The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is a relatively new card in the Canadian market. This is not their 'Premier World Elite' which is meant for people who bank at HSBC but rather this card is for any Canadian and it is essentially the same as the Premier version. When HSBC launched this card in late 2018 it became obvious they didn't want to only market their credit cards to those who bank with them, rather they wanted to get into the entire lucrative Canadian credit card market. It was about time they did as Canadians, slow as they may have been to adapt, are learning they don't have to get credit cards from the bank they bank with, rather they can get whatever card they like and HSBC wants part of that pie.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is a very strong contender in the market with its base rewards offering, benefits and insurance package. Much like its direct competitors this card provides utmost flexibility as it is a hybrid credit card. That is, it has its own proprietary reward program but it also allows you to convert point from the HSBC Rewards program to several airline frequent flyer programs. Here at Rewards Canada, Hybrid Cards (also considered flexiblie points) are our favourite type of credit cards.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard comes with a $149 primary card annual fee. The annual fee is slightly higher than the average seen for most other World Elite Mastercards or Visa Infinite card but not by much as many others have been increasing their fees. Don't let the annual fee sway you in anyway though as the card has lots of benefits to make up for the higher annual fee difference. Supplementary cards run $50 each. Right now, unti February 28, 2023 the welcome bonus on the card is up to 80,000 HSBC Rewards points and your first year free. Those 100,000 points are worth $400 towards any travel.
The interest rate on the card is 19.9% on purchases. 22.9% on cash advances and balance transfers. These rates are competitive with most everyone else on the market. The minimum annual income requirements for the card are $80,000 personal or $150,000 household or $400,000 in assets at any Canadian Financial Institution.
The card earns HSBC Rewards points and earns those points as follows:
|Spending Category||Points earned per dollar spent||Rate of return when booking your own travel||Rate of return Cash Back||Rate of return when converting to airline programs|
|Travel||6||3%||1.8%||3.6% to 12% or higher|
|All other spending||3||1.5%||0.9%||1.8% to 6% or higher|
Points earned on this card are worth 0.5 cents each when redeemed for travel from any travel provider
On the redemption side, the points earned with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard can be redeemed for any travel that is booked with any provider. Simply put, you book the travel where you want and charge it to your card, you can then call up HSBC Rewards or go online to redeem your points against that travel charge. This is the same feature found on quite a few cards in Canada that have their own proprietary rewards program. One thing that does make HSBC's program different than most of the other programs is the fact that this is the only way to redeem for travel with HSBC. HSBC Rewards discontinued their own travel booking service. What this means is that you can go to any travel provider, be it an airline, hotel, all inclusive, travel agency, car rental company, you name it, you book your travel with them. he beauty of this is that you have complete control and flexibility to book the travel you want, on the days you want and choose to pay for a portion or all of it with points. Once the charge shows up you redeem your points against that charge and you may ask what is the points value associated with these redemptions. The value ranges from 1.5% to 3% of your spending, that is the 3 points per dollar you earn on the card for all purchases except for travel is worth 1.5% towards travel. Think of it this way, 1,000 points will be worth a $5 credit towards travel. For travel purchases made on the card the earn rate is double which means you are effectively getting a 3% return.
What's also cool about cards like this one is you don't need any points at time of booking as you have up to 60 days after the charge posts to redeem points against it. Which means you can actually be travelling and make additional bookings while away from home and redeem points for it at a later date.
Related: Not all Travel Points and Hybrid Credit Cards are created equal and Why proprietary credit card reward programs are the best option for most Canadians
Points can also be redeemed for many other non-travel items like merchandise, experiences, gift cards, HSBC financial products and even for any purchases made on the card. HSBC calls this last option their Cash Back Rebate. The cash back rebate option is 25,000 points for a $75 statement credit. That works out to a 0.9% to 1.8% return (based on 3 points for everyday spending and 6 points for travel)
Finally, another huge benefit to the redemption side of this card is the ability to convert to HSBC Rewards Points to various frequent flyer programs. At the time of writing you can convert HSBC Rewards Points to British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. The conversion rates are as follows:
This means the card earns 0.96 to 1.92 Asia Miles per dollar spent, 1.08 to 2.16 KrisFlyer Miles per dollar spent and 1.2 to 2.4 Avios per dollar spent. Those are some pretty good earn rates for these programs. It basically earns more than the RBC British Airways Visa card!
The number one feature of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard that most people will be getting this card for is the No Foreign Transaction fee benefit. Most cards in Canada charge between 2% and 3% on purchases that are made in a foreign currency. This can provide a significant savings if you make a lot of purchases in US$, Euros or any other currency.
Related: No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards for Canadians
Another key benefit of this card is the $100 annual travel enhancement credit. This is a credit that can be used towards travel related charges like seat selection fees, baggage fees, lounge access passes and more. The credit renews on the card anniversary date each year.
On the insurance side of benefits the card has the full slate of coverage that can be expected with a premium travel card. It has the standard Travel Accident, and Car Rental insurance. On top of that it has Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance as well as a really good 31 day out-of-province emergency medical insurance benefit for those up to 65 years old.
As with the majority of World Elite Mastercards in Canada, the card offers Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey. This means you get free membership in LoungeKey which is a lounge access program that is pretty much the same as Priority Pass (they are both run by the same company) While the card covers your annual membership it does not cover the actual lounge visit fees which are currently US$32 per person.
Related: Rewards Canada's Guide to Business Class Lounge Access
Finally another benefit to be aware of with this card is unlimited free Wi-Fi through Boingo at over 1 million hotspots worldwide for up to four devices and this includes several airlines such as WestJet.
The best thing about the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is the no foreign transaction fee benefit. Whether you travel lots outside Canada, shop online a ton from the U.S. or import goods for you business, being able to save 2 to 3% on each transaction is a huge deal.
Related: How to get select Canada to U.S. award flights faster by utilizing British Airways' Executive Club / How you can easily get a free flight between Toronto and Dublin, Ireland (pre taxes/fees) or 4 flights for $240+fees
The annual travel enhancement credit is also a good thing this card comes with as it can provide some nice savings when travelling if you check bags, have to pay for seat assignments (or things like upgrades to Premium on WestJet)
The earn rate for travel expenses on the card is also another good feature of the card. The entire card earn rates of 3 points and 6 points per dollar are especially good if you convert to any of the card's three airline partners as they can provide outsized value when redeeming for business or first class.
The card also has a pretty strong insurance package including trip cancellation and up to 31 days of out of province emergency medical coverage for those under 65 years old.
There isn't too much that is bad about the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, probably our biggest gripe is the earn rate on the card. Don't get us wrong, it's not that bad when you take in to account all the benefits and features of this card, like we've said it's a pretty strong contender but when looking at non-travel spending earn rate only, this card comes up short when you compare it to some other cards. Most people who have this card will be earning 3 points per dollar which translates to a 1.5% return and there are lots of cards that offer more than that for non-travel spending.
The 60 day redemption limit for using points to pay for any travel is on the low end. Competitors of this card offer 90 days, 9 months and even 12 months of time to where you can use points to redeem against a travel charge.
There is no flight delay insurance. Once again most of its competitors have this insurance included that if your flight is delayed (typically 4-6 hours) you can start buying food, etc. and the credit card will reimburse those charges for you.
Finally the annual fees are higher than many comparable cards at $149 versus $120 to $139 and $50 for supplementary cards when similar competitors are offering the first supplementary card for free.
Years ago we wrote a piece on how credit cards in Canada didn't have No Foreign Transaction Fees and why the trend that was seen in the U.S. wasn't seen here. Well that trend is slowly emerging here. Credit card issuers in Canada are finally giving up that piece of the revenue pie that is the Foreign Transaction Fee. Until 2018 there were only a few small players in our market that offered the No FX Fee benefit but we have stated all along that as soon as one major player begins offering No FX Fees we'll see other follow suit. HSBC isn't considered a major player in our market, at least not yet, but that's because of how they used to market their cards. Now that they are after the Canadian public with this card it is bound to change. With this card and Scotia having the No FX Fee Passport Visa Infinite Card it shouldn't be too much longer before we see other major card issuers in Canada head down the no FX fee route as well. In conclusion, this card is great for the person who travels a lot and has a lot of that travel outside of the country. 6 points per dollar on travel spending and no FX fees should really appeal to the international traveller. Not only that, it is a card that should be eyed by someone who makes lots of online purchases from outside of Canada thanks to the no FX fee and also for those looking for utmost in flexibility offered by a hybrid card. All in all this card is a big time contender in our market and that's why we rank it as the fifth best overall travel rewards card in Canada and third best hybrid card.
Special offer: Earn up to 80,000 points* ($400 travel value) PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the primary cardholder for the first year* ($149 value) and receive a $100 annual travel enhancement credit*. Must apply by February 28, 2023. Conditions apply.
• Earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 Points per $1) and earn 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 Points per $1)
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