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 facts: £195 annual fee, card only available to HSBC Premier current account holders
The representative APR is 59.3% variable, including the annual fee. The representative APR on purchases is 18.9% variable.
Reward credit cards generally have high interest rates and are not suitable for anyone who does not pay off their full balance each month. If you do not clear your balance, you should look for a non-rewards credit card with a low interest rate.
This article was updated on 1st February 2024, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.
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 and hotel 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 or hotel points in your first year.
You will receive 40,000 HSBC points, which convert into 20,000 Avios or other airline miles or hotel points 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.
There is an airport lounge access benefit
You will receive free, unlimited, access via the Priority Pass scheme to 1,300 airport lounges.
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 £650 for Amex Platinum) but the Amex Platinum package has far more benefits – Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium, MeliaRewards Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Eurostar lounge access, £300 per year of dining credit, £100 per year of Harvey Nichols credit etc (see my American Express Platinum review for details).
If you have children, note that there is no way of getting a child into an airport lounge for free with this card. 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?
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.
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 or hotel points. 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:
- Asia Miles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- Flying Blue (Air France KLM)
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- TAP Miles&Go
There are also hotel partners:
- IHG One Rewards
- Wyndham Rewards
Do HSBC Premier points expire?
There is a ‘hard’ three year expiry. By ‘hard’, I mean that your points will expire three years after they were earned, irrespective of whether you are still earning. It is different to the Avios / Marriott etc expiry rules where, as long as your account is active, the expiry rules don’t apply.
Don’t start building up a points pot for retirement because you will be in for a nasty surprise.
What are HSBC Premier credit card points worth?
We wrote a full article on what HSBC Premier credit card points are worth, which you can read here.
Airline miles are the most valuable option, well ahead of shopping vouchers or cases of wine. Those are your only options.
At 2 HSBC points per £1 spent, worth 1 airline mile, you are getting roughly 1% back on UK spending and 2% back on overseas spending.
Is this the best way of earning Avios from a Visa or Mastercard?
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two Avios earning credit cards with big sign-up bonuses.
The free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard earns 1 Avios per £1 (apply here) which is the same as the £195 HSBC World Elite card – so why pay £195?
The £240 Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard earns 1.5 Avios per £1 (apply here) which is 50% more than the £195 HSBC Premier World Elite card.
More importantly, the two Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit cards come with an annual British Airways upgrade voucher when you hit a spend target. The HSBC Premier cards offer no annual spend vouchers or bonuses.
The only reason to justify the HSBC Premier World Elite card over the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard is if you are willing to trade off a lower mileage earning rate in return for the flexibility to convert to multiple airline and hotel loyalty schemes.
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.
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?
The majority of UK credit cards offering ‘retail rewards’ – those from Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsburys, John Lewis etc – give you 0.1% to 0.25% back on what you spend.
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 Priority Pass airport 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 miles from a UK card?
Here are three good alternatives to the HSBC Premier card for the airlines it covers.
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 1:1 into Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Finnair Plus, Flying Blue and Qantas Frequent Flyer, and 3:2 into Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
The American Express Platinum credit card usually offers 40,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. As well as Avios, these convert 1:1 into Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Finnair Plus, Flying Blue and Qantas Frequent Flyer, and 3:2 into Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. It has a £650 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 Avios. It has a £75 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.
A sign-up bonus of 40,000 airline miles or hotel points – 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 responsibility 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.