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Review: the HSBC Premier Mastercard credit card

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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.

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 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.

Review HSBC Premier credit card

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

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:

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

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.

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

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.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

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.)

Comments (23)

  • The Original David says:

    “The first is that the airline rewards programme – whilst generous – is a sideshow to the rest of the card.”

    What is the main show then? The free Boingo hotspots or the £20 access to Lounge Key?

    Boingo is handy for free in-flight wifi on LH Group, but it’s definitely the 0.5 Avios/£ that is the main draw for me.

    • Rob says:

      What I meant is that there is quite a bit of stuff you can redeem for, and that it isn’t promoted as a miles card.

  • Tom says:

    I opened a HSBC Global investor centre (GIC) account and invested £100 and was eligible for the credit card along with qualifying salary.

    • Jon says:

      Does this also work for the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard? Assuming it does, which card would you recommend Rob?

      • Rob says:

        For 2 years, the £195 card is a no-brainer if you’ll trigger the £12k bonus – £390 for 40,000 miles PLUS 1 mile per £1 on your spend.

        • Jon says:

          Thanks – not sure if have £12k spend on non-Amex. Most shopping and biz expenses I can put on my BAPP at 1.5miles so sounds like free one would be better than my current Tesco one. thanks

        • Matt says:

          Do I recall correctly that they intermittently offer a free hotel night for signing up? I’m not desperate for avios so I’m waiting for the offer to come back.

          • Rob says:

            Yes. No bonus points promo for 18 months or so now though.

          • pauldb says:

            The Hotel night came with the Premier bank account, not the credit card. Instead you now get a much more straightforward £175 for switching your banking.

  • sh83 says:

    Should also note that there is extended warranty cover on newly brought selected home appliances (provided by D&G) which also carries some value.

    • Paul b says:

      The extended warranty cover seems to apply only to the free card and not the elite version.

  • Cwyfan says:

    Does anybody know whether buying abroad through a curve card still results in the double reward points, or because curve transfer to £s does the base reward rate only apply?

  • Benylin says:

    Antibody have experience in upgrading to the paid card? Can you hold both? Do you get the sign in bonus?

    • Michael says:

      I have upgraded about 3 months ago.
      You officially can’t have both at the same time, although I had a few months where both cards were working.
      I am still waiting for the sign on bonus though.

      • Benilyn says:

        How did you go about doing the upgrade? Phone or in-branch? I assume they promised the bonus points right? Thanks

      • Polly says:

        Isn’t there some clause about not having had a hsbc card in the past 6 mths. For bonus to be applied?

  • Benylin says:

    Also you can only pay your card bill via BT/DD only,but not by debit card which is annoying.

  • Qfx says:

    Anyone know how the £75K income is assessed? I have a few sources of income which when combined meet the threshold. Is the £75k assessed on gross income or after deductions for tax etc.?

    • Matt says:

      Gross. Doesn’t have to be from one source so you’re eligible. You can also open a joint premier account if you have a partner.