Late last year, it was announced that RBC would acquire HSBC Bank Canada in a deal worth $13.5 billion (CAD).
It appears that we’re one step closer to the acquisition being completed, as this week, HSBC quietly closed off new applications for its suite of Canadian-issued credit cards.
HSBC Canada Closes Off New Credit Card Applications
It’s no longer possible to apply for any of HSBC Canada’s credit cards, as earlier this week, the bank removed the application buttons from its website.
To be clear, the following credit cards are no longer open to new applications:
- HSBC World Elite Mastercard
- HSBC Metal World Elite Mastercard
- HSBC +Rewards Mastercard
- HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard
- HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard
If you already have any of the above cards, then it’s business as usual until we hear otherwise. This means you can continue to earn and redeem HSBC Rewards points or cash back, with the usual earning and redemption rates, since the cards haven’t been discontinued altogether.
As for the future of the cards, it’s anyone’s guess whether or not RBC will keep them around once the acquisition is completed.
On one hand, RBC offers similar products to some of HSBC’s, and it would be very unlikely for the HSBC equivalents to remain following the acquisition.
On the other hand, some cards, such as the flagship HSBC World Elite Mastercard, don’t have a direct alternative in RBC’s lineup, especially as a card with no foreign transaction fees.
Given that this has been one of Canada’s best no foreign transaction fee credit cards for years, it would indeed be a loss for it to completely disappear from the Canadian market.
We can certainly hope that it will live on in some way, shape, or form; however, whether it sticks around is anyone’s guess at this point.
Canada Loses a No Foreign Transaction Fee Heavyweight
If you didn’t manage to be approved for the HSBC World Elite Mastercard before this week, you’ll no longer be able to add the card to your portfolio, unless RBC decides to resurface it at some point in the future.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is an all-around excellent credit card, and indeed one of Canada’s best Mastercard products, for the following reasons:
- No foreign transaction fees
- 3% earning rate on travel, 2% earning rate on gas, groceries, and drugstores, 1% earning rate on everything else
- Flexible HSBC Rewards points
- $100 annual travel enhancement credit
- Strong insurance
If you’re in the market for a credit card without foreign transaction fees, your best bet will be to look to two of Scotiabank’s strongest travel credit cards: the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card, and the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card.
Either card would be a suitable alternative, even though it’s worth noting that neither are Mastercard products, and you’ll earn Scene+ points instead of points that can also be transferred to airline programs.
However, both cards offer competitive earning rates (especially the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card’s 5–6x category multiplier on groceries), no foreign transaction fees, and strong insurance packages.
The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card offers six lounge visits per year, while the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card gives you access to Amex Offers.
You’ll want to look at your spending patterns, and how much you value the cards’ other benefits, to decide on which is best for you.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many other good travel credit cards in Canada that offer no foreign transaction fees at the moment, aside from those offered by Scotiabank.
This week, HSBC Canada closed off its credit cards to new applications. This is the latest step in its acquisition by RBC, which is now awaiting final approval before it’s complete.
Of the cards that are no longer available for applications, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard has the biggest impact on Canadian travellers, as it was an outstanding card for many years.
If you already hold any of HSBC’s credit cards, you can continue to earn and redeem your points as per usual, as they haven’t been discontinued altogether.
It remains to be seen what will happen to HSBC’s suite of cards, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated with any further developments.