Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Credit Card in Sri Lanka - Whats best for you?

What is the best credit card in Sri Lanka? - HSBC, Sampath, HNB, COM or BOC? - None of them. Yes you read it right. Like i said in my post about best banks in Sri Lanka it depends on your needs and wants.

Brief History of Credit Cards in Sri Lanka
In the past the unarguable market leader was HSBC. They were the first to enter the business and the first to position as an  offers galore. AMEX and Standard Chartered were playing an up market game which no one won. But in the years to come - credit cards became an essential part of personal banking. hence all private banks started issuing credit cards and accumulating offers. At the moment Sampath and Commercial banks are doing quite well. And is giving a strong fight to HSBC market share. Final to enter the scene were the state banks. BOC is doing extremely well. Peoples bank just started and might prove successful with the low end - high quantity market.

What is a credit card?
Silly question, but people are having this wrong impression thinking a credit card is for online transactions. It is wrong. In basic terms asd the name suggests "Credit" - it is cash in advance on a plastic card, which you need to pay later (Usually within a month). Imagine you got a small loan, the size of your salary that you need to pay the coming month - Thats what a credit card is. How it differentiates from a ATM (Debit) card is that debit card is prepaid - And credit card is post paid.
I hope now you understand the risk - If you use the credit card heavily - you have to pay back the coming month and you might go to a level where you live totally on credit (Scary!). Hence i always suggest use it sensibly.

Factors to consider when choosing your credit card

  1. Purpose - You might be wanting to do only online payments. In that case the Sampath web card is a better solution. I recommend using a credit card for following purposes - 
    • Not wanting to carry cash (Can't use debit cards in all places,specially abroad) In this case go for a card thats accepted worldwide, usually VISA and Master both are accepted worldwide but there can be places where VISA is preffered. In Sri Lanka ive seen many small shops accept VISA and not Master. So VISA can be recommended in Sri Lanka.
    • You want to save by going for offers (If this is the primary purpose - See no.3 factor)
    • Emergencies (When you need extra cash in advance - For example when you are sick)
  2. Cost of the credit card
    • Includes joining fee, annual fee and interest rate (Usually the same for most banks). But heard cards like AMEX are quite expensive. And make sure they don't have hidden charges.
  3. Type of offers you are looking for
    • This totally depends on your taste. For e.g. Take shopping. If you are high class you might shop at places like ODEL, Romafour (Reminds me of my secret santa) like places. But if you are down to earth you might be comfortable with NOLIMIT or CIB like places. Some high end credit cards like AMEX, Std Chtd will offer this high end places and normal credit cards like Sampath or BOC will offer low end places. So go for what you want. For this - Go through some of the offers they have given in the past. Same with food joints and other products. Go for what type you want. In case you are hybrid - Having two cards cost you only Rs.1000-1500 annually. 
I haven't used all cards. So feel free to share your experiences on credit cards and what you recommend.


  1. I have 3 cards. Sampath, HSBC, Charted
    For me It's Sampath.
    Sampath <<<<< Affordable Promotions
    Charted <<<<< Hell no..

  2. Thanks for the comment machan. Std Chatd is having really bad reputation Sri Lanka. Have you seen the emails?
    What do you think about the late fees in Sampath vs late charges in HSBC?

  3. awesome post Nadheera, you know I was looking for more info regarding CCs. This post made me think again, specially of a Sampath CC. Following comments on this post from now.

  4. @Umesh - Yea- Machan - Theres no harm in having a CC for an emergency (Annual fee is only about Rs.750).
    Glad i could change your opinion about it. But like i said - You need to use it sensibly. The bad reputation you had about CCs was because of using it in bad ways.

  5. I'll vote for BOC.. & Commercial. No much promotions but they are reasonable. Out of All HSBC is the worst I meant charging schemes.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Simple and effective post Nadheera! You have given me a good vision about credit cards. You are absolutely right.. Thanks a lot dude !

  8. Hi Dam, Thank you. BTW who are you? Sorry - i cant recognize you from the screen name...

  9. I think now all the new uprising banks are introducing credit cards with great benefits and offers.

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