Get lounge access with the new Santander Select World Elite MasterCard

Santander has become the latest bank to launch a World Elite MasterCard credit card with a chunky fee but with airport lounge access included.

Details are here on the Santander website.

(EDIT: I have amended this article as the salary requirement for an employed person is £5k net and not gross. The gross is £90k per year.  For a self-employed person or someone in a partnership, the required level of income is only £60k per year as you will be paying gross income into your account.)

I should be clear up front that I don’t find this card as good as the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard which I reviewed here.  This is because the HSBC card has a similar cost (£195 v £180 for Santander) but comes with 20,000 Avios for getting the card and a further 20,000 Avios for spending £12,000 in your first year.

Both have high income requirements.  HSBC wants £100k and Santander £90k.

The Santander Select World Elite MasterCard has a £15 per month fee.   The representative APR is 49.8% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

The key benefits are:

Airport lounge access via LoungeKey for yourself and three supplementary cardholders.  This has an equivalent network to Priority Pass (LoungeKey has 871 lounges) which is not surprising as it is run by the same people who run Priority Pass, Collinson Group. 

No foreign transaction fees on purchases or cash withdrawals

0.5% cashback on all spending, up to £15 per month – so you can offset the monthly card fee if you spend enough

Note that you do NOT earn any sort of points or miles for your spending.

An interesting catch if you have young kids vs adult kids

You can have up to three additional cards for adult family members free of charge.  ALL of these cards are eligible for free airport lounge access since you only need to show the credit card at the desk – there is no separate LoungeKey card.

If you have adult children, this is arguably a very valuable benefit indeed – you would get unlimited lounge access for four people for just £15 per month.

However, all guests who go into a lounge with you will be charged £15.  This is bad news if you have children under 18 years who cannot get a supplementary credit card as you cannot avoid paying the £15 guest fee.

Santander Select World Elite Mastercard

The card is only available to Santander Select current account holders.

Santander Select is free but to qualify for this, you would need:

Income of £90,000 per year gross (£60,000 net must be paid into the account) unless you are self-employed or otherwise paid gross, in which case £60,000 would be OK, or

£75,000 of savings or investments with Santander, or

a £500,000+ Santander mortgage

These are slightly easier targets to hit than for HSBC Premier.

This card isn’t a no-brainer for anyone, although it is attractive if you have adult children – or indeed want to get your own parents free airport lounge access via supplementary cards.

I will do a separate article soon on the travel benefits available to ALL World Elite MasterCard holders in the UK, irrespective of card issuer.

(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.

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  1. Tom H says:

    Is the income requirement net or gross? I interpreted it as net, requiring an income of just over 90K.

    • I think it’s rather flexible.

      A long time ago I put £100000 into a savings account with them while I was deciding what to do with it. After 1 month I was “upgraded” to Select.

      I then took the money out and 5 years later I am still Select. I keep £2000 in an account which is earning 6% which should have stopped several years back, but hasn’t.

      I notice no diffeence to anything except my statements have a silly extra Select logo. I briefly received some letters from a “relationship manager but these stopped after I ignored them.

      • I put £100K in it for 2 days and was upgraded to select. I do earn more than 60K gross which might still count.
        On the other hand hubby who earns way more than me and has salary paid into his account was never upgraded. I think lump sum triggers the upgrade easily

    • Jonathan says:

      When I’ve spoken to them about this in the past they’ve told me 5k net into the account.

      It’s actually worse than just being 5k net of tax, as if they’re looking for 5k into the account, it’s also net of pension contributons (assuming salary sacrifice) and any other salary sacrifice work benefit.

      If people are looking at this, it’s worth noting that HSBC Premier have a 10,000 premier point bonus (equivalent to 5,000 avios) for both their premier and premier elite cards until the end of August. I’ve not seen it advertised but they told me as I happened to be upgrading to the premier current account in branch last week.

    • Jonathan says:

      When I spoke to Santander admittedly some time ago they suggested it required 5k to hit the bank account. Which if accurate would actually be 5k net of tax, pension and other salary sacrifice benefits.

      Looking at their website there’s lots of statements suggesting benefits for Select customers but most are a bit vague without detail:
      – lower management fees on investments (how low?)
      – 10% back on insurance premiums (but I don’t recall Santander regularly appearing in the cheapest quotes when I’ve looked at comparison websites).

      Let me know if people see real benefits to this. By comparison HSBC Premiers free travel insurance is a real benefit to me.

      • Weird, hubby definitely has more than £5K salary hitting his account and not upgraded. I didn’t care much as benefits to me are negligible, in fact all the time I had called the dedicated number to get one of benefits I often find it worse than competition

        • Yes same here, my wife has been putting her student loan etc plus “donations” from relatives into Santander since she was 18, eventually reaching £100K+, but never got upgraded, whereas it looks like you and I got upgraded with a lump deposit.

    • Hmmm …. will check. Slightly odd way of promoting it if so.

      • Genghis says:

        It notes “pay your main income of at least £5,000 per month into a Santander current account”

        This is very ambiguous to say the least.

        – I interpreted the £5k to be gross, the net of which must be paid into a Santander current account
        – what is “main” income. So a person on £5k from employment income would be eligible but a person on £4K employment income and £1k dividend income wouldn’t? Seems strange.

  2. Jonathan says:

    If people are comparing the two there’s currently an additional 10k HSBC point (5k avios equivalent bonus on the HSBC card (inc. basic premier as well as the world elite credit cards).

    For a limited time, receive an extra 10,000 reward points when you spend £2,000 in the first 90 days*1.

  3. Do you get upgraded to select automatically if you meet the criteria or do you need to apply?

  4. Mr Dee says:

    Well the £15 cash back limit per month just killed the deal for me especially when you have the ASDA premium card giving you 1% back for £3 a month

  5. rams1981 says:

    My HSBC card is coming up to 1 year anniversary. There are no bonuses for year 2 still?

    • Richard says:

      I called up to cancel mine this week and no bonuses were mentioned. I still have 2 weeks to go so will call again and ask if they can offer anything.

      • Polly says:

        Richard, you might just have time to drop to the premier in time, if you want to hold onto points, that is! Or you might want to just stay with elite. If you call cs, you will not get a clear answer. It took me days to get sense out of anyone.

  6. Richard says:

    Has anyone managed to churn the HSBC Premier World Elite card?

    • Polly says:

      Richard, Rams,

      l am in the process ATM. No referral fee, no renewal bonus, no incentive whatsoever to stay on. So I plan to downgrade to premier to keep the good mc earning rate, works out at 0.5 avios per £. The issue was getting their form in time, and holding on to my bonus points in the account, until they offer a new points transfer bonus. No form in branch, so they are mailing me one, has to be hand signed! A few mentions of “dark ages” in various chats! You have to hold the points for one year, but that also triggers the new card fee, which has a no refund policy. Bit of a tough one to manage. Had to get the downgrade date exactly just before the anniversary date. Involved numerous conversations with the card management team. Unreal hassle. Unless you are a big mc or vc card user not worth the grief. I kept pointing out to them that Amex had a far more slick process in place. HSBC excuse was, “well, this is a new card!”
      Had there been a renewal bonus, similar to welcome one, l would have considered keeping the elite instead of Plat, but find HSBC cs in the dark ages. No way would l refer my OH as they make you come into the branch for a one hour interview to get the elite card, even if you are a customer. Anyway no incentive to do so, as no ref fee offered. He wouldn’t tolerate that that, when the Amex system is far more user friendly. Shame really as lounge key good. Didn’t check their car hire policy tho.

      • Richard says:

        Thanks Polly

      • Lawro says:

        Polly, although there’s no way round the lengthy process, you can actually do the application/upgrade over the phone, which makes it slightly more palatable.

        • Polly says:

          Thanks, might just try the OH application then that way, but they were adamant you must present in person! Weird that.. Will read around it again.. Now hey have brought out a bonus, so worth a try…

    • You need to take into account that there was a bonus last year to transfer hsbc points to ba , which made it well worth for me given that I see membership fee like payment just for priority pass equivalent , have best master card avios rate on the market …
      so going to keep my world elite card …
      for those who find amex platinum benefits more attractive for higher fee – it is different economics ,

  7. Michael C says:

    I was told last year by Santander that, if self-employed, you became Select if earning 250k+ per year gross.

    For HSBC do I need a six-figure salary in their account, or just proof I earn that?!

    Looking forward to the comparison, as we have a toddler who obvs. couldn’t hold an extra Santander card.

    • Polly says:

      Michael, check robs article on eligibility. Lots to read…

    • Clive says:

      I think Rob is always cautious about eligibility for HSBC premier. You just need 50k of investments held with them, inside an ISA or outside of one. No income requirement if you do that.

  8. The Santander Select World Elite MasterCard has a £15 per month fee. …………
    Airport lounge access via LoungeKey for yourself and three supplementary cardholders.

    So get a few friends and you get lounge access for £45 a year each.

    • Andrew M says:

      They would have to be very close friends as you would have given the opportunity to buy anything they want and you would get the bill!

  9. Is there something specific in the Santander rules that stops U18s getting a supp card? Because most card providers allow this as long as you agree to pay the bills.

  10. Andrew M says:

    Anyone who qualifies for HSBC Jade membership, which requires £500,000 to be held with them, will get the £195 World Elite fee refunded along with other benefits such as Etihad Gold status.

  11. Optimus Prime says:

    OT : I might need to cancel a BA Reward Flight Saver. How long can I wait to make the decision? 24 hours before departure time?


  12. Seems a pretty unappealing card overall – much prefer to stick with Amex Plat despite the higher fee!

  13. Stuart Evans says:

    Really interested to see a review of all World Elite Master Cards (WEMC)

    I have the HSBC variant on the basis that its best way to earn Avios when my BA Amex is not accepted. But another key advantage for me is iPass (which gives you international Wi-Fi access) – Is that a standard WEMC benefit?

    On LoungeKey, I am One World Sapphire (via American Airlines) so that gives me all the lounge access I need at LHR/LGW when not travelling in a Premium cabin anyway. But we live near Stansted which is so cheap/convenient for short haul flights and it gives you access to the very nice Escape lounge there.

    I guess all this demonstrates that the best choice is often greatly influenced by personal circumstances and travel patterns.

  14. We might have 100K in savings that we can split in to 2 if we can get this HSBC account…is it just straight forward? If so, What are the best HSBC investment products that will trigger it for us?
    sorry for too many questions but are we better putting it as a lump sum of 100K or two separate 50K for hubby and I? I really want to get on the HSBC bandwagon.

  15. flibbly says:

    Re Santander Select. I do not earn £5K per month, but I have an average of over that being paid into my account when including work expenses repayments (although on very quiet months it is a little under). I was “upgraded” without requesting it 3 or 4 years ago. I have seen no benefit from it except for a larger daily ATM limit, and cannot see any value in this card for me.