Review: HSBC World Elite Mastercard

This card has been discontinued and is unable to be applied for (11/2023).

Do you like to travel? Do you like earning and redeeming flexible rewards points? Do you hate foreign transaction 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. 

Let’s take a look at our HSBC World Elite Mastercard review to see if you should be adding this premium travel credit card to your wallet.

Overview

Welcome Bonus

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offers a tiered welcome bonus of 50,000 HSBC Rewards points, which is worth an estimated $250 when redeemed for travel. The bonus is structured as:

  • Welcome bonus of 20,000 HSBC Rewards points ($100 value)
  • Earn 30,000 HSBC Rewards points when you spend $1,000 within 60 days of account opening ($150 value)
HSBC World Elite Mastercard

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 Mastercard review for more details.

This card has been discontinued and is unable to be applied for (11/2023).

BONUS
0 HSBC Rewards
MINSPEND
$0
NET VALUE
$-149+
ANNUAL FEE
$149
FOREX FEES
No
EXPIRY

The $149 annual fee is also rebated for the first year and the card offers a $100 Travel Enhancement Credit (explained below). This offer is scheduled to end on September 29, 2023.

Earning Rates

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. 

Annual Fee

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard has an annual fee of $149. However, it is often rebated as part of the welcome offer, so ensure you always read the terms of the current offer carefully.

Benefits

$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 opening 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.

HSBC Rewards portal dropdown for Travel Enhancement Credit

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 towards the booking, 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, you will 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. This also makes the HSBC World Elite Mastercard one of the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada.

Free Boingo WiFi Access

Boingo Wi-Fi for Mastercard Cardholders - complimentary free Wifi on Westjet and other select airlines

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.

Insurance Coverage

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 InsuranceCoverage AmountCoverage Duration
Worldwide Emergency Travel Medical Insurance$1,000,000 per person31 days
Baggage Loss Insurance$750 per person and a maximum of $500 per item
Baggage Delay Insurance$200 per trip12 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 Insurance31 days, consecutive
Purchase AssuranceMaximum lifetime liability of $60,000 per account (Assurance + Extended Warranty)90 days from the purchase date
Extended Warranty InsuranceMaximum 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.

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 Towards 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 provider 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 HSBC Rewards to Other Airline Loyalty Programs

What makes HSBC Rewards points even more flexible is their ability to be transferred to other partner loyalty programs, including British Airways Avios, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

Transfer partners for HSBC Rewards - Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles, and British Airways Executive Club Avios

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 Cards to the HSBC World Elite Mastercard

One of the rare benefits of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard card is that it has no foreign currency or foreign transaction fees. When making purchases internationally, this benefit will save you 2.5% per transaction, so it can definitely add up. Credit cards that offer this benefit in Canada are few and far between, but there are a couple of cards that you might want to consider if the HSBC World Elite Mastercard doesn’t fit your lifestyle.

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card is a good choice if you only want a single credit card for travel abroad as it has no foreign transaction fees and Visa typically has higher merchant acceptance internationally. The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite also comes with 6 complimentary lounge passes.

Apply Now Learn More Earn $60 in FlyerFunds upon approval.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card earns Scene+ Rewards points and offers cardholders benefits such as no foreign transaction fees and six complimentary airport lounge access passes annually.

Check out our Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card review for more details.

In 2024, we awarded this card as the Best Foreign Transaction Credit Card.

BONUS
40,000 Scene+
MINSPEND
$40,000
NET VALUE
$400+
ANNUAL FEE
$150 (FYF)
FOREX FEES
No
EXPIRY
Jul 1, 2024

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Alternatively, the Scotiabank Gold American Express credit card has no FX fees and is a great card for grocery purchases. However, if you are using this card while traveling, American Express typically does have lower merchant acceptance internationally so ensure you have another Visa or Mastercard on hand, just in case.

Apply Now Learn More Earn $75 in FlyerFunds upon approval.
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card earns Scene+ Rewards points and gives cardholders the opportunity to earn 5x Scene+ points on grocery, restaurant, and entertainment purchases. This card charges no foreign exchange fees.

Check out our Scotiabank Gold American Express card review for more details.

BONUS
40,000 Scene+
MINSPEND
$7,500
NET VALUE
$280+
ANNUAL FEE
$120
FOREX FEES
No
EXPIRY
Jul 1, 2024

American Express Platinum Card

As far as lounge access is concerned, there are many better options than the HSBC World Elite credit card for getting into airport lounges for free as I personally wouldn’t pay US$32 to access an airport lounge. The American Express Platinum card is one of those cards, as it offers full access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, including American Express Centurion Lounges.

American Express Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum card earns Membership Rewards and offers cardholders a variety of benefits including an annual $200 travel credit, complimentary airport lounge access, an annual $200 dining credit, and instant elite status with many hotel loyalty programs.

In 2024, we awarded this card as the Best Credit Card for Airport Lounge Access.

BONUS
100,000 Membership Rewards
MINSPEND
$10,000
NET VALUE
$1,401+
ANNUAL FEE
$799
FOREX FEES
Yes
EXPIRY

Conclusion

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is a solid credit card for travel and in general as it offers no foreign transaction fees coupled with a flexible points program (redeem for travel credit or transfer to airline loyalty program partners). As a Mastercard, it will be accepted nearly anywhere (including Costco in Canada). The rate at which the card earns HSBC Rewards points for travel is great (6 points per dollar or 3%) and good for all other eligible purchases (3 points per dollar or 1.5%). 

The $100 annual travel enhancement credit offsets most of the annual fee, so this card can be a great addition to your portfolio as a long-term keeper card.

My main gripe with the card is the redemption increment restrictions. With the 25,000 HSBC Rewards minimum redemption, 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. This can be a bit of an inconvenience but can be resolved with careful redemption planning.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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+).  

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.

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).

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.

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 redemption options.

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.

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!

Reed Sutton

Reed Sutton

Founder at Frugal Flyer
Reed is addicted to the art of earning and redeeming travel points, and frequently pairs his trips with his other hobby: photography. Through Frugal Flyer, Reed aims to distill some of the complex and esoteric points strategies into digestible information. Furthermore, he hopes to use his technical expertise to develop invaluable applications and tools for the travel community.

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