This review was updated on in September 2016 and all the information is correct as of that date
This is my review of the HSBC Premier MasterCard credit card.
It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Equifax credit report and score. Your first 30 days are free then it’s £14.95 per month. You can cancel at anytime.
As with all rewards cards, this is not a suitable product for you if you do not clear your balance in full every month. You should focus on a credit card with a low interest rate such as the AA Low Rate Card. This has a very attractive representative APR of 6.4% variable on purchases and balance transfers.
Key link: HSBC Premier MasterCard application form
Key facts: No annual fee, card only available to HSBC Premier current account holders
The representative APR is 18.9% variable.
About the card
The HSBC Premier MasterCard is issued by HSBC.
It is a bit of an oddity amongst all of the other credit cards covered in this series for two reasons. The first is that the airline rewards programme – whilst generous – is a sideshow to the rest of the card. The second is that the card can only be obtained if you have a HSBC Premier bank account.
HSBC Premier has tough eligibility criteria. See here and click on the Eligibility button to see the details.
As well as opening a HSBC Premier current account, you must ALSO have £50,000 invested with HSBC, either in a savings account or via an investment product.
Alternatively, if you earn over £100,000, you qualify if you just have a HSBC mortgage or any investment or insurance product. (HSBC has been known to waive the income criteria if you are on a career path which should see you earning this sort of money within a few years.)
I’m not sure what the minimum investment is in an ‘investment product’ but I’m sure you could find something which would accept £1,000 or so. They may even treat ISA’s or fixed rate bonds as ‘investment products’ – the definition is not clear online. Some readers have been told different things by different branches.
What is the sign-up bonus?
There is no bonus on this card.
Any other benefits?
The HSBC Premier bank account and credit card, between them, offer a range of financial and insurance benefits – see the website for details.
What is the annual fee?
There is no annual fee. There is also no fee for the HSBC Premier bank account, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria above. If you currently pay for a ‘packaged’ current account with another bank you may save money by moving across.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
Following a devaluation in January 2016, the HSBC Premier rewards scheme gives 1 point for every £1 spent in the UK and 2 points for every £1 spent abroad. Each point is worth 0.5 airline miles.
You can transfer your HSBC Premier points into the following airline schemes:
0.5 Avios per point
0.5 Asia Mile1 (the Cathay Pacific scheme) per point
0.5 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles per point
0.5 Etihad Guest miles per point
The geographic base of these airlines is, perhaps not surprisingly, a good fit with HSBC’s main business focus these days. Note the lack of any US partners.
Full details of the airline transfer scheme can be found here but it does not reflect the devaluation that will occur in January.
Even at the reduced rate of 0.5 Avios point per £1 spent, this is still the easiest way to earn Avios via a Visa or MasterCard.
The Tesco Clubcard MasterCard only offers 0.312 miles per £1 following the recent devaluation (and you actually receive less because of the way it rounds down transactions to the nearest £8 – purchases under £8 earn nothing!).
The Lloyds and TSB Avios cards earn between 0.2 and 0.3 Avios points per £1 spent. You need to pay a £140 annual fee for the Lloyds Premier Avios card to receive the top of that range. The HSBC card is 150% better than the 0.2 Avios earned per £1 on its nearest free competitor, the TSB Avios card.
Remember that the HSBC card has an FX fee of almost 3% for foreign currency transactions. You may want to consider getting a separate card to use abroad which charges no foreign exchange fees. I recommend the Lloyds Avios Rewards card which also earns Avios points – even on your 0% FX transactions! It comes with a 4,500 Avios sign-up bonus if I refer you. My review of the Lloyds Avios Rewards card is here.
What is an Avios point worth?
This post outlines my view of what an Avios point is worth, based on your typical redemption patterns.
That said, I typically work off a conservative 0.75p per point – this ensure that I never make a bad decision when deciding whether to take part in a promotion or not.
How does this compare to a cashback credit card?
The best cashback card on the market which offers a) a MasterCard or Visa, b) no annual fee and c) unlimited cashback is the ASDA card, which pays 0.5% in ASDA vouchers.
For an average spender, the HSBC Premier MasterCard offers acceptable value as long as you believe that you can get 1p or more from your Avios points. The ability to transfer to Etihad and KrisFlyer as a back-up adds extra value. The card is no longer a no-brainer, however, as long as Asda continues to offer 0.5% as cashback.
How else can you earn KrisFlyer, Asia Miles or Etihad miles from a UK credit or charge card?
Here are three good alternatives to the HSBC Premier card for these three airlines:
The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year. These convert to 20,000 KrisFlyer, Asia Miles or Etihad Guest miles, amongst other airlines.
The American Express Platinum charge card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. These convert to 30,000 miles. It has a £450 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card offers 10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points for signing up. These convert to 10,000 miles in 29 different airlines, including KrisFlyer, Asia Miles and Etihad Guest. It has a £75 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.
Etihad Guest also has its own UK credit card which I review here.
There is no sign-up bonus on the card, so it is difficult to recommend the card on that basis!
However, it is – in terms of miles earned – still the most generous free Visa or MasterCard currently available despite the axe taken to the earning rate.
The application for the the HSBC Premier MasterCard can be found here.
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.