Do you like to travel? Do you like earning and redeeming flexible rewards points? Do you hate fees? Then the HSBC World Elite Mastercard might be a credit card to consider.
The World Elite card from HSBC is a phenomenal card for avid travelers, with strong earning rates on travel purchases, and comprehensive travel insurance, in addition to being one of the only cards in Canada with no foreign currency transaction fees.
Read on to find out if you should be adding this premium travel credit card to your collection.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offers a tiered welcome bonus of 80,000 HSBC Rewards points, which is worth an estimated $400 when redeemed for travel. The bonus is structured as:
- Welcome bonus of 20,000 points ($100 value)
- 40,000 points when you spend $6,000 within 6 months of account opening ($200 value)
- 20,000 points as an anniversary bonus ($100 value)
The $149 annual fee is also rebated for the first year (for non-Quebec residents only).
Alternatively, the offer is higher for Quebec residents at 100,000 HSBC Rewards points total, structured as:
- Welcome bonus of 20,000 points ($100 value)
- 70,000 HSBC Rewards points after keeping your account open for six months ($350 value)
- 20,000 points as an anniversary bonus ($100 value)
However, there is no first-year annual fee rebate on the Quebec offer.
Both offers do come with a $100 Travel Enhancement Credit (explained below).
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard earns HSBC Rewards points and offers cardholders benefits including an annual $100 travel enhancement credit* and free Boingo Wifi membership.
For 2023, we selected this card as the Best Foreign Transaction Credit Card.
Check out our HSBC World Elite review for more details about this card.
80,000 HSBC Rewards
Although we have previously seen better offers on this card as high as 100,000 points, the current 80,000 offer with FYF is decent, with a combined first-year net value of $400 for Quebec non-residents (60,000 points + $100 travel credit).
You can also combine this with a cash back rebate from Frugal Flyer. Check out the HSBC Credit Card Rebates page to learn more about the current rebate available for this card.
$100 Travel Enhancement Credit
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard comes with a $100 Travel Enhancement credit, which can be used towards eligible airline baggage fees, airline seat upgrades, or airport lounge pass purchases.
The credit will be automatically available when your credit card is first issued and will be renewed annually on the anniversary of your account open date. The credit must be used within one year.
You must charge the eligible travel purchases to your HSBC credit card. Then you can redeem the credit against them by submitting a redemption request. To do so, log in to your HSBC online account and click “Redeem Your Points Here”. Then select the “Redeem Now” dropdown, and click on “Travel Enhancement Credit”. On the next screen, eligible charges that you can apply the credit towards will appear.
The definition of ‘eligible travel purchases’ is quite lax for the annual Travel Enhancement credit. People on RedFlagDeals report no issue using the refundable hotel trick to book a refundable hotel on Expedia, apply the credit, and then cancel the hotel booking to liquidate the $100 into a statement credit.
Zero Foreign Transaction Fees
Credit cards with no foreign transaction fees are a rarity in Canada. With the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, pay no foreign transaction fees, only the exchange rate set by Mastercard for the currencies being converted.
This means that you will save 2.5% on all foreign currency conversion charges whether they occur when traveling outside of Canada or for online shopping purchases.
Free Boingo WiFi Access
As with all World Elite credit cards, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard comes with unlimited access to WiFii at Boingo hotspots around the world. Importantly, Boingo membership can be used to access free WiFi on WestJet flights, as well as other select airlines. You can sign up for Boingo through the World Elite-specific link.
LoungeKey Lounge Program Membership
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard grants a complimentary membership in the Mastercard LoungeKey program for the primary cardholder. Authorized users of your HSBC World Elite will also get complimentary LoungeKey membership.
Unfortunately, you still have to pay for each individual airport lounge visit as this card does not include airport lounge passes. Each visit will cost $32 USD per person. If you are interested in lounge access, it would be worth looking at other credit cards which offer complimentary airport lounge access not only for the primary cardholder but for their guests as well.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offers a plethora of strong insurance benefits.
This includes worldwide emergency medical insurance for up to 31 days per trip for yourself, your spouse, and any dependent children traveling with you, up to $1,000,000 per insured person. This coverage is not extended to those over the age of 65 or for trips to Cuba.
The card offers insurance on baggage delay/loss, including loss or damage, theft, burglary, and fire or transportation hazards during the trip, as well as trip cancellation, interruption, and delay. For the latter, you must charge at least 75% of eligible expenses to your card. Covered events include death, injury, or illness of yourself, or your immediate family.
Car rental insurance covered by the card includes Car Rental Collision/Loss Damage, as well as Personal Effects and Car Rental Accidental Death and Dismemberment. To be eligible, you must charge at least 75% of the cost of the rental vehicle to your HSBC World Elite Mastercard and decline the rental agency’s collision or loss damage waiver.
Finally, purchase protection provides coverage in the event of loss, damage, or theft for 90 days from the purchase date and extended warranty coverage doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for a maximum of one additional year. The FULL cost of the item must be charged to the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
|Type of Insurance||Amount||Duration|
|Worldwide Emergency Travel Medical Insurance||$1,000,000 per person||31 days|
|Baggage Loss Insurance||$750 per person and a maximum of $500 per item||–|
|Baggage Delay Insurance||$200 per trip||12 hours delayed by carrier|
|Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption/Delay Insurance||$2,000 per insured person, to a maximum of $5,000 per trip||–|
|Car Rental Insurance||–||31 days, consecutive|
|Purchase Assurance||Maximum lifetime liability of $60,000 per account (Assurance + Extended Warranty)||90 days from the purchase date|
|Extended Warranty Insurance||Maximum lifetime liability of $60,000 per account (Assurance + Extended Warranty)||Double original warranty, to a maximum of one year|
Refer to the HSBC World Elite certificate of insurance for complete details and conditions.
Earning HSBC Reward Points
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard earns HSBC Rewards points for all purchases made on the card at the following rates:
- 6 HSBC Rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible travel purchases (up to $50,000 per calendar year).
- 4 HSBC Rewards points for every dollar spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases.
- 2 HSBC Rewards points for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
HSBC Rewards points can be redeemed at a rate of 0.5 cents per point, or 200 points for every $1 CAD. This means on travel purchases, the HSBC World Elite earns effectively 3% return, 2% on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases, and 1% on all other purchases.
Redeeming HSBC Reward Points
The HSBC Rewards program allows members to redeem points for travel rewards, a statement credit, gift cards, and merchandise. However, the value of redeeming for anything aside from travel is quite poor and not recommended.
Alternatively, HSBC Rewards points can be transferred out to other points programs for potentially very good value.
When doing an HSBC Rewards redemption, there is a minimum quantity you must redeem, as follows:
- A minimum of 25,000 HSBC Rewards points must be redeemed
- On top of the 25,000 minimum, HSBC Rewards points may be redeemed in increments of 10,000 points
So you can redeem 25,000 points, 35,000 points, 45,000 points, and so on. This makes redeeming a bit awkward but this is how the program is set up.
Redeeming HSBC Rewards directly for travel purchases
As mentioned, HSBC Rewards points can be redeemed for credit towards travel purchases at a rate of 0.5 cents per point (ie. each point is worth $0.005, or 10,000 points is worth $50).
Redeeming points this way is very flexible and works similarly to redeeming TD points and CIBC Aventura points for self-directed travel. You can book with any travel providers such as airlines, hotels, Airbnbs, car rental companies, and so on – then redeem your HSBC Rewards points against the purchase through the HSBC Rewards Portal.
Note that when redeeming points this way you must redeem within 60 days of the purchase posting to your account.
Transfer to other points programs
What makes HSBC Rewards points even more flexible is their ability to be transferred to other partner loyalty programs, including British Airways Executive Club, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
Transfer HSBC points to these programs at the following rates:
- 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 10,000 British Airways Executive Club Avios
- 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 9,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles
- 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 8,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
HSBC Rewards can only be transferred to other programs in chunks of 25,000 points, unfortunately.
Comparable Credit Cards to the HSBC World Elite
There aren’t a lot of competitive credit cards that offer no foreign currency exchange fees in Canada. An option for another Mastercard would be the Brim Financial World Elite, however, HSBC does offer a stronger welcome bonus.
Alternatively, the Scotiabank Gold American Express credit card has no FX fees, nor does the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite. The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite may be a better choice if you only want a single credit card for travel abroad as Amex has lower merchant acceptance. The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite also comes with 6 complimentary lounge passes.
Related: Foreign Currency for Travel Abroad
As far as lounge access is concerned, there are many better options than the HSBC World Elite credit card for getting into airport lounges. I personally wouldn’t pay US$32 to access an airport lounge, especially when you can get in for free easily with premium American Express cards, as well as first-year free cards like CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite and TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is a solid credit card for travel and in general. No foreign transaction fees coupled with a flexible points program (travel credit or airline partner transfers). As a Mastercard, it will be accepted nearly anywhere (including Costco in Canada). Earning rates for travel are great (6 points per dollar or 3%) and for everything else are good (3 points per dollar or 1.5%).
The $100 annual travel enhancement credit offsets most of the annual fee, so this card is amenable to both being churned or added to your portfolio as a keeper card.
My main gripe with the card is the redemption increment restrictions. With the 25,000 minimum, you can end up stuck in a spot where you have thousands of points or up to $100+ of value tied up until you earn more points. A bit of an inconvenience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who qualifies for the HSBC World Elite Mastercard?
World Elite Mastercards are a premium credit card product and have strict requirements, including a personal income requirement of at least $80,000 or a household income of at least $150,000.
Is the HSBC World Elite Mastercard hard to get?
In general, World Elite cards are harder to get due to income requirements. With HSBC in particular, you will want to have at minimum a good credit score (700+), and ideally an excellent one (750+).
What credit agency does HSBC use to pull your credit score?
HSBC states on their website that they obtain credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion. While this means they likely have the ability to pull from either, in practice, it has been observed that HSBC usually pulls from Equifax only.
How do I redeem HSBC Rewards points in Canada?
HSBC Rewards points can be redeemed for travel, a statement credit, gift cards, products, and experiences, through the HSBC Rewards online dashboard. Travel purchases generally grant the best redemption value where 10,000 points are worth $50 (0.5 ‘cents per point’). Travel purchases are purchases made from merchants that are classified as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, and so on.
You can also transfer HSBC Rewards in chunks of 25,000 to three other airline programs: British Airways Executive Club (25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 10,000 Avios), Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 9,000 miles), and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 8,000 miles).
Do HSBC Rewards points expire?
HSBC Reward points do not expire as long as your account is in good standing. HSBC reserves the right to close your account at any time. If you close your account without redeeming your points then they will be forfeited.
Can I buy additional HSBC Rewards points for a redemption?
Yes, you can buy additional points as a top-up. This option is available at checkout from the rewards portal if you don't have enough points for a selected item. However, this option is not available for any cash equivalent redemptions options.
Can HSBC Reward points be converted to cash?
Yes HSBC Rewards points can be redeemed for a statement credit at a value of 0.3 CPP or 333 points = $1. However, a better way to convert HSBC Rewards to cash is using the refundable hotel method. You can convert at the travel rate of 0.5 CPP by booking a refundable hotel, redeeming HSBC Rewards towards it, and then canceling the hotel for a full refund.
Is the HSBC World Elite Mastercard worth it?
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is a good credit card for travel purchases, earning effectively a 3% return on spend (assuming earned HSBC Rewards points are redeemed for travel). The HSBC World Elite also has no foreign transaction fees, a strong insurance offering, free Boingo WiFi membership, and an annual $100 travel enhancement credit. It is definitely a credit card worth considering!
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