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

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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.)

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 points from credit cards? – August 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our August 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 card

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

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

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

Nectar American Express

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

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

Amex Platinum Business American Express

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 card

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

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending:

Barclaycard Select Cashback Credit Card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (67)

  • 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.


    • Will says:

      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.

  • Elaine says:

    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

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • Danksy says:

    £40k in one month!!! Wow!

    • nick says:

      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.

  • Sandgrounder says:

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

  • Phil says:

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

    • Rob says:

      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?

  • SteveB says:

    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.

    • Alan says:

      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.

      • M says:

        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.

        • Russell says:

          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.

  • 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.

    • Rob says:

      The Creation Marriott card is not contacless either, which is a pain.

      • Artem says:

        For that reason I switched to paying through Android Pay linked to my HSBC card

  • Alan says:

    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.

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