This article is part of my refresh of our travel reward credit card reviews. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be revisiting and updating all of our in-depth credit card feature articles. You can read the current series here.
If you’re after a UK credit card that earns airline miles but isn’t American Express branded, you don’t have too many options. Having said that, the Virgin Atlantic Reward and Reward+ cards, as well as the newish Miles & More cards from Diners Club, have improved things in recent months.
However, if you want a generous Avios-earning non-Amex card, HSBC offers the two best options. The first is the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard which is the focus of this piece. I covered the free HSBC Premier Mastercard in a separate article here.
This is my review of the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard.
The sign-up bonus on this card is 40,000 HSBC Reward points, awarded after spending £2,000 within the first 3 months.
I discuss what HSBC Reward points can be used for below.
What are HSBC Reward points worth?
HSBC Reward points are a flexible currency. They are similar to American Express Membership Rewards points and Marriott points in that they can be converted to a number of different airlines.
You can transfer HSBC Reward points to:
- British Airways Avios (British Airways Executive Club)
- Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
- Etihad Guest (Etihad Airways)
- Singapore KrisFlyer (Singapore Airlines)
The conversion rate is:
2 HSBC Reward points = 1 frequent flyer mile.
This makes the HSBC Premier World Elite sign-up bonus is worth 20,000 Avios!
Day-to-day earnings rate
The World Elite card earns 2 HSBC Reward 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 very good.
Double points abroad
This card earns 4 HSBC Reward points for every £1 you spend abroad. That puts it on par with the Amex Gold card which also earns double points on spend abroad. Bear in mind the 2.99% non-sterling fee – HSBC charges this on all transactions made abroad – which will usually wipe out the value of the extra points earned.
You can use your HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard abroad for free by linking it with a Curve card. My full review of Curve card is here.
If you’re looking for a dedicated no-FX-fees card to use abroad, be sure to read our best card to use abroad feature.
Additional card benefits
1.) Additional 40,000 HSBC points (worth 20,000 Avios) upon spending £12,000 – within your card membership year. This is NOT a repeatable perk and is available only in your first year of card membership.
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).
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 benefit. Amex Platinum and the Virgin Reward+ card offer a similar perk, with customers having complimentary access to Boingo hotspots worldwide.
5.) Assorted World Elite Card benefits – As this card is a World Elite Mastercard, you 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.
The HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard fee is waived for HSBC Jade customers. Any supplementary cardholder fees will also be refunded.
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 – previously this was £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 an HSBC 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 the HSBC World Elite card worth getting?
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.
The 40,000 points (20,000 Avios) welcome bonus + 40,000 points (20,000 Avios) bonus for spending £12,000 alone justifies the first year’s £195 fee.
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 the World Elite card is the lack of incentive to keep it beyond the first year.
They are numerous reasons to take out this card and use it…but only for a year. After that, I don’t see enough incentive being offered to keep using this card as your main Visa/Mastercard.
The HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard is definitely worth it for the first year.
Provided you can put through £12,000 over the course of the year, your equation would be £195 for 52,000 Avios (or other miles). On that basis, you’re effectively ‘buying’ Avios at 0.3p each – a superb rate.
Keeping the card beyond the first year, while having to pay another £195, is more difficult to justify, especially since the launch of the excellent Virgin Atlantic Rewards+ card.
The application page for the HSBC Premier World Elite card can be found here
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.
“The 40,000 points (20,000 Avios) welcome bonus + 40,000 points (20,000 Avios) bonus for spending £12,000 alone justifies the first year’s £195 fee”
Note that to get the full 40,000 avios you now need to pay two years’ fees, so £390.
Has the position on this recently changed? From reports I’d heard, this was always similar to the IHG Premium card/Amex Gold etc in that provided you haven’t used the card in the second year they couldn’t really kick up too much of a fuss if you asked for a refund of your second year fees.