One of the lesser known ways of earning airline miles from a credit card is via HSBC Premier. If you sign up, for free, to HSBC’s Premier current account (£75,000 income and a HSBC investment product required) you are allowed to apply for the free Premier credit card and the paid-for Premier World Elite credit card.
HSBC recently teased about the addition of new airline and hotel partners from late July. We can now reveal who they are.
The two HSBC credit cards earn as follows:
- the free HSBC Premier card, reviewed here, earns 1 HSBC point per £1 spent, which translates to 0.5 airline miles
- the £195 HSBC Premier World Elite card, reviewed here, earns 2 HSBC points per £1 spent, which translates to 1 airline mile. There is a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points, worth 40,000 airline miles, albeit this is spread over two years.
At present, HSBC Premier current account holders who take out a Premier credit card can transfer the points earned to:
- British Airways Executive Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Asia Miles
- Etihad Guest
There are currently no hotel partners.
Who are the new HSBC Premier credit card travel partners?
Once the loyalty scheme relaunches, these will be the airline partners (additions are in bold):
- British Airways Executive Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Asia Miles
- Etihad Guest
- Emirates Skywards
- Finnair Plus
- Flying Blue (Air France KLM)
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- TAP Miles&Go
These are the two hotel partners coming:
- IHG One Rewards
- Wyndham Rewards
What do we think of these additions?
Obviously, since no partners are leaving, these changes can only be beneficial to HSBC Premier credit card holders.
With the airlines, I think we can dismiss:
- Finnair Plus, because it offers nothing more than BA offers, but charges more miles, and is already an American Express Membership Rewards partner
- Qantas Frequent Flyer, for the same reasons above – the only interesting benefit of Qantas Frequent Flyer is the ability to redeem on El Al – although their Emirates partnership means it is worth comparing redemption costs vs transferring points to Emirates directly
Of the other three new airlines:
TAP Miles&Go doesn’t offer a great value reward chart and doesn’t add any new airlines, since you can already access Star Alliance availability via Singapore Airlines transfers. It is interesting for anyone, like me, who has a small pile of TAP Miles&Go miles via the recent status matches but doesn’t have enough for a redemption.
Flying Blue is also known for its expensive rewards but it does open up SkyTeam redemptions to HSBC cardholders. It also gives you a way of redeeming for Virgin Atlantic flights with lower taxes than Virgin Atlantic itself charges, although the mileage requirement is usually higher.
Emirates Skywards has recently increased its fuel surcharges sharply which makes redemptions less of a bargain than they were. However, given the huge route network and the high quality product I can see this being of interest.
This should be interesting, but HSBC has cocked it up.
The exchange rate from HSBC to hotel points is 2:1 – the same rate as used for airline miles. This is shocking value because, using a very broad generalisation, airline miles are worth double what hotel points are worth.
IHG One Rewards has recently closed its UK credit card to new applicants, so HSBC Premier is the only way you can earn points via a card. IHG is moving to revenue-based redemptions and you will usually receive around 0.4p per point when you redeem. Given that you can redeem 2 HSBC points for 0.66p of shopping vouchers, I can’t see any logic in using 2 HSBC points for 0.4p of IHG One Rewards points.
If you want to labour the point, you can currently buy IHG One Rewards points for 0.41p in a new promotion – click here. You’d be better off using your HSBC points for shopping vouchers at 2 HSBC points = 0.66p of vouchers and using the money you save to buy IHG points at 0.41p!
Wyndham Rewards is, I have to admit, a mystery to me. Wyndham is the biggest hotel group in the world but has an oddly weak UK presence. It also has very few hotels that set the pulse racing, unless your idea of fun is a Days Inn at a motorway service station. Other brands include Howard Johnson, Super8, Microtel, Hawthorn Suites, La Quinta, Ramada (which has mainly withdrawn from the UK) and Ramada Encore. I find it hard to believe that many HfP readers will get excited by this although, of course, if you do have some Wyndham Rewards points then this is a way of topping them up.
Having just re-read what I wrote above, I don’t want to give the impression that these changes are not impressive, because they are.
Here are the upsides:
- HSBC Premier has, overnight, established itself as the clear leader in the Visa / Mastercard space for anyone who wants a ‘convertible currency’ that could be moved to multiple travel rewards schemes
- It offers three partners which cannot be accessed by ANY UK credit card today – TAP Miles&Go, IHG One Rewards (the old card is now closed to new applicants) and Wyndham Rewards. That said, TAP can be accessed via Marriott Bonvoy transfers and IHG points can be earned via Virgin Atlantic transfers.
- For 10 of the 11 partners (Avios being the exception) it is the only way of earning these points from Visa or Mastercard spend
- Unlike many credit cards, airline miles are excellent value rewards compared to taking shopping vouchers. 1,500 HSBC points gets you 750 airline miles or £5 of shopping vouchers (Amazon, Costa, M&S, John Lewis, Tesco etc) so you are ‘paying’ just 0.66p per airline mile.
- HSBC runs an annual transfer bonus of 20% to 25% when converting to Avios – it is possible that this will be extended to some of the new partners
The downsides are:
- You need a HSBC Premier current account to apply for these cards, which requires a £75,000 income and the holding of a HSBC mortgage, insurance or investment product – albeit Premier has decent benefits, including full travel insurance, and is free
- It misses some key partners – Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada Aeroplan (good value rewards), Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors and, in what could have been a real shake-up, World of Hyatt. It’s worth noting that, in Hong Kong, HSBC offers redemptions to Air Canada, Turkish Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Eva Air, Accor and Marriott – none of those are included here.
- We don’t yet know how many, if any, of these transfers will be instantaneous – HSBC’s Hong Kong scheme DOES offer instant transfers to 75% of its airline and hotel partners
- The conversion rate to the hotel schemes is terrible value at 2:1 – you should take airline miles or shopping vouchers instead
I should stress that the data for this article was not from an official source and things may change before the new HSBC Premier reward scheme is launched in a couple of weeks.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2022 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
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.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
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 Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
50,000 points bonus until 2nd October – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.