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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (6): HSBC Premier Mastercard

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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 Experian Credit Score.

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 £75,000, you qualify if you just have a HSBC mortgage or any investment or insurance product.

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?

Until 9th November, you will get a voucher for a one night “UK luxury overnight hotel stay” when you take out the card and spend £1000, or do a £1000 balance transfer, within the first 30 days.

The hotel selection is not exciting and you are not guaranteed the date you want – I think you may struggle to get a weekend night.  I wouldn’t be persuaded by this if you were not planning to get the card anyway.

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.

I cannot find this list of airlines anywhere on the general HSBC website now so you will have to take our word for it.

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

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

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 Amazon Platinum Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback. The representative APR is 21.9% 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 Amazon card continues to offer 0.5% back.

Is this a good card to use when travelling?

As the HSBC Premier Mastercard adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee.  One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

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 credit card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year.  As well as Avios, 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.  As well as Avios, these convert to 30,000 KrisFlyer, Asia Miles or Etihad Guest miles.  It has a £450 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card offers 30,000 points for signing up. These convert to 10,000 miles in 40+ different airlines, including KrisFlyer, Asia Miles and Etihad Guest as well as Avios. It has a £75 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

Conclusion

The HSBC Premier Mastercard 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.

Bits: Lufty / SWISS Asia & Africa sale, £25 off Geneva & Zurich flights, Heathrow Express offering Amex cashback
Bits: Virgin / Tesco bonus confirmed, Argentina v Barbarians with SPG, Hilton downtime, World of Hyatt changes
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Comments

  1. The card design changed ages ago Rob!

  2. I wonder what will happen to my Premier account when I pay off my mortgage next month?

    • When I bought my property I transferred my deposit into my HSBC account (~£90k) in advance. After my final mortgage meeting someone from Premier appeared to offer me an account. Their face fell a bit when I mentioned that all of this large sum would be gone in a matter of days but they let me have the account anyway. A few years ago, I think they finally realised I didn’t meet the criteria and demoted me to an Advance account, but I kept the Premier credit card. Paid off the mortgage last year but no sign of them taking away the card…

  3. Rob Walker says:

    The card also comes with LoungeKey – although lounge access is still chargeable. £15 I think.

    Just been away with extended family and paid £20 via my Priority Pass for my Dad when he actually has this card. Oh well.

  4. You should also mention the 2 yr warranty on all white goods and electronics purchased.

    The Uber credit I think it’s still there? With£500 spend on air? Not sure

  5. That is a Google ad driven by your browsing history and the article topic – and probably your earlier mention of Aqua, as Ocean will bid against that as a keyword.

  6. I’ve read previously (maybe even on here) that HSBC will consider giving you the card if you are “on track” to meet the criteria. Anyone have any experience with this? How about on track in four years time..?

    • My review used to say that because that used to be the HSBC position when I worked there. Feedback from HFP in the last couple of years is that they have got a lot stricter now and need you to be earning the money now, so I changed the review.

  7. Bonglim says:

    If anyone wants clarity, they will accept a very very low investment in HSBC global investment centre as an ‘investment product’.

    So earning >75k and 100GBP in investment centre was enough for me.

    • the_real_a says:

      The investment product can also be cash on deposit in a currency or regular account

  8. Roger1* says:

    I checked again and the Amazon Platinum Mastercard isavailable. I appear to qualify.

    To complete info upthread;
    Rewards:
    Earn 1.5 Amazon Reward Points for every £2 you spend at Amazon.co.uk. If you’re an eligible Amazon Prime member2 you will earn 3 Amazon Reward Points for every £2 you spend at Amazon.co.uk
    Earn 1 Amazon Reward Point for every £2 you spend anywhere else, wherever you see the MasterCard logo

    So 1.5% on Amazon spend if a Prime member, 0.5% for general spend.

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