Can NRIs Apply For Credit Cards in India? What Are The Best Options?

So, you are an NRI and is looking to get a credit card in India. What are your options? Let’s take a look.

If you are an NRI, it’s good to get a credit card from one of the Indian banks. Reasons below.

  • You are traveling to India and would want to pay off your expenses on credit cards.
  • Your current credit cards might incur a foreign transaction fee.
  • Just for emergency purposes.

Whatever may the reasons be, it is good to have an additional credit card. But how do you get one?

Well, as for the banks, a credit card is just another unsecured personal loan. Therefore, they have their concerns and will be extra cautious. Having said that, if you can prove to the bank that you have a good transaction history or funds in your bank, most new-generation banks will offer a credit card. Let’s see what banks look for in NRIs for eligibility.

Eligibility for NRIs to apply for credit card

  1. Solid transaction/banking history of over 2 -3 years
    If you have been banking with a bank for more than 2 years, that is a good place to start, as they already know you. All kinds of transactions from deposits to withdrawals and foreign deposits are good enough.
  2. NRO/NRE account
    This is a no-brainer but having an NRE or NRO account helps. If you have one, you are more likely to do foreign transactions and banks like that kind of security. Credit cards can be linked to these accounts as well.
  3. Fixed deposits
    If you don’t have a money trail/history, show some cash and flex your muscles. Create a fixed deposit of say 1 Lakh Rupees or more and that should convince the bank that you are serious about this. Keep in mind that the more money you put in, the bigger your credit limit will be.

Best Banks Offering Credit Cards for NRIs

Most banks offer credit cards if you can prove your credit worthyness (irrespective of whether you are an NRO or not). So then it becomes your choice whether you wan to get a credit card that you can use in India or abroad. Here are some of the best credit cards.

Here is a list of best bank accounts for NRIs.

NRIs, How to apply for a credit card

This is the tricky part. But generally, the best bet to get a credit card is when you are in India on vacation. Assuming that your NRE/NRO accounts have been active and you have a transaction history to show, get to a bank as soon as you land in India, so you can get started with the formalities.

Visit the nearest local branch and offer them the valid documents as below.

  • Valid Passport
  • Bank statements for the last X years
  • Aadhaar card
  • PAN Card
  • Document showing NRI status

Essentially, what you need to prove to the bank is that you have funds in your account to pay back the card and/or that you have an active status. Banks will try best to avoid you if you are an “untraceable” person, being an NRI. If you have any active financial relationships in India, show it off (like property for rent or folks residing), banks will take that for a guarantee. And irrespective of whether you are an NRI or not, they want “credit worthy” individuals.

Best Credit Cards for NRIs

SBI Advantage Platinum Card

  • 5X Reward Points on Dining and Grocery
  • Earn 2 Reward points for every Rs. 100 spent on all other categories
  • Get a complimentary membership to the Priority Pass program worth $99
    – 5X Reward Points on Dining and Grocery
    – Get spend rewards on annual spending of Rs. 4 lakhs and 5 lakhs, each
    – e- Gift Voucher worth Rs. 3,000 from any of the following brands: Yatra, Hush Puppies/Bata, Marks & Spencer, Westside, Shoppers Stop
    Details here

NRI Royale Signature Credit Card from Kotak Mahindra Bank

  • Earn 2X rewards on spends outside India; i.e. earn 2 rewards points for every Rs. 200/- spent
  • Earn 1 reward point for every Rs. 200/- spent within India
  • Accumulate your reward points and redeem them across a host of redemption options like Movie tickets, Air tickets,
  • Airmiles, cash and more.
  • 1 Reward Point = Re 1/-

Details here

Bonus: It might be a good idea to get your credit report ready before application so you can fix any errors that may be on there. All the best!

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Entrepreneur, Mentor & Blogger.
I help business grow & scale. Have helped 15+ companies scale in US, Middle East and India.
I share everything I learned on this blog, so that you benefit. Here’s more about me.

8 responses to “Can NRIs Apply For Credit Cards in India? What Are The Best Options?”
  1. Suresh

    Hello – like some readers have mentioned it is very unlikely NRI status individuals with NRO/NRE accounts are able to get access to the Credit cards you mention. The biggest hurdle may be the inability to do eKYC from overseas if one does not have an Aadhar card. A current non-resident does not qualify for an Aadhar unless there is some way to get one.

  2. Prasad

    Can you list the NRI Credit Cards with ZERO annual fee?

    The goal is to maintain credit history/improve credit score .

  3. Mani Karthik

    What do you mean by normal credit card? If you have a credit card as part of your NRE account, nothing wrong in using it.


    Can NRI use normal Indian credit card?Is it illegal and what are implications?

  5. Mani Karthik

    Please don’t post personal information online, it could be misused. You can always email me Prakash.

  6. Prakash Kanakia

    Your area code seems to be near San Jose.
    I live in Hayward, CA (Near Fremont)
    Could you please call me at XXXXXXXXXX
    I wish to talk to you about Credit Card for NRE in India.
    Your call is highly solicited and would be much appreciated.

    Thanks with regards.
    Prakash Kanakia.

  7. Mod Salman

    Hello Mr. Mani Karthik. I think its time for u to update your blog. The cards which u have mentioned are not available anymore. Especially SBI have stopped most of the cards u mentioned viz., PLATINUM CARD, GOLD CARD, SIGNATURE CARD. Also the 1st 2 cards under Kotak M bank.

  8. Sanjay

    Hi Mani,

    I am an NRI living in the US for over a decade. I recently inherited money in Indian Rupees and have a NRO account at HDFC. I was interested in getting an Indian credit card more specifically HDFC Diners Black. The relationship manager at a HDFC branch is pushing me to get the Regalia card instead saying this is only card available for NRI’s. Is that true? How can I confirm the eligibility rules for Diners black as it pertains to NRI.

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