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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 June 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

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.

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)

  • Sina says:

    Are the points added after each statement is issued, or couple of days after spend?

    I’ve made a couple of purchases but after 4 days still no points show up?!

  • Genghis says:

    Here’s list of airlines
    https://www.hsbc.co.uk/content/dam/hsbc/gb/pdf/rewards-points-brochure-premier.pdf

    Also no mention of the extended warranty benefit? Strangely, this is one benefit of this card over the World Elite card.

  • Otto says:

    Is it possible to open a HSBC account if you are currently non-resident?

    Halifax Are closing my credit card due to Brexit..

    • John says:

      Yes if you have hsbc in your country of residence.

      If you have access to a UK address just give that to halifax

      • Otto says:

        Unfortunately no retail banking from HSBC here (Netherlands) so I can’t open a consumer account. I might try and open from my parents address.

        Though First Direct (HSBC) are happy to keep my UK account open, just no more and no change to lending products post Brexit.

        • Danny says:

          Try, HSBC Expat based in Jersey and specifically catering for those living overseas.

    • The Original Nick says:

      @Otto, which credit card?

  • Annie says:

    I had the Hsbc credit card over two years ago and purchased an expensive washer dryer covered under the 5 year Hsbc extended warranty ( which was free cover if you paid with the card ).

    I now have the world elite card and appliance is needing attention. Any idea if my warranty is now invalid as I have to WE card now? Thank you

    • Neil says:

      Sadly the warranty is invalid! They mention this when you cancel the card over the phone which is a real shame.

  • jil says:

    Hsbc sometime do switch bonus, the key is NOT to open the hsbc premier account directly, get another bank account and switch to them when they offer switch bonus. I got this card in 2018 and get 1 hotel free night as sign up bonus (plus another free night from switching to premier)

  • Bigmaggot says:

    Just got upgraded to premier. Should I get the free card now and upgrade to world elite when travel picks up or there’s a bonus? Assuming the 40k bonus is available if I upgrade, or should make friends with Ernie sooner rather than later

    • Pedro says:

      Bigmaggot – how? HSBC site says existing customers need to visit branch to upgrade, and branches aren’t doing premier upgrades?

      • P4D says:

        Can do on phone now since branches are closed

        • Doug M says:

          On phone is maybe, maybe not. I’ve tried repeatedly and been refused, not refused Premier, refused opportunity to be considered. Wrote Mr Angry secure message on Friday, will see what outcome is. Hopefully they’ll mess up and I can get another couple of hundred out of them.

          • Pedro says:

            Yeah I tried a few times since last May(!) With similar ‘we aren’t doing any’ response. Seems crazy a new customer can open online but we can’t.

          • Pedro says:

            Tried again today, still being told they’re not processing any applications due to Covid-19.

            It seems crazy that they’re taking online applications for ‘new’ customers but not existing even manually – so I guess they don’t want me to take out their credit card…?

      • jil says:

        close the account and open/switch to premier directly? I switched to premier directly, never visited any hsbc branch, and that was before pandemic

        • Doug M says:

          Not easily possible. I’d have to switch out my investments too, and that’s too much effort too soon after the mess HSBC made accepting them from previous provider. I did however get enough compo to cover the costs of moving out if I wish.
          Only moved them there for Premier.

        • BP says:

          I had to visit a branch when I upgraded from Advance to Premier a few years back. I obviously wasn’t dressed the way someone earning over £100k is meant to look and the staff member at the door said something like “Are you sure it’s Premier? Premier has a high income requirement?” I’ll always remember that!

          • mr_jetlag says:

            Lol I schlepped in with my running gear on for my Premier interview (2014), no issues.

          • Polly says:

            Same here, l went in after walking the dog, then they opened the screen….
            Reminds of that scene in Pretty Women, the Julia Robert’s great put down…

          • Dan says:

            This made me LOL. Very similar to my experience too – seems like a common theme!

          • BuildBackBetter says:

            The first hsbc branch I visited made a big fuss and refused to give me premier. After a month, visited another branch who signed me up immediately.

      • Bigmaggot says:

        I upgraded in late December on the phone, a couple of agents said they weren’t doing it, but then phoned again and booked me in for an upgrade!

    • Dan says:

      Would holding the free version not stop you from getting the bonuses WE? I thought their was a cooling period of 6 months before eligibility of the bonuses or am I just making this up haha!

  • Paul says:

    The easiest way to get HSBC Premier if you have over the £75k income is to open the GIC investment product, which allows you to invest as little as £100 in mutual funds one off.

    Bear in mind, you do need to have £50k liquid with HSBC one off to qualify to invest, but then you can move it somewhere with a higher interest rate.

    As always, not something for everyone, but an elegant way to navigate if you can. And randomly the fund I invested in has gone up 50% over the past years, leaving me a princely sum of £50 profit for my troubles.

  • Dan says:

    Rob, is the review for the paid version going to be published tomorrow? Would be interested to see the analysis of that card particularly after the bonuses have been received.

    I have got the HSBC WE and currently in year 2, with renewal coming up for year 3 in November 2021 – therefore I have already got the 40k in bonuses. Would be interested to find out from here, who has kept this card beyond year 2 and how they can justify the fee….I’m torn as I love the earning rate on this card but to justify £195 per year – I would need to spend £20k plus on the card to break even with the points I’m earning.

    • Genghis says:

      I’d argue that the break even point of keeping the card for year 3 vs cancelling / “downgrading” and then signing up in 6 months’ time is an annual spend of £119,000. The logic probably could be improved but a rough guide:

      Equation:

      £195 = annual spend x (WE card earnings rate – earnings rate of next best alternative) – value of points from bonuses

      where:

      WE card earnings rate is 1%
      Next best alternative, assuming avios you want might be 0.5%, the free premier card
      Value of points from bonuses, £400, assuming no transfer bonuses.

      Any offer to improve?

      • Dan says:

        Nice Analysis – appreciate it Genghis. Forgot about the downgrade/upgrade option.

        The frequent upgrade and downgrade might be a bit of a pain though… quite a lot of credit checks as I assume HSBC have to cancel your WE card first before re-applying to the free version unlike Amex which can go it seamlessly…

        Definitely food for though though, come November as I don’t have £119k of mastercard spend to put through the card lol

    • Rob says:

      Not tomorrow, probably Tuesday.

    • illuminatus says:

      Just combine it with ‘Bendie’ Metal, makes it well worth after Y2 IMO

      • Dan says:

        Is this you speaking from experience and linking with ernie? 😀

        Makes the maths even harder as you would need to justify £375 of card fees!

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