I’ve written a lot about my favourite credit cards in Canada. The best ultra-premium credit card is still the American Express Platinum, with exceedingly better travel benefits in any dimension. However, it looks like there’s a new MasterCard that’s very neat – the (new) HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard. There are benefits that make this card unique in the Canadian marketplace.
HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard – Details
The annual fee is $149. However, you get a $50 rebate as an HSBC Premier client, and an annual $100 travel credit valid for seat upgrades, baggage fees, and airport lounge passes. If you don’t have HSBC Premier, there’s currently a huge $500 signup bonus to get one. I assume that it operates similarly to the AMEX travel credit in the US, where anything from a gift card to taxes on award tickets count. I would think that the credit is pretty much worth face value. As well, this card also has a Boingo membership. It’s the first card that I’ve seen in Canada that has this feature. I’m very picky about my internet speeds, so this is especially worth it when it comes to airports that only have pay-to-use wifi or a premium speed tier.
First, this card has NO Transaction Fees. For a card that effectively has no annual fee, it is by far the best Canadian credit card for foreign purchases.
You earn 3 HSBC World Elite Reward points per dollar. This translates to a 1.5% return in travel rewards. You can apply your points as statement credit with any travel charge, like the Scotiabank Gold American Express. I dislike programs (like BMO) that require you to go through their own travel agency, because you lose discounts and benefits that you lose when doing that. One is such as the ability to redeem points for taxes and fees on Aeroplan or Avios tickets, for example.
What’s also interesting is their airline transfer partners. From the call center agents I’ve spoken with (so take this with a grain of salt), 25,000 HSBC Rewards points transfer to 8,000 Asia Miles, 9,000 Singapore Krisflyer Miles, and 10,000 British Airways Avios. You earn 3 points on everyday purchases, so this works out to 1.08 Krisflyer miles or 1.2 Avios per dollar. The fact that you can earn Krisflyer with this card is very exciting, since there are no other cards other than the SPG Personal American Express (review) or SPG Business American Express.
Furthermore, you earn 6 points per dollar (3% in travel rewards) for eligible travel purchases. Other than the AMEX Gold Rewards Card, 2x on travel is the highest bonus available, to the best of my knowledge. But what makes this card substantially different from any other premium card is that there are no foreign transactions fees on this card on any purchases. As the rewards are doubled on travel expenses, earning 2.16 Krisflyer or 2.4 Avios per Canadian dollar is very impressive given how lackluster our credit card market is.
Furthermore, some people also say that MasterCard has better conversion rates than Visa, which I tend to agree with. What makes it different other no foreign transaction fee cards is that you’re actually earning rewards that are of value – for example instead of 1 Marriott point per dollar. This also makes a difference when charging foreign currency purchases for travel insurance. The card has the standard baggage delay, trip cancellation, car rental, and emergency travel insurance that most premium cards with foreign exchange fees have. Some coverage is better than other cards, others worse, but they average out.
This is nothing like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Not even close. But, in comparison to the average Canadian premium card with a $100-150 fee, I think the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard overall is a major improvement. The downside is that there’s no signup bonus, and that you have to apply in-branch. But that’s not the point. It is simply exciting that this card has added benefits critical to customer satisfaction (over fees, rewards, etc.) and that are conducive to gaining market share.
Do you think that the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard is worth getting?