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 Cards‘ area of the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
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 because 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. The minimum investment in an ‘investment product’ is just £100. You can see the range of HSBC investment funds here.
What is the HSBC Premier Mastercard sign-up bonus?
The card currently has no sign-up bonus. There are very occasional promotions offering bonus HSBC points or a small cashback incentive, but no more than once per year.
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
- 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. You can see it in this PDF brochure.
Is this the best way of earning Avios from a Visa or Mastercard?
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two Avios earning credit cards. The free card earns 1 Avios per £1 (apply here) which is twice as much as the free HSBC Premier credit card. The paid card earns 1.5 Avios per £1 (apply here).
Until 18th July 2022, the sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard is an astonishing 50,000 Avios. The bonus on the free card is 10,000 Avios. You can apply here. You should seriously consider this offer as you are unlikely to ever see a stronger one.
How does this compare to a cashback credit card?
My default comparison card is the Lloyds Bank Cashback credit card. It is free for life and offers 0.25% cashback on your first £4,000 of annual spend and 0.5% thereafter.
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.
The problem for HSBC is that the new free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard is twice as good as their card. You get 1 Avios per £1 which we would value at 1p.
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 credit cards with 0% foreign exchange fees worldwide which earn airline or hotel points. (The Virgin Atlantic credit cards have 0% FX fees in the Eurozone.) 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 Guest 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 Asia Miles or Etihad Guest miles, or 13,333 KrisFlyer miles, amongst other airlines.
Until 19th July 2022, the bonus on Amex Gold is increased to 30,000 Membership Rewards points. These convert into 30,000 Avios or other miles.
The American Express Platinum charge card usually 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.
The Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card usually offers 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for signing up. These convert to 6,667 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.
It is the only Visa or Mastercard in the UK which allows you to earn Asia Miles, Etihad Guest 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 responsibly to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent 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 Cards’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)