- CRED is the most popular credit card bill payment app in India, with over 10 million active users.
- Until recently, there was no competition for the CRED app, and it had remained the only service of its kind.
- A new app called CheQ has emerged in India as a direct competitor for CRED, allowing you to pay your credit card bills and earn guaranteed 1% rewards.
- Here’s a detailed comparison between CRED and CheQ.
The number of credit card users in India has surged in recent years thanks to the many perks and benefits a credit card offers. As the credit market grew, individuals began to own more than one credit card, which led to a new problem – managing the billing cycles of all these cards. This problem remained untouched until 2018 when a company called CRED came on the scene and revolutionized and even glamorized the concept of credit card bill payments in India.
Since its launch, CRED has been the market leader in its segment, with almost negligible competition from other major bill payment apps like Paytm, PhonePe, and Google Pay. The equation is changing a bit today, as a new player called ‘CheQ‘ has decided to compete directly with CRED while trying to emerge as a unique solution for paying your credit card bills.
Here is a detailed comparison between CRED and CheQ that will help you find the best option for your credit card payments.
Table of Contents
What gave rise to CRED’s immense popularity?
Before we compare CRED and CheQ, it is important to understand why the concept of a standalone app for credit card bill payments exists. Before 2018, the only way to pay credit card bills was to pay them through the bank’s internet banking portal, mobile app, or by physically visiting the branch. While this was easy for someone with one or two credit cards, for a person with more than three cards, this system meant total chaos. The different billing cycles and payments through different portals meant only one thing – inconvenience.
Despite this massive problem, the major payment apps Paytm, PhonePe, and Google Pay did not even offer the option to pay credit card bills. PhonePe introduced credit card bill payments in January 2018, while Paytm did so in September 2018, while Google Pay took even longer when they launched their service for the same in May 2019. These apps did offer the option to pay credit card bills, but it was just a simple solution. It did not address the real problem – managing the billing cycles of multiple cards.
This is where CRED won the game. When it launched in April 2018, the company promoted itself as the easiest way to manage all credit cards and their billing cycles in one place. And that too only for people with very good credit scores (more on that later). CRED developed a unique solution where the app could pull your credit card statements from your emails and text messages. In this way, the app would collect details such as the total amount due, the minimum amount due, and the due date of all your cards and provide you with a dashboard of all your credit cards.
CRED’s solution was creative, innovative, and unique. Their product was certainly brilliant for the Indian market, but that’s not why they gained their popularity. CRED gained the most attention through its quirky commercials, portraying itself as a completely different genre and somehow connecting that to paying credit card bills at the end of the commercial. Their biggest advertising campaign was in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2020, where they increased their customer base by 700% in two months.
CRED is one of the best SaaS developed in India and has set an example to the world in identifying a problem and finding a creative solution. In fact, we have not had a standalone competitor since CRED was launched five years ago. A competitor to CRED was long overdue, and a CRED competitor had become necessary in recent months. But why?
Why do we need a competitor for CRED?
At the time of CRED’s launch, everyone was excited about the app’s beautiful design. It was visually appealing and easy to navigate, and the entire app was clearly laid out. The design of the app was one of the main reasons for using CRED. But what started out as a special feature has now become an annoyance for most CRED users – the design!
CRED’s long-term vision was actually to create an exclusive club of users with high credit scores to make them feel like they belonged to a special group. In this attempt, CRED has overloaded the app with so many options that it has become very difficult to navigate the app. While we understand that these changes were part of business decisions to make profits, these changes were not welcomed by the majority of CRED users.
CRED changes its app’s user interface frequently so that every month when you open the app to pay your bill, you see new options, menus, and a completely different UI. The Chief Design Officer of CRED, Harish Sivaramakrishnan, has openly admitted that they do this on purpose because they want users to navigate the app as much as possible. In this way, CRED is trying to get users to look at their store, brand partners, and other options.
The charm of the CRED app was that you could open the app, view your credit card bill and pay with a single click. That has completely disappeared with recent updates requiring a new credit card bill payment solution. And so, in recent months, a competitor for CRED has become necessary.
What is CheQ?
CheQ is a credit management platform that lets you pay all your credit card bills in one place, with a guaranteed 1% reward on every transaction in the form of CheQ chips. These coins can be redeemed for cash or branded vouchers from Amazon, Flipkart, Swiggy, and many others. The concept is very similar to CRED, with a very familiar reward system like CRED coins. But the area where CheQ makes a big difference to CRED is the transparency in the app design and the reward point system. This is where the ultimate comparison begins.
CRED vs CheQ: Sign-Up Process
Getting started with both CRED and CheQ is easy and requires minimal documentation. All you need is your PAN number, your mobile number, and your email address. CRED has an eligibility requirement that your Experian Score must be above 750 to join CRED. Otherwise, you will not be able to create an account with CRED. Your CRED account will be activated immediately after registration if you meet this criterion.
CheQ’s onboarding process is equally smooth, and they do not have any eligibility criteria based on your credit score. Anyone with a valid PAN card can get started with CheQ. The registration process takes less than a minute, and you are ready to pay your credit card bills. CheQ had actually started with a waitlist system during its launch on 14th February, but they have now opened access to everyone in less than a week.
CRED vs CheQ: App Design
The CRED app looks much more visually appealing and futuristic with its user interface. The design of the app includes a lot of animations, and the app looks very lively. But unfortunately, that’s where the problems start.
A few weeks ago, the home screen of the CRED app directly displayed all the saved credit cards and the amounts on them. But as of today, the home screen shows a huge block that serves as a banner for the ongoing offers with partner brands.
On the other hand, CheQ has a nifty user interface that is beginner-friendly. The CheQ app’s welcome screen shows you the total amount due for all your credit cards and lists each of your cards’ outstanding balances separately. So as soon as you open the app, you’ll get a clear idea of your current total debt.
While CRED is no longer just a credit card bill payment service, it also offers you the option to pay regular bills such as mobile recharge, DTH, electricity, and more with CRED Pay. There are too many options in the app when you compare the actual number of features that the app offers. CheQ is currently limited to credit card bill payments only and hence has only three menus in the app – Home, Pay, and Rewards.
CRED and CheQ are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to the color of the app. CRED is only available in dark mode, where the entire app background is pitch black. CheQ, on the other hand, is only available in light mode, where the background color of the entire app is white. In both apps, there is no option to switch between light and dark themes.
When it comes to navigation within the app, CheQ clearly wins the race with its simplicity. One could argue that CRED offers additional features like bill payment that make the app seem cluttered. However, in our experience, CRED had a much better user interface in the past that was easier to navigate than the current version. CheQ is ahead of the game here.
CRED vs CheQ: Features Comparison
While CRED began as a standalone credit card bill payment service, today, the company has expanded its services to include bill payments, reloads, UPI payments, credit card rental payments, CRED Mint for P2P lending, and more. There is also a dedicated store where users can buy lifestyle products such as fashion, electronics, and even food and beverage. One can also book domestic and international trips through the Travel section.
The CheQ app currently only supports credit card bill payments. It also shows your Experian Score on the homepage. Beyond that, CheQ does not offer any other services. But then, that’s how CRED started too!
However, the CheQ app has a feature that allows you to delete your CheQ account with a single click permanently. If you want to delete your CRED account, the process is not so simple, as CRED requires you to contact customer service via in-app support, as there is no one-click method to delete your CRED account.
It is important to note that the one-click account deletion option in CheQ is only available in the iOS app. This option is not currently available in the Android app.
The CheQ app has the major disadvantage that you can not delete a credit card after you have added it to the app. CRED, on the other hand, lets you seamlessly remove and delete any credit card from your account. However, this is not yet possible with CheQ.
In terms of features, CRED is definitely superior to CheQ as it offers many value-added services at the expense of a cluttered user interface. Otherwise, both CRED and CheQ have everything you need to achieve the main goal: paying credit card bills.
CRED vs CheQ: Rewards Comparison
CRED’s reward system includes CRED coins that are credited to your CRED account based on your invoice amount. For example, for every Rs.1 you pay on your credit card bill, you will receive 1 CRED coin. You can use these CRED coins to collect coupons for partner brands within the CRED app. The downside is that most of the partner brands are either startups or lesser-known companies that you may have never heard of. Remember that this is the only way to use your CRED coins, as they cannot be redeemed for cash.
However, CRED does offer cashback in small amounts for any credit card payment over Rs. 1000. Once you complete the payment, you will receive five free spins, where you will usually receive Rs.1 to Rs.5 cashback. This amount is saved in your CRED account as CRED cash and can be used in your next bill payment.
CheQ’s reward scheme is much more attractive as it offers guaranteed 1% cashback in the form of CheQ chips. For every Rs. 100 you pay on CheQ towards your credit card bill, you will receive 1 Cheq Chip. These CheQ chips are much more valuable in direct comparison with CRED coins.
CheQ chips can be used to redeem branded vouchers, where 1 CheQ chip = 0.5 rupee. Brand partners include Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon Prime Subscription, Ola, Uber, BigBasket, Blinkit, BookMyShow, Dominos, PVR, TataCliq, Croma, and many more.
CheQ chips can also be redeemed directly for cash, where 4 CheQ chips = 1 Rupee. If we convert the CheQ rewards percentage, you will get flat 0.5% cashback in the above-branded vouchers, OR, you can choose to get flat 0.25% cashback directly in cash when you pay the credit card bill on CheQ.
The rewards in CheQ are far superior to CRED as of now. But considering that they are very new in the market, we are not sure how long they will be able to sustain these lucrative rewards. Users should note that CheQ already revised its rewards a week ago. Until last week, the app was in a beta stage where the value of 1 CheQ Chip = 1 Rupee, but as of now, it has been depreciated to 1 CheQ Chip = 0.5 Rupee. Even after this change, CheQ appears to be outperforming CRED when it comes to rewards.
CRED vs CheQ: Which is more reliable?
CRED has been in the market for five years, and the application has built a robust reputation of instantly crediting the amount to the bank once paid in the app. CRED says that all of their payments are processed within 15 minutes, which is true from our experience. We have witnessed bill payments being processed and deposited in the credit card in as fast as 15 seconds.
On the other hand, CheQ has been taking a little longer to deposit the payment to the credit card. Although we have only used CheQ only for a short while, the fastest deposit we experienced was of 8 hours. We tested CheQ with ICICI, HDFC, and Axis Bank credit cards.
CheQ took 8 hours to deposit the amount into ICICI Bank, around 12 hours for HDFC bank, and it took two entire days for CheQ to complete the bill payment deposit in Axis Bank. From our experience so far, CheQ has not been as fast as CRED. But the good thing is that all the transactions were completed without any issues. We did not face problems with refunds or declined payments.
Other than that, the only problem we faced with CheQ was that it did not recognize the OneCard when we tried to add it to the app. We are not sure of the exact reason for this, but we can speculate that CheQ is only able to process bill payments from credit cards from tier 1 banks like HDFC, ICICI, SBI, Axis, and others, as we have not had any issues with any of these bank cards.
CRED vs CheQ: The Privacy War
CRED and CheQ are excellent solutions that provide a great convenience for people who have multiple credit cards. However, the way these apps work involves accessing some of your personal data, which can be a cause for concern for some.
CRED collects your credit card statements in two ways – once via email and once via SMS. Although the app asks for your permission to access your emails and SMS beforehand, here’s what happens in the background. CRED is able to read all your emails and SMS, including your other financial transactions that are not remotely related to your credit card.
This only raises privacy concerns as a particular app is able to read all your emails. This information can be used to build your financial profile based on your spending habits and send you targeted offers in the CRED app. While CRED says that they are very secure and that it is safe to give them access to your emails, the concept of an app being able to read all of your emails raises some alarm bells.
CRED vs CheQ: Verdict
If we compare CRED and CheQ based on the ease of paying your credit card bills, CRED has a big advantage with its faster transaction processing times and quick deposits to the bank. But CRED’s rewards system just is not as good compared to CheQ. If you value better rewards, then CheQ is the right choice for you as it offers flat 0.5% cashback in the form of vouchers for Amazon, Flipkart, Swiggy, Zomato, Ola, Uber, etc. You also have the option to convert rewards directly into cash, which is a flat 0.25% cashback.
Both apps have their own privacy issues. CheQ needs to improve on key features like the ability to delete saved cards and the option to clear your account in the Android app. CRED is a faster option for paying bills, but the cluttered user interface takes some getting used to.
In our opinion, as of writing this article, we would recommend CRED if you want faster and more reliable deposits. However, if you want better rewards, CheQ is the better choice for you!