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.
PS. There is a refer-a-friend bonus for HSBC Premier. You would receive £100 for being referred, and the person who refers you would receive £50.
Whilst I have a HSBC Premier account, my account is still tagged as ‘staff’ – even though I am not – and I imagine that I do not qualify as HSBC staff cannot receive the referral bonus. If you were interested, I can can probably link you up with another HFP reader though – email raffles [at] headforpoints.co.uk and I’ll see what I can do.