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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (7): 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 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.

HSBC Premier Mastercard credit card review

What is the HSBC Premier Mastercard sign-up bonus?

The card currently has no sign-up bonus.  There is a promo, once or twice a year, offering bonus HSBC points – the last version, which offered 10,000 bonus points, ended on 2nd 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 0.5% cashback in vouchers.  The representative APR is 18.9% 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, 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.

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 10,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year.  As well as Avios, these convert to 10,000 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 Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card offers 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy 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 form for 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: Marriott article correction, 25% extra with IHG 'bonus points' packages, DoubleTree Cambridge rebrands
I visit the new PremiAir VIP Terminal (yours for £50+) at Manchester Airport - and get driven to my plane
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Comments

  1. 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.

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

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

      • 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.

        • 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

        • 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.

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

          • 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.

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

  4. 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?

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

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

  7. 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.?

    • 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.

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