Best offer is available publicly until June 30, 2019
- Signup bonus:
- Non-Quebec: 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon first purchase
- Quebec: 90,000 HSBC Rewards points
- 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon first purchase
- 70,000 HSBC Rewards points when you keep your account open and in good standing within 90 days
- Annual fee:
- Non-Quebec: $0 for the first year, then $149
- Quebec: $149
- Earning rate:
- 6 HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on travel purchases
- 3 HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on all other purchases
- Perks & benefits: No foreign transaction fees, MasterCard LoungeKey membership, $100 travel enhancement credit, unlimited Boingo wifi
- Insurance: Strong
Until June 30, 2019, there are two separate welcome bonus offers on the HSBC World Elite MasterCard.
For non-Quebec residents, the annual fee of $149 is waived for the first year, and you’ll earn 20,000 HSBC Rewards upon first purchase.
You also get to earn 2X the points on all your purchases in the first three months, up to a maximum of 40,000 HSBC Rewards points, but this isn’t really part of the welcome bonus and is more of an incentive to reward you on your spending.
20,000 HSBC Rewards points can be converted into $100 worth of credits towards travel purchases. HSBC Rewards points can also be converted into Asia Miles, Singapore KrisFlyer miles, and British Airways Avios, making this offer even more versatile.
If you live in Quebec, then you get to enjoy a much more lucrative offer. While the first-year annual fee of $149 is not waived, you’ll earn 90,000 HSBC Rewards points in total, which are allocated as follows:
Earn 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon first purchase
Earn 70,000 HSBC Rewards points upon keeping your account open and in good standing for 90 days
Quebecers can use the 90,000 HSBC Rewards points as $450 worth of credits towards travel purchases, but they’d also have to factor in the $149 in annual fee to arrive at a minimum net benefit of $301.
As you can see, the Quebec offer is definitely far superior, and therefore it’s really only worth applying for this card if you live in Quebec. Throw in the $100 travel enhancement credit (see below), and you’re looking at a minimum net benefit of $401, which makes it a spectacular deal for Quebecers.
You can also add supplementary cards to your account for the cost of $50 per card.
Rewards & Benefits
The HSBC World Elite MasterCard offers 6 HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on travel-related purchases and 3 HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Given the fact that every 2 HSBC Rewards points can be redeemed towards $1 in travel purchases (more on that later), this means that you’re effectively getting a 3% return on travel purchases and 1.5% return on all other purchases.
The 3% return on travel is a very compelling earn rate, whereas the 1.5% return on general spending is about the standard for a premium World Elite credit card.
However, in addition to the signup bonus, the main appeal of this credit card lies not in the return on daily spending, but rather the fact that it has no foreign transaction fees.
Most credit cards in Canada will add a 2.5% markup to any transactions denominated in a foreign currency, whereas the HSBC World Elite MasterCard simply uses the MasterCard FX rate, which is for all intents and purposes the same as the true mid-market FX rate. This is therefore an excellent card to use when travelling abroad.
In addition, you also get a complimentary membership in the MasterCard LoungeKey program, although you still need to pay for each airport lounge visit. In this regard, the lounge access benefit isn’t as good as some of the other premium credit cards out there like the American Express Platinum Card.
Other benefits on the HSBC World Elite MasterCard include a $100 annual “travel enhancement” credit towards airline seat selection fees, checked baggage fees, and other ancillary fees, as well as unlimited access to wifi at Boingo hotspots around the world – you never know when that might come in handy.
Using HSBC Rewards Points
HSBC Rewards points aren’t given much attention here in Canada, but they’re a very versatile points currency once you understand the rather convoluted way that everything’s set up.
There are no simple 1:1 ratios here. Instead, one of the best uses of HSBC Rewards points is cashing out for travel credits at a ratio of 200 HSBC Rewards points = $1.
You can also redeem HSBC Rewards points for statement credits at an inferior ratio, so I’d recommend avoiding this option and always redeeming against travel purchases instead.
The major strength of HSBC Rewards compared to the other Canadian banks’ in-house travel rewards program is that you don’t need to go via any sort of dedicated travel portal to redeem your points.
Indeed, you can book any travel with any provider – flights, trains, hotels, Airbnbs, car rentals, cruises, vacations, etc. – and offset it using HSBC Rewards points within 60 days of the purchase posting to your account.
Compared to many other banks, which force you to go through their own travel agency (sometimes while paying marked-up prices) in order to use your points, HSBC Rewards is a much more flexible currency to use.
Lastly, the other way to use HSBC Rewards points is to transfer them to one of their frequent flyer program partners in chunks of 25,000 HSBC Rewards points:
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
As a rule of thumb, I’d recommend redeeming HSBC Rewards points for travel credits (at the 200:$1 ratio), or converting them to one of the above frequent flyer programs if you had a better redemption in mind.
The HSBC World Elite is a premium product, and so comes with very strong insurance benefits. This includes emergency medical insurance for you, your spouse, and dependent children on unexpected medical illness or injury when travelling out-of-province and is valid for up to 31 days, which is double the industry standard of 15 days.
There’s also coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, flight delay, and rental car collision or damage insurance.
Follow the link below (not a referral link) to apply for the HSBC World Elite MasterCard. Similar to other World Elite products, you need a minimum personal annual income of $80,000 or a household annual income of $150,000 to be eligible for this card.
Any questions? Contact me.