will be useless to me and also, will have to pay the joining fee too. if i close this now i won’t have to pay for the joining fee.

            I am concerned with my cibil

          4. Siddharth Post author

            Then you can do (if SBI allows)
            Maybe 10 points could have gone down – not a big deal. But its not suggested if you’re planning for more cards in future.

          5. Gaurav

            finally, i closed my SBI card and confirmed that there will be no impact on my cibil, also i can reapply the card anytime in future.

    2. Manjit

      Hi, i got same call from AMEX today inquiring about my feedback on AMEX corporate card and then they said about giving this AMEX MRCC lifetime free card. I asked what are the special benefits that she can give me if i apply for this card, she told the same things which is available in the website. The only change i would see was that she said , it will be fast processing for me if i apply now through this call as it will be treated as existing corporate customer. There was nothing additional she was ready to give me. I quoted about your case and insisted on special offer for movie tickets but she was unable to come up with any additional offers.

  10. GS

    Nice article sir.i have been follower of ur page for the last few months and it’s really useful.Thanks and keep up the good work.

  11. Ar Arbit

    Currently AMEX is providing Gold Charge Card as LFT for having annual income more than 12 lacs… Offer till 20th Sep 2017.

  12. Aditya Mann

    Hi Siddharth,

    Does it have negative impact on one’s credit score having many credit cards? (I have 6).
    Also, if I choose to close some of my credit cards then does it affect credit score?

  13. Ajay

    Recently while apply for an LTF card, I asked the verification team about definition of Lifetime for the bank. They told for 6 years it will be free, may go beyond 6. If terms are changed, you will be informed about it and then can choose to continue or not.

  14. Pradeep

    hi sid,

    living in a tier 2 city, cit, sc, hsbc i’m not able to get cards of these bank, could you throw some light on how to get these? And thank you, i got a indusind fancy number too ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Shivi

      Welcome to the club – I live in Tier 2city also and there is no way around to getting a card from AmEx, CiTi, SC, HSBC or the likes even on a card to card basis.

      1. Surya

        @Shivi and Pradeep, I live in a tier 3 City and SCB processed my Ultimate, card on card, just requested to open a savings account first and after a week of that, card application was taken. This in early 2019.

    2. Prathmesh ghag

      I have a regalia first card which is to expire in 2 months.
      Will i get a replacement card which will also be Lifetime free? Since i think they are not promoting them as LTF nowadays.
      What will happen to the reward points which i have on this card?
      Also the smartbuy points which come after 90 days, what will happen to them? Will they come to the new card if issued?
      Thanks for your help.

    1. Shivi

      Ask HDFC credit card department personnel/contact your nearest HDFC bank branch

  15. Utkarsh

    Hi Siddharth,

    I got an offer for getting HDFC diners club clubmiles LTF card on card basis on my SBI card with credit limit around 1.5lacs. So for card on card basis, does it matter if I have low credit score around 700.
    And also can I get Privielege ltf or FYF based on card on card basis as my credit score depleted because of high utilization.

  16. Joseph S

    Good article by Sid! Probably ltf cards are mostly good for understanding better linked offers and discounts from the customers perspective.

    However, lifetime free credit cards are a bait to find various customer traits of analyzing spending and saving habits from the banks perspective.

    Taking both things into consideration lifetime free credit card is like an option based on bank’s choice rather a customer fulfillment.

    To describe super premium cards paying annually benefits customers rather profiting bank per se.


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