A couple of weeks ago I discussed the difficulty of finding a good rewards-earning Visa or MasterCard to use in places where American Express cards are not accepted. Serious miles and points collectors like to earn rewards whenever they pay by card and there are still many places that don’t take Amex.

Why would you specifically want to pay with an Amex card? As I said in that article:

In the UK, you will earn the highest number of reward points be it Avios, Virgin, Etihad or Emirates miles by using an American Express-branded card – end of.”

Today, I will be reviewing the card with the highest airline miles earning rate on a non-Amex card in the UK.

That card is the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard.


HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard
HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard

Sign-up bonus

There is currently a limited time special offer running on this card.

The ordinary welcome offer on this card is 40,000 HSBC Reward points upon spending £2,000 within the first 3 months. I will discuss what these are worth and how they can be used below.

However, if you apply before 31st August 2017, you will receive an extra 10,000 Reward points when you are accepted for the card and spend £2,000 on your card in the first 3 months. This means the sign-up bonus is actually worth 50,000 Reward points.

To clarify, there is no extra spending required to trigger the special offer – the £2,000 spend is the same amount that required for the regular (40k) bonus.

What is an HSBC Reward point worth?

HSBC Reward points are a flexible currency. They are similar to American Express Membership Rewards points and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points in that they can be converted to a variety of different airlines.

You can currently transfer points to:

  • Avios (British Airways Executive Club)
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • Etihad Guest (Etihad Airways)
  • KrisFlyer (Singapore Airlines)

Following a fairly big devaluation of the HSBC reward points (‘HSBC points’) scheme in 2015, the conversion rate is now:

2 HSBC Reward points = 1 frequent flyer mile.

This means that the current sign-up bonus is worth 25,000 Avios! That is a darn-good chunk of miles, second only to the American Express Platinum card (review here).

It is by far the most generous airline miles offer on a non-Amex card currently available in the UK.

Day-to-day earnings rate

This card earns 2 HSBC points per £1 spent on the card. As noted above, you are therefore earning 1 Avios per £1 spent, which, for a non-Amex card is a terrific return.

You earn a further 2 HSBC points for every £1 you spend abroad. That means it is on par with the Amex Gold card which also earns double points on spend abroad. Bear in mind though that HSBC charges a 2.99% non-sterling fee for all transactions made abroad and that may well wipe out the value of the extra points earned.

If you are looking for a no-fee card to use abroad, check out our: “What is the best card to use abroad?” feature article.

Extra perks

1.) Additional 40,000 HSBC points (20,000 Avios) upon spending £12,000 –  within your card membership year. Reports suggest that these are only being awarded after your card anniversary, despite suggestions in the T&C’s to the contrary. This is NOT a repeatable perk and is offered in your first year of card membership only.

2.) Travel Insurance – This comes as a standard perk with an HSBC Premier account (which is required to apply for the World Elite MasterCard).

3.) Airport lounge access – Courtesy of LoungeKey. While not quite as comprehensive as the Priority Pass network, this will still get you unlimited access to over 750 lounges worldwide.

4.) Free unlimited WiFi – Via the world’s “largest WiFi network” iPass. This is an interesting perk. Amex Platinum offers a similar perk, with customers having complimentary access to Boingo Hotspots Worldwide.

5.) £20 Uber credit when you purchase £500+ of airfare – If you regularly (or even semi-regularly) use your card to purchase tickets, this is a nice little rebate.

6.) Hotel Discounts –  10% discount on selected hotels booked through Expedia and Agoda. Cardholders also benefit from 12 months complimentary Expedia+ Gold Membership. Not sure I would place much value on this, I’ve never really heard anyone rave about the benefits of the Expedia+ program. 

7.) World Elite Card benefits – As this card is a World Elite MasterCard, you would have access to a range of ‘World Elite MasterCard VIP privileges and offers’.

These include perks at:

  • The Leading Hotels of the World
  • Raffles Hotels
  • Small Luxury Hotels
  • Fairmont Hotels
  • Gieves and Hawkes
  • Hackett
  • Turnbull & Asser
  • Hertz
  • Sixt
  • Chic Outlet Shopping Villages

Annual fee

The annual fee on this card is £195.

Unlike directly issued American Express cards, this fee is not refundable (pro-rata) should you choose to cancel at some point during your card membership year.

There is one exception. One of the perks of Jade by HSBC Premier is the waiving of the annual fee on the World Elite MasterCard. Supplementary cards are ordinarily charged at £60 per additional card, this fee is also waived for Jade members.

Representative 59.3% APR variable and 18.9% p.a (variable) for purchases, based on an annual fee of £195 and an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

Who is eligible for this card?

In order to apply for this card, you must be an HSBC Premier account holder.

Per the HSBC website, these are the requirements to become a Premier account holder:

HSBC Premier is available to you, as long as you pay your annual income into your HSBC Premier Bank Account and either:

1) Have savings or investments of at least £50,000 with HSBC in the UK; or
2) have an individual annual income of at least £100,000 and one of the following products with HSBC in the UK:

  • a mortgage;
  • an investment, life insurance or protection product;

Or, qualify for HSBC Premier in another country.

Once you are a Premier customer, you can then apply for the Premier World Elite MasterCard. In fact, you can even do it in the same phone call/meeting as setting up your Premier account.

Is this card for me?

If you meet the stringent eligibility criteria, I would have no hesitation in getting this card – provided you believe you can put through £12,000 during the year.  Even without the excellent day-to-day earnings rate, the 50,000 points (25,000 Avios) welcome bonus + 40,000 points (20,000 Avios) bonus for spending £12k justifies the first year £195 fee.

In truth, if you place value on any of the other card perks I have run through above, you may be able to rationalize the annual fee, even without those extra 40,000 bonus points for hitting the £12k spend.

The main drawback of this card for me is the lack of incentive to keep this card for the second year. They have given me numerous reasons to take out this card and use it…but only for a year. After that, there is not enough added enticement to keep using this card as your main Visa/MasterCard.


This card is worth it in the first year, that I think is a no-brainer. Your first-year equation would ordinarily be £195 for 52,000 Avios*. It is hard to argue with that sort of bottom line!

Persuading me to keep it for a second year, while having to pay another £195, would be far more difficult.

The application page for the card can be found here

*20,000 welcome bonus + 12,000 base miles earned on 12k spend + 20,000 bonus for that £12k spend = 52,000 miles.

Disclaimer: The information provided by Tricks of the Trade is intended solely as a helpful guide to relevant travel rewards card products and their various features and offers. You should always conduct your own research as recommendations provided within may not be suitable for your personal financial circumstances. 

Header image credit:  terry bouch / Shutterstock.com

7 thoughts

  1. I received my new World Elite credit card yesterday, but there is no mention of the 10,000 additional bonus points as per the article; I also checked the website and there is no mention of it on there, so this may be out of date.

    Also if the points are only awarded after your card anniversary, how do you avoid not paying the annual membership fee for the 2nd year (since they don’t refund pro rata)?

    1. Hi Dinesh

      Indeed – the 10,000 bonus points was a special offer that ran last summer – ending on 31st August 2017. The article does reference that but apologies if that wasn’t clear.

      The anniversary points are a bit of a contentious topic.

      Their initial T&C’s suggested that these would be awarded 60 days from hitting the £12,000 spend threshold. HSBC insisted that this actually meant after your card anniversary, but the wording was ambiguous at best. I do know people who’ve been awarded the bonus points before their card anniversary after putting up a bit of a fight.

      Assuming you can’t get them awarded any earlier, I would ensure you don’t put any spend on the card once you pass your anniversary. I highly doubt they would get away with charging you another £195 if you haven’t used the card in the second year.

        1. Yes I did see the new post but must have clicked on the old one by mistake.

          Thanks for the tip on the anniversary date- will check out the T&Cs or stop spending after my anniversary!

          1. No problem.

            From memory, it was p.21 of the T&Cs that had the reference to the points being awarded “within 60 days from point of qualification”.

            Would be interesting to know if the T&Cs they sent you yesterday still have that reference or if they’ve since been updated.


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