Until January 31, 2022, the HSBC World Elite MasterCard is offering an outstanding welcome bonus of 100,000 or 130,000 HSBC Rewards points, for non-Quebecers or Quebecers respectively.
In this article, I wanted to go over some of the finer details on the logistics of redeeming 100,000+ HSBC Rewards points, as well as some of the best redemption possibilities for using your stash of HSBC Rewards points to unlock the best value.
20,000up to 80,000 HSBC Rewards points
- Plus, earn
1.5x3x HSBC Rewards points on travel purchases
- Plus, receive an annual $100 travel enhancement credit
- Transfer HSBC Rewards points to Singapore KrisFlyer and other frequent flyer programs for premium flights, or redeem points for statement credit for any travel expense
- No foreign transaction fees
- Minimum income: $80,000 personal or $150,000 household
- Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $149
- Offer valid for non-Quebec residents only. Quebec residents are eligible for a different offer
Key Things to Know About Redeeming HSBC Rewards Points
Redeeming HSBC Rewards points against eligible travel purchases at a ratio of 200 points = $1 is generally seen as the “baseline” redemption option, giving you a value of 0.5 cents per point (cpp).
In addition, you can potentially unlock better value than 0.5cpp by transferring HSBC Rewards points to one of three frequent flyer partners – British Airways Avios, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles – and using those points wisely for high-value flight redemptions.
(You also have the option of redeeming HSBC Rewards points for gift cards, merchandise, or deposits into HSBC chequing or savings accounts, but the value in doing so is poorer and so this avenue is not recommended.)
Now, both the baseline travel redemption and the frequent flyer conversions are subject to the following redemption rules:
- 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
Combine that with the following transfer ratios to Avios, KrisFlyer, and Asia Miles…
- 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
…and we have the following matrix of possibilities for the best possible ways to redeem your HSBC Rewards points.
British Airways Avios
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Be careful! Without some careful planning, you may end up leaving your HSBC Rewards points “stuck” in your account, unable to redeem optimally unless you top-up your points balance with some extra spending.
For example, with 100,000 HSBC Rewards points in your account, you may be tempted to deploy the maximum possible amount of 95,000 points towards one of the four redemption avenues in the chart.
But you’ll quickly notice that this would leave you with 5,000 points “orphaned” in your HSBC Rewards account, which you wouldn’t be able to use up until you topped-up back to a balance of 25,000 points!
Instead, if you wanted to use up the full balance of 100,000 points in one go, it’d be wiser to redeem in two separate chunks – for example, 55,000 points followed by 45,000 points, 25,000 points followed by 75,000 points, and so on. These chunks can even be redeemed in different ways if you’d like to mix things up a little bit!
As you can see, the HSBC Rewards program is slightly more nuanced than other transferrable points currencies in Canada like Amex Membership Rewards or RBC Avion, so that’s your fair warning out of the way.
1. $500+ in Travel Purchases
Let’s take a look at what 100,000+ HSBC Rewards points would fetch you through each of the aforementioned quartet of optimal redemption avenues.
Redeeming points against travel purchases is very straightforward, and can be done directly in your HSBC online dashboard as soon as the points and the travel purchase have both posted to your account.
As we’ve discussed before, HSBC Rewards is one of the “good guys” when it comes to fixed-value points programs, allowing you to retroactively redeem your points to offset any travel purchase charged to your card.
(It helps that the HSBC World Elite offers one of the strongest returns on travel purchases in all of Canada: 6 points per dollar spent, equivalent to a minimum 3% return.)
Simply head to the “Redeem Points” section of your HSBC online dashboard, and you’ll be presented with a list of eligible travel purchases within the last 60 days, against which you can redeem HSBC Rewards points at 0.5cpp to offset.
Remember, though, you’ll need to select a minimum of $125 in travel purchases – thus reaching the minimum redemption amount of 25,000 points – in order to proceed.
In this fashion, 100,000+ HSBC Rewards points can be used to directly offset against $500+ in travel purchases.
Overall, this is one of the most popular ways to use HSBC Rewards points, especially since they are so flexible in allowing you to “wipe away” any travel purchase on your statement.
This makes HSBC Rewards an excellent points currency for booking travel that wouldn’t normally be bookable on points, such as non-chain hotels, Airbnbs, train tickets, cruises, all-inclusive vacation packages, etc.
Moreover, this amount of $500+ is also the benchmark that you should compare against as we explore the possibility of transferring HSBC Rewards points to any of the three frequent flyer partners instead.
2. 40,000+ British Airways Avios
With an effective transfer ratio of 25:10 from HSBC Rewards to British Airways Avios, 100,000+ HSBC Rewards points is therefore equivalent to 40,000+ Avios.
Doing the math to compare against our baseline value outlined above, we see that an Avios redemption value of at least 1.25cpp is required to beat out the value you’d get from simply using your HSBC Rewards points to offset your travel purchases.
Avios sweet spots for direct flights out of Canada are few and far between. Toronto–Dublin on Aer Lingus is one example, priced at 13,000 or 50,000 Avios for a one-way off-peak flight in economy class or business class, respectively.
The full bonus from the HSBC World Elite Mastercard may therefore be used to cover a round-trip flight across the Atlantic in economy class, which should easily exceed the target value of 1.25cpp.
In addition, HSBC Rewards also offers regular transfer bonuses to Avios, most recently a 40% transfer bonus in July 2021. If you took advantage of a transfer bonus, you could even end up with enough Avios for a one-way flight in Aer Lingus business class!
However, Avios are generally considered more useful for short- or medium-haul redemptions in other parts of the world across the Oneworld route network. Hopping around Europe on British Airways or Iberia, Southeast Asia on Cathay Pacific or Malaysian Airlines, or Australia on Qantas can all result in redemption values higher than 1.25cpp.
If you and your spouse both signed up for the card, then you could each transfer your HSBC Rewards points to your own Avios account, and then pool your Avios together via the Household Account feature.
This amount could then be redeemed towards a larger high-value award such as the Avios multi-carrier chart, which would outstrip the target valuation of 1.25cpp by several multiples.
3. 36,000+ Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles
With an effective transfer ratio of 25:9 from HSBC Rewards to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, 100,000+ HSBC Rewards points would be equivalent to 36,000+ KrisFlyer miles.
Running the numbers, we can see that a KrisFlyer redemption value of at least 1.39cpp is required to do better than simply offsetting against travel purchases.
Now, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer does have a handful of sweet spots in its award chart, such as between continental North America and Hawaii.
However, if you’ve gone through the trouble of earning KrisFlyer miles in the first place (which aren’t very easy to earn in Canada), then you likely have only one target redemption on your mind: Singapore Airlines’s premium flights, including their business class, First Class, and world-famous Suites Class.
Singapore Airlines keeps its premium products out of reach to most partner programs, and with very few exceptions, most of these flights are only bookable through Singapore’s own KrisFlyer program.
The cheapest long-haul flight is the New York–Frankfurt fifth-freedom route, which costs 72,000 KrisFlyer miles in business class or 86,000 KrisFlyer miles in First Class.
As you can see, even the full bonus from the HSBC World Elite Mastercard won’t yet be enough to cover these amounts, so you’ll likely need to top-up your KrisFlyer account with points from a different source (such as Marriott Bonvoy or US-issued Amex MR points) or perhaps put some regular spending on the HSBC World Elite to earn enough points to make up the difference.
Either way, this redemption choice will be best-suited to those of you who have the Singapore Suites as a long-term aspirational goal.
Otherwise, there aren’t many major reasons to go out of your way to earn KrisFlyer miles when there are several more easily accessible programs available to us Canadians, such as…
4. 32,000+ Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
With an effective transfer ratio of 25:8 from HSBC Rewards to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, 100,000+ HSBC Rewards points would be equivalent to 32,000+ Asia Miles.
Crunching the numbers here, we can see that an Asia Miles redemption value of at least 1.56cpp is required to outperform the value you’d get from simply redeeming against travel purchases.
Asia Miles is generally considered a useful program for travelling to Asia in premium cabins, especially if you’d like to fly Cathay Pacific’s highly-regarded business class or First Class products.
That’s because Asia Miles member get access to greater availability than partner programs on Cathay Pacific flights, so you’ll have a much easier time finding and booking these flights compared to through a partner like Alaska Mileage Plan.
The program also has a multitude of attractive award chart sweet spots, such as flying from North America to Australia in business class for 85,000 Asia Miles, or using the “mixed-cabin trick” to book Cathay Pacific First Class for a lower-than-usual price.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard’s haul of 32,000+ Asia Miles likely won’t be enough for most long-haul redemptions all on its own; you’d need to combine this amount with Asia Miles earned from other sources for a more meaningful premium redemption.
If you travel frequently to Asia and would like to do so in comfort, and you’re able to gather Asia Miles from some other mileage-earning sources as well, then converting your HSBC Rewards points to Asia Miles could be the right fit.
As you can see, the spectacular signup bonus of 100,000–130,000 HSBC Rewards points on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard comes with a very wide range of redemption possibilities.
The baseline redemption of $500+ in travel value is already outstanding; along with the $100 Travel Enhancement Credit that comes as a perk of the card, the bonus will get you $600+ in net value towards any travel purchases of your choosing.
However, there are even greater possibilities via HSBC’s three frequent flyer transfer partners: British Airways Avios for the avid travellers who can take advantage of Avios’s global short-haul sweet spots, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer for the aspirational luxury travellers who’d like to get a taste of Singapore Suites, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles for any Asia-bound travellers who’d like to fly in comfort at a good value.