This is a brief review of the Santander World Elite Mastercard credit card.
Our main credit card focus on Head for Points is, not surprisingly, cards which earn you miles and points when you spend. There are other cards on the market which offer travel benefits – but don’t offer any points when you spend – and we like to take a look at those from time to time.
Santander Select is one of the least known but offers good value.
If you have a Santander Select current account you are eligible for a World Elite Mastercard credit card. This comes with a chunky fee but also has free airport lounge access included.
Details are here on the Santander website. I need to remind you that the representative APR is 18.9% variable on purchases and 49.8% variable when you include the annual fee and assume a £1,200 credit limit.
I should be clear up front that I don’t find this card as good as the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard which I reviewed here. This is because the HSBC card has a similar cost (£195 v £180 for Santander) but comes with 40,000 HSBC points (= 20,000 Avios) for getting the card and a further 40,000 HSBC points (= a further 20,000 Avios) for spending £12,000 in your first year.
Neither card is anywhere near as good as the two new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard products in terms of Avios earning rate:
However, you don’t get airport lounge access with the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit cards and this is the benefit we are looking at here.
What is the income requirement for Santander Select?
As with HSBC Premier, you need to open a current account to get the credit card.
Both have high income requirements. HSBC Premier wants £75,000. Santander wants roughly £89,000 (or £60,000 if you are self employed) to show £5,000 per month going in to the account. Reader feedback in the past has suggested that the £5,000 can come from two combined salaries if you have a joint account.
Alteratively, you can put – and keep – £75,000 in any Santander investment, savings or current account
What are the benefits of the Santander World Elite Mastercard?
The Santander Select World Elite Mastercard has a £15 per month fee.
The key benefits are:
- Airport lounge access via LoungeKey for yourself and three supplementary cardholders. This has an equivalent network to Priority Pass (LoungeKey has over 1,000 lounges, Priority Pass has 1,300) which is not surprising as it is run by the same people who run Priority Pass, Collinson.
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases abroad
- 0.5% cashback on all spending, capped at £15 per month – so you can offset the monthly card fee if you spend £3,000 per month
An interesting catch if you have young kids vs adult kids
You can have up to three additional cards for adult family members or friends free of charge. ALL of these cards are eligible for free airport lounge access since you only need to show the credit card at the desk – there is no separate LoungeKey card.
If you have adult children who live you (additional cardholders must share your address), this is arguably a very valuable benefit indeed. You would get unlimited airport lounge access for four adults for just £15 per month.
However, all guests who go into a lounge with you will be charged £20. This is bad news if you have children under 18 years who cannot get a supplementary credit card as you cannot avoid paying the £20 guest fee.
HSBC Premier World Elite has a similar problem. You can pay £60 to add supplementary credit cards but this doesn’t help when you want to get a child into a lounge.
How do Santander Select current accounts work?
The Santander World Elite Mastercard is only available to Santander Select current account holders. Santander Private Banking customers are also eligible.
Santander Select current accounts carry a £4 monthly fee and to qualify for this, you would need:
- Income of £89,000 per year gross (because £60,000 net must be paid into the account) unless you are self-employed or otherwise paid gross, in which case a £60,000 salary would be OK – this can come from two people paying in their combined salaries, or
- £75,000 of savings or investments with Santander
Unless you are self employed, this is a stricter target than HSBC Premier requires with its income requirement of £75,000.
I wouldn’t worry too much about the £4 per month account fee. This is because you earn up to 3% cashback on selected household bills paid by Direct Debit from your account, capped at £5 per month.
This card isn’t a no-brainer for anyone. It is attractive if you have adult children – or indeed want to get your own parents free airport lounge access via supplementary cards.
Whilst you may be tempted to put £3,000 of spending through the credit card each month to generate £15 cashback to offset the £15 monthly card fee, I don’t recommend that.
It is better to put your £3,000 of spending through another credit card which offers rewards which are worth more than 0.5p per £1 spent – such as the new Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard which earns 1.5 Avios per £1 spent – and bite the bullet on the £15 Santander fee.
The exception is spend in foreign currency, where the 0% FX fee benefit on the Santander card comes into its own.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (October 2022)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.