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Review: the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard credit card

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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 Cards‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

Key link: HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard application form

Review HSBC World Elite credit card

Key facts: £195 annual fee, card only available to HSBC Premier current account holders.  The fee is waived if you have £1,000,000 in a HSBC savings or investment account and have been given free ‘Jade’ status, or are a HSBC Private Bank client.

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 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. 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 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.

Review: the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard credit card

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, but not all of these lounges will reopen post the pandemic.

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 the holder can access lounges with it.

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, £100 per year of Harvey Nichols 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 (old) article.  You access them via this special UK Mastercard website.

What is the HSBC Premier World Elite annual fee?

£195.

The fee is waived entirely for HSBC Jade customers, but this requires you to have at least £1,000,000 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.

Review HSBC Premier World Elite credit card

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

You can find more details in this PDF brochure.

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.

Is this the best way of earning Avios from a Visa or Mastercard?

No.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two Avios earning credit cards. The free card earns 1 Avios per £1 (apply here) which is the same as the £195 HSBC World Elite card. The paid card earns 1.5 Avios per £1 (apply here) which is 50% more than the HSBC World Elite card.

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.

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

50,000 Avios for signing up (A CRAZY SPECIAL OFFER!) and an upgrade voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

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 1p 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 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 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 £50,000 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 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 miles from a UK card?

Here are three good alternatives to the HSBC Premier card for these three airlines:

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 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.

Until 19th July 2022, the bonus on Amex Gold is increased to 30,000 Membership Rewards points. These are worth 30,000 Avios or other miles.

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 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.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

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.

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.

If your goal is to earn Avios, you will get a better earning rate from the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard.

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’ 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 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.

Comments (35)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • illuminatus says:

    HSBC Premier WE + Curve Metal is a wonderful combo too.

    • Polly says:

      Yep, that’s our go too, also

    • Michael says:

      Except on my last HMRC payment via Curve Metal I got no points on the HSBC card. I lodged a complaint and was given half, but they said policy is no points for HMRC transactions.

  • Josh says:

    This is a fine card.
    As others have commented elsewhere, BA is devaluing avios by such huge spurious add on fees.
    On top of airlines you can get some very generous vouchers for retail shops like M&S.
    Lounge Key is a big benefit too. BA Amex at a much higher cost doesn’t give you that. This does, with for example a £15 credit on some airport restaurant bills too. If you fly a lot, and some of it is with the plebs, then this pays for itself quickly.

    • Genghis says:

      I converted loads of HSBC points to Amazon vouchers pre-avios-Nectar tie up – effectively selling avios at 0.66p. Bought a new iPhone, paid for Xmas and got loads of stuff over the following year. The process is cumbersome however – HSBC send physical vouchers as £5 and £10 and on Amazon you could only enter 10 an hour before the captcha kicked in. The gift card reader on the Amazon app barely worked. Hardly a “Premier” experience spending ages entering codes for £’000s of credit. Now I just send to avios for Nectar (Argos, Sainsburys etc) in the what seems like annual brucie.

  • Derek says:

    Another very valuable benefit is automatic membership of Avis Presidents club. Recently received a double upgrade on a 12 day hire in the US, saving £600. If you use Avis regularly it makes a huge difference.

  • BillyBleach says:

    The area not highlighted in this article that makes the World a elite a great option for me is having a non-AMEX option that can earn avios at a decent rate.

  • Roro Smith says:

    How long do I need to wait after cancelling the free version of this card before signing up for this paid version to get the 40k points reward?

  • Sandy says:

    I had this card for 5 years now and associate it with IHG premium card. If your main use are Lounge access and IHG is your main chain, You get here a similar AMEX Platinum package for £294,-

  • Charlie says:

    HSBC Premier WE (Occasionally extra 25% Avios conversion bonus) + Amex BA Premium + Curve Metal (allows you to pay off Amex bills with Premier WE) = 2.5 Avios every £1 spending + BA 2-4-1 companion voucher + unlimited LoungeKey access + car hire excess insurance (worth around £40). Total cost: £595 (£195 + £250 + £150). This combination works well for me so far.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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