Credit & Charge Card Reviews (8): HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

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This is my review of the HSBC Premier World Elite 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 World Elite Mastercard application form

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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard credit card review

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.  I 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, Melia Rewards Gold, Radisson Rewards 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 my 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 0.5% cashback in vouchers.  The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

For an average spender, the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard offers 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.

If you want a dedicated credit card to use abroad, take a look at the Virgin Money Travel Credit Card (click here).  This card is free and charges NO foreign exchange fees.  It also offers 0% interest on purchases for 12 months and 0% interest on balance transfers for 12 months.  Representative APR 21.9% variable.

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.

Our review of Amex Gold is here.  Our review of Amex Platinum is here.  Our review of the SPG Amex is here.

Conclusion

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 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.

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Comments

  1. Note that they often (once every 12-18 months or so?) also have 25% bonus for transfers to Avios.

  2. Does the sign up bonus get given to customers upgrading from the free HSBC premier credit card to the paid on?

  3. You also get £175 at the moment for switching your banking to HSBC Premier.

  4. Is the guess fee to lounge is 15 and not 20 for lounge key ?

    • I changed it to £20 because I assumed it had gone up like all other Collinson lounge offers.

      • it was 15 in august for me and have not seen any notice of change , but could be that this for old cards , dont know

      • SheafPete says:

        I can confirm it was £20 in October.

        • Notification was sent round on 17 September apologising for the confusion and confirming “From October 1st 2019 the fee for chargeable lounge visits will be increased to £20 per visit per person”. This is after they sent on 29 Aug two emails that it would be both USD32 and EUR28.

  5. Also with MasterCard world elite you get access to number of Mastercard lounges , in addition to lounge key lounges , for instance in LED the Mastercard lounge is great and better than lounge key alternative.
    Would make sense to review mastercard lounged separaely I think btw

    • luckyjim says:

      Aren’t the ‘Mastercard’ Lounges just LoungeKey lounges?

    • Can confirm – in SVO the Mastercard lounge is the best (and the only one AFAIK that offers a carte dining). I have access to the BA lounge via being Gold, but I often pay cash to get into the Mastercard lounge since I don’t have a World Elite card. It’s a 18 GBP supplement if you have Mastercard World Black Edition, or 37 GBP full price.

  6. Coming to the end of my two years of HSBC MasterCard world elite, does anyone know if I cancelled how long I need to wait before I can re-apply to be eligible for the 20k avios bonus.

    • Six months. Page17 https://www.hsbc.co.uk/content/dam/hsbc/gb/pdf/premier-worldelite-mastercard.pdf

      I reach two years in March and I plan to get a card for my wife. She doesn’t meet the Premier criteria on her own but we have a joint Premier account which I believe means she is eligible.

      • luckyjim says:

        I might try that too. You would also have to shell out the £60 for a supplementary card if you want to keep Loungekey access for yourself. I’ve found this to be quite handy when on an a break from Amex Platinum.

      • caprotti says:

        This should also work with downgrading to the HSBC Premier Mastercard for 6 months, so there’s no need to clear the balance if there’s no current promotion on transfers… Correct?

  7. If opening a joint Premier account, would £75k combined income be acceptable?

  8. Does anyone know if this card plays well with Curve ATM withdrawals or Revolut top-ups?

  9. Just to note that the points expire – and if not cashed out you’ll lose them on a rolling basis ! I found this out when I took my eye off the ball and realised I’d lost 100,000 or so Avios 🙁

  10. So what’s the easiest route into this? I earn over 75k but prefer investing into my company’s own discounted share schemes so want to spend as little as required. Would pet insurance cover the additional requirement?

    • I opened an investment account and stuck £250 in itn which worked fine. Signing up has been the most docking and complex process. It has taken many months (and I still have no supplementary card) and I estimate I have spent over 10 hours in the phone to HSBC trying to rectify problems with the sign up process. Truly shocking.

  11. This is such a fantastic card if you have significant spending options through a credit card.

    School fees through this = 60k extra miles/yr from something that would otherwise be a bank transfer…

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