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There is currently a simply amazing offer that is not just the best right now: it’s one of the most valuable we’ve ever seen in Canada. In fact, in absolute terms, the welcome bonus of up to 100,000 points is the highest ever offered in Canada. In terms of value, that’s an incredible ≈ $790 from the welcome bonus alone, and the card has other great benefits that I’ve been enjoying myself. If there was just one offer you had to take advantage of this year, this is the one.
However, unlike 5 of the 7 best offers currently on the market for travelers, this one is only available to Canadians who earn a higher income: $80,000 per year. If that is not your case, be sure to check out the other great cards to get a nice welcome bonus for your future trips.
But if you’re eligible, getting the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® is an absolute no-brainer. Since the increased welcome bonus ends December 28th (and in the past has only been increased once per year), here is what we love about this less-known card.
Overview of Flytrippers’ take on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
Our detailed editorial card reviews always start with a to-the-point section that summarizes the best elements of the card and which type of traveler should consider the card according to Flytrippers.
Highlights of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
Here are the 5 best reasons to get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard:
- The extremely valuable welcome bonus
- The very flexible points
- The no-foreign-transaction-fee feature
- The great earn rate
- The good insurance coverage included
Who should consider the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
Here is the simple answer:
- Literally everyone who is eligible
We’ve rarely—if ever—had just one at-large bullet like that, but the HSBC World Elite Mastercard offer really is that good. If you can, you should jump on this offer, as it’s almost impossible to do better.
The extremely valuable welcome bonus
First, the most obvious. The welcome bonus is the most important thing to consider for any card.
Think about most casual travel rewards earners and how long it must take for them to earn $790 in value by just earning 1%, or 2% on every purchase. I’ll help you with that math: at least $39,000 in purchases, assuming a flat 2% all the time!!!
With the welcome bonus alone, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard gives you that ≈ $790 in free travel, based on our Flytrippers Valuation.
There are 2 components to the welcome bonus:
- ≈ $690 worth of points (for flights or a simple travel credit)
- $100 travel enhancement credit (for any travel expense)
As mentioned, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard offers a total of up to 100,000 HSBC Rewards points, but you’ll earn another 15,000 points by unlocking the welcome bonus. You’ll also get an easy travel credit of $100 to spend during the year.
What you can concretely do with those 115,000 points and the travel credit is the next section. The points don’t expire as long as you have the card and there’s a way to extend them even if you don’t.
You get that huge bonus for free, as the card’s fee is rebated the first year. You get one year to decide whether the card provides enough value for you (which might well be the case with the other benefits).
Since the welcome bonus is so rich, there is a minimum spend requirement to reach that seems a bit higher than some other cards at first: $5,000 in 6 months (unless you live in Québec, where there is no requirement; read on).
But to be honest, most cards at the $80,000 income level usually require a minimum spend of $3,000 in 3 months, so this is almost easier than those. It comes out to just $192 per week, so it really shouldn’t be too hard with our tips.
The offer for Québec residents is slightly different (but it’s the same secure application link). There is no minimum spend requirement, and you actually get up to 130,000 points (value of ≈ $880)… but the annual fee is not rebated, for a slightly-lower total Flytrippers Valuation of the welcome bonus of ≈ $731 (still great & still the best available).
The very flexible points
The great thing about the HSBC Rewards points that you earn with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is that they’re hybrid, so you can use them as:
- variable-value points (transfer to airline programs)
- fixed-value points (simple easy-to-use travel credit)
So, in other words, with the 115,000 HSBC points you’ll have earned, you’ll get either:
- ≈ $690 off certain flights (variable-value points)
- $575 off any travel expense (fixed-value points)
You’ll get the separate $100 travel credit whatever option you choose, for a total of ≈ $790 or $675.
That annual travel credit is called the travel enhancement credit. In theory, it is meant to be used to purchase seat upgrades, lounge access, or baggage fees. In my personal experience, I was able to apply the credit to pretty much any travel expense (specifically flight and hotel bookings), so it’s very flexible and we absolutely must value it at its full $100 value for all travelers.
Here’s a brief overview of how each option works for the points portion.
With fixed-value points, you don’t have to learn anything or make any effort (but can’t get outsized unlimited value).
It’s extremely easy: you can simply apply the points to any travel purchase made with your card. Your points “erase” the purchase; it’s as simple as it gets in terms of points.
So even for those who don’t want to maximize or use as airline points, you get a net value of $675 with the welcome bonus with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard—still the best by a country mile (in Québec, it comes out to $601 total as fixed-value points).
With variable-value points, you need to be more flexible to get the most value. Our ≈ $790 valuation is by using your points for flights this way, for 20% more value per point. It can be a bit more complicated, but it can also give you outsized unlimited value and be worth twice our valuation too!
You can transfer HSBC Rewards points to 3 airline partners, but the most useful for Canadians is likely British Airways Avios, especially if you live in a major city (it’s one of the 5 essential programs for Canadians we listed in our free cheat sheet).
Here are a few concrete examples of what the 115,000 HSBC points can give you to show you how it can be a lot more valuable than the simple travel credit:
- 2 roundtrip flights from Toronto to Dublin (almost enough)
- 1 one-way business-class flight from Toronto to Dublin
- 2 roundtrip flights from Toronto/Montreal to Miami
- 3 roundtrip flights from Toronto/Montreal to New York
- 3 roundtrip flights from Vancouver to Los Angeles
- 2 roundtrip flights from Calgary/Edmonton to Phoenix
- 10 short-distance one-way flights in Europe
You can obviously mix-and-match those and there are many other options (or even mix-and-match these with the simple travel credit), but that’s just to give you an idea of the potential.
The no-foreign-transaction-fee feature
This is one of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard’s best benefits.
The card is one of the very few in Canada with no foreign transaction fee, saving you 2.5% on all purchases in other currencies compared to almost all other cards (only the exchange rate applies).
Needless to say, this is pretty useful for travelers. That fee can add up, even if you don’t travel as much as I do.
As with any card, you should re-evaluate how much value your card gives you as the annual fee renewal approaches. With the annual fee rebated and the massive welcome bonus, the math is clear the 1st year.
But since you get a $100 travel credit each year, the net fee in subsequent years is only $49. If you make purchases of just $1,960 in foreign currencies in a year, the 2.5% saving alone covers that $49.
The great earn rate
Here’s what you’ll earn:
- 3 pts/$ (≈ 1.8% or 1.5%) on all eligible purchases
- 6 pts/$ (≈ 3.6% or 3%) on eligible travel purchases
The effective return rate in parentheses is based on our Flytrippers Valuation first, or on the minimum value as a fixed-value travel credit.
So there are always 2 things when looking at earn rates:
- the base earn rate
- the category bonuses (or category multipliers)
First, the base earn rate. It is excellent for everywhere that isn’t included in any other card’s category bonuses. Especially if you use the points as airline points, since getting ≈ 1.8% on all the non-bonused categories is even among the best rates in Canada.
But even if you use the points as a simple travel credit, the base earn rate of 1.5% is good.
Now, the card only has one bonus category, but it’s the most important one for travelers. Every travel purchase will earn a whopping ≈ 3.6% (or at least 3%) back.
I use my HSBC World Elite Mastercard for all my hotel and car rental bookings (but not flights; see next section).
Obviously, I also use it for almost* every foreign currency purchase I make, as the 2.5% that other cards charge on all foreign currency purchases effectively wipes out all your earnings (*the exception is for food as my American Express Cobalt still earns more, despite the 2.5% fee).
I currently have a sizeable balance of Avios points and love earning Marriott points personally, but if I didn’t, I’d probably use my HSBC World Elite Mastercard for all my non-bonused spending and my non-welcome-bonus-unlocking spending.
The good insurance coverage included
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard comes with excellent travel insurance, with all types of coverage except 2.
First, the medical travel insurance is among the best, as it covers you for trips of up to 31 days (if you are under 65 years-old; the standard practice with credit cards). This applies whether or not you pay for the trip with your card as is always the case for this type of coverage, contrary to the common myth.
You also have trip cancelation and trip interruption insurance. You have car rental insurance and baggage loss & delay insurance.
The most important missing coverage is flight delay insurance. While very budget-minded, I personally am willing to pay the foreign transaction fee on another card to get that coverage.
I’ve almost never bought a plane ticket over $500, so a 2.5% fee is at most a cost of $13 to possibly get $1,000 if my flight is delayed (or $500 for almost all cards). I’ve taken advantage of flight delay insurance 9 times in the past 5 years, giving me exceptional value (over $4,000).
But if that’s not important to you or don’t like those odds, then you can use the card for flights and be covered for the most important aspects (and you’ll save the 2.5% and earn 6 pts/$ on the purchase).
The other missing coverage is hotel burglary insurance, but that one I’ve never used and really don’t care about. I still prefer to pay for hotels with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard for the 2.5% saving and 6 pts/$ earn rate.
Finally, you have the standard retail coverage: purchase protection if your item is lost, damaged, or stolen (for 90 days) and an extended warranty (doubled up to 1 extra year).
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offer is simply excellent, and there’s no reason not to take advantage of it right now. It’s the best currently available, and among the best we’ve ever seen. The increased sign-up bonus ends December 28th.
Have any questions about the HSBC offer? Tell us in the comments below.
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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely our own. Redemption values evoked are also Flytrippers’ own and solely based on our own points valuation estimates as described. All offers described on the Flytrippers website are subject to the financial institutions’ latest terms and conditions that can be found on their website.
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