This is our review of the HSBC Premier World Elite 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 in 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 facts: £195 annual fee, card only available to HSBC Premier current account holders. The fee is waived if you have £500,000 in a HSBC savings or investment account and have been given free ‘Jade’ status.
The representative APR is 59.3% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional credit limit of £1,200.
About the HSBC Premier World Elite card
The HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard is issued by HSBC.
There are two versions of the card. This review covers the more generous, premium version. There is also a free version called the HSBC Premier 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 VERY 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 to see 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. 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.
What is the HSBC Premier World Elite sign-up bonus?
The sign-up bonus is VERY impressive.
You can earn up to 40,000 Avios or other airline miles in your first year.
You will receive 40,000 HSBC points, which convert into 20,000 Avios or other airline miles (Asia Miles, Etihad Guest, Singapore KrisFlyer) if you spend £2,000 within your first three months.
You will receive an additional 40,000 points, worth an extra 20,000 Avios, if you spend a total of £12,000 in your first year. These will not arrive in your account until after your 12 months of membership irrespective of how quickly you hit the spending target. This means that you are committed to paying the annual fee for the 2nd year to receive the second part of the bonus.
Any other benefits?
Yes. You will receive access via the LoungeKey scheme to a large number of airport lounges. We discussed the UK lounges which accept LoungeKey in this 2018 article – it is a decent list.
No free guests are allowed into the lounges. However, you can get a supplementary card for your HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard for a £60 annual fee and that person can then access lounges with that.
The HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard is not clearly better than American Express Platinum if you want a card with airport lounge access. It is cheaper (£255 for the HSBC card with one supplementary card vs £575 for Amex Platinum) but the Amex Platinum package has far more benefits – Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, MeliaRewards Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Eurostar lounge access, £10 monthly Addison Lee taxi credit etc (see my American Express Platinum review for details). For some people, however, HSBC Premier World Elite will be the right choice if you want airport lounge access.
If you have children, note that there is no way of getting a child into an airport lounge for free with LoungeKey. You are forced to pay the £20 guest charge, because obviously a child cannot be made a supplementary cardholder on your credit card account. With the Priority Pass issued by American Express Platinum, children can get into lounges for free – you get two cards and each is allowed one free guest.
There is also a range of benefits available to you as part of Mastercard’s general UK World Elite package. I discussed the Mastercard UK World Elite benefits in this article. You access them via this special UK Mastercard website.
What is the HSBC Premier World Elite annual fee?
£195. This is waived for HSBC Jade customers, but this requires you to have at least £500,000 invested or on deposit with HSBC.
There is no fee for the HSBC Premier bank account which you also need to hold, 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?
HSBC Premier World Elite rewards scheme gives 2 points for every £1 spent in the UK and 4 points for every £1 spent abroad. Each point is worth 0.5 airline miles. This means that you earn 1 mile per £1 for UK spend and 2 miles per £1 for foreign spend.
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.
At 1 Avios point per £1 spent, and 2 Avios per £1 for foreign spending, this is the most generous way to earn Avios via a Visa or Mastercard.
The free HSBC Premier credit card only offers 0.5 Avios per £1. 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 our view of what an Avios point is worth, based on your typical redemption patterns, should you be thinking of converting your HSBC points to Avios.
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 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 World Elite Mastercard offers far more value as long as you believe that you can justify the £195 annual fee. This means that you need to place a lot of value on the LoungeKey airline lounge membership. Unless you are spending a six figure sum on your credit cards annually, paying £195 purely to receive 1 Avios point per £1 does not make sense.
For the first year, however, it is a different story. Earning 40,000 Avios or other miles as a combined sign-up and first year bonus – as long as you can hit the £12,000 spending target – makes the £390 outlay (£195 x 2 years) decent value.
IMPORTANT – if you are just considering getting the card for one year, remember that you don’t receive the 2nd part of the bonus until your first 12 months is over. You should anticipate having to pay the fee for the second year, which is not refundable.
Is this a good card to use when travelling?
Yes, to the extent that you receive double points for foreign spending.
However as HSBC 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.
A sign-up bonus of 40,000 airline miles – even with a £195 annual fee (which must be paid for two years) and £12,000 spend target – deserves to be looked at closely. Unless you are already a HSBC Premier customer, however, you need to weigh up whether you really want to move your banking over to HSBC for a benefit lasting only two years. I think most people would struggle to justify the £195 fee for the third and subsequent years.
The application form for the HSBC Premier World Elite 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 Card Offers’ 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.