Okay, this post is purely dedicated to those who are applying for or have recently applied for HDFC Bank Credit Cards. Did you know that you can upgrade your HDFC Credit Card into First Year Free (FYF) and Lifetime Free (LTF) easily? You really do not need to pay the Joining Fees or Annual Fees for your HDFC Bank Credit Card.
HDFC Bank is the largest banking sector in India. In terms of convenience in banking, shopping offers, customer support, and other banking needs, I personally think that HDFC is always a step ahead of other banks. In fact, you can make a savings bank account with HDFC with nil banking and ATM charges, along with unlimited ATM withdrawals from anywhere. Check out my other post on the HDFC Bank Savings Account Tiers, and you can choose your convenient tier based on the features and privileges.
Whether you are an existing HDFC Bank customer and have got a preapproved Credit Card offer via Bank Promotion, or you are just casually applying for an HDFC credit card, you can easily convert your credit card to lifetime free. In today’s post, I will discuss the step-by-step proven method to upgrade your HDFC credit card into first year free and lifetime free. I myself joined HDFC Bank in 2021, got a preapproved credit card offer in 3 months, applied for it, and converted it into Lifetime Free with the following method only. This worked for me successfully.
So just bear with me. I am going to share the complete details.
Before we begin, let me invite you to our Finance Discussion Community on Facebook: FinTalks. Here we share our experiences and discuss queries related to banking, debit cards, and credit cards, mutual funds, stock markets, and more. We started in September 2020, and at the time of updating this post in August 2021, we have over 9.1k members. A lot of offers and discounts related to credit cards are also discussed here. Click Here to Join FinTalks.
Here’s an overview.
HDFC Bank Hidden Credit Card Offers:
Although it is a fully legal and officially working method, this lifetime free offer is one of the hidden credit card offers provided by HDFC Bank. And honestly, that’s sad!
If you are not so tech-savvy, or if you are not connected with other random HDFC users, and if you try to enquire about this hidden lifetime free offer from official HDFC Bank channels, chances are that you will be heavily misguided. I am glad we have the FinTalks community where we discuss everything related to Finance, including banking and credit cards.
But you will be surprised to know that HDFC Bank employees, relationship managers, credit card application managers, and even most of the lower tier HDFC Bank customer support have zero ideas about it or have highly contradictory viewpoints regarding this. I have faced a situation myself where different HDFC contacts are saying different things regarding this, and soon it became obvious that they do not know about it properly.
So, my request to all of you, please do not panic. It might be possible that you may ask about this offer to your bank, but they may either completely deny or tell you different answers, but let me assure you that this method is live as of August 2021, and you can surely apply it for your HDFC Credit Card.
Just follow the steps below. Let’s get started.
Apply for an HDFC Credit Card:
If you are an HDFC Bank customer for more than 3 months, chances are that you have already got a Preapproved Credit Card offer from NetBanking or Promotional Email. The advantage of a preapproved credit card is that you do not need to go through the credit card verification process, and you do not need to upload any documents such as income proofs, etc. Your card is approved based on your relationship status with the bank.
In case you are not an HDFC Bank Customer, you need to apply as a regular user, and you need to upload all necessary documents like Address Proofs, Income Proofs, like Salary Slip or ITRs, etc.
For Non-HDFC Bank Customers, Visit Credit Card Application Portal from the link below:
For HDFC Bank Customers, you can check if you are eligible for a preapproved Credit Card. To check, log in to HDFC Netbanking, and go to the ‘Cards’ tab. You might find this banner:
This is a sign that you might have got an HDFC Credit Card under preapproved status. You can click on that banner and apply it from there. I got this banner within 3 months of applying for my HDFC Bank account, and I did apply using this banner.
Another banner you might see within the initial few weeks of making your HDFC Bank Account is this one. This is a standard banner that comes for everyone:
However, initially, you might not get good preapproved credit cards. So better wait for a month or two more until you start seeing other dedicated offer banners.
You can also check your Email (Promotional Tab in Gmail) to get Preapproved Credit Card Offers. Here’s a banner I got within 3 months:
You can use this as a starting point for your application. It will take you to the HDFC Credit Card Application portal, and you must log in there as an HDFC Bank Customer.
Start your application and you can find the pre-approved cards that you are eligible to apply. I got the following two options: HDFC EasyEMI Credit Card, and HDFC Millennia Credit Card. I proceeded with the HDFC Millennia Credit Card Application.
Below I will mention the steps to convert your credit card to Lifetime Free. It works with almost all credit cards, except for a few. Let me list them first.
HDFC Credit Cards Eligible for Lifetime Free Offer:
Here are some of the most common HDFC Credit Cards that are definitely eligible for the Lifetime Free Offer. However, this is not an exhaustive list. There may be other cards also, which may fall under this offer.
- HDFC Moneyback Credit Card.
- HDFC EasyEMI Credit Card.
- HDFC Millennia Credit Card.
- HDFC Regalia First Credit Card.
- HDFC Regalia Credit Card.
- HDFC Diners Club Privilege Credit Card.
- Indian Oil HDFC Credit Card.
- HDFC Business Moneyback Credit Card.
- HDFC Business Regalia Credit Card.
- Platinum Times HDFC Credit Card.
HDFC Credit Cards NOT Eligible for Lifetime Free Offer:
There are a few HDFC credit cards which do not fall under the Lifetime Free criteria. That means, if you are applying for these cards, you cannot convert it into a Lifetime Free Card.
- Titanium Times HDFC Credit Card.
- HDFC Diners Club Black Credit Card.
- HDFC Infinia Credit Card.
Again, this is not an exhaustive list. There may be other cards that are not eligible for Lifetime Free. Anyways, let’s move on to the actual methods for converting your card to Lifetime Free.
Methods for HDFC Lifetime Free Credit Card:
Okay so here are the processes to convert your HDFC Credit Card to Lifetime Free status:
- Fulfill 30 Days Spend Target (NEW)
- Add Smartpay Biller
- Subscribe to OneAssist
- Subscribe to Card Sure
- Do 12 Transactions of ₹500 or more each (HIDDEN OFFER)
The last offer is the easiest one, and you can accomplish it within a few days of getting your card. However, at the same time, it is a hidden offer. Because, while you are applying for the new credit card, you won’t be finding it in the application procedure. Below is the image of the offers that you will find while applying for your HDFC credit card.
Please note that depending on your type of application, whether you are an HDFC Bank customer or not, the options you get may vary. Also, choosing the last two options displayed in the image above: Prepaid Card & FASTag won’t make your card Lifetime Free. Those are extra add-ons.
You can choose from the first 3 options, or skip them and go for the hidden 4th trick. I am writing them in detail below.
Method 1: Fulfil Spend Target within 90 Days [NEW]:
This is a new method added by HDFC Bank that you can use to convert your HDFC Credit Card to Lifetime Free. Basically, this new method got added after RBI lifted the ban on HDFC Bank to issue credit cards on 18th August 2021.
A lot of existing HDFC Bank users got preapproved offers for credit cards. New users may also apply from HDFC CC Application Portal.
In case you apply now, you will find the eligible cards list after you log in to the portal and enter your details. On that list, you can find this line stating the Lifetime Free criterion for the card. It should be like this:
To make this card Lifetime Free: Spend ### within 90 days of card opening date.
That’s your cue! You can make your card LTF using this method only. But do check the other methods too, especially Method 2 (Smartpay Biller), and add that also as an additional protection layer.
Also, check the heading below on How to verify your LTF status with HDFC Bank. That way you can send an email to HDFC Bank and verify it.
Method 2: Add Smartpay Biller:
HDFC Smartpay is a portal for HDFC card users, that can be used to pay utility bills. You can use this platform to pay your Postpaid Bills, Electricity Bills, DTH Recharge, Broadband Bills, etc. All you need to do is register your billers, and it will automatically pay bills every month.
HDFC Smartpay uses your credit card to pay the bills every month. You will also earn 5% cashback on your Bill Payments with Smartpay. Coming to the Lifetime Free upgrade offer, if you register 1 biller with HDFC Smartpay for a minimum of 3 billing cycles, then your HDFC credit card will become lifetime free.
The biller should be one of the following:
- Utility Bill (Gas/Water/Broadband)
- Postpaid Mobile
- Insurance Premium
- Rental Payments
Whether or not it is applicable on DTH Recharge is something I am not yet sure about. If you add DTH Biller and can convert your card to Lifetime Free Status, then let me know in the comments below. I will update it over here.
How to Add Billers?
This can be done in two ways:
You can either add it during your credit card application by check-marking in the ‘Smartpay’ field when prompted. You will be taken to another page where you can add your billers.
However, note that here you can only add limited billers: Postpaid, DTH & Rentpay only. In case you need to add other billers such as electricity bill, you can do it after you receive your credit card.
Note: If you apply for Smartpay during the Credit Card application, you have to sign an undertaking that these billers are on your name only. Check the image below.
The reason is, you are applying for a fresh credit card, and hence you should add only the billers that are on your name. If you want to add a biller on someone else’s name, you should skip this for now and add it within 90 days of receiving your credit card.
The other way of adding SmartPay biller after you get your Credit Card is as follows:
- Login to HDFC Bank Netbanking.
- Click on the Cards section.
- On the left menu, under the Credit Cards section, click on Transact dropdown.
- From the dropdown, click on Smartpay.
- You will get a message that you will be redirected to Smartpay Portal. Click on Continue.
- The Smartpay Portal will open. Choose your Credit Card from the dropdown and click Continue.
From the smartpay portal, you can conveniently add any number of billers against your credit card. From the left menu, click on My Billers > Add Biller. You can see the options and continue further.
Adding a minimum of 1 biller is necessary for the Lifetime Free Upgrade against your Credit Card. Remember to do it within 90 days of receiving your Credit Card. However, I recommend doing it instantly after you get your credit card so that it gets updated over the first billing cycle itself.
Method 3: Subscribe to OneAssist:
OneAssist is a service provider company that deals with electrical appliance repairs, electronics repair, mobile, and other gadget repairs, as well as financial protection. They have partnered with different banks, including HDFC Bank to offer protection against your Credit Card Theft or Fraudulent Transactions. This is chargeable at ₹1599 per year.
They offer the following services:
- One call blocking of all your bank cards (credit, debit, prepaid, forex)
- Fraudulent transactions Cover on your lost card: Up to 2 Lakhs covered before reporting the loss of card. Fully covered after reporting the loss of card.
- Free replacement of PAN Card and Driving License.
- Emergency Cash Assistance up to 25k in India.
- Emergency Hotel Bill Settlement and Return Ticket Booking: 80k Domestic, 160k International.
- Free Cloud Storage for storing important documents.
You can take OneAssist yearly subscription for ₹1599 at the time of applying for your HDFC credit card, to covert your card to Lifetime Free. You do not need to pay upfront. This charge will be automatically applied to your credit card.
Method 4: Subscribe to Card Sure:
Card Sure is an Insurance Policy offered by HDFC Ergo, which is a general insurance company of HDFC itself. It costs ₹900 per year and offers some personal accident insurance as well.
They offer the following services:
- Personal Accident Cover of 5 Lakhs.
- Lost Card Liability up to your full credit limit. (You need to inform the same day)
- Child Education Cover of 25k.
Similar to OneAssist, this annual charges of ₹900 will be automatically applied to your credit card, you don’t need to pay upfront.
Hidden Method 5: Do 12 Transactions of ₹500:
This is by far the best method to convert your HDFC Card to Lifetime Free. However, due to the lack of proper information, I would recommend you to use any of the above offers, such as adding a Smartpay Biller, side by side, so that you have double protection on your card.
Coming to the offer, it is as easy as doing 12 transactions with your credit card to become eligible for a lifetime free status. The only condition is that each transaction should be ₹500 or more. That’s all.
It happens over 2 stages:
- Complete 6 Transactions of ₹500 or more each to upgrade to First Year Free status.
- Complete 12 Transactions of ₹500 or more each to upgrade to Lifetime Free status.
I’m not kidding! It is as simple as that!
You can do any of the following to be counted as a successful transaction:
- Online Shopping anywhere.
- Offline Purchases via Card Swipe.
- Wallet Loading such as PayTM, Amazon Pay, OlaMoney, etc.
Tip: If you are loading money to Wallets, don’t do 12 transactions back to back. HDFC Bank won’t bother about it, but your wallets might see it as suspicious activity, especially PayTM. So, take your time. Try to divide it between wallets.
How to track whether you are Eligible for Lifetime Free by 12 Transactions?
Luckily, you will be able to track your progress for the Lifetime Free Status by 12 Transactions and know when you have qualified for it. But this method does not work for everyone. In case it works for you, it is fine. In case it does not work for you, you can manually track 12 transactions from your Credit Card statement, and afterward, contact HDFC Bank to know the Lifetime Free status of your card. Check the next heading to know more about it.
Anyways, let’s discuss how you can track your Lifetime Free Status from HDFC Netbanking.
- Login to HDFC Bank Netbanking.
- Click on the Cards section.
- On the left menu, under the Credit Cards section, click on Enquire dropdown.
- From the dropdown, click on Redeem Reward Points.
- It will show your credit cards. Check your credit card, and click on Continue.
- It will warn you that you will be redirected to the ‘Redeem Rewards’ portal and logged out from the Netbanking. Also, you need to enable popups in your browser. Click on Continue.
- You will be redirected to the ‘Rewards Redemption Portal’.
- From the Top Menu, Click on My Rewards > Spend Promo Details.
You will find something like this:
If you find these two rows highlighted in red in the HDFC Credit Card Reward Redemption portal, then you can track your progress from here successfully:
- PRICING OCT19 12TXN LTF
- PRICING OCT19 06TXN FYF
Note that the month and year might differ a bit depending on the time you are applying, but the keyword to note is ‘06TXN FYF‘ & ‘12TXN LTF‘. It means 6 Transactions for First Year Free (FYF) and 12 Transactions for Lifetime Free (LTF) respectively.
As you use your card, the ‘Amount Spent’ will get updated.
- After you complete 6 Transactions, the Promo Status against FYF will change from ‘In-Progress‘ to ‘Qualified‘.
- After you complete 12 Transactions, the Promo Status against LTF will change from ‘In-Progress‘ to ‘Qualified‘.
Note that it takes 48-72 hours to track your transactions. This means, if you transact on the 1st of a month, it will be shown on the 3rd or 4th of the month. So the quicker you complete the transactions, the faster you will qualify for First Year Free or Lifetime Free Status on your HDFC Credit Card.
Here’s what it will show after you have completed 12 Transactions, each of ₹500 or more. (Wait for 2-3 days before checking)
This technically means your HDFC Credit Card has qualified for Lifetime Free status, and you won’t be charged for using it at all. However, you can still get in touch with HDFC Bank and be sure about it. In fact, if you are someone who cannot track your Lifetime Free Progress, you definitely need to directly contact HDFC Bank for confirming the status after doing 12 Transactions.
Check out how you can do it below.
Confirming Lifetime Free Status of your Card from HDFC Bank:
Sometimes it might happen that you may not be able to see those two keywords ‘PRICING OCT19 12TXN LTF‘ / ‘PRICING OCT19 06TXN FYF‘ on the ‘Spend Promo Details’ section in the HDFC credit card rewards redemption portal.
Also, sometimes even if you are able to track it, you still might want to get a confirmation from HDFC Bank itself regarding the lifetime free status of your card. In that case, you need to contact HDFC Bank for confirming the same.
But well, as I had said in the beginning, that most of the HDFC personnel are not properly informed about it. So, just visiting your bank or contacting your RM won’t give you your answers.
You need to write a formal email to HDFC Bank Credit Card Priority Redressal Team OR Grievance Redressal Team to confirm it.
You may send a mail to any of the following addresses:
- priorityredressal [dot] creditcards [at] hdfcbank.com
- grievance [dot] redressalcc [at] hdfcbank.com
What to Write?
Since you are writing to the senior management teams of HDFC Bank, it is best to explain everything in detail.
You must mention the following inside the email:
- Your Registered Mobile Number
- Your Last 4 Digits of your Credit Card. (Use the format XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-1234 for VISA & Mastercard OR XXXX-XXXXXX-1234 for Diners Club)
- On the subject line, write the following: Regarding the ‘Lifetime Free’ status of my HDFC Credit Card.
In the body, mention that you are an HDFC credit card user, you have recently applied for the HDFC card, and you came across the Lifetime Free offers. Next, mention that you added a Smartpay Biller, or subscribed to OneAssist, or subscribed to Card Sure, or did 12 Transactions of ₹500 each. If you are able to track it under the ‘Redeem Rewards’ portal, then mention that it shows ‘Qualified’ for LTF status. If you are not able to track it, just mention that you fulfilled the criteria, and want to know about the Lifetime Free status of your HDFC Credit Card.
My Email and the Responses I got from HDFC Bank:
Below is the format of the email that I sent them on 10th September 2020:
I also attached a screenshot of my ‘Redeem Rewards’ Portal where it was showing ‘Qualified’ Status for me. I got an automated acknowledgment email instantly that my email was received by them.
On the same day at night, I got another email from their Credit Card team where they assigned a Reference number to my query and said they will respond within 3 working days.
After a long wait, I finally got the confirmation email from the HDFC Bank Credit Card team that yes, my credit card has been upgraded to Lifetime Free.
Huh! What a sigh of relief! After all the efforts, it was worth it. I was able to convert my HDFC Millennia Credit Card into Lifetime Free status. So, I am positive that you can also try the same steps to upgrade your credit card to lifetime free.
Just a few weeks back I was completely clueless about this HDFC Lifetime Free Credit Card offer. I was asking so many people about it but got mixed responses. I am glad that I was finally able to convert my card to Lifetime Free and write it down for you. Some of the screenshots and images I posted here are taken months ago when I was applying for the Credit Card.
I can’t thank enough my friends Anit Shah, Bunty Nagda, Harshit, Nirmal Andy, Ram Manohar, Ravi Bhalla, and Vikram Renukuntha, and a few others, for helping me out in the entire Credit Card Application Process, hunting the HDFC Bank support email, providing some of the screenshots, and more. Their contributions were invaluable in writing this mighty article successfully.
If you are still reading, I genuinely thank you for staying with me till the end. I will only request you to please share this article with your friends who are HDFC Bank customers, especially those who are thinking to apply (or recently applied) for an HDFC Credit Card. It will help them a lot.
That’s all about converting your HDFC Credit Card to Lifetime Free status. I hope this post was able to help you out. I wish you all the best for your credit card application.
By the way, if you haven’t joined our FinTalks community on Facebook, please do join immediately. There you will get help with all types of financial matters. And you can post even noob queries too. Also, you can join our Telegram Channel for getting curated Tech Updates. Keep visiting HiTricks!