In the earlier days, if you wanted to buy something, you’d have to barter.
But the barter system was inconvenient. The invention of the fiat currency solved a lot of problems.
But people often don’t have enough money to cover their expenses.
So what did we do? We invented credit; buy now pay later.
A credit card is a beneficial financial product if used right. And CRED, the new startup from Kunal Shah, is tackling an unusual problem when it comes to credit cards.
Paying off your credit card bills.
In this CRED app review, I’ll dive deep into their offerings, potential security risks, typical CRED offers, and tips to make the most of the app.
What does the CRED app do?
Imagine that you have multiple credit cards across various banks. Each of them has a different billing cycle.
What if there is an app that collects all this information, reminds you to make payments on time, and rewards you for it?
That’s what CRED app offers.
A single app to manage all your credit cards.
Note: CRED targets people with higher credit scores (deemed creditworthy). When I joined CRED, I was waitlisted but got access quickly because my credit score was 800+. Depending upon your credit score, you might have to wait for long, or you might not be eligible at all.
Check your eligibility here.
How does CRED reward users?
There are two reward mechanisms in the CRED app.
- Points: Earned by making credit card payments. One point = One rupee in card payment
- Gems: Earned by referring members to CRED. One referral = 10 gems
There are various rewards you can redeem. Almost always, the gem rewards are more useful than point rewards.
The rewards are often tied to location. Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi have the highest offers on the app.
Going Beyond Credit Card Payments
CRED app offers an interesting feature – CRED protect. It offers the following benefits:
- Analysis of your spending patterns
- Alerts on suspicious activities
- Alerts about inaccurate charges or unexpected fees
- Due date alerts
- Auto fetch due amounts
There are two sources from which CRED can pull all this information.
- Your bank account
- Your email
Right now, CRED integrates only with your AMEX account. However, it can integrate with your GMAIL account and pull statements from there.
Linking Your GMAIL Account With CRED
If you have an android phone, linking the app is straightforward. Follow the on-screen prompts, and it can link your account quickly.
What Offers Does CRED App Provide?
There are multiple types of offers in CRED.
#1: Redeem Points For Actual Cash – #Killthebill
It is great that you can redeem your CRED points for actual cash.
However, the offers are limited. The cards to win cash only appear once when you make a card payment.
Usually, the offers are:
|Points Burned||Max Cashback|
After having burned more than 10 lakh points on these, I have a fair idea of the typical cashback that you can get.
|Points Burned||Typical Cashback|
|1,000||Rs 5 – Rs 10|
|5,000||Rs 10 – Rs 20|
|15,000||Rs 10 – Rs 25|
|30,000||Rs 40 to Rs 60|
Of the last five 30,000 burns, I have consistently received cashback between Rs 50 – Rs 53. Strange how this works if the system is truly random.
My biggest cashback was Rs 1,787 once on 5,000 points #Killthebill unlock in Aug 2019.
However, aside from my one-time luck, if you calculate the value of the cashback, it’s often less than Rs 0.002 per point.
Pro Tip: Unless you have no other offers to use the points, I recommend that you skip these cashback. You will get a better reward value on non-cashback offers.
#2: Redeem Points For Various Offers
The most common use case for spending your points on CRED will be to use their array of offers.
While CRED has a lot of categorization for their offers, here’s how I segment them.
The frequent offers can be grouped based on the target segment:
|Target Segment||Typical Offers|
|Foodies||20% discount on total bill on fine dining restaurants|
|Wellness enthusiasts||Fitness memberships, healthy food, discounted health check-ups|
|Beauty enthusiasts||Discounts on new beauty products for men/women|
|Parents with young kids||Activities, toys, and educational products|
|Pub hoppers||20% discount on total bill across pubs and microbreweries|
Some offers are less frequent. I have seen offers for financial planning, foreign trips, and even movie screenings.
How Good are Cred Offers?
After burning 22.5 Lakh points, here’s what I have received:
- Around Rs 2,500 in cashback
- Some fantastic dine out deals like free dining for two at Caperberry
- 20% off (food + alcohol) on some of the famous pubs in Bangalore
- No-Limit 50% off from Swiggy. I saved Rs 1,300 using this coupon
- A few good products for free from companies like Man Company, Coveritup, etc.
Overall, I’d estimate that I received about Rs 15,000 value from using the CRED app over the last year.
Note: In credit card terms, CRED offers you an additional reward rate of 0.5% – 1%. My personal reward rate from CRED was around 0.7%.
How Trustworthy is CRED in handling my transactions?
100% of my payments made via CRED has gone through in less than 24 hours. Occasionally, transactions take 48 hours or more to reflect.
Overall, for me, CRED has worked 100% of the time. However, I have seen some people complain about delays in remitting payment.
The reason for the delay could be the mode of payment to CRED and the receiving bank. I often use Net Banking or UPI to make the payment to CRED. My bank is HDFC and ICICI for receiving payments.
However, if you have an account with a PSU bank or a smaller bank, you might occasionally run into issues. I’d suggest the following approach:
|Payment Due Date||Recommended Payment Mode|
|> 5 Working Days||CRED App|
|< 5 Working Days||Direct|
This way, even if there is a delay, you are protected.
Other Uses of the CRED App
Apart from making payments, I also use CRED to keep track of my credit scores.
CIBIL is the most popular credit scoring agency used by banks. If you are looking for a CIBIL score, you are out of luck. CRED provides free credit scores powered by EXPERIAN and CRIF.
I also use CRED to keep track of what offers are available for my credit card.
Rent Payment With Cred App
CRED supports paying your rent through their app. The feature is called Rent Pay.
CRED charges a 1.5% fee for letting you pay rent using credit cards. If you own a premium credit card, the net reward rate, after the CRED fees, will usually be positive.
Warning: I am not sure if credit card companies will consider CRED as a merchant that qualifies for reward points. Check with your bank before using it for reward points arbitrage.
My Issues With CRED
#1: Data Privacy
To activate CRED Protect, you need to link your bank account or your email.
For email, take a look at the permission you are giving CRED.
To provide you with all the stated functionality, CRED does require access.
But convenient at what cost?
Yes, CRED is a credible company, and they might not sell your data or do unethical things. However, with hacks being prevalent these days, CRED can get hacked tomorrow.
While your existing data might be encrypted, the access is open. Nothing is stopping the hackers from writing a malicious script to gain access to your email inbox.
Imagine what a hacker can do if they get access to your email inbox that’s tied to your bank account. They can request a password reset, change the linked mobile number, and so on. They have complete read-only access to all your emails.
This might seem far fetched and unlikely. But I’d not want to take chances with my sensitive financial data – at least not with a startup.
Pro Tip: I recommend that you do not link your email or bank account with CRED. Instead, use CRED without the CRED protect feature.
#2: Business Model
I am always wary when companies don’t charge me anything.
After all, every company needs to make a profit. Either they earn money through advertising/affiliate commissions, or they make money by directly charging me.
But CRED does not have any major revenue source today, except potential lead generation through offers. Even with the addition of 1.5% fees for RentPay, they are not making much revenue. They are mostly running on VC funding.
But someday, VC funding will run out, and they will need to make money. What will they do then?
Will they sell all the data they collect from me? Will they go the affiliate route by recommending new financial products? Will they start charging me money?
I don’t know. That’s the scary part.
Indians are primed not to pay for online services. So it’s highly likely they will go the product recommendations route. They might even launch co-branded credit cards.
Whether I continue to use CRED or not partly depends on how they decide to monetize me as a user.
CRED is supposed to be great at the app design part. Somehow, I find their app very hard to navigate and bloated.
What can CRED do to Improve The Experience?
Here’s my wishlist for CRED:
- Simplify the design and make it more intuitive
- Introduce more relevant offers
- Let me hide offers and offer types I am not interested in (E.g., I don’t want to see ladies apparel or cosmetic product offers)
- Hide offers that I am not interested in
- Let me build a custom credit card with offers that I care about. Co-brand with HDFC or ICICI for the added trust!
- Track rewards for each transaction. I am not sure if my card company credits all the points for my transactions
CRED App Review: What’s The Verdict?
Yes. I recommend that you sign up immediately. It’s almost a no brainer!
If you plan to use CRED protect, sign up after understanding the risks. You are giving away your financial data to a third party.
While doing the CRED app review, I tried to cover all angles. However, if I missed out on anything, please let me know.
What’s your take?