This is our review of the HSBC Premier Mastercard credit card.
It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Card Offers‘ area of the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
This article was updated on 1st January 2021, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.
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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 HSBC Premier credit 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. You cannot have both versions of the card at the same time.
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 scroll down for the criteria.
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.
What is the HSBC Premier Mastercard sign-up bonus?
The card currently has no sign-up bonus. There are very rare promotions offering bonus HSBC points – the last version, which offered 10,000 bonus points, ended in March 2019.
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. These include 0% interest on balance transfers for 18 months from account opening (1.4% fee) and 0% interest on purchases for 9 months from account opening.
Travel benefits include the ability to buy airport lounge access via LoungeKey for £20 per visit per person, free use of Boingo wi-fi hotspots and a 10% discount on hotel bookings at Expedia and Agoda.
What is the HSBC Premier Mastercard 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 article outlines my view of what an Avios point is worth, based on your typical redemption patterns, assuming you choose to convert to Avios.
That said, I typically work off a conservative 0.75p per point – this ensures 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 John Lewis / Waitrose Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.25% cashback in vouchers. The representative APR is 18.9% variable.
For an average spender, the HSBC Premier Mastercard offers twice the value. If you believe that you can get 1p or more from your Avios points then HSBC points are worth 0.5p each, so a 0.5% return on your spending.
The ability to transfer to Etihad, Asia Miles and KrisFlyer as a back-up adds extra value.
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.
Another option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than HSBC charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.
How else can you earn KrisFlyer, Asia Miles or Etihad miles from a UK 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 £575 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.
The Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card offers 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for signing up. These convert to 6,666 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.
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 form for the HSBC Premier Mastercard can be found here.
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.
(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 Card Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)