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Credit Cards What is a Credit Card

What is a 'Credit Card'

The arrival of credit cards has changed the way we look at the financial services world. Not only there is the convenience of not carrying cash whilst out for shopping or holiday or any other needs, there are a basket of other advantages that the credit card provides to its users. These include free credit period, points for every purchase that can be redeemed for gifts etc and goodies at the time of applying. No wonder, more and more individuals are using credit cards today.

A credit card is a plastic card (Dimension: 85.60 × 53.98 mm and thickness of 0.76 mm) and is issued by a financial institution which helps the card holder to have instant credit on need. The credit card can be used to (1) buy goods (2) buy services and (3) take emergency cash when needed. All this can be transacted online or off-line.

All the credit, so availed, comes at cost which essentially the pre-defined interest rate notified by the card issuing institution.

One new phenomenon now-a-days is to have co-branded credit cards which tries to leverage the brand equity of the financial institution and another customer focussed organisation. Such co-branded cards do offer additional benefits to the card holders.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express are three popular and recognized credit card variants in India.

Unlike debit cards, credit cards work on the principle of credit. For instance, individuals technically “borrow funds” when they swipe their credit card and are expected to repay the same when presented in their monthly bills. However, if misused, credit cards can create a nasty impact on the individual’s financial standing and push him to a debt trap.

Types of Credit Cards

Types of Credit Cards

Regular credit cards

These are the basic category cards with lower entry threshold and lower limits and comparatively lesser benefits

Premier credit cards

Premier credit cards are cards from card issuers that come with flexible spending limits, lifestyle privileges, travel benefits, cashback offers, travel lounge accesses, concierge services, complimentary insurance cover and dedicated emergency assistance. Lot of these premium credit cards are issued only through invitation

Secured credit card

A secured credit card is generally issued against a fixed deposit held in the card holders saving account. This is held as a collateral by the card issuer and helps customer build a good credit history.

Prepaid credit card

A prepaid credit card works like a debit card, where the money is taken from an account associated with the card. Users can load cash on the prepaid credit card and can spend up to the available amount limit on the card.

Business credit card

Business credit cards are essentially issued on the instructions of business organisations to their staff to enable them to spend on specified categories on their behalf. Such cards generally have the name of the organisation embossed on the card.

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Important info about credit cards


Usually the name of the card holder or the add-on card holder.

Card Number

Usually a 16-digit number (in 4-4-4-4 format); in case of American Express it is a 15-digit number (4-6-5 format)

CVV (Card Verification Value)

The CVV Number on your credit card or debit card is a 3-digit number on Visa/MasterCard cards and is found at the back-side of the card; in case of American Express cards, it is a 4-digit number that is found on the front of the card.

Issue Date

Usually Month and Year in MM-YY format

Valid till Date

Usually Month and Year in MM-YY format

Minimum Due

Usually 5% of the balance outstanding to ensure that the credit card remains active.

Magnetic Strip

The most important part of your card is the magnetic strip on it. This strip stores the data pertaining to the card in it and facilitates transaction completion.

Document Required to Apply Credit Card

Proof of Identity


PAN Card

Ration Card

Aadhaar Card

Voter’s ID Card

Driving License

Proof of Address

Telephone Bill

Electricity Bill


Ration Card

Rental Agreement

Aadhaar Card

Proof of Income (For Salaried)

Salary Certificate

Recent Salary slip/s

Employment Letters

Bank statements

Proof of Income (For Self-Employed)

Certified Financials

Recent ITR Statement

Balance Sheet

Proof of business continuity

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