Indigo Credit Card: Weighing the Benefits and Drawbacks

The Indigo Credit Card has grown in popularity over the past few years as a leading premium travel rewards card. With lucrative sign-up bonuses, strong earnings rates on travel purchases, and various luxury perks, Indigo has carved out a niche in the competitive credit card landscape. However, the high annual fee and complex rewards program are definite drawbacks to weigh. In this guide, we’ll dive into the key pros and cons of the Indigo Credit Card to help you evaluate if it’s the right card for your wallet.

Overview of the Indigo Credit Card

The Indigo Credit Card is a Visa Infinite card issued by the Indigo Bank. It offers some of the top benefits and rewards of any travel credit card on the market today. Some of the key features include:

  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3x points per $1 on all travel purchases including flights, hotels, rental cars, trains, rideshares, tolls, and more
  • 2x points at grocery stores and gas stations
  • 1x point per $1 on all other purchases
  • $100 annual airline fee credit
  • Complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge access
  • Premium travel protections and insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees

The ideal Indigo cardmember is someone who travels frequently, wants luxury perks like airport lounge access, and can maximize the bonus category spending. The annual fee is $199 after the first year, so it makes the most sense for frequent travellers who can offset that cost through rewards.

Compared to other popular travel rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture X, the Indigo Credit Card sits squarely in the premium space. It offers higher rewards potential than barebones no annual fee cards, and more luxury perks than basic travel cards. However, it doesn’t have quite the ultra-premium elite status and benefits as something like the AmEx Platinum. Overall, it strikes a nice balance for those looking for a high-end travel card with valuable benefits.

Next, let’s dive into the key pros of the Indigo Credit Card and how it can provide tremendous value.

Pros of the Indigo Credit Card

Lucrative Sign-Up Bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the Indigo Credit Card is 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months. Depending on how you redeem them for travel, these 50k Indigo points are worth around $500 in airfare, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and more. This provides tremendous value right off the bat from the intro bonus.

For a $3,000 minimum spend to earn 50,000 points, that works out to over 16 points per dollar. That far exceeds the regular 1-3x earnings rate on other purchases. Many new cardholders can quickly earn the minimum spend organically through both regular living expenses and some larger planned purchases like home renovations or a family vacation. Overall, this is one of the most generous intro bonuses among travel rewards cards today.

Strong Travel Rewards Earnings

Beyond the intro bonus, the Indigo Credit Card earns an excellent 3x points on all travel purchases. This includes airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, trains, rideshares, tolls, parking, and more. There are no foreign transaction fees, so the 3x rate also applies to any international travel expenses.

You also earn 2x points per dollar at grocery stores and gas stations. While not directly related to travel, these are key frequent spending categories for most households. All other purchases earn 1x point per dollar spent.

Compared to many other travel rewards cards, Indigo offers a higher earning rate of 3x on a broader range of travel expenses. Some competing cards only offer 2x or 3x points on specific travel categories like airfare and hotels. If you have a wide range of travel spending across transportation, lodging, tours, and more, the Indigo card maximizes your rewards.

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Annual $100 Airline Fee Credit

Each year, the Indigo Credit Card offers a $100 airline fee credit as one of its signature benefits. This credit applies towards incidental fees charged by any airline, such as:

  • Checked bag fees
  • In-flight food, drinks, or WiFi
  • Change/cancellation fees
  • Pet carrier fees
  • Seat selection fees
  • Airport lounge day passes
  • Mileage redeposit fees

The credit is applied automatically towards the first $100 in eligible airline fee purchases you make each year. This helps offset the annual fee, especially for frequent travellers who regularly incur these types of fees. It’s easy to maximize this credit across one or more airline trips per year.

Airport Lounge Access

As a premium travel rewards card, one of the standout perks of the Indigo Credit Card is complimentary airport lounge access. This includes Priority Pass membership, which grants access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. Lounges offer comfortable seating, free food and drinks, high-speed WiFi, and more. It’s a great way to make long layovers more enjoyable.

For frequent travelers starting their trip in an airport lounge makes the travel experience more luxurious and relaxing. It also provides savings compared to purchasing food and drinks in the main terminal. Having a lounge available on arrival at your destination also gives you a comfortable place to regroup after

a long flight before heading home or to your hotel. While premium cards like the Amex Platinum offer more extensive lounge access, the included Priority Pass perk on the Indigo Credit Card provides solid lounge benefits for most travellers.

Premium Travel Protections and Insurance

Beyond the points and perks, one underrated benefit of the Indigo Credit Card is the collection of premium travel insurance and protections included. These provide safety and security for your trips in case anything goes wrong. Some of the key offerings include:

  • Trip delay insurance – up to $500 per ticket if your trip is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance – up to $2,500 per person and $5,000 per trip if covered reasons cause cancellation or interruption
  • Lost luggage reimbursement – up to $3,000 per passenger if bags are lost or delayed more than 12 hours
  • Primary rental car insurance – rental car damages are covered if you decline the rental company’s collision insurance
  • Purchase protection – 120 days of coverage (up to $10,000 per claim) if items are damaged or stolen
  • Extended warranty protection – extends original manufacturer’s warranty on purchases by one year (up to $10,000 per claim)

Having these protections provides valuable peace of mind for travellers. Even just one trip delay reimbursement claim can offset several years of annual fees. For those who travel frequently for work or leisure, access to premium insurance and assistance services should be a key consideration when choosing a credit card.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

A final underrated perk of the Indigo Credit Card is the lack of foreign transaction fees. Many credit cards charge a 3% fee on all purchases made outside the U.S. or in foreign currency. So when travelling abroad or shopping on foreign websites, you can incur hundreds in extra fees over time.

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The Indigo Credit Card waives these pesky foreign transaction fees. That helps maximize savings when travelling, shopping internationally, or paying for any foreign services. This is a small but valuable perk that provides savings for globe-trotting cardholders.

In summary, the Indigo Credit Card offers an appealing package of rewards, perks, and protections that cater well to frequent travellers. From lounge access to trip protections to bonus earning rates, many valuable benefits come with the card. Next, let’s examine some of the downsides to weigh as well.

Cons of the Indigo Credit Card

High Annual Fee

The biggest downside of the Indigo Credit Card is the $199 annual fee after the first year. This fee is waived for year one but hits every 12 months thereafter. It is one of the higher annual fees compared to other popular travel rewards cards.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, for example, only charges $95 per year. No annual fee cards like the Bank of America Travel Rewards provide some free travel perks too. While the Indigo Card’s annual fee can be offset through credits, rewards, and perks, it is still a much higher annual cost to factor in compared to many competitors.

Restrictive Travel Portal

To redeem Indigo rewards points for travel, you must book through the Indigo Credit Card travel portal. This limits flexibility in how you can use earned rewards. Only booking airfare, hotels, rental cars, cruises, etc. through Indigo’s portal counts as a redemption option.

Transferring points to airline and hotel partners is restricted. And while Indigo’s portal offers competitive pricing, it may not always provide the lowest prices on certain routes or properties. Locking all redemptions into one travel marketplace restricts flexibility in utilizing your hard-earned rewards.

Complex Points System

The multiple tiers of the Indigo points system can also be a drawback for some cardholders. You earn 3x on travel, 2x on groceries/gas, and 1x on everything else. Then redemption values vary depending on what you redeem for – airfare vs hotels vs cash back, etc. Different minimum redemption thresholds also apply based on redemption type.

This can get confusing to keep track of compared to a simple cash-back card with uniform rewards across all purchases. If you only travel occasionally, a simpler flat-rate cash-back card may prove easier. But for those who understand the various tiers and redemption options, the reward potential is much higher with the Indigo Credit Card’s bonus categories.

Minimum Redemption Requirements

Speaking of redemption minimums, the Indigo Credit Card does have some frustrating ones that apply depending on the reward you choose. For example, you must have at least 10,000 points for the lowest level airline ticket redemptions and most hotel stays.

Yet if you want to redeem points for a simple statement credit, the minimum jumps to 5,000 points – equal to $50. This threshold is higher than many competing cards. So if you were hoping to redeem smaller point increments frequently for rewards or statement credits, the Indigo Credit Card has restrictive minimums in place.

Few Bonus Categories Beyond Travel

A final downside compared to some competitors is that the Indigo Credit Card lacks bonus earning categories beyond travel, gas, and groceries. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred offer higher rewards rates on dining, select streaming services and more.

Aside from the 2x on groceries and gas, everyday purchases only earn 1x point per dollar on the Indigo Credit Card. So if you spend heavily in non-travel categories, other cards provide higher rewards potential. The Indigo card is catered most heavily to consistent travellers.

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Comparing the Indigo Card to Other Popular Travel Cards

To provide additional context, let’s compare the Indigo Credit Card to some of the other best travel rewards cards available today. How does it stack up against other top contenders?

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is likely the Indigo Credit Card’s biggest direct competitor. It offers similar travel and dining rewards bonus categories, with a lower $95 annual fee. The sign-up bonus is also smaller at 50,000 points after $4,000 spent in 3 months.

Redemption minimums on the Sapphire Preferred are more flexible, starting at just 5,000 points worth $50 in travel. However, there are fewer premium perks like airport lounge access and travel protections. Overall, the Sapphire Preferred offers a scaled-down version of the Indigo card at a lower annual fee. But fewer services and bonuses.

Capital One Venture X

For premium travel benefits, the Capital One Venture X competes directly with the Indigo Credit Card and its high annual fee. It charges $395 per year but offers statement credits, a huge sign-up bonus (75k miles), airport lounge access, and 5x miles on airfare booked directly in the app.

It’s also accepted more widely internationally thanks to the Mastercard network. But it lacks as many premium insurances and travel services as Indigo. Overall, it’s another solid premium travel pick if you can swing the $395 annual fee long-term.

American Express Platinum Card

At the ultra-premium end, the American Express Platinum Card has an extremely high $695 annual fee but even more luxury perks and rewards. You get access to Amex’s exclusive Centurion Lounges, fine hotel programs, Uber credits, digital entertainment credits, and more. Bonus categories focus heavily on airfare and hotels.

The bloated benefits and high fees make the Amex Platinum more niche for luxury travellers and high spenders. It sits a tier above the Indigo Credit Card in terms of luxury perks. But for many travellers, the Indigo offers strong benefits without quite the sticker shock of the Amex Platinum annual fee.

Conclusion

The Indigo Credit Card occupies an appealing spot between barebones no-fee travel cards and ultra-premium luxury options. For frequent travellers who can maximize the $100 airline fee credit, 3x travel rewards, lounge access, and premium protections, the $199 annual fee is usually well worth it. But for infrequent travel spenders, no annual fee cards make more sense to avoid hefty fees.

Compared to mid-tier competitors like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Indigo offers higher reward potential and more benefits. But its higher fee and steeper redemption minimums are tradeoffs. And more luxury-focused cards like the Amex Platinum take travel perks to the next level for a much higher price.

Overall, the Indigo Credit Card is likely the best fit for those who travel routinely but not excessively. It provides nice perks like lounge access and strong insurance that occasional travellers may not use enough to justify the annual fee. But it doesn’t include every luxury perk imaginable like some premium cards.

For the right type of travel spender who frequents airports and hotels a few times per month, the Indigo Credit Card strikes an ideal middle ground. It remains a worthy contender for one of the top rewards travel credit cards available today.

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