This is my review of the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard credit card.
This article was updated on 3rd February 2017 and is correct as of that date.
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 5.85% variable on purchases and balance transfers.
Key facts: £195 annual fee, card only available to HSBC Premier current account holders
The representative APR is 59.3% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional credit limit of £1,200.
About the card
The HSBC Premier World Elite 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 VERY 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?
The sign-up bonus is VERY impressive.
You can earn up to 40,000 Avios or other airline miles.
You will receive enough points to convert into 20,000 Avios if you spend £2,000 within your first three months. You will receive points worth an extra 20,000 Avios at the end of your first year if you have spend a total of £12,000.
Note that you need to wait a full year to receive the second half of the bonus, however quickly you spend the £12,000 required to trigger it.
Any other benefits?
Yes. You will receive access via the LoungeKey scheme to a large number of airport lounges. I discussed the UK lounges which accept LoungeKey in this article – it is a decent list.
No free guests are allowed into the lounges. However, you can get a supplementary card for your HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard for a £60 annual fee and that person can then access lounges with that.
The HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard is not clearly better than American Express Platinum if you want a card with airport lounge access. It is cheaper (£255 for the HSBC card with one supplementary card vs £450 for Amex Platinum) but the Amex Platinum package has far more benefits – Hilton Gold, Melia Gold, Club Carlson Gold, Eurostar lounge access etc etc (see my American Express Platinum review for details). For some people, however, it will be the right choice.
The HSBC Premier bank account and credit card, between them, offer a range of financial and insurance benefits – see the website for details.
There is also a range of benefits available to you as part of MasterCard’s general UK World Elite package. These include (but are subject to change):
- Abercrombie & Kent VIP Travel
- Fairmont Hotels and Resorts VIP Guest Status
- Leading Hotels of the World free Leaders Club membership
- Hertz #1 Club Gold
- Sixt – ‘exclusive benefits’
- Raffles Hotels and Resorts VIP Guest Status
- Swissotel Hotels and Resorts VIP Guest Status
- Starwood 3-4-2 deal
- Small Luxury Hotels of the World 3-4-2 deal
What is the annual fee?
There is no fee for the HSBC Premier bank account which you also need to hold, 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?
HSBC Premier World Elite rewards scheme gives 2 points for every £1 spent in the UK and 4 points for every £1 spent abroad. Each point is worth 0.5 airline miles. This means that you earn 1 mile per £1 for UK spend and 2 miles per £1 for foreign spend.
You can transfer your HSBC Premier points into the following airline schemes:
0.5 Avios per point
0.5 Asia Mile (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 airline partners.
At 1 Avios point per £1 spent, and 2 Avios per £1 for foreign spending, this is the most generous way to earn Avios via a Visa or MasterCard.
The free HSBC Premier card only offers 0.5 Avios per £1. The Tesco Clubcard MasterCard only offers 0.312 miles per £1. 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.
Remember that the HSBC card has an FX fee of almost 3% for foreign currency transactions. Despite the double points for foreign spending, 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.
If you were planning to use this card to pay your tax bills to HMRC, be warned. As a World Elite card you will be charged a higher processing fee than a standard Visa or MasterCard, around 0.6% compared to the usual 0.38%.
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?
My default comparison card is the AA FuelSave Credit Card. This card is free in the first year and offers 0.5% cashback on all spending, 2%-4% cashback on fuel purchases and – in year one – free AA breakdown cover. The representative APR is 22.4% variable. Another good option is the ASDA Cashback Credit Card which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback. The representative APR is 19.9% variable.
For an average spender, the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard offers value as long as you believe that you can justify the £195 annual fee. This means that you need to place a lot of value on the LoungeKey airline lounge membership. Unless you are spending a six figure sum on your credit cards annually, paying £195 purely to receive 1 Avios point per £1 does not make sense.
For the first year, however, it is a different story. Earning 40,000 Avios or other miles as a sign-up bonus – as long as you can hit the £12,000 spending target – makes the £195 fee good value.
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.
A sign-up bonus of 40,000 airline miles – even with a £195 annual fee – deserves to be looked at closely. Unless you are already a HSBC Premier customer, however, you need to weigh up whether you really want to move your banking over to HSBC for a benefit lasting only one year. I think most people would struggle to justify the £195 fee for the second and subsequent years.
The application for the the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard can be found here.
(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.