HSBC Rewards has announced a new 35% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios for the month of November 2020, following a similar move they made back in November 2019.
Until November 30, 2020, you’ll receive an extra 35% bonus when you transfer your HSBC Rewards points to Avios. The regular transfer ratio is effectively 25:10, so under the 35% bonus, you’ll unlock an effective transfer ratio of 50:26 – or basically slightly better than 2:1.
The 35% Transfer Bonus
On the surface, it seems like this transfer bonus coincides nicely with the all-time-high signup offer we’re seeing on the HSBC World Elite MasterCard, and represents a great way to use up the 100,000+ points you earn as a result of signing up for the card.
As you’ll recall, until December 28, 2020, the HSBC World Elite is offering an outstanding welcome bonus of 100,000–130,000 HSBC Rewards points, depending on where you live in Canada:
- If you live outside of Quebec, you’ll earn 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon first purchase, followed by 80,000 HSBC Rewards points upon spending $5,000 in the first six months, for a total of 100,000 HSBC Rewards points. The annual fee of $149 is also rebated for the first year.
- If you live in Quebec, you’ll earn 20,000 HSBC Rewards point upon first purchase, followed by 110,000 HSBC Rewards points upon keeping your account open and in good standing for six months, for a total of 130,000 HSBC Rewards points. The annual fee of $149 is not rebated for the first year.
Unfortunately, most cardholders’ experiences indicate that even if you live outside of Quebec and complete the $5,000 spending within the first months, the remaining 80,000 HSBC Rewards points often still get credited to your account only after the six-month waiting period.
(The same is of course true for the extra 110,000 HSBC Rewards points that Quebec residents earn.)
Therefore, the timing of this 35% transfer bonus isn’t the most ideal, because it means that cardholders who signed up under the current record-high offer probably won’t be able to take full advantage of it – unless you live outside of Quebec and are able to convince an HSBC phone representative to manually credit your account with your HSBC Rewards points upon hitting the minimum spend.
However, you will be able to take advantage of the 35% bonus using the initial 20,000 HSBC Rewards points that you earn from the HSBC World Elite, even if you sign up today, since the initial chunk is delivered as soon as you make your first purchase.
Keep in mind, though, that HSBC Rewards points follow a rather peculiar redemption structure when it comes to its trio of frequent flyer partners:
- A minimum of 25,000 HSBC Rewards points must be redeemed at once
- On top of the minimum amount, HSBC Rewards points may be redeemed in increments of 10,000 points
Therefore, if you just signed up for the card since the current offer was launched in September and you’ve met the $5,000 spending (outside of Quebec), then you’ll end up with at least 35,000 HSBC Rewards points: 20,000 points from the initial bonus, and 15,000 points from the 3x base earning rate on purchases.
Those 35,000 points would normally convert into 14,000 British Airways Avios, but under the current bonus, you’d end up with 18,900 Avios.
That’s already enough for a one-way transatlantic flight already on the Toronto–Dublin route with Aer Lingus, or a round-trip short-haul flight within North America with American Airlines – and you haven’t even received the rest of your bonus yet!
Is It a Good Deal to Transfer HSBC Rewards to British Airways Avios?
If you happen to have HSBC Rewards points sitting around from previous offers (such as when the card was doling out 60,000+ points back in the spring of 2020) or from your regular spending, then it’s worth thinking about whether the 35% transfer bonus represents the best use-case for you.
As I’ve written about previously, the baseline redemption method for HSBC Rewards is to offset against travel purchases at a rate of 200 points = $1, or effectively 0.5 cents per point (cpp). You simply charge any travel purchase to your card and then retroactively apply your points to the purchase and “wipe” it from the statement.
(And if you redeemed your points this way against a refundable travel purchase and later went ahead and cancelled it, then the refund would go back to your credit card, essentially leaving you with a statement credit.)
Meanwhile, if you were to transfer HSBC Rewards points to Avios with a 35% transfer bonus in place, then we can think about how much value you’d need to redeem your resulting Avios for in order to “beat” the baseline redemption.
Let’s imagine that you have 50,000 HSBC Rewards points in your balance, which could be redeemed as $250 in travel purchases.
Until the end of November, it can also be converted into 27,000 British Airways Avios – although keep in mind that you’ll need to make this transfer in two chunks of 25,000 points each, as you’ll otherwise be “stuck” with at least 5,000 points in your account due to the requirement to transfer in 10,000-point increments.
In my view, 27,000 Avios is easily the more attractive option here – you’d simply need to redeem them for at least 0.93cpp in order to come out ahead compared to the baseline cash option, and extracting 0.93cpp from your Avios should be pretty effortless, whether you’re looking to book Toronto–Dublin on Aer Lingus, Montreal–Casablanca on Royal Air Maroc, short-haul flights on Oneworld carriers within other parts of the world, or a creatively assembled Avios multi-carrier booking around the world.
Additionally, with a 35% bonus in place, the Avios transfer option also handily beats out the other two frequent flyer partners: converting at a 25:9 ratio to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or a 25:8 ratio to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles – unless you’re one of the dedicated folks who had applied for the HSBC World Elite with the sole objective of earning KrisFlyer miles so you can fly Singapore Suites one day.
It’s great to see Canadian points programs adding new transfer bonuses each month. The 35% bonus from HSBC Rewards to British Airways Avios represents a golden opportunity to extract maximum value out of your HSBC Rewards points, so if you have any sitting in your account at the moment, I’d definitely recommend moving them over to Avios during this month if possible.
You might need to strategize some of your spending to top-up to the required points thresholds for a transfer, but I’d expect that effort to be well worth it in terms of the ultimate redemption value.
It’s just a shame that the timing of this promotion doesn’t align perfectly with the current record-high offer we’re seeing on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, due to the fact that it can often take the full six months to receive your welcome bonus even if you complete the spending in the first month.
With the 35% transfer bonus showing up in November of 2019 and now in 2020, hopefully we can count on this promotion to return year after year so that our recently accumulated stash of HSBC Rewards points can be put to optimal use.
(featured image by OneMoreWeekToGo)