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While the Membership Rewards programme from American Express is probably the most valuable ‘transferrable currency’ in the UK, HSBC also offers a rewards programme with great flexibility to move points to some of your favourite programmes.
Points can be earned through HSBC’s credit cards like the Premier World Elite Credit Card. However, this card has extremely restrictive eligibility requirements, which will exclude many hopeful travellers from applying.
Who Is This Card For?
First, the bad news. You need to have some serious investment with HSBC before the issuer will even consider you for this card. In order to apply, you need to have an HSBC Premier current banking account, which by itself does not sound onerous, but the requirements for opening this bank account are:
- A minimum of £50,000 held with HSBC, either in a savings account, or otherwise invested; or
- A ‘mortgage, investment, life insurance or protection product’ with HSBC and a minimum annual income of £75,000, which is more than twice the UK median income.
This card is squarely aimed at high-net-worth individuals who likely already have some serious money invested with HSBC.
Sign-Up Bonus and Annual Fee
As a premium card, there is a £195 annual fee. Fortunately, this is offset by a generous 40,000 HSBC Reward points after spending £2,000 in the first 90 days you hold the card.
You will also earn a further bonus of 40,000 HSBC points when you spend £12,000 on the card in the first 12 months (so £1,000 per month).
Representative rate: 59.3% APR variable and a purchase rate of 18.9% per annum variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.
Purchases on this card earn HSBC Reward points, which are their own unique currency.
You will earn a generous 2 HSBC points per £1 spent on local purchases, and 4 HSBC points per £1 spent in foreign currencies. However, there is a 2.99% foreign transaction fee for all purchases in foreign currencies, which largely cancels out the points earned with foreign currency bonus category.
You can transfer HSBC points at a rate of 2:1 to programmes like British Airways Executive Club, Etihad Guest and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. So, the earn rate is effectively 1 airline point/mile per £1 spent on local purchases, which is an excellent rate for a non-American Express card.
If you spent £12,000 on GBP purchases in the first twelve months, you would receive a total of 104,000 HSBC points — two 40,000-point bonuses plus 24,000 for the 2 points per £1 spend rate. You could then convert those HSBC points into, 52,000 Avios, which are worth £624 based on TPG UK’s latest valuations. Overall, that’s a great value for putting non-foreign purchases on the card.
Oddly, unlike the basic HSBC Premier Credit Card that does not charge an annual fee, there is no 0% interest on balance transfers or purchases. Instead, this card charges an 18.9% annual balance transfer and purchases rate.
The card comes with a premium LoungeKey membership, which is similar to the Priority Pass program, with complimentary membership to more than 750 airport lounges worldwide. It also comes with iPass, which grants cardholders access to millions of Wi-Fi networks in more than 120 countries.
Cardholders will also get up to three supplementary cards for £60 (total) each year, with all three receiving the same premium LoungeKey membership, which is a really valuable perk if travelling with family.
Which Cards Compete With This Card?
There is a no-annual-fee version of this card, which doesn’t have any sign-up bonus but still has the onerous eligibility requirements.
If you can meet the £12,000 spend in the first 12 months, then this World Elite Mastercard may be a better option because it comes with a huge haul of HSBC points that can be converted to a generous amount of airline points/miles.
The strict eligibility requirements will immediately exclude many people from applying for this card. But HSBC is clearly targeting this at customers who already have significant money with HSBC, or the means (and desire) to do so.
These individuals may be more focused on premium, lucrative American Express cards but American Express isn’t accepted everywhere. If you can meet the £12,000 spend to receive the second amount of bonus points in the first 12 months, this is a solid offering. It becomes even more so if you pair it with a similarly high-earning American Express card for big spenders.
You can apply for this card here.
Featured imgae by Lindarks / Getty Images.
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