The HSBC World Elite Mastercard has just announced a tremendous new offer, including one of the highest nominal welcome bonuses I’ve ever seen in Canada, which will last until December 28, 2020 (terms apply).
As before, the HSBC World Elite’s welcome bonus is divided into two separate offers: one for non-Quebec residents and one for Quebec residents, both of which carry a net value of at least $600, and represent the best deal available on the HSBC World Elite over the past few years. Let’s take a closer look at the details for both offers.
The Non-Quebec Offer
The offer for non-Quebec residents is as follows. The annual fee of $149 will be rebated for the first year, and you will earn as a signup bonus:
- 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon first purchase
- 80,000 HSBC Rewards points upon spending $5,000 in the first 180 days
- Total of 100,000 HSBC Rewards points
At a minimum, HSBC Rewards points are worth 0.5 cents per point (cpp) each when redeemed against eligible travel purchases (i.e., purchases made from merchants that are classified in the Mastercard network as airlines, car rental agencies, hotels, cruise lines, passenger railways, tour operators, timeshares and travel agencies) made using your HSBC credit card at a ratio of 200 HSBC Rewards points = $1.
Therefore, the signup bonus of 100,000 HSBC Rewards points would already be worth at least $500 when redeemed for an eligible travel purchase.
But that isn’t the end of the story. In terms of the returns on daily spending, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard allows you to earn:
- 6 HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases
- 3 HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on all other purchases
So if we were to add the points that you earn from meeting the $5,000 spending threshold to the above calculations, then we can conclude that you’d earn at least 15,000 HSBC Rewards points from that spending (and possibly more if you were making eligible travel purchases at the 6x earning rate).
In total, you’d end up with at least 115,000 HSBC Rewards points after completing the minimum spending, which would be worth at least $575. Throw in the first-year fee waiver, and that is a spectacular intro offer on a single credit card.
Finally, don’t forget about the $100 Travel Enhancement Credit that comes with this card, which is easy to redeem against incidental purchases along your travels (like baggage fees and seat selection fees), and there are also many reports that the Travel Enhancement Credit can be redeemed against stuff like British Airways Avios award taxes and bookings made on Expedia as well.
Combined with the $575 minimum valuation of the welcome offer, and the total minimum value that can be derived from the HSBC World Elite for non-Quebec residents rises to a staggering $675!
The Quebec Offer
Now let’s talk about the Quebec offer. Unlike the non-Quebec offer, the first-year annual fee of $149 is not rebated, and you’ll have to pay the annual fee on the first statement. Meanwhile, the signup bonus is granted as follows:
- 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon first purchase
- 110,000 HSBC Rewards points upon keeping your account open and in good standing for 180 days
- Total of 130,000 HSBC Rewards points
That’s right, Quebec residents can earn the full bonus without any minimum spending requirement of any kind is required. By simply buying a pack of gum and keeping the card open for six months, you’ll receive a stunning total of 130,000 HSBC Rewards points, which I must say is the single highest signup offer I’ve ever seen on any credit card in Canada in terms of the pure numeric value.
130,000 HSBC Rewards points are worth $650 when redeemed directly against eligible travel purchases. When considering the value of the offer, we must then subtract the $149 annual fee (which is not waived or rebated in Quebec) to arrive at a valuation of $501. Then, adding the $100 Travel Enhancement Credit into the mix, and we arrive at a total valuation of the HSBC World Elite’s Quebec offer of $601.
Comparing the two offers, we essentially see that Quebecers have to pay the first-year annual fee in exchange for receiving the full signup bonus without a $5,000 minimum spending requirement. Conversely, non-Quebec residents must spend towards their signup bonus, but they also have the possibility of receiving the full bonus without waiting for six months, and also enjoy a fee waiver in return.
Either way, no matter where in Canada you live, you should definitely consider applying for the HSBC World Elite Mastercard before the end of the year if you don’t already hold it (and if you do, consider getting your spouse or family members to apply for this outstanding offer as well).
Whether you choose to redeem the points for at least $600 in travel value, or convert them to airline frequent flyer partners (as we’ll discuss below), the hefty signup bonus will go a long way towards helping you saving money and unlocking value when it’s time to travel again.
Understanding the HSBC Rewards Program
HSBC Rewards is what we call a fixed-value points program, which means that in general, each point has a fixed value when used towards a certain type of redemption (rather than being subject to an award chart like Aeroplan or Avios).
As mentioned above, the “baseline” redemption option that you should keep in mind is that 200 HSBC Rewards points = $1 in travel credit. Using the total signup bonus of 100,000 or 130,000 HSBC Rewards points, then, you can obtain $500 or $650 of value by charging your eligible travel purchases to the card and redeeming points to offset the cost.
You can also redeem your points for gift cards and merchandise; however, similar to most points programs out there, the value in doing so is generally quite poor.
Now, most banks in Canada have their own similar fixed-value rewards programs, and I tend to think of them as being separated in to “good guys” and “bad guys”.
The “good guys”, like Scotia Rewards, allow you to redeem your points for any eligible travel purchase – airlines, hotels, car rentals, trains, ferries, cruises, vacations, etc. – that you charge to the card. You simply have 60 days from the day the charge posts on your statement to redeem the points. That gives you so much flexibility by allowing you to choose exactly when and how you want to spend your points.
Meanwhile, the “bad guys”, like BMO Rewards and CIBC Aventura, force you to book travel through their own dedicated travel agencies if you want to redeem your points. Often times these travel agencies charge marked-up prices compared to what you’d find on your own, which further devalues your hard-earned points. You also can’t use your points for things like train tickets, budget airlines, or Airbnbs as a result, since the travel agencies don’t have the capacity to book stuff outside of their own proprietary back-end.
Thankfully, HSBC Rewards is one of the “good guys”. You can charge any eligible travel purchase to the card and redeem your points for it within 60 days. That also means that non-Quebec residents can start booking travel that they intend to offset with points even before they receive the full welcome bonus of 100,000 HSBC Rewards points – in fact, those purchases will even count towards their $5,000 minimum spending!
The other potentially lucrative way to use HSBC Rewards points is by converting them to one of three airline frequent flyer programs at the following ratios:
- 25,000 HSBC Rewards points can be converted into 8,000 Asia Miles
- 25,000 HSBC Rewards points can be converted into 9,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles
- 25,000 HSBC Rewards points can be converted into 10,000 British Airways Avios
On top of a minimum conversion of 25,000 points, you can then convert HSBC Rewards points in chunks of 10,000 points at the respective 25:8, 25:9, and 25:10 ratios.
If we consider the best-case signup bonus of 130,000 HSBC Rewards points in Quebec, then that’d equate to 41,600 Asia Miles, 46,800 Singapore KrisFlyer miles, or 52,000 British Airways Avios, with 5,000 HSBC Rewards points left over. From there, the possibilities for redeeming your points are endless.
Indeed, let’s say you were deciding between redeeming 130,000 HSBC Rewards points for $650 in travel purchases or for 52,000 Avios.
If you went for the latter option, you could redeem the Avios for up to thirteen short-haul one-way flights, two round-trip flights from the West Coast to Hawaii, or a one-way business class flight between Toronto and Dublin. All of those would easily exceed the alternative of $650 in terms of the value that you get!
One last thing to consider is that HSBC Rewards represent one of the few ways to earn Singapore KrisFlyer miles here in Canada – indeed, based on the earning rates and conversion ratio listed previously, you effectively have an earn rate of 2.16 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent on travel purchases and 1.08 Singapore KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent on general purchases.
If you want to save up enough KrisFlyer miles to try out Singapore Airlines’s incredible business class, First Class, or Suites Class, then the HSBC World Elite is one of your best options in Canada to get there.
Other Perks & Benefits
Until now, we haven’t even discussed one of the most valuable benefits of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard: the card has no foreign transaction fees, meaning that all purchases denominated in foreign currencies are converted at the Mastercard rate, which is virtually identical to the true mid-market rate.
In addition, the card comes with complimentary Mastercard LoungeKey membership, although you do have to pay a US$27 fee per lounge visit, so it’s not as good of a lounge access benefit as other premium cards out there. You also have unlimited wifi at Boingo hotspots around the world and onboard Boingo-enabled airlines.
Lastly, the 31-day emergency medical insurance is worth pointing out. Most premium travel credit cards only offer coverage for 15 days, so this is a great insurance option to have if you’re the type of traveller who takes more extended trips.
You can refer to my YouTube video on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard to learn more about the card’s benefits, although do take note that the offer I mention in the video is outdated and has been replaced by this current offer:
Until December 28, 2020, the HSBC World Elite is offering a magnificent welcome bonus that’s worth at least $600 in value, which makes it one of the most generous welcome offers we’ve ever seen from any credit card in Canada.
On top of 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon your first purchase, Canadians who reside outside of Quebec will receive a further 80,000 points upon spending $5,000 in the first 180 days, while Quebec residents will receive a further 110,000 points upon keeping their account open and in good standing for 180 days.
Moreover, the card’s other perks and features are outstanding as well, with the 0% foreign transaction fees, the 31-day emergency medical insurance, and the simplicity of the HSBC Rewards program being my picks of the bunch.
The card requires a minimum personal annual income of $80,000, household income of $150,000, or assets of $400,000 at any Canadian financial institution to be eligible.
If you’re interested in applying for the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, please do consider applying via our affiliate link, which helps support Prince of Travel:
Alternatively, you may also look around on the various cash back websites out there to see if any offers might pique your interest.