Today, HSBC is introducing a brand-new credit card: the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard.
Let’s take a look at the features of this new product, and how this entry-level card with no annual fee might be valuable for you.
New HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard
The HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard is the bank’s new no-fee credit card for travel rewards. The card earns HSBC Rewards points, the same travel points currency as its higher-fee variants, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard and the HSBC +Rewards Mastercard.
As a welcome bonus, new cardholders who apply before May 2, 2022 will earn 20,000 points upon spending $2,000 in the first six months (with no spending requirement for Quebec residents).
You’ll earn rewards on everyday spending as follows:
- 3 HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on travel (up to $6,000 spent per year)
- 2 HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on gas and transit
- 1 HSBC Rewards point per dollar spent on other purchases
The welcome bonus and earning rates are similar to the card’s entry-level peers from other big banks with a no-fee card which earns an in-house rewards currency, such as the CIBC Aventura Visa Card, the TD Rewards Visa Card, or the RBC Rewards+ Visa, with slight variations on which merchant categories earn at bonus rates.
The HSBC Travel Rewards Card also has decent insurance coverage for a no-fee card. It offers purchase protection for 90 days, and extended warranty of double the manufacturer’s warranty up to one year – both common on no-fee cards.
In addition, you’ll be covered for trip interruption, baggage delay, and hotel burglary when you book travel arrangements with this card – the latter being particularly notable for a no-fee credit card.
Unfortunately, the card levies the industry-standard 2.5% FX fee on foreign transactions, keeping the popular No FX Fee benefit in the domain of the more premium HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
- Earn 25,000 HSBC Rewards points
- Plus, earn 3x HSBC Rewards points on travel expenses
- Redeem against travel purchases charged to the card
- Annual fee: $0
- Offer valid for non-Quebec residents only. Quebec residents are eligible for a different offer.
How to Use HSBC Rewards Points
HSBC Rewards are one of our favourite points currencies because they’re very easy to use. You don’t have to book through their travel portal – instead, you can simply pay for any travel expense with your credit card, and later apply your rewards as a statement credit to cover the expense.
Used this way, HSBC Rewards have a fixed value of 0.5 cents per point (cpp), or 200 points = $1. Effectively, this means you’ll earn 1.5% back on travel purchases, 1% back on gas and transit, and 0.5% back on everything else with the new HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard.
With the higher-tier HSBC World Elite and +Rewards cards, points can also be transferred to three airline partners: British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and Singapore KrisFlyer. However, this option isn’t available with the HSBC Travel Rewards Card, so the fixed value of 0.5cpp is the only meaningful way to redeem points for travel.
Lastly, note that you’ll need a minimum of 25,000 HSBC Rewards points in order to redeem for anything. With the welcome bonus of 20,000 points from the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard, you’ll need to top-up with some further spending before you’ll be able to put your points to a good use.
The HSBC Credit Card Portfolio
Long-term, as a card with no annual fee, the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard would be a good downgrade option if you are thinking about cancelling your HSBC World Elite Mastercard or HSBC +Rewards Mastercard but want to keep your points alive or preserve an old credit account.
However, either of the higher-tier cards would be a better choice for a new signup if you qualify for them, with larger welcome bonuses and a first year annual fee waiver on both products.
After that, you can reevaluate the value proposition in the second year, and consider switching to the no-fee HSBC Travel Rewards Card.
While the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is one of my favourite cards in Canada, it has always stuck out like a sore thumb in that it’s long been the only compelling card offered by a rather large bank. With a new basic travel credit card in the market, HSBC is less looking to make a splash, and more looking to round out their portfolio.
Ultimately, while the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard fills a useful supporting role, it isn’t remarkably inspiring for a savvy points collector.
The card offers a modest welcome bonus with comparable earning rates for those who are seeking a basic travel rewards credit card, while bringing a long-awaited no-fee downgrade option for longtime cardholders who may be looking to retire their World Elite card.
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