Credit Card penetration in India is increasing every financial year. With a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 33% between the year 2015 and 2021 (first quarter), the credit card industry is one of the most promising industries in the country. This became evident last year when SBI Card IPO was oversubscribed over 26 times. The last year, however, has been rough for the industry as a consequence of the economic slowdown due to the pandemic. In February 2021, around 5.5 lakh credit cards were issued in the country (a decline of 47% year-on-year and 22% sequentially) taking the total credit card base in the country to 61.6 million. Monthly spends per card also declined from Rs. 10,500 to Rs. 9,800 between November 2020 and February 2021.
As the economy is once again reviving, credit card industry is expected to regain its momentum as a result of increased purchasing power of the cardholders (and prospect cardholders). Indian credit card industry has a huge room for growth as there are only three credit cards for every 100 people in the country (compared to 32 cards per 100 people in the US). Since the growth of the credit card industry, to a good extent, is driven by online transactions, digital payment platforms like UPI and e-wallets are major competitors of credit cards in the country.

HDFC Bank:

HDFC Bank, with over 1.4 crore active credit cards (as of July 2021) is the largest card issuer in the country. It is also the largest private sector bank in the country in terms of assets and market capitalization. In December last year, RBI imposed a temporary ban on HDFC bank prohibiting the bank from onboarding new domestic credit card customers. RBI cited HDFC’s poor IT infrastructure causing frequent outages of the bank’s online services (including internet and mobile banking) as the reason for imposing the ban. The ban was however lifted last month and HDFC Bank is now once again allowed to issue new credit cards. The bank in one of its latest press releases announced that it aims to add 5 lakh new credit card customers beginning February 2022 by launching new initiatives like new co-branded cards and revamping the existing range of credit cards. Some of the most popular HDFC credit cards currently available in the market include HDFC Bank Infinia Credit Card, HDFC Bank Diners Club Black Credit Card, HDFC Bank Regalia Credit Card and HDFC Bank Millennia Credit Card.

SBI Card:

SBI Card, with over 1.2 crore active credit cards (as of July 2021), is the second-largest credit card issuer in the country after HDFC Bank. Launched in 1998, SBI Card was originally a joint venture by State Bank of India (India’s largest bank) and GE Capital. In December 2017, GE Capital was acquired by SBI and US-based finance firm, Carlyle Group. In March 2020, SBI Card launched its IPO, which was oversubscribed over 26 times, to become the only listed company in the credit card market. Some of the popular offerings by SBI Card include SBI Elite Credit Card, SBI SimplyCLICK Credit Card, Air India SBI Signature Credit Card and IRCTC SBI Premier Credit Card.

IDFC FIRST Bank:

IDFC FIRST is the latest player in the credit card space. The bank was established after the merger between IDFC Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IDFC Ltd, and Capital First Bank in December 2018. IDFC FIRST Bank forayed into the credit card business in January 2021 with the launch of a line-up of four credit cards – FIRST Millennia, FIRST Classic, FIRST Select and FIRST Wealth credit cards. The unique feature of these credit cards is that all of the four cards come with a zero annual membership fee and still offer a decent reward rate. Earlier, the application for IDFC credit cards was open exclusively for IDFC FIRST account holders, the bank opened applications for all in August. Currently, IDFC FIRST bank has over 4.25 lakh active credit cards in the country.

Bank of Baroda:

Bank of Baroda is the fourth largest nationalized bank in the country. The bank was merged with Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank in September 2018. Currently, there are over 6 lakh active Bank of Baroda Credit Cards in the country. Some of the popular credit cards by Bank of Baroda include Bank of Baroda Eterna Credit Card, Bank of Baroda Select Credit Card and Bank of Baroda Premier Credit Card. Bank of Baroda credit cards are known for the discounts and cashback that they offer on online spends.

ICICI Bank:

ICICI Bank is India’s second-largest private sector bank only next to HDFC in terms of revenue and market capitalization. With over 1.1 crore active credit cards (as of July 2021), ICICI bank holds around 16% share in the credit card market. From travel and shopping to movies and dining, ICICI Bank has all categories of credit cards in its portfolio. The bank has tied up with PAYBACK, which is India’s largest loyalty program for processing the reward points. Some of the popular credit cards by ICICI Bank include ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card (super-premium card), ICICI Bank Sapphiro Credit Card, AmazonPay ICICI Bank Credit Card (one of the best cards for online shopping), ICICI Bank HPCL Super Saver Credit Card (latest co-branded fuel credit card by the bank).

Citibank:

Citibank India or Citi India is a subsidiary of the US-based multinational financial conglomerate, Citigroup. Citibank announced that it is going to exit the retail banking business in India along with 12 other countries. However, the bank assured that it would continue to serve its customers just as it had been. The bank also assured that it would not shut down its operations in India, instead, it would look for a potential buyer and sell off its retail business.

Citibank currently offers only eight credit cards to its Indian customers. As of May 2021, with over 25 lakh active credit cards, Citibank is the sixth-largest credit card issuer in the country. Citi Prestige Credit Card and Citi PremierMiles Credit Card are two of the most popular offerings by the bank in the Indian credit card market.

RBL Bank:

RBL Bank is a relatively smaller private sector bank headquartered in Mumbai. The bank currently has 12 credit cards in its portfolio and over 30 lakh active credit cards as of July 2021. The Edition credit card by RBL Bank launched in partnership with Zomato, is one of the best dining credit cards in the Indian credit card market. RBL Bank’s World Safari Credit Card is the only credit card in India with a zero foreign currency mark-up fee.

Kotak Mahindra Bank:

Kotak Mahindra Bank is another private sector credit card issuer in India. Kotak Mahindra currently has over 26 lakh active credit card customers in the country. Kotak 811 #DreamDifferent Credit Card is one of the best entry-level credit cards in the country. Kotak Mahindra Bank also offers co-branded credit cards in collaboration with PVR which are some of the best cards in India for movie benefits.

American Express:

American Express is a US-based credit card issuer known for its premium range of credit cards. American Express is not only a credit card issuer, but also a credit card processing network (just like Visa and MasterCard), and offers Credit Cards in collaboration with other card issuers like ICICI Bank. American Express Platinum Credit Card is the most premium offering from American Express. The card comes with a hefty annual membership fee of Rs. 60,000 per annum and offers a plethora of premium benefits and privileges. American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card is another popular credit card by American Express in the travel category. American Express has its own offers and deals aggregator portal, Reward Multiplier where you earn AmEx Membership Rewards Points at an accelerated rate. American Express frequently comes up with new offers on its Reward Multiplier portal.

IndusInd Bank:

Founded in April 1994, IndusInd Bank is one of the prominent private sector banks in the country. The bank has its headquarters in Pune. With more than 2,000 branches, the bank has more than 2.5 crore active customers. IndusInd Bank forayed into the credit card business in the year 2011-2012. In 2013, the bank launched a marquee lineup of premium credit cards with the Indulge credit card and pioneer heritage credit card. The Indulge credit card launched by the bank comes covered with 22K gold inlay, whereas the Pioneer Heritage credit card is the first-ever metal credit card issued by any bank targeted towards the ultra-rich high net worth individuals. The bank currently has around 17 credit cards in its portfolio. As of July 2021 (as per RBI data), IndusInd Bank has around 16 lakh active credit cards in the country.

HSBC Bank:

HSBC Bank is India’s second oldest foreign bank. The bank started its operations in India in 1958 when it took over the Mercantile Bank of India. HSBC Bank was the first bank to launch ATM service in the country. The bank has a relatively small catalog of credit cards with just three cards in its portfolio. As of July 2021, there are over 8 lakh active credit cards issued by HSBC Bank.

Yes Bank:

Founded in November 2003, Yes Bank is one of the major private sector banks in the country. The bank went through an epoch of financial instability in early 2020 when RBI imposed a 30-day moratorium on the bank. Yes Bank was taken over by SBI in July 2020 when it bought a 30% stake in the bank. As far as the credit card business is concerned, as per RBI data, as of July 2021, there are around 10 lakh active Yes Bank credit cards in the country.

Axis Bank:

Axis Bank is the thirst largest private sector bank in India after HDFC and ICICI. The bank was founded in December 1993 and has its headquarters located in Mumbai. With over 72 lakh active credit cards (as of July 2021), Axis Bank is also the third-largest credit card issuer in the country only next to HDFC and SBI Card.

Axis Bank Burgundy Private Credit Card and Axis Bank Magnus Credit Card are two super-premium credit cards offered by Axis Bank. Axis Bank also offers some of the best travel credit cards in the Indian credit card market in partnership with Air Vistara. The Vistara Infinite card is one of the best premium travel credit cards in India best suited for domestic frequent flyers.

Standard Chartered Bank:

Standard Chartered Bank, India is a subsidiary of the London-based Standard Chartered Bank. The bank was established in 1969 as a result of the merger of two international banks- The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, and Standard Bank of British South Africa. The Chartered Bank was established in 1853 and had been operational in India since 1858. As of today, the Standard Chartered Bank is the largest foreign bank in the country in terms of the branch network and the number of employees.

As far as credit card business is concerned, from travel to shopping and lifestyle to premium, Standard Chartered offers all categories of credit cards. With over 14 lakh active credit cards (as of July 2021), Standard Chartered is the third-largest foreign card issuer in the country only next to American Express and Citibank.

IDBI Bank:

IDBI Bank is one of the largest public-sector commercial banks in India. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC). IDBI Bank forayed into the credit card business in 2014. The bank currently offers five credit cards in the market. As of July 2021, there are over 37,000 active IDBI credit cards in the country.

Union Bank of India:

Union Bank of India or UBI is another prominent public sector bank in the country. The bank became the largest PSU bank in terms of number of branches after its amalgamation with Corporation Bank and Andhra Bank in April 2020. As of July 2021, there are over 4.5 lakh active UBI credit cards in the country.

Canara Bank:

Canara Bank is one of the largest PSU banks in the country. The bank was established in 1906 and was nationalised in 1963. Canara Bank started issuing credit cards in 2002. As of July 2021, there are over 8.5 lakh active Canara Bank credit cards in the country.

Punjab National Bank:

Punjab National Bank or PNB is the second largest public sector bank in the country after State Bank of India (SBI). Orential Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India were merged into Punjab National Bank (PNB) in April 2021. PNB was embroiled in controversies in 2018 due to excessive NPAs accumulated by the bank. Punjab National Bank issues credit cards in partnership with RuPay and Visa networks. As of July 2021, there are over 31,000 active PNB credit cards in the country.

Federal Bank:

Federal Bank is another major private sector bank in the country headquartered in Kochi. The bank has a customer base of over 10 million and more than 1,250 branches spread across different states in India. As of July 2020, there are over 20,000 active Federal Bank credit cards in the country.