Filling the Void: Great Alternatives to the HSBC World Elite Mastercard

By the end of March 2024, Canada will lose one of its longstanding stalwart credit cards when the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is gone forever.

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard was much beloved as a travel card due to its many keystone features: no foreign transaction fees, flexible points, a $100 annual travel enhancement credit, World Elite Mastercard benefits, strong insurance, and more.

In this article, we’ll share our picks for cards to replace the HSBC World Elite Mastercard. Depending on which features you valued most from the departing card, you may consider one or more of the cards we suggest below.

In This Post

Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

For years, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard was our top choice for a travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees

If you’re transitioning from the HSBC World Elite Mastercard to the RBC® Avion Visa Infinite, it’s worth noting that you’ll continue to enjoy no foreign transaction fees on the transitioned card. However, you may want to apply for that card separately to leverage the welcome bonus, even though it won’t come with no foreign transaction fees as a feature for new applicants, as we’ll discuss below.

If you value the no foreign transaction fee feature on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, then you’ll want to find a suitable replacement once the card is phased out forever.

As it stands, the best travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card, which was the winner of the 2023 Prince of Travel Award for Canada’s best no foreign transaction fee card, and is our pick for this category here as well.

Whenever you use the card for transactions in foreign currencies, you’ll save the 2.5% charge that’s levied on most Canadian credit cards. If you tend to spend a lot of money abroad, this adds up, and eats away at the value of points that you earn.

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card earns Scene+ points, and although these points can’t be transferred to partner airline programs like HSBC Rewards, they’re still very useful since you can redeem them against any travel expenses charged to the card at a fixed value of 1 cent per point.†

Plus, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card comes with six free DragonPass lounge visits per year,† and a suite of strong insurance coverage.†

For comparison, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard also came with a DragonPass membership, but you had to pay $32 (USD) per visit.

If you already enjoy lounge access through your elite status or with another credit card, then you can also consider the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

This is another great pick for a card with no foreign transaction fees, and it has higher category earning rates for purchases in Canada than the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card.

Plus, you can enjoy lucrative Amex Offers† and strong insurance.†

Cards that Earn Flexible Points

HSBC Rewards points earned with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard are flexible, in that they can be used to offset the cost of travel purchases at a fixed rate of 0.5 cents per point, and can also be transferred to three airline loyalty programs.

If you tended to redeem HSBC Rewards points against travel purchases, then our choice to replace the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is the TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card.

Until March 4, 2024, there’s a record-high welcome bonus on the card for up to 135,000 TD Rewards points†. When redeemed for travel purchases made through Expedia for TD, that’s worth $675,† or $540 if you redeem them against travel purchases booked with other vendors.†

Plus, the card comes with great category earning rates, a $100 annual travel credit for accommodations and vacations booked through Expedia for TD†, and strong travel insurance†.

If you’re someone who’s more likely to transfer HSBC Rewards to British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, or Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, then you’ll want to replace the HSBC World Elite Mastercard with a card that earns transferable points.

In Canada, American Express Membership Rewards points and RBC Avion points are the only remaining points currencies with airline and/or hotel loyalty program partners, as HSBC Rewards points will be phased out as part of RBC’s acquisition of HSBC Canada.

Legacy cardholders of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard are being transitioned to the RBC® Avion Visa Infinite; however, you aren’t being offered any welcome bonus as part of the deal.

Therefore, you could consider applying for the RBC® Avion Visa Infinite prior to transitioning, especially since there’s a record-high welcome bonus of up to 55,000 RBC Avion points until April 30, 2024.†

RBC Avion points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to British Airways Executive Club and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, at a 1:0.7 ratio to American Airlines AAdvantage, and at a 100:1 ratio to WestJet Rewards.

If you’re looking for more transfer partners, then you’ll want to consider an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards (MR) points, which can be transferred to the following programs:

There’s never a bad time to add the American Express Cobalt Card to your wallet, even with a weak welcome bonus. That’s because it has exceptional category earning rates of up to 5 MR points per dollar spent, and is one of our picks for an essential credit card for every Canadian traveller.

Otherwise, you’ll want to consider an Amex card with the best available welcome bonus to suit your needs.

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards
Credit Card Best Offer Value
70,000 MR points $1,676 Apply Now
120,000 MR points $1,574 Apply Now
75,000 MR points $1,561 Apply Now
Up to 77,000 MR points $1,419 Apply Now
100,000 MR points $1,361 Apply Now
15,000 MR points $372 Apply Now
12,500 MR points $301 Apply Now

Cards with Annual Travel Credits, Strong Insurance, & World Elite Mastercard Benefits

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard also featured a $100 annual travel enhancement credit, one of the best all-around insurance packages, and World Elite Mastercard benefits.

Aside from wide acceptance (including at Costco), World Elite Mastercard benefits offer cardholders 12 complimentary 90-minute Boingo Wi-Fi sessions on select airlines and a complimentary DragonPass membership ($32 USD per visit).

As a reminder, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard’s insurance coverage included the following:

  • Emergency medical insurance: Up to $2 million for trips up to 31 days (aged 64 and under), or up to 21 days (aged 65 and older)
  • Trip cancellation/interruption: Up to $2,000 per person ($5,000 maximum per trip)
  • Flight delay: Up to $1,000 for delays of six hours or longer
  • Baggage delay: Up to $1,000 for delays of six hours or longer
  • Car rental: Up to 31 days, MSRP of up to $65,000
  • Mobile device insurance: Up to $1,000
  • Price protection: Up to $500 per transaction ($1,000 per calendar year) for up to 60 days after purchase

With this in mind, our two all-around top picks for a replacement World Elite Mastercard are the National Bank® World Elite® Mastercard and the MBNA Rewards® World Elite® Mastercard.

If you valued the insurance on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, then the best alternative is the National Bank® World Elite® Mastercard, which has the following suite of insurance coverage:

  • Emergency medical insurance: Up to $5 million for trips up to 60 days (aged 54 and under), up to 31 days (aged 55–64), and up to 15 days (aged 65–75)†
  • Trip cancellation: Up to $2,500 (per person, per trip)†
  • Trip interruption: Up to $5,000 (per person, per trip)†
  • Flight delay: Up to $500 per person for delays of four hours or longer†
  • Baggage delay: Up to $500 per person for delays of six hours or more†
  • Car rental: Up to 48 days, MSRP of up to $65,000†
  • Mobile device insurance: Up to $1,000†

Notably, the National Bank World Elite Mastercard also covers insurance for award bookings, which is a rare feature on Canadian credit cards.

Plus, the National Bank World Elite Mastercard has strong category earning rates, a $150 annual travel credit,† and all the World Elite Mastercard benefits.†

Another great Canadian World Elite Mastercard to consider is the MBNA Rewards® World Elite® Mastercard, which offers the following insurance coverage:

  • Emergency medical insurance: Up to $2 million for trips up to 21 days (aged 64 and under)
  • Flight delay: Up to $500 per person for delays of four hours or longer
  • Baggage delay: Up to $1,000 per person, per trip for delays of four hours or more
  • Car rental: Up to 31 days, MSRP of up to $65,000
  • Mobile device insurance: Up to $1,000
  • Price protection: Up to $500 per transaction ($1,000 per calendar year) for up to 60 days after purchase

The MBNA Rewards® World Elite® Mastercard has the same World Elite Mastercard benefits as the HSBC World Elite Mastercard and the National Bank® World Elite® Mastercard. Plus, it offers insurance on award tickets, although it’s worth noting that the insurance isn’t as comprehensive as the National Bank World Elite Mastercard.

However, the main reason to consider the MBNA Rewards® World Elite® Mastercard is because of its enhanced earning rates and the future of MBNA Rewards.

With the MBNA Rewards® World Elite® Mastercard, you’ll earn 5 MBNA Rewards points† per dollar spent on eligible grocery, restaurant, digital media, membership, and household utility purchases, up to $50,000 spent in each category per calendar year.†

What’s more, MBNA Rewards points will soon be transferable to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan at a ratio of 1:1. While the date for this has yet to be confirmed, once it happens, MBNA Rewards will become Canada’s newest transferable points currency.

As mentioned earlier, we also recommend the TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card as a strong all-around card to replace the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, especially if you don’t tend to transfer points to airline loyalty programs.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the insurance coverage on the card to compare with the above:

  • Emergency medical insurance: Up to $2 million for trips up to 21 days (aged 64 and under), up to four days (aged 65+)†
  • Trip cancellation: Up to $1,500 per person (maximum of $5,000 per trip)†
  • Trip interruption: Up to $5,000 per person (maximum of $25,000 per trip)†
  • Flight delay: Up to $500 per person for delays of four hours or longer†
  • Baggage delay: Up to $1,000 per person for delays of six hours or more†
  • Car rental: Up to 48 days, MSRP of up to $65,000†
  • Mobile device insurance: Up to $1,000†

Depending on your age and what you prioritize for insurance, any of the three above cards should offer insurance that’s roughly comparable to what’s offered on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.

Conclusion

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard has been a pillar in the Canadian credit card landscape for many years.

The card was made popular by its flexible HSBC Rewards points, annual travel enhancement credit, strong insurance, and, most notably, its no foreign transaction fees.

It’s certainly a shame to watch it go, but as we’ve shown above, there are a fair number of cards that can help fill the hole left by the HSBC World Elite Mastercard once it’s gone.

† Terms and conditions apply. Please visit the card issuer website for up-to-date and complete information.