Credit & Charge Card Reviews (8): HSBC Premier Mastercard

This is my review of the HSBC Premier Mastercard credit card.

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Equifax credit report and score. Your first 30 days are free then it’s £14.95 per month. You can cancel at anytime.

Please note that this card is not suitable for you if you do not pay off your balance every month, due to the high interest rate.  You are better off with a low interest rate card such as – click for details – the AA Low Rate Credit Card which has an APR of 6.5%.

(EDIT:  This article was updated on 27th December 2017 and is correct as of that date.)

Key link: HSBC Premier Mastercard application form

Key facts: No annual fee, card only available to HSBC Premier current account holders

The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

About the card

The HSBC Premier Mastercard is issued by HSBC.

There are two versions of the card.  This review covers the free version.  There is also a more generous, premium version called the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard which I review here.

It is a bit of an oddity amongst all of the other credit cards covered in this series for two reasons. The first is that the airline rewards programme – whilst generous – is a sideshow to the rest of the card. The second is that the card can only be obtained if you have a HSBC Premier bank account.

HSBC Premier has tough eligibility criteria. See here and click on the Eligibility button to see the details.

As well as opening a HSBC Premier current account, 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. HSBC has been known to waive the income criteria if you are on a career path which should see you earning this sort of money within a few years.

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.  The definition of this is not clear – a cash ISA does not seem to count but an equity ISA – where you can invest as little as £50 per month – seems to be OK given reader feedback.

HSBC Premier MasterCard credit card review

What is the sign-up bonus?

There is no sign-up bonus on this card.

Any other benefits?

The HSBC Premier bank account and credit card, between them, offer a range of financial and insurance benefits – see the website for details.

What is the annual fee?

There is no annual fee. There is also no fee for the HSBC Premier bank account, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria above. If you currently pay for a ‘packaged’ current account with another bank you may save money by moving across.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

The HSBC Premier rewards scheme gives 1 point for every £1 spent in the UK and 2 points for every £1 spent abroad. Each point is worth 0.5 airline miles. You are therefore getting 0.5 miles per £1 spent in the UK and 1 mile per £1 spent abroad.

You can transfer your HSBC Premier points into the following airline schemes:

0.5 Avios per point

0.5 Asia Mile (the Cathay Pacific scheme) per point

0.5 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles per point

0.5 Etihad Guest miles per 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 airline partners.

Full details of the airline transfer scheme can be found here.

At 0.5 Avios point per £1 spent, this is the easiest way to earn Avios via a free Visa or Mastercard.

The Tesco Clubcard Mastercard only offers 0.312 miles per £1. You actually receive less because of the way it rounds down transactions to the nearest £8 – purchases under £8 earn nothing.

The Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard earns 0.25 Avios points per £1 spent. The HSBC card is 100% better than this.

What is an Avios point worth?

This post outlines my view of what an Avios point is worth, based on your typical redemption patterns.

That said, I typically work off a conservative 0.75p per point – this ensure that I never make a bad decision when deciding whether to take part in a promotion or not.

How does this compare to a cashback credit card?

My default comparison card is the ASDA Cashback Credit Card which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback. The representative APR is 19.9% variable.

For an average spender, the HSBC Premier Mastercard offers acceptable value as long as you believe that you can get 1p or more from your Avios points. The ability to transfer to Etihad and KrisFlyer as a back-up adds extra value. The card is no longer a no-brainer, however, as long as the ASDA card continues to offer 0.5% back.

How else can you earn KrisFlyer, Asia Miles or Etihad miles from a UK credit or charge card?

Here are three good alternatives to the HSBC Premier card for these three airlines:

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year. These convert to 20,000 KrisFlyer, Asia Miles or Etihad Guest miles, amongst other airlines.

The American Express Platinum charge card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. These convert to 30,000 miles. It has a £450 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card offers 10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points for signing up. These convert to 10,000 miles in 29 different airlines, including KrisFlyer, Asia Miles and Etihad Guest. It has a £75 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.


This is – in terms of miles earned – still the most generous free Visa or Mastercard currently available if you want to earn Avios. It is also the only Visa or Mastercard in the UK which allows you to earn Asia Miles or Krisflyer miles. Unfortunately, the tough eligibility criteria for HSBC Premier mean only a few Head for Points readers can apply.

The application for the the HSBC Premier Mastercard can be found here.

(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.

Credit & Charge Card Reviews (9): HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard
Special 'part pay with Avios' deals on London City and Manchester routes - good deal?
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  1. £50 a month into an ISA is enough (potentially more than enough) for the ‘investment product’.

    • Again not sure how many people this will apply to but me and my partner have this card because she is Malaysian. The premier status in Malaysia is much easier to obtain and once you have it they will port it over to the UK without any difficulty.

      We use this card for all visa spending. We have also found that very occasionally, sites confuse this as a debit card and charge lower fees (I’ve no idea why). For instance our workplace benefits site (which allows us to purchase gift cards at a discount) only accepts debit cards, but seems to also accept the HSBC premier credit card for unknown reasons.

  2. I’m sure in a previous article, you mentioned that the HSBC terms state that you should receive the additional 40k bonus within 60 days of hitting the spend requirement. Is that still the case, as you now state that the 2nd ‘bonus’ will only be credited after the 2nd year fee is paid?

    • George,
      There is no bonus with the premiere card only the elite.

      Also on another note, you are allowed to have up to 50k transferred into the account within 3 months for both cards.. Could include your overdraft amount too. That’s what we did for the elite, with no other investment product. We use this for all non Amex spends.

    • Genghis says:

      I think I raised this last time:
      First Anniversary Bonus Reward Points
      1. To be eligible for the First Anniversary
      Bonus Reward Points described below, the
      following requirements must be met:
      a. you must successfully apply for an HSBC
      Premier World Elite MasterCard Credit Card;
      b. you must not have not held an HSBC
      Premier World Elite MasterCard Credit Card
      within the six months prior to you applying; and
      c. You have made eligible purchases of at least
      £12,000 within the first 12-month period of
      card membership;
      2. The following items do not count as Eligible
      purchases: interest, fees, late payment
      charges or any other charges added to your
      statement; Cardholder Repayment Protector
      insurance premiums charged to your account;
      cash advances including foreign money and
      travellers cheque purchases; any balances
      from other credit or charge cards which are
      transferred to your card; ATM withdrawals and
      gambling transactions.
      3. If you meet the requirements for this offer
      as described above, we will award 40,000
      Premier Reward Points to your HSBC Premier
      World Elite MasterCard Credit Card within 60
      days from point of qualification

      • Genghis ..Big debate currently going on over on the elite article ‘re this very issue. With all the Ians., myself etc. I actually got the fee back but it was such a fight in order to preserve the year hold.. means you are into the 2nd yr fee etc etc. Got to get a manager on board teally no other way. Impossible to deal with…

  3. Does anyone know ballpark figures re. what level of income they would waive the requirement?

  4. The free premier reward also comes with LoungeKey at £15 per person per entry, which is at least discounted lounge access.