This article is part of a refresh of our travel reward credit card reviews. Over the last few weeks and months, I’ve been revisiting and updating all of our in-depth credit card features. You can find all of the most up-to-date articles here.
Life in the UK is tough if you’re after a generous (credit) card that earns miles and points but isn’t an American Express card.
The already slim pickings became even slimmer back in November as MBNA decided to cull all of their airline cards overnight. We’ve also recently seen the demise of the Hilton Barclaycard.
However, the last couple of months have provided some fresh hope for those not residing entirely in an Amex bubble.
Firstly, we saw the launch of the new Virgin Atlantic Reward and Reward+ credit cards. These offer good to excellent earning rates and are both Mastercard branded products.
We have also seen the eligibility restrictions loosened on the best (non-Amex) card for collecting Avios.
That card is the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard.
The welcome offer on this card is 40,000 HSBC Reward points upon spending £2,000 within the first 3 months.
I discuss what these are worth and how they can be used below.
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:
- British Airways Avios (British Airways Executive Club)
- Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
- Etihad Guest (Etihad Airways)
- Singapore 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 20,000 Avios!
That is by far the most generous airline miles welcome bonus offered by a non-Amex card 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.
Double points abroad
This card offers 4 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’re looking for a no-fee card to use abroad, have a read of our best card to use abroad feature.
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 actually comes as a standard perk with an HSBC Premier account (which is required to apply for the World Elite Mastercard).
4.) Free unlimited WiFi – Via the “world’s largest WiFi network” iPass. This is an interesting benefit. 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 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.) General 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’.
This includes benefits at:
- The Leading Hotels of the World
- Raffles Hotels
- Small Luxury Hotels
- Fairmont Hotels
- Gieves and Hawkes
- Turnbull & Asser
- Chic Outlet Shopping Villages
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:
(Note the reduced annual income requirement – this was previously £100,000).
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 £75,000 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 eligibility criteria, I would have no hesitation in getting this card – provided you are confident of putting through £12,000 in the first year.
Even without the excellent day-to-day earnings rate, the 40,000 points (20,000 Avios) welcome bonus + 40,000 points (20,000 Avios) bonus for spending £12,000 justifies the first year £195 fee.
In truth, if you value any of the other card perks I have run through above, you may be able to rationalise the annual fee, even without the extra bonus points for spending £12,000.
The main drawback of this card is the lack of incentive to keep it for the second year and beyond.
They have given numerous reasons to take out the card and use it…but only for a year. After that, there is not enough added incentive to keep using this card as your main Visa/Mastercard.
The HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard is definitely worth it for the first year, that I think is a no-brainer. Your first-year equation would be £195 for 52,000 Avios or other airline miles. It’s 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.
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.
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