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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 August 2021, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

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 nine months from account opening.

Travel benefits include:

  • the ability to buy airport lounge access via LoungeKey for £20 per visit per person
  • one year of Expedia Gold+ membership
  • 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. You can see it in this PDF brochure.

At 0.5 Avios point per £1 spent, the HSBC Premier Mastercard is the best way to earn Avios via a free Visa or Mastercard.

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.

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 cards without a foreign exchange fee.  One 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 Asia Miles or Etihad Guest miles, or 13,333 KrisFlyer 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 Asia Miles or Etihad Guest miles or 20,000 KrisFlyer miles.  It has a £575 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

40,000 points sign-up bonus and Gold Elite status Read our full review

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card offers 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for signing up. These convert to 13,333 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 40,000 points bonus is a special offer which runs until 31st August 2021. The standard bonus on this card is just 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

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 some 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 (57)

  • Charlie says:

    You don’t mention the HSBC travel insurance (which is as good as Amex Platinum) or warranty insurance.

    Frankly unless you value the hotel scheme upgrades on Amex Platinum, the HSBC card is significantly better value.

    • Dan says:

      I agree as – I used to hold Amex Platinum and HSBC WE and felt I was able to justify the fee with the latter as a solo traveller/Mastercard with better acceptance in Scotland where I reside. I got great value from the HSBC card in a pre-pandemic world.

      The thing is for a family of four, I think that’s were the benefits of the Platinum, with the additional PP comes in – allowing 4 to get into a lounge – including arguably better ones (Centurion Lounges in the US/HK & Plaza Premium which has big presence in the premium business heavy airport hubs). In a post pandemic world though – my view is that the Amex Platinum’s value has eroded even more.

      • Polly says:

        Pre Pandemic, my OH and I used the PE lounges in Asia low costs, and dub when on Ryan air..when we had cancelled the plat. Giving a supp card to partner for £60 is a great benefit. Admittedly you need to pay for the kids on entry. Dropped down to premier over a year ago. Will probably upgrade if we can once we start travelling again.

        • Dan says:

          Yep – supp card holders need to be 18 over so I imagine, there comes a point that Amex Plat would be better in those cases.

        • Helen says:

          As the lounge access was a significant component of the HSBC WE, they must have saved a fair bit over the last 12 months on this. Wishful thinking that there might be a rebate or renewal discount for current cardholders?

          • Dan says:

            Wishful thinking. I played that card a couple of months ago and they offered by the free version.

          • SM says:

            I have had my annual fee refunded on that basis- lack of travel, inability to use lounges which is an important benefit of the card.

    • jil says:

      insurance is with the premier account, not a benefit of this card, you don’t need this card to get the insurace.

    • AndyGWP says:

      “Our cover gives you, your partner and any dependent children/grandchildren worldwide protection.”

      Does anyone know what the definition of “your partner” is – do you have to be married, or is living together acceptable?

      Can’t seem to find further info on HSBC website other than the above :/

  • JW says:

    How do the Expedia perks work – do you register for them somewhere? (I have this card and was completely unaware of the Expedia stuff)

    • Rob says:

      Click on the PDF brochure under the bit where I list all the air miles partners. It is explained there.

  • The real John says:

    Just for information – I have the HSBC Premier CC from Hong Kong.

    I normally only use it in Hong Kong, but given that I can’t go there for goodness knows how long, it had just been in my travel wallet for the past year.

    It has a 2% foreign transaction fee but I only just realised that it gives 0.66 Avios per HK$ if you register the appropriate offers, including an offer for “foreign spending” i.e. spending in the UK counts. That works out to paying 2p extra per £ to get 6 Avios per £!.

    If the pound keeps rising as I predict I’ll even make a profit on the exchange rate by the time it comes to pay it off.

    Kicking myself for missing this opportunity in previous years.

  • Jimc says:

    I’m not sure if the eligibility criteria is limited to only investments. Earlier this month I was approved for the Premier account & then World Elite Credit card, my only connection to HSBC is my company’s business current account was moved to them in 2020.

  • TheMVP says:

    Anyone have recent experience whether HSBC may flex on the income requirement? Salary is £70k (plus bonus) and can show the trajectory if needed. I have read on here in the past they may have.

    Thanks

    • memesweeper says:

      No harm in asking in branch — the approvals process is quiet manual. I took out a simple life insurance product to aid my qualification during application but I don’t think it was checked .

    • T says:

      I believe that it indicates (on the website) that they will consider circumstances like yours

    • Jimc says:

      For what’s it’s worth I’m wondering how they are checking. There’s no way with the information they had access to for my application they could have known what my salary is.

  • Aliks says:

    Another BA cancellation story . . . I am claiming for an alternative flight with another airline, and just received the first response from BA Customer Services.

    They are claiming that they are not liable because their flight was cancelled due to COVID-19 and this is out of their control. However, its clear they cancelled due to the downturn in passenger numbers as they are still running the flight on other days.

    I don’t believe they have a leg to stand on – but does anyone know better?

    • Justin says:

      I would also like to know this. In general, did the airlines get any flexibility re re-routing obligations? I thought the exception was just for the compensations. Any recent experiences? I am fighting with Iberia on this after they cancelled the flights due to weather in MAD and they blatantly refused to rebook on any other flight except operated by Iberia. The problem was that the next available Iberia flight was 6 days later.

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