Guide to Credit Cards and Loyalty in India.

Update [1 June 2020]: HDFC has revised accelerated rewards for all categories. Capping 10x rewards on Diners Black to 7500. You may read more about it here.

Update [4 June 2022]: HDFC has revised the daily max points, it's now limited to 2500 points per day.

Also known as the Diners Black Card, this card is the little brother to HDFC Infinia. HDFC has done an excellent job in developing this product. I've been using it for almost six months and is my favourite card in my wallet.

The Diners Black card comes with an annual membership fee of ₹10,000 (revised from 1st January 2020) plus taxes. However, you get a fee waived if you spend ₹500,000 in a calendar year. If you hold a good relationship with HDFC Bank (Imperia or Above) you may get it as lifetime free.

Application Process:

Three Coins Rating

The application process depends on the relationship you hold with the bank. For HDFC Imperia customers, you may ask your relationship manager, and they will take care of it for you. If you're not doing banking with them, this may give you a headache.

For upgrades, if you hold an HDFC Regalia credit card with a limit upwards of ₹5,00,000. You can fill out their card upgrade form and mail it to their card office. Unfortunately, you can't do this online.

I applied for the card through my relationship manager and got it within ten business days.

Welcome Bonus:

Four Coins Rating

Diners Black doesn't offer much here as compared to other super-premium cards like AmEx Platinum Charge Card, but that's okay as this product is in the league of its own.

AmEx Platinum Review India: Best in class travel perks.
An in-depth analysis of all the benefits offered by the American Express Platinum Charge in India, and tips on how to maximize your reward earnings.

HDFC has recently refreshed the card with a new design (however, they're still sending out cards with the old design) and added welcome benefits. One of them is free annual memberships upon completing the first transaction on your card.

Here's the list of complimentary annual memberships:

  • Club Marriott: 20% discount on stay, spa, and dining at Marriott properties. On top of that you also get 30% off discount vouchers that can be used in a calendar year. This is good as earlier I used to get 15% with my Bonvoy Gold.
  • Forbes Digital: Annual subscription of the Forbes digital magazine.
  • Zomato Gold: I don't use it often but offers great value on dining at Gold Partner restaurants.
  • Amazon Prime: A credit of ₹999 to your Amazon Pay wallet. So, if you already have Prime membership you may use it somewhere else.
  • MakeMyTrip Black: I rarely use MakeMyTrip. However, you get five free domestic hotel and flight cancellations.
  • Times Prime: This gives you DinerOut Gourmet Passport, Swiggy Super, Gaana Plus memberships, and a lot of on-going discounts. You can find a list of offers here. You need to spend 1.5L on the card in order to get this benefit.

Please note that these benefits are available only to the new cardmembers. The existing members can get these by upgrading to a new HDFC Bank Diners Club Black Credit Card with joining/renewal fees of ₹10,000, or on achieving annual spend milestone of ₹800,000 at the time of card anniversary on your existing Diners Black card.

Introductory Offer: Upon achieving spend milestone of 250,000 in the period Aug to Oct 2019 or Nov to Jan 2020, your card will be eligible for new Diners Club Black upgrade after 1st December 2019 (under current pricing of your card)

Reward on Spends:

Four Coins Rating

Diners Black shines like no other in this category. None of the super-premium cards come anywhere close to what Diners Black offers (except Infinia but they're very much similar to each other).

With Diners Black, you get five reward points per ₹150 spent on the card. Each reward point is valued at ₹1, giving you a value of 3.3%. To make it even better, you get a whopping upto 10x reward points (50 reward points for every ₹150 spent) on SmartBuy bookings and other partners.

SmartBuy Portal

Get 10x on flights, hotels, and much more.
Get upto 10x on flights, hotels, and much more.

Flight Bookings (5x Points)

HDFC offers a clean interface to book your Hotel and Flight tickets. You get upto 10x Reward Points for all bookings made through SmartBuy. The 10x Reward Points are capped at 7,500 in a calendar month. With daily cap of 2,500.

The new points cap is a big devaluation in my opinion, especially the daily cap. This makes this card less suited for big ticket purchases.

The good part about the HDFC Reward Points is that all bookings made through the SmartBuy portal are considered as revenue tickets, so you get the air miles too.

Hotel Bookings (10x Points)

There are times when you can get better value with other cards (Like targeted 10x on hotel bookings on AmEx Travel Online). I do look out for other offers before I make a booking through SmartBuy. Below are some of the examples that may offer you a better deal as compared to Diners Black.

  • AmEx Platinum offers 3rd Night free at Oberoi properties, and flat 25% off on Taj Properties.
  • There are times when the listed rates on SmartBuy are higher than those offered by other booking platforms. For eg, I always manage to find Roseate House Delhi rates almost 25% cheaper on Booking as compared to SmartBuy.

None the less, I still manage to get a lot of value out of SmartBuy for shorter, or cheaper stays.

What I do often is divided bookings between points and cash. For Eg, I booked one night at Sheraton Brigade Gateway in Bangalore using 20,000 Bonvoy Points when the booking price was close to ₹21,000 including taxes and used SmartBuy for the next night when the price was close to ₹9,000 including taxes.

Gift Cards (5x Points)

Some example brands on SmartBuy Gift Cards.
Some example brands on SmartBuy Gift Cards.

This is a recently added feature benefit to the SmartBuy portal. You can buy gift vouchers for several brands like Shoppers Stop, Amazon Pay, BookMyShow, Costa Coffee etc. using their dedicated gift voucher portal.

Another addition to an already diverse selection, meaning you can now get 5x for merchants that accept Amazon Pay as a payment method.

You may read more about it here.

Updated HDFC SmartBuy chart for June
Updated HDFC SmartBuy chart for June.

On-Going Benefits:

Three Coins Rating

Diners Black doesn't come loaded with on-going benefits, but the ones that are included are nice to have. Their amazing reward program makes up for it.

Annual Memberships

You can retain all welcome offer annual memberships upon achieving annual spend milestone of ₹800,000 at the time of card anniversary, which is pretty steep if you don't use it as your primary card.

Golf Benefits

If you are a casual player like me, there are plenty of options to choose from. They offer six complimentary golf rounds per quarter around the world.

You can find the list of available golf courses here:

If you're a serious player, I'd recommend you check out the AmEx Platinum Reserve Credit Card which comes with four complimentary rounds/lessons per month and host of other benefits.

Lounge Access

You get unlimited Domestic and International lounge access with the Diners Black. You can find the list of the lounge here. Unlike other premium cards, you don't get a Priority Pass memberships, but your Diners Club card is enough to give you access.

Along with the primary cardmember, the add-on card members also get complimentary lounge access.

Monthly Milestone Benefits

You get vouchers worth ₹500 each every month on spends of ₹80,000 on your Diners Black card.

You can pick vouchers for the following partners:

  • Ola Select Membership
  • BookMyShow
  • TataCLiQ

HDFC now has a neat portal to manage all your membership redemptions and milestone achievement vouchers, you can find it here.

Final Words:

Three Coins Rating

HDFC Diners Black is an excellent card when it comes to rewards on 10X partner spends. The milestone-based vouchers and annual memberships are cherries on top.

HDFC offered it to me as a lifetime free card, which means I don't have to worry about reaching the fee waiver milestone. However, there are times when other super-premium cards may save you a lot more. So, it's always good to do your research before you hit that "Buy" button.

Disclaimer: Rights to the assets used in this article are owned by the respective companies. BrownPoints doesn't claim ownership of any of those assets and only uses them for demonstration purposes.

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