Annoying quirks with the new IHG and HSBC World Elite credit cards

Two of most interesting travel credit card offers around at the moment come from two newly released cards:

HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard comes with a bonus of 20,000 Avios points (or Cathay, Etihad or Singapore miles) for spending £2,000 within three months and a further bonus 20,000 points or miles for spending £12,000 within twelve months.  This card is only available to HSBC Premier current account holders.  I am obliged to remind you that the representative APR is 59.3% variable including the £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

The relaunched IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard comes with a voucher for a free night at any IHG Rewards Club property when you spend £10,000 per year.  You also receive IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you hold the card and there is a 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points sign-up bonus.  Representative APR 41.5% variable including the £99 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

Because these cards are so new, we are only now beginning to work out how they function in the real world.

And, for both of the cards above, there appears to be a sneaky catch – the 12-month bonus will only be given at the end of your membership year.

IHG Rewards Club credit card premium

This doesn’t make a huge amount of sense in either case.  If you can spend £12,000 on your HSBC card in three months (I know one reader who spent £40,000 in his first month via business expenses) then it seems unfair to make you wait another nine months to get your second batch of 20,000 miles.

With the IHG card, this is actually a backwards step.  When the card was issued by Barclaycard, the free night voucher was issued within a couple of weeks of passing the £10,000 spending target.  Delaying it until the end of your card year simply annoys the cardholder and does nothing to benefit the card issuer.

(Whilst we’re on the topic of the IHG card, another sneaky quirk has emerged.  Creation, the card issuer, is rounding down each transaction to the nearest £1 when calculating the IHG points due.  It is not basing them on your total monthly spending.  If you make a lot of small transactions, especially for £x.99, this loss will add up.)

HSBC Premier World Elite

What other cards behave like this?

To be fair to HSBC and Creation, there are two other examples I can think of where your ‘reward’ is held back from you until the end of your card year:

American Express Gold gives you 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points if you spend £15,000 in a card year.  This is not paid until a month after your card renewal date.

Virgin Flying Club Black (representative APR 57.4% variable including fee based on a £1200 credit limit) offers upgrade vouchers from Economy to Premium Economy – for miles redemptions – when you spend £5,000 and £10,000 on the American Express card.  These are not issued until the year end.

What happens if I want to cancel my card and not pay for a 2nd year?

This is a common question I get asked and I expect it to become more common given the two cards above.

In general, it appears that if you do not use your credit card after the renewal date, you can cancel it at any point for a refund of your fee.

This seems to be the MBNA policy which applies to Virgin Black.  If you want to ensure you get your upgrade vouchers, stop spending, wait for the vouchers to appear and then cancel the card.  You are, in any event, unlikely to have yet paid the bill which included your renewal fee.

With American Express Gold, you can cancel the card at any point for a pro-rata refund.  Your worst case scenario there is that you cancel after a month when the 10,000 bonus points appear and get 11/12th of your annual fee back.  If you haven’t used the card I would expect to get it all back.

We do not know what the HSBC or Creation policy will be.  I am fairly certain that if you follow the same option – not using the card after the anniversary date – they will not impose the 2nd year fee.  It is very unlikely that any attempt to make you pay for another year in order to get a benefit you earned in the first year would survive a complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

Swissport lounge in Heathrow T3 closing and an update on LoungeMiles
Bits: changes to BA earning with American AAdvantage, tour the McLaren factory with Hilton
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  1. Genghis says:

    “On the anniversary of your account opening, so long as your account remains active, you will earn one free night voucher to redeem at any IHG property, provided you make annual Purchases totalling a minimum of £10,000.”

    So anniversary really did mean anniversary.


    • The existing barclaycard has the same clause, is that new or have they simply tightened a previously relaxed rule?

      • Mr Brown says:

        Barclaycard hasn’t changed, they still issue when you hit £10k. Mine arrived just the other week and my anniversary date is January 2nd.

        Waiting till the anniversary date isn’t a big issue for me but I can see why some want it as soon as they have qualified and seems a bit silly that you can’t get it when you have met the criteria anyway.

        I mentioned it on FT as well the other day the biggest issue/concern with Creation is the lack of communication or the lack of it which doesn’t exactly instill me with confidence should there be a problem.

        I’ve already got one IHG which doesn’t seem to have added the correct points on. Hopefully it’s just teething problems with a new product.

  2. How annoying re HSBC. When I applied for the card I asked if I can cancel during the 2nd year and get a prorata refund like Amex. The staff on the phone said I would not. I’m hoping I got that wrong

    • They didnt get it wrong. No one except Amex gives pro rata refunds and, as they have just been scrapped in the US, may be on the way out here.

  3. £40k in one month!!! Wow!

    • LOL! You do know some folks out there drop that amount sometimes daily… biggest bill I’ve ever seen on an Amex Plat card was around £850k !

      • Pete Simmons says:

        Obviously this is less than 1% of the users its not like the majority of Joe public are dropping these figures and especially not for just personal use.

  4. Sandgrounder says:

    Any issues with the 20k bonus if you recently held the Barclaycard version?

  5. Is this an IHG rule or credit card issuer rule re: the free night voucher. E.g. Will barclaycard holders also be punished?

    • IHG may have agreed to it but I would be very surprised if it was done deliberately because there is no logic. You can still stop spending at £10k and move on to another card so what does IHG gain from annoying you?

  6. I’ve not been hugely impressed with the Creation Premium IHG card so far. They’ve failed to recognise spending at a recent HI stay, and separately, an overseas transaction, for double points. It feels like a less polished experience than with Barclaycard, although they have been quick to points points to be fair.

    • Haha I think you may have just been lucky with Barclaycard if you thought they were polished! I had multiple complaints with them re wrongly calculated points.

      • At least with Barclaycard there was someone that read these complains. My experience with marriott card is far different. Read the topic on FT regarding the card relaunching under creation. I think it’s just a beginning.

        • I have had a problem with the issue of the double IHG points on my IHG Barclaycard since it (and the Hilton Visa) changed from being non-Barclaycard cards managed by Barclays to fully fledged Barclaycards with IHG or Hilton branding.

          I would guess that 60% of my IHG stays have not initially got the correct number of points on my IHG Barclaycard. The first time it happened I was given a major run-around, with Barclays saying that it was IHG’s fault and IHG saying it was Barclays fault. At one point (phoning from home in the Lake District) someone from IHG said they were putting me through to the correct department and I found my self speaking to a car dealership in Sarasota, FL!!

          Finally I got to deal with someone with a bit more responsibility who apologised profusely and gave me some significant financial compensation.

          The issue continues, though. Over a year later Barclaycard tell me that they still do not know what the problem is, and they refuse to tell me what they are doing about it.

          But each further time it has happened, all that has been necessary has been a secure e-mail, quoting the reference number and name of the person who sorted the mess out the first time and I get the missing points plus enough cash to buy something nice in my account. Five or six times, now, I think.

          As for the the new Creation IHG card, I was expecting the rounding down problem, as I had already experienced it with their Marriott card. Their CS is indeed poor – I asked them for the missing points in the same way as I had with IHG Barclaycard; I got e-mails and letters which at times made diametrically opposing claims, and finally an explanation of the rounding down process. They claimed to have had to check this with Marriott…

          I took out the free Creation IHG card as soon as I saw it mentioned here, and will get the 10 000 points bonus next month – they already appear on my account.

          Because of the rounding down issue and that I can find no way to get them to send out statements in the post the Creation card in now locked in the safe and I continue to use the Barclacard one.

          I suppose that if IHG ends their deal with Barclaycard I shall have to revert to the Creation card.

    • The_Real_A says:

      This is a problem with franchise hotels. The credit card terminal needs to be setup in the correct way for any Credit Card operator to recognise that it is indeed an IHG hotel. This is the hotels fault usually as they haven’t complied with the direction from head office.

  7. Thywillbedone says:

    Another slightly annoying aspect of the HSBC card is that it is not contactless, I thought that feature was more or less standard these days.

  8. Totally agree with your last para, Rob – I think that would be a fairly secure interpretation. Re rounding down, Amex already do this with MR points as they award them on a per-transaction basis. I think MBNA are more generous in their total spend approach.

    Re voucher issuance – it all depends when you need the voucher. In the case of the Lloyds card I’ve ended up spending £6.5k then stopping spending as I don’t want to trigger the voucher early. With this method I can continue using the card without getting a voucher earlier than I wanted – obviously not so good if you do want it soon! Not quite so bad on an ongoing basis if you know when it’ll come out. Based on how quickly Creation updated/refreshed IHG status I hope it’ll be issued quickly when the anniversary is reached. I haven’t heard anything about expiry date yet though – presumably 12 months, but would be handy to know.

  9. Chris H says:

    So does this mean you will spend £99 twice to get the voucher? As presumably if you cancel you cannot use the voucher and if you don’t cancel then you’d automatically go into year two and then have another £99 taken out?

  10. AMEX Gold also rounds down spending in allocating Membership Rewards points. Funny enough, the Amex BA cards do not… they actually round up.

    • Genghis says:

      They round up or down to the nearest avios I believe. E.g. Using BAPP. Spend 33p -> 0.33 x 1.5 = 0.495 -> 0 avios. Spend 34p -> 0.34 x 1.5 = 0.51 -> 1 avios.

  11. On the subject of the new Creation IHG cards, has anyone else experienced an inordinate delay in being approved for their free card? I applied in early July and I have neither received the card nor even an email updating me about the progress of my application. For context, my Experian score is 999, I generally have no problems getting accepted for Amex cards (let’s say 12 cards in the last 2 years), but, for whatever reason, Creation is proving a little strange and there’s nothing in my credit background to suggest they’d decline me… famous last words!!! :) I just wondered if anyone else has had similar issues? As I say, I think the longest I have ever had to wait with Amex is two weeks to receive a new card…

    • It took quite a while for the physical card to arrive but the approval process was fairly quick. Probably worth giving their applications team a phone.

    • Reports of it taking up to three weeks for approval on FT.

      Mine was two weeks in total from applying to approval. Like you it’s not the credit rating that is causing the delay as when finally approved the credit limit they gave me is outrageous.

    • I was approved instantly.. Card turned up about 1 week later after application.

  12. I suspect the card companies have some data that suggests giving an incentive at the end of 12 months tends to encourage folks to use the card more. “well I have to keep the card for another 6 months, might as well keep on using it and get myself more points”. Remember that although the Amex gold card has a sign-up bonus, they also have a spend bonus that only pays on the anniversary of the card.

    Also, the large number of people taking the card and “holding” it for at least 12 months might look good on some customer satisfaction report.

    • avioshunter says:

      Excellent point tangey

      It seems obvious that this move is designed to encourage customers to keep the card ongoing. I suspect that the credit card peeps have realized that some bloggers are actively promoting customer churn that is costly.

  13. OT: I have 73,000 IHG points but it says 45,000 points as qualifying elite only. Do I need 2,000 to reach Spire or 30,000?

  14. Rationally, all people would close bank accounts when introductory higher rates of interest drop – but many or most don’t through inertia… and it’s probably the same thing here. A large portion of people will simply pay the second annual card fee in order to the get the second bonus and won’t have the time or energy to look into the specifics of how to close the card at the right moment to avoid it.

    I was interested in the HSBC Elite card but will hold off to see how the renewal-fee-dodge works out for others because it doesn’t seem worth it unless you can get both bonuses for the one fee.

  15. I’ve found Creation very poor so far. I got the premium card over 2 weeks ago and still no IHG status upgrade. IHG said fault is with Creation, and vice versa. A week ago Creation said they would fix it, still nothing. Am ready to cancel as they’ve breached contract. Their unwillingness to help is a pain.

    • Interesting – they seemed to be very quick for most folk in pushing this through – I received the status upgrade way before my card actually arrived. Hopefully they sort it for you soon.

      • Genghis says:

        +1. I’ve found them alright so far. Status updated almost straight away. Not a fan of the rounding down and shame about the free night voucher being received on the anniversary but still on the whole a decent non-Amex card.

        • +1. My status updated within days of being approved and before I’d received the card through the post. points have transferred over too.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Exactly the same experience here

        Accepted straight away, status updated after 3/4 working days (in time to be matched to Hilton Diamond before the challenges :) ), card received after 7 days and 20k bonus points posted fine just a shame they got them posted correctly as none qualifying

        Think this card will be a keeper long term as decent earnings rate for a Visa, status for a leisure traveller and the free night after a year and 10k spend isn’t isn’t too bad

  16. rams1981 says:

    HSBC related and I’ve posted it elsewhere… their customer service is hopeless if you’re used to dealing with AMEX.

    As an example the customer service people you speak to can’t deal with transactions you’re querying (Supercard extra charges). They talk you through it all and then say you need to now hold for another department. You can be holding for over 30 mins and not get a reply. They claim this means you’ll hear from them in 48 working hours. I didn’t but 4/5 days later they wrote me a letter saying they would make the adjustments I requested whilst figuring out in the next 6 months if was right to query the charges. If not I’ll be re-charged.

    I’ve had to call again a few times as supercard also charged me incorrectly twice for transactions that didn’t go through. HSBC refunded them and then re-charged them. About 45 mins on the phone and hopefully now sorted.

    This would have taken 5 minutes with AMEX.

    • Genghis says:

      Sounds like a nightmare. But to me, “48 working hours” is about 4-5 days.

    • Totally agree with this – I was with HSBC for far too long. Amex customer service so much better.

      • HSBC premier service is very good in my experience, called them yesterday with a few queries regarding the world elite card and info given very good.
        AMEX CS is hard to beat though 😉

  17. Amex SPG question here – can’t find any recent posts on the subject – is there any way (through referral) to get a bigger signup bonus than 10k points? Or any sign of the 20k bonus coming back again?

  18. More and more previously quite unknown card issuers are popping up on the scene. This is due to many of the big players leaving points based schemes due to the removal of the interchange cap which funded the schemes previously. Therefore, may bigger players are looking at the market place and wondering how Creation and New Day are able to fund their schemes. It’s not entirely clear.

    • I’m always cautious with the “unknown” issuers. Having previously worked in a “higher risk” credit sanctioning area, sometimes the brands on your credit history can make a difference to the sanctioner’s appetite for the proposal. Barclays, HSBC, Amex – Tick! Creation, NewDay, Vanquis – Erm…

      Remember, sanctioners get spammed with NewDay’s “improve your credit history” “40% APR” emails too.

  19. Do we know whether any element of the HSBC bonus will be repeated annually?

  20. Axel heyst says:

    Supercard tip found by accident in Spain

    If you can get your card transaction to go through as GBP instead of Euros you get charged at the same competitive rate as if it was a lical Euro transaction.

    Reataurant in Spain annoyingly put a £30 transaction as GPB two weeks ago and I didnt notice till the next day.

    Ive been waiting two weeks for extra exchange rates to appear on Supercard. But today I got a bonus of 37p credited to the account instead!!

    • This will depend on the merchant and their conversion rate as there will be a conversion done by them to get it to GBP usually at a less than favourable rate, 2 weeks ago the rate was slightly better than it is today I believe at around 1.20 as opposed to 1.18 today.

      Would think that they charge you a 1% fee for a GBP transaction using the supercard as well.

  21. Chris H says:

    To not use the card after the first year, wait for the voucher to arrive/be eligible to use in Aug ’17 then probably not used in my case until say Oct ’17 as I’ll have just been in California for 3 weeks in June ’17, have the £99 go out of your account in August ’17, use the free night in Oct ’17 then cancel the card after the stay and argue for a refund to maybe then have to go to a regulatory body and complain sounds like a lot of faffing about. Have I got the process down correctly here? (Hopefully not and its a lot easier)

    In hindsight at the moment I regret getting this card, I shouldn’t have been so quick off the mark to sign up as if I’d have seen this post then I’d have given the card a wide berth. I probably should’ve concentrated my spend on the AMEX Gold to rack up the rewards points to add to my SPG account for California. Oh well, you live and learn, first mistake I’ve made since taking up this hobby.

  22. HSBC elite:
    I surpassed the £2000 spend within 2 wk cooling off period then cancelled for full refund of the £195 fee. However I did specify I still wanted the points as no clause states not payable if you cancel within cooling off period.
    They logged my request and said they’d investigate, meanwhile my card is still active. 8weeks later, I have already received the bonus points and they have confirmed on the phone that they will refund me the few soon, when my card is downgraded back to a premier card…