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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)

  • 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?

    • Alan says:

      No, as Rob says in the article if you don’t want it for a second year then stop spending at the end of the first year. You can then claim a refund of the 2nd year fee if you haven’t made use of the card – if Creation refused you could take them to the FCA who would almost certainly support your case.

      • Alan says:

        Ah yes, I was going to put FOS too then saw Rob had put FCA so changed what I put – he must be on holiday mode already 😉

      • Rob says:

        Probably 🙂

  • Alex says:

    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.

  • Simon says:

    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…

    • Alan says:

      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.

    • Chris says:

      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.

    • Nick says:

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

  • S879 says:

    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?

  • Bob says:

    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.

    • mark2 says:

      Quite. Similarly with energy suppliers, but many people don’t.

  • Sohan says:

    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.

    • Alan says:

      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.

        • Nick says:

          +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

        • Alan says:

          Agree, as an overall package is seems reasonable for long term spending.

  • 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.

    • Mike says:

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

      • Yuff says:

        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 😉

  • Stewie says:

    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?

    • Genghis says:

      You can get 11k if referred (with 5k for referrer).

    • Nick M says:

      You should be able to get 11k if referred by an existing cardholder (I’m happy to help if Raffles can’t!)

    • Rob says:

      No reason why 20k should come back. Competition is a lot weaker now that MBNA has stopped doing special bonuses.

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