HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® Review
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Earn rewards on every purchase, including 3% back on your eligible travel purchases and 1.5% back on your other eligible purchases.
- This card comes well equipped with a number of useful travel insurance protections.
- Enjoy flexibility to redeem rewards for travel, gift cards or even credits to your HSBC mortgage account, among other options.
- The annual fee along with a fee for authorized users means you'll need to carefully consider whether the rewards and perks will allow you to offset the fees to carry the card.
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*Before getting started, note that the review below is for a Canadian credit card available only to Canadian citizens. You can find reviews of U.S.-based travel rewards cards here.
The allure of the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® to frequent travelers is evident right from the start. With a 20,000 welcome point offer (worth $100 in travel) for new cardholders, it’s easy to get off to a strong rewards start with this card. On an ongoing basis, cardholders earn 3% back (that's six rewards points) for every $1 spent on travel and 1.5% back (three points) per $1 on your other purchases, with no caps or rotating categories to keep track of. For the right cardholder, it should be easy to offset the $149 annual fee.
The benefits for the travel lover add up with the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®. Earn 3% back (in the form of six points per $1) for travel purchases up to $50,000 spent in a year. "Travel" in this case can include airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, timeshares and anything else classified as "travel" by the Mastercard network. Cardholders also earn 1.5% (in the form of three points per $1) on your other purchases. If you do the math, you find that rewards, especially for frequent travelers, can add up quickly. Furthermore, those rewards can be redeemed with flexibility for travel, gift cards, merchandise or miles. We'll dicuss in more detail below.
Then there is the annual $100 travel enhancement credit, which can be used to cover eligible airline seat upgrades, lounge passes and baggage fees.
Speaking of lounges, cardholders and their authorized users can access a network of LoungeKey airport lounges (for a daily fee).
Cardholders also enjoy enjoy a 10% discount on select hotel bookings with Expedia and Agoda when you book directly through the HSBC Expedia and Agoda websites. There’s also free unlimited WiFi through Boingo with more than 1 million hotspots around the world. Cardholders can connect up to four devices at hotels, airports and other locations as part of this perk.
The above perks alone can more than offset an annual fee on their own, but you also get to figure in your $100 annual travel enhancement credit.
Additional benefits include a program for HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® cardholders that allows up to a $5,000 emergency cash transfer worldwide should you card be lost or stolen, which is nice peace of mind to have when you're far from home
Other travel benefits include 31-day travel medical insurance. If you and your spouse are under the age of 65 — and not traveling in Cuba – it would be covered for up to 31 days of emergency medical coverage for the primary cardholder, the spouse of the primary cardholder and any dependent children. Coverage includes up to $1 million per person per trip.
Although luggage usually arrives at your destination at the same time that you do, we all know that things happen. When something goes awry with your baggage, look to your HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® for coverage. As the primary cardholder, you receive a maximum of $750 per insured person with a maximum of $500 per item. This covers loss or damage, as well as theft, fire or transportation hazards during the trip. You would also be covered up to $200 per trip to purchase necessities if your checked baggage is delayed by the carrier for 12 hours or more. Again, certainly not a perk you hope to ever use, but one that will be nice to have should you need it.
Lastly, though not unimportantly for the everyday use of this card, the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® offers the convenience of Apple Pay® and Tap And Go for those who prefer a contactless payment method – especially handy considering the current health situation.
- Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%
- 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
- 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
- 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
- 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
- Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- Terms Apply.
When it comes to putting your rewards to use, let's just say you have options.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® earn 3% back (in the form of six points per $1 spent) on eligible travel purchases and 1.5% back (in the form of three points per $1 spent) on all other eligible purchases. That's on top of the welcome bonus opportunity of 20,000 points, worth $100 in travel rewards.
Redeeming your rewards for travel provides a ton of flexibility as you simply book your eligible travel via your favorite method – directly with the provider, through a 3rd-party portal (remember you receive 10% off some hotel bookings with Expedia and Agola) or otherwise and then redeem your rewards as a statement credit toward the eligible travel purchase on your HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®.
You also have the option to transfer your points to a few airline partners (contact customer service for the current list of eligible partners as this information is not available on the HSBC website and is subject to change) or redeem points for merchandise, gift cards or "personal finance options," such as a credit to your HSBC mortgage, a statement credit or directly to an HSBC savings account.
As we mentioned at the top, the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® is a Canadian card for Canadian citizens only.
More specifically, it's for Canadian citizens who are of majority age in the province in which they live, and who earn more than $80,000 a year as an individual or $150,000 as a combined household income, or who have $400,000 in managed assets, can apply for this card. If you're looking for reviews of travel rewards cards as a U.S. citizen, you can start here.
Something that jumps out as a negative for some potential HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® members is that other than travel purchases versus everyday purchases, there is no opportunity to boost points on a regular basis. Meaning you won't earn more by eating at restaurants or shopping at grocery stores or filling up your car's tank. There are no rotating categories and no choices, so, with the exception of earning more on travel, you won't maximize points by being choosey with where you use this card.
Remember, the card is designed for the traveler, and the perks are plentiful for those cardholders who will likely offset the annual fee and then some even without specific categories for bonus rewards. If that isn't you, you'll want to consider a different card.
A final downside: in addition to the $149 annual fee for the primary user, there’s a $50 annual fee for each authorized user.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® vs. HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
The differences between these two cards are noticeable after a quick glance at the rates alone. The HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard® has lower annual fees as well as lower APRs. Its annual fee is $25 (and $10 for each authorized user) versus $149 (and $50 for each authorized user) for the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®. And the APR is running at 11.9% versus the 19.9% with the World Elite® card.
The rewards structure is also different. With the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®, members earn two points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment and one point per $1 on everything else. As with the World Elite® card, you can redeem your points for a variety of things, including travel, gift cards and merchandise, but you CAN'T transfer points earned with this card to airline loyalty programs.
Both cards offer contactless purchases.
The choice between these two cards will require you to consider whether you do a lot of your spending on qualifying travel purchases or if earning on dining and entertainment is more likely. Futhermore, consider the rates and fees of both to determine which better fits your budget and needs.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® vs. TD Rewards Visa Card
To start, the TD Rewards Visa offers 10,000 points if you keep your account open, active and in good standing for the first 90 days of your membership (you must apply by Nov. 7, 2020 to take advantage). That’s an equivalent of a $25 gift card. While it’s not as much as the up to 20,000 bonus points you can earn with the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®, it’s still a solid offer – particularly when you consider that the TD Bank card doesn't charge an annual fee.
The TD Rewards Visa offers different points in different categories, which allows you to decide how you spend your money in order to maximize the points you earn. Cardholders earn three points per $1 spent on travel booked through ExpediaforTD.com; two points per $1 on grocery, restaurant, fast food purchases as well as on regularly recurring bills; and one point per $1 spent on other purchases.
This decision may come down to where you spend most of your money as well as your tolerance for an annual fee. Additionally, the TD card does not have an income eligibility limit, so that may also play into your decision.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® vs. TD Cash Back Visa Infinite
The initial benefits of the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card stand out in stark contrast to the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®.
For cardholders who apply by Dec. 6, 2020, the TD card offers 10% cashback on purchases made in the first three months of your account opening, up to $2,000 spent. That means you could earn $200 cash back from that bonus offer alone.
While the TD Bank Cash Back Visa Infinite card does charge a $120 annual fee for the primary user and $50 for the first authorized user (subsequent cards are available at no charge), those fees are both waived for the first year. That savings along with the welcome bonus opportunity make the card quite attractive.
Income eligibility requirements are similar between the two cards, so the decision likely comes down to whether you want to earn points with the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® or cash back with the TD Bank Cash Back Visa Infinite card. With the TD Infinite card, members earn 3% cash back on grocery purchases, gas purchases and on regularly recurring bill payments that are set up on the account. Earn 1% cash back on your other eligible purchases.
Even though it's a cash back rewards card, the TD card does offer an array of travel protection and insurance similar to those offered by the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®. This decision could come down to what you plan to do with your rewards – if you're a cold-hard cash person, the TD card is a better fit.
As we said earlier, the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® is a great card if you travel frequently. Not only are you covered under their thorough insurance programs, you also earn – or have the potential to earn – many rewards points. Even the welcome bonus of 20,000 points, which is worth $100 in travel rewards, is geared toward the explorer.