The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is probably the most underrated travel credit card in Canada.
I don’t understand why more people aren’t talking about this credit card!
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is the best no foreign transaction fee credit card in Canada, has amazing points that can be transferred to some of the best airline partner programs in the world, and comes with a yearly $100 travel enhancement credit. The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is an underrated gem and a credit card most Canadians can benefit from adding to their wallet.
The biggest selling feature for me is the no foreign transaction fee!
You may or may not know but nearly every Canadian credit card charges you an additional 2.5% in a foreign transaction fee on top of the currency conversion fee.
This is 2.5% that is going directly into the pocket of your credit card issuer and either Visa or Mastercard depending on the card. American Express also charges you a 2.5% foreign transaction fee on all of their credit cards. Yes. That includes the Amex Platinum!
2.5% may not sound like a lot, but it adds up quickly if you make a lot of purchases that aren’t in Canadian dollars.
There aren’t many credit cards in Canada that offer this feature, and there is no better card on the market that does than the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
I honestly adore this card, and it has a place in my wallet as well!
If you haven’t heard of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, buckle up because you’re about to fall in love!
There is a lot to love about the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
It comes with a variety of perks that really benefit you the user- especially when you travel. The card has practical perks, and that is just one of the things to love about it.
Here are some of the top perks that come with the HSCB World Elite Mastercard:
- 20,000 HSBC reward points as a sign-up bonus
- 6 points for every $1 spent on travel-related expenses
- 3 points for every $1 spent on every other purchase
- No foreign transaction fee
- Yearly $100 travel enhancement credit
- Free wifi provided by Boingo
- 10% off eligible Expedia and Agoda purchases made through the HSBC website
I told you there was a lot to love about the HSBC World Elite Mastercard and that the perks benefited you a lot!
Pros and Cons of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
- Amazing bonuses and perks
- No foreign transaction fee
- Mastercard is widely accepted world wide
- High minimum income requirement
- High annual fee
- HSBC can be a bit difficult to deal with at times
You earn HSBC Rewards with this credit card.
HSBC Rewards in and of themselves aren’t that useful, but the beauty of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is you have the ability to transfer your HSCB Rewards to three partner airline programs.
You can transfer your HSBC Rewards to British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, or Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles.
These are three of the best airline points out there, and it is in your best interest to transfer your HSBC Rewards to one of these three programs.
I’ll go into the transfer and redemption process a bit later in this section and explain how it all works.
Out of those three airline programs, my preference is British Airways Avios.
It is the program that works best for me and my travel style, but you have to do your own research to figure out what program is best for you.
The sign-up bonus on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is 20,000 HSBC Rewards points.
That is equivalent to $100 worth of travel, but you can often get more value out of it when you transfer your points to a partner program!
You get your 20,000 points after you make your first purchase with the card! No minimum spend required!
This is a pretty good sign-up bonus. Especially when you take into account you don’t have to hit a minimum spend to earn the sign-up bonus!
Sometimes HSBC runs promotions where there is a larger sign-up bonus that is awarded in stages. Part after your first purchase and the rest after hitting a minimum spend.
If you apply for and get the card during one of those promotions, be prepared to wait 6 months before the points you earn after hitting the minimum spend are added to your account.
You will receive the points you are awarded after your first purchase within a few weeks.
The earning structure on this card is pretty straightforward and easy to remember.
You earn 6 points per $1 spent on travel and 3 points per $1 spent on anything else.
The travel category includes the standard flights and hotels but also includes things like cruises, train tickets, tour tickets, and even the cost of a travel agent!
Using the HSBC World Elite Mastercard for travel purchases is the quickest way to earn HSBC Rewards, but you earn them pretty quickly when you make everyday purchases as well.
Essentially, you earn 3% back in HSBC Rewards for travel purchases and 1.5% back in points for non-travel purchases.
It is super easy to redeem your HSBC Rewards, but deciding how to redeem your points is where it gets more difficult.
There are three ways to redeem HSBC Rewards
- For travel-related expenses directly through the HSBC portal
- For merchandise or gift cards directly through the HSBC portal
- Transferring HSBC Rewards to a partner program and redeem points through the airline’s portal
Redeeming for travel directly through hsbc
Even though it isn’t the best use of your points, HSBC did a great job in making is super easy and painless to redeem points for travel through their portal.
It is fully customizable, and you can redeem your points for any eligible travel expense including all the expenses listed in the points earning section of this post!
A lot of rewards programs only let your redeem points for flights and/or hotels, so the HSBC Rewards system is a welcome change.
It is quite similar to the way Scotiabank does it if you’re familiar with their platform.
All you have to do to redeem your HSBC Rewards for travel is:
- Make an eligible travel purchase on your HSBC World Elite Mastercard
- Log into your HSBC account and head over to the rewards portal and click the travel link in the redeem now drop down menu
- Click on the purchases you want to use your points on and click redeem.
- The expenses will be refunded as a statement credit, and the points will be deducted from your points bank
Really important information you NEED to know:
YOU HAVE TO LOG IN AND REDEEM YOUR POINTS WITHIN 60 DAYS OF MAKING YOUR ELIGIBLE TRAVEL PURCHASE.
You can not apply points to any purchase older than 60 days.
Make sure you keep track of the travel purchases you want to redeem your points for and redeem your points before the 60 day time period is over.
You snooze. You lose!
REDEeming for merchandise and gift cards
This one is easy and really straightforward.
You simply log into your HSBC account and navigate to the redeem page.
From there, you browse through the merchandise and gift cards available and select whatever looks most attractive to you.
That’s all you have to do, and you’ll have your products in no time.
Or in a long time depending on how slow Canada Post is at any given moment. I’m looking at you the tights I ordered three weeks ago that were shipped from Calgary and still haven’t arrived in Edmonton.
transferring points to a partner program
This is the good stuff and the point where you should zone back in and pay attention!
Most people who get the HSCB World Elite Mastercard are either travel hacking enthusiast or are loyal to HSBC as a bank. I don’t know anybody who is loyal to HSBC, so I’m going to assume you’re all here to get the most out of this credit card.
And you do that by transferring your HSBC Rewards to a partner airline program.
You have to transfer HSBC Rewards in increments of 25,000 points. Either 25,000, 50,000 75,000 etc. No 20,000 or anything other than 25,000 HSBC Rewards.
The process is very simple, but it does require a few steps:
- Make sure you have an account with the airline partner you’re transferring points to
- Log into your HSBC rewards portal and click Rewards for Miles from the drop down list
- Choose what partner program you want to transfer miles to
- Fill in the required information (including your points number from the partner program) and submit your request
- Always keep a record of the transfer in the unlikely scenario that something goes wrong. It hardly ever happens, but it is best to be prepared in case you have the worst luck
The process to transfer your HSBC Rewards to a partner program is very easy, and HSBC makes it very user-friendly.
There are no hoops to jump through, and the process is clearly laid out and easy to follow.
It will probably take a few days for your points to show up in the partner program’s account. Be patient. If they aren’t there within a week, contact HSBC to see what is going on.
Each program has a different redemption rate, and it is important to know what you’re getting in return when you make the transfer.
The HSBC points portal does a good job in highlighting what you get with your 25,000 HSBC Rewards, but he’s a recap, so you don’t have to open a new browser window (you’re welcome).
|HSBC Rewards||British Airways Avios||Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles||Cathay Pacific Asia Miles|
Your 25,000 HSBC Rewards gets you:
- 10,000 British Airways Avios or
- 9,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles or
- 8,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
If you have more points to redeem, obviously just do the simple math to figure out how many of the partner miles you get in return.
HSBC runs a promotion on British Airways Avios miles once or twice a year where you get 35% to 50% bonus miles when you transfer your HSBC Rewards to Avios.
Wait for this promotion to transfer your points, and you will get even more value out of the card!
Best Way to Redeem Your HSBC Rewards
Without a doubt the best way to redeem your HSBC Rewards is to transfer them to a partner airline program.
Specifically, transfer them to British Airways Avios.
It is the most versatile partner program, and it has some of the best sweet spots out there.
I personally like to use my Avios for short-haul flights that cost way more than I’m willing to pay cash for.
Another great option is to use them for flights from Eastern Canada to Western Europe on either British Airways or Aer Lingus.
The value is extraordinary!
Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles would be my next best choice, but I personally think the Asia Miles redemption prices are way too high, and there are better programs out there.
If you’re looking for a sneaky way to use points to fly on Cathay Pacific, look into Alaska Airline miles.
Even though the best use of your points is to transfer them to a partner airline program, it is better to use your miles for anything than to let them go to waste.
A lot of the travel hacking conversation centres around getting the most value per point, but we often forget that using your points for anything is good too.
I see so many people fret over how to maximize their points that they get overwhelmed and don’t do anything with them.
The points just sit in a person’s point bank and collect dust until they potentially expire.
If you’re new to travel hacking and are just learning the ropes, you may not feel comfortable transferring your HSBC Rewards to a partner program.
That is okay!
Simply put travel expenses on your HSBC World Elite Mastercard and redeem your points for a statement credit.
It is as easy as that, and you’re using your points and not lettering them go to waste
Any use of your points is better than never using your points.
Worst Way to Redeem Your HSBC Rewards
The worst way to redeem your HSBC Rewards is using them to purchase merchandise or gift cards.
Plain and simple.
You don’t get nearly as much value per point as you do when you transfer them to a partner program or even redeem them for transfer through HSBC directly.
You should exhaust all other options before resorting to redeeming your HSBC Rewards for merchandise or gift cards.
The annual fee on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is $149.
That is fairly steep, but it is worth it in the first year since you get the $100 travel enhancement credit and the sign-up bonus.
You have to decide in years two and beyond whether or not you get enough value out of the card to pay the annual fee.
You get the $100 travel enhancement credit each year you hold the card, so you have to decide if not having a foreign transaction fee is worth paying $49 in an annual fee for.
It depends on you and your travel style and needs. I can’t tell you whether it is worthwhile to keep the HSBC World Elite Mastercard past the first year or not.
I will tell you that it is one of the only credit cards in Canada that doesn’t charge the 2.5% foreign transaction fee.
If you spend a lot of money in a currency other than Canadian dollars, it is probably worthwhile make the HSBC World Elite Mastercard a keeper card.
If, on the other hand, you travel an average amount or a bit above average, you may not save $49 by not have the foreign transaction fee.
You also have to take into consideration the points you aren’t earning on other credit cards when you choose to use the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
It can become a bit complicated to figure out whether or not you should keep a credit card past the first year. It really comes down to how much you like the card and how much value you find in the card.
Sometimes HSBC runs promotions where they rebate the first year’s annual fee.
It isn’t a standard feature of their card, but they offer this perk a few times per year.
The best time to get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is when they are running this promotion because they normally bump up the sign-up bonus points as well!
HSBC has the following qualification requirements to be eligible for the HSCB World Elite Mastercard:
- Be a Canadian resident
- Be the age of majority in your home province
- Have a personal income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000 or have $400,000 in liquid assets held at a Canadian bank
Pretty intense hey!
If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I hate when banks have such high and unattainable minimum income requirements.
I understand banks have them to (in theory) protect themselves from having people default on their purchases.
Someone who makes a lot of money can be super irresponsible with their credit cards and someone who is underpayed by their employer can be really responsible with their credit.
Your income level does not have anything to do with how good or bad you are with credit.
Minimum income requirements that well exceed Canada’s median income level (as this one does) are elitist, classist, and discriminate against single people, women, and people of colour.
Who Should Get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
People who spend a lot of money in a currency other than Canadian dollars can benefit from the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
2.5% may not sound like a lot, but it adds up over time.
I think it is also a great card for travel hackers who have cycled through the most popular travel credit cards (mostly offered by American Express) and are looking for a way to top up their points balance.
You can transfer your HSBC Rewards to three great partner programs, and the transfer ratios are pretty fair.
If you love British Airways Avios (I do!) and have gone through the American Express cards and RBC British Airways Visa Infinite, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is next in line to earn those sweet, sweet points.
Who Should NOT Get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
Anybody who doesn’t spend much money in a currency other than Canadian dollars or who won’t redeem the $100 travel enhancement credit should not get this credit card.
It won’t be worth the price you pay in the annual fee.
Unless you apply during a promotion when the annual fee is waived.
There is no downside to getting the HSBC World Elite Mastercard during one of those promotions even if you don’t use the travel enhancement credit.
Alternative Credit Cards
Whew! That was a long one.
You now know everything you need to know to decide whether the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is the card for you!
I think in the first year, it is a no-brainer to apply for the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
The benefits you receive exceed the cost of the annual fee.
This becomes even more true if you transfer your HSBC Rewards to a partner program and take advantage of the sweet spots each partner program has.
I don’t like the high minimum income requirement on the card, but that is basically the only downside to this card.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard isn’t as good as most American Express cards.
I would target those cards before applying for the HSBC World Elite Mastercard. If you’ve already worked your way through the Amex cards you like, then this is a solid card and should be next on your list of credit cards to get!