The rewards scheme for the HSBC Premier credit card has generally been weak. I have a HSBC Premier bank account from my days working there, and never, for a second, considered taking out a credit card.
This is not a totally radical move for HSBC Premier, since it has credit cards in other parts of the world which issue airline miles. What surprises me, to be honest, is how it has negotiated with British Airways to award Avios points given its existing deals. Obviously the contracts with Amex and Lloyds are not as tight as I imagined.
Historically, the HSBC Premier rewards scheme gave 1 point for every £5 spent. This is still the case, with each point now being worth 5 airline miles. (Do not be confused into thinking that £1 = 1 point = 5 miles – it doesn’t!)
Your points are awarded based on your TOTAL monthly spending, divided by 5. It doesn’t matter if individual transactions are smaller than £5 or not – I confirmed this today with someone who has the card. This is different to (and fairer than) the Tesco Mastercard, which gives 1 Clubcard point per £4 but PER TRANSACTION – so a £3.99 spend earns nothing and a £7.99 spend only 1 Clubcard point.
You can transfer your HSBC Premier points into the following airline schemes:
5 Avios per £5 point
5 Asia Miles (the Cathay Pacific scheme) per £5 point
5 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles per £5 point
5 Etihad Guest miles per £5 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.
What is interesting is that the airline miles option is substantially better than their other rewards.
If you take shopping vouchers, for example, you only receive £5 to spend at Boots, Debenhams, M&S, B&Q, Amazon or Sainsbury for every £750 spent. You are effectively buying Avios points for 0.66p each when you choose Avios over a shopping voucher, which is an excellent deal.
How does this compare to other non-Amex cards?
The main alternative Visa or Mastercard is the Tesco Mastercard. This offers the equivalent of 0.6 Avios per £1 spent (ie 0.25 Clubcard points).
The HSBC Premier card is clearly better than this by a long way. However, if you assume a 25% transfer bonus to Avios from Tesco every 18 months, then the difference shrinks sharply – 0.75 Avios per £1 from Tesco vs 1 Avios per £1 from HSBC.
Each route has upsides. The HSBC Premier card would transfer the Avios each month, whilst with Tesco you’d have to wait for a conversion bonus to get full value.
On the other hand, Tesco has a wide range of alternative partners, and you retain the option of using your Clubcard vouchers for a different deal entirely if a good offer comes along.
Compared to the Lloyds Duo Avios cards, the HSBC Premier card knocks them into a hat. You earn 500% more Avios than the Lloyds Duo Mastercard and 400% more Avios than the £50-fee Lloyds Premier Duo Mastercard!
Do I qualify for the HSBC Premier credit card?
See here and click on the Eligibility button to trigger a pop-up.
There is no minimum income. However, to get the HSBC Premier Mastercard, you need a HSBC Premier current account into which you pay your salary. 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.
What is the easiest way to trigger this?
You should note that the credit card is free, and HSBC Premier has a lot of other benefits which may be of value to you. It comes with travel insurance for the under 70’s, for instance.
There is also NO FEE for a HSBC Premier current account as far as I know (I don’t pay one anyway!) so if you currently pay for a ‘packaged’ current account with another bank you may save money by moving across.
A 1 year fixed rate bond pays 1.4% on £50,000. The best on the market from a ‘sensible’ institution appears to be 2% from Birmingham Midshires (ie Lloyds). The gap is £600 of interest per year – £360 after tax – which is a high credit card fee! This route does not seem to make much sense.
If you earn over £100,000, it is easier. 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.
Clearly, this is not a product for everyone. If you are high earner, though, you may want to take a look – especially as HSBC Premier, and HSBC in general, is well regarded compared to the service levels of the other big banks.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – June 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our June 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the other top current deals:
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review