Recently HSBC updated the welcome bonus for its World Elite Mastercard. We are happy to report that HSBC has improved its offer. The card remains first-year-free (FYF) and the total number of points you can earn in the first 90 days stays the same, but rate at which you can earn those points has dramatically increased, improving the odds that you will actually get the full benefit of the bonus. Overall, this is a great offer for a solid travel card.
What’s the new offer?
If you apply by December 16 2019, you will receive the FYF, 20,000 points on your first purchase, and up to 40,000 additional points on eligible purchases made within the first 90 days of card membership.
For the first 90 days, The HSBC WE will earn you 18 points per CAD $1 spent on eligible travel purchases and 9 points per CAD $1 spent on all other eligible purchases, equivalent to a 9% and 4.5% return respectively. According the fine print the accelerated earning rate applies to both travel and non-travel purchases.* This is three times the normal earn rate of 6 points and 3 points per CAD $1 spent.
How does this compare to previous offers?
The last offer was for the same total amount of points but at slower earning rates of 12 points per CAD $1 spent on eligible travel purchases and 3 points per CAD $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. HSBC has increased by the earning rate on travel purchases by 50% and tripled the earning rate for all other purchases. This means you much more likely to get the full welcome bonus.
Assuming you split your expenses 50/50 between travel and other purchases in the first 90 days, the required minimum spend to receive the full 60,000 welcome bonus has dropped to approximately $3,333.33. If you were to redeem these points as a statement credit against travel purchases it would net you at a 9% return. If you include the $100 travel enhancement credit (discussed below) the return increases to 12%. Not too shabby.
Quebec gets its own offer, and it’s better
Residents of Quebec do not need to worry about any minimum spending requirement and will receive a welcome bonus of 20,000 points plus an additional 70,000 points if they keep their account open and in good standing for 90 days. Note that Quebec residents do not get FYF and hence receive additional welcome points to compensate. When redeemed against travel expenses each 10,000 points is worth $50 as a statement credit. Therefore, the 30,000 additional points are worth up to $150 which makes up for the lack of FYF.
What can I use HSBC points for?
We have previously written about how HSBC points are a great way to earn British Airways Avios, if that’s what you’re in to. But HSBC points are also redeemable directly as statement credits against eligible travel purchases made on your card. 25,000 HSBC Rewards Points will net you a $125 statement credit making the effective return on your spend 3% and 1.5% for travel and all other purchases, respectively. With the current welcome bonus, that return rate triples to 9% and 4.5% respectively.
HSBC is also one of the few transfer partners of Cathay’s Asia Miles and the only Canadian transfer partner of Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer.
What else does the HSBC WE Mastercard offer?
In addition to the welcome bonus and FYF, the HSBC WE also offers no foreign exchange fees and an annual $100 travel enhancement credit.
HSBC’s WE is one of the few cards in Canada offering no foreign exchange fees on purchases in foreign currencies. This is an excellent way to save yourself a few percent on each purchase, which can add up quickly if you are a frequent traveler.
HSBC says the travel enhancement credit is redeemable towards seat upgrades, baggage fees, and lounge passes. In reality, it depends on the how the merchant charge is coded by HSBC and our experience is that the credit is redeemable against many more expenses than the examples provided. HSBC makes using the travel credit very simple and you can apply it against eligible purchases directly on your online account.
Lastly, the WE comes will a fairly standard suite of travel insurance coverage including: medical coverage, baggage delay or loss, trip cancellation and trip interruption, and car rental coverage. The car rental insurance allows you to decline the rental agency’s loss damage waiver if you charge at least 75% of the cost of the rental to you HSBC WE.
*Footnote 1b of the application terms notes: “For the first 90 days or until you reach the maximum additional points, earn 18 Points on every $1 of eligible travel purchases (and 9 Points for every $1 in other eligible purchases).”
About the Author: Jacob is a long time supporter of DCTA and new contributor. He got into miles and points while planning for an exchange in Southeast Asia and looking for ways to stretch his student dollars. When he isn’t travelling or helping people find creative ways to save money with miles and points he works as an international trade lawyer in Toronto. Nothing contained in this article, or any of Jacob’s articles, should be interpreted as legal advice.