There is currently an amazing offer that is one of the best free ones right now. In terms of value, that’s an incredible ≈ $418 from the welcome bonus alone, and the card has other great benefits that I’ve been enjoying myself, like no FX fees. If there was just one offer you had to take advantage of this year, this is probably the one, as it’s one of the best Canadian cards overall. The offer ends September 29th.
If you’re eligible, getting the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is an absolute no-brainer. However, this card has a higher minimum income requirement, unlike many of the other good deals right now (like the CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card for example).
So even if you don’t earn the $80,000 income required for this deal here, you can still choose among many cards with a welcome bonus that’s just as big, with no minimum income requirement or a lower one.
So here is the video version of our review of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard (the welcome bonus mentioned in the video was worth more than the current ≈ $418 but that will likely never come back and now is possibly your last chance to get an increased bonus at all… and the rest of the video can still help you).
And here is the more detailed text version.
Basics of travel rewards
If you’re already one of our savvy Flytrippers readers who’ve earned over 2 million dollars in free travel with the travel rewards welcome bonuses we’ve shared, you can skip this section.
Otherwise, I’ll remind you of the basics. Because it’s important! And because the world of travel rewards is an overly intimidating, unfamiliar, and counterintuitive one.
(When you just don’t know about it, it’s obviously totally normal to believe all the myths that are untrue, to not understand how it really works, and to be a bit baffled… but now you will know!)
Welcome bonuses are the key! If you remember just ONE thing, make it this.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard gives you a ≈ $418 welcome bonus for free… imagine how insanely high the amount you have to spend at 1% or 2% back just to hit that would be!
And more importantly, having more cards is going to give you a better credit score (in addition to giving you lots of free travel), contrary to the very common (and very false) myth.
But it’s only true if you follow the 3 rules:
- Pay EVERYTHING on time always (in full, no exceptions)
- Keep your OLD cards open (the old ones; not your new ones)
- Space out your application days by AT LEAST 2 months (3 is even better)
I’ve been earning multiple welcome bonuses every year for the past 15 years and have a credit score in the 800s (and have earned over $25,000 in free travel), because I’ve followed these 3 simple rules and because I understand that welcome bonuses are the key (as has everyone else who earns a lot of travel rewards)!
You can check out our brand-new one-page summary for travel rewards with lots of info for beginners, and sign up for our free travel rewards newsletter to get all the details about every aspect in that teaser.
And finally, we’ll soon be doing another edition of our popular free webinar on travel rewards basics if you want to learn more (and you really should!).
In addition to the webinar, we’re doing our monthly live video about travel rewards on Thursday September 21st at 9 PM (Eastern). We’ll analyze and compare each of the best offers to help you and answer all of your questions.
Overview of Flytrippers’ take on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
As with all our detailed editorial card reviews, let’s start with a to-the-point section that includes:
- Why get the card
- Who should get the card
- How to get the card
Why get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
Here are the 5 best reasons to get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard:
- The extremely valuable welcome bonus worth ≈ $418
- The very flexible points
- The no-foreign-transaction-fee feature
- The great multiplier earn rate
- The excellent insurance coverage included
We’ll explain each one below.
Who should get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
Here are the travelers who should consider the HSBC World Elite Mastercard:
- 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 hard to do better.
However, as mentioned, unlike many of the best offers currently available to travelers, this one is only available to Canadians who earn a higher income: $80,000 per year (or $150,000 for your household).
If that is not your case, check out our ranking of the best credit cards in Canada to see your many other great alternatives and still get hundreds of dollars in free travel easily.
How to get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
Here is the 6-step simplified process to take advantage of this deal:
- Apply for the HSBC World Elite Mastercard (secure HSBC link) before September 29
- Get a $100 credit that can be cashed out on day 1 with our pro tip
- Unlock the entire welcome bonus by spending $1,000 (in a maximum of 2 months)*
- Get 53,000 HSBC points AND a $100 credit (welcome bonus/earn on minimum spend AND card feature)
- Use points for up to 2 one-way reward flights (≈ $318) OR as a simple $265 credit on any travel
- ≈ $418 in rewards for free (≈ $318 in points and a $100 credit)
- Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $418 (or $365 for a more simple travel credit)
- Optional bonus: wait for the annual promotion and get 30% more value
- Transfer your points to the British Airways program with a bonus
- Usually offered every year (but not guaranteed)
*This is the offer for residents of provinces other than Québec; the Québec offer is slightly different (see below)
You can check out the card’s resource page with a lot of information.
Highlights of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
Here is a detailed look at the 5 best reasons to get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
1. The extremely valuable welcome bonus worth ≈ $418
First, the most obvious. The welcome bonus is the most important thing to consider for any card.
With the welcome bonus alone, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard gives you an excellent net value of ≈ $418 in travel rewards based on our Flytrippers Valuation.
- The rewards you get from the welcome bonus are worth ≈ $318
- The credit you get is worth $100
- The card fee is $0 for the first year
($318 + $100 – $0 = $418)
Yes, you get that huge bonus for free, as the card’s fee is rebated the first year.
In short, you’ll have 53,000 HSBC points AND you’ll also have a simple $100 credit that can be cashed out.
Those 53,000 points should give you ≈ $418 off specific flights BUT you can also choose to use your points as a simple $265 travel credit that can be applied to literally any travel expense if you prefer more simplicity over more value.
The next section shows you what you can concretely do with the rewards you’ll get with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
And there is no time limit to use the points because it’s easy to avoid expiry, with or without the card (they won’t expire if you have the card, and there’s a way to extend them even if you don’t).
Here is the breakdown of the rewards easily earned:
- 50,000 HSBC points from the welcome bonus
- 20,000 HSBC points after the first purchase
- 30,000 HSBC points after spending $1,000 in 2 months
- 3,000 HSBC points from the regular earn rate on your minimum spend
- $100 simple credit that can be cashed out
The minimum spend requirement to reach the bonus is just $1,000 in 2 months, one of the easiest ever. Many cards at the $80,000 income level usually require a minimum spend of $3,000 in 3 months.
So this is easier. It really shouldn’t be too hard with our tips to reach minimum spend requirements.
And think about most people who aren’t travel rewards pros and how long it must take to reach $418 in rewards by just earning 1% or 2% on every purchase. I’ll help you with that math: They need about $20,000 in purchases, assuming a flat 2% back on everything and no card fee!!!
That’s insane. You get that just by unlocking the HSBC World Elite Mastercard‘s welcome bonus… so $1,000 doesn’t look so bad in comparison. It gives you an effective return of ≈ 41.8% (just a bit better than 1% or 2% haha).
Québec residents: The welcome bonus offer for you is slightly different (we have a separate card page but it’s the same secure application link). There is no minimum spend requirement at all, and you actually get up to 60,000 HSBC points… but the first-year annual fee is not rebated, for a slightly-lower total Flytrippers Valuation of the welcome bonus of ≈ $431 (still great).
2. 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:
- Rewards that are more valuable (transfer to airline programs)
- For specific flights
- Variable value
- More potential value
- Rewards that are more simple (simple easy-to-use travel credit)
- For any travel expense
- Fixed value
- More flexibility
So, in other words, with the 53,000 HSBC points you’ll have earned, you’ll get either:
- ≈ $318 off certain flights (variable-value rewards)
- $265 off any travel expense (fixed-value rewards)
You can also mix and match both options as you go along, it’s very flexible.
And you’ll get the separate $100 travel credit no matter the option you choose, for a total value of ≈ $418 (more valuable rewards) or a still-excellent $365 (more simple rewards).
Here’s a brief overview of how each of the types of rewards you’ll get actually works.
HSBC points as more simple rewards
With fixed-value rewards, you don’t have to learn anything or make any effort (but can’t get outsized value or unlimited value).
It’s extremely easy: You can simply apply your HSBC points to any travel purchase made with your card. Your points “erase” the purchase; it’s as simple as it gets in terms of ways to use rewards.
Your 53,000 HSBC points will give you $265 to erase any travel expense booked with any provider (it can be just one expense or different expenses).
So even for those who don’t want to maximize or use as airline points, you’ll get a net value of $365 with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard‘s welcome bonus — still an amazing free welcome bonus (in Québec, it comes out to $351 total as rewards that are more simple).
HSBC points as more valuable rewards
With variable-value rewards, you need to be more flexible to get the most value. Our ≈ $418 Flytrippers Valuation is by using your points for flights this way, for 20% more value per point. A very conservative valuation.
It can be a bit more complicated, but it can also give you outsized value and unlimited value and be worth twice our Flytrippers 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 53,000 HSBC points can give you to show you how it can be a lot more valuable than the simple travel credit:
- 2 one-way flights from Toronto to Dublin
- 2 one-way flights from Toronto/Montreal to Miami
- 2 one-way flights from Calgary/Edmonton to Phoenix
- 2 one-way flights from Vancouver to Los Angeles
- 3 one-way flights from Toronto/Montreal to New York/Washington/etc.
- 0.5 one-way business-class flights from Toronto to Dublin
- 0.5 one-way business-class flights from Boston/NYC to Madrid
- 5 short-distance one-way flights in Europe
- 3.5 short-distance one-way flights in Asia, Australia, Morocco, South Africa
- 2 one-way flights from Miami to the Caribbean or Central America
It’s also about a third of the points required for the flight that costs nearly $4000, the 12 hours on the world’s best business class, that I took this summer with my Avios points! That’s the potential for outsized value and unlimited value of airline points!
Your 53,000 HSBC points give you 21,200 Avios points so you can check out 12 good redemptions of HSBC points to see more concrete redemption examples.
But each year, HSBC usually offers a bonus of 30% or 35% for transferring your points. That means that if you wait for this promo, you’d even get 30% more free flights that our Flytrippers Valuation!
You can obviously mix-and-match those and there are many other options (or even mix-and-match these with the simple travel credit as I said), but that’s just to give you an idea of the potential.
Annual travel enhancement credit
The annual travel credit is called the annual travel enhancement credit. To be very clear, it has nothing to do with the welcome bonus: every year, everyone who has the HSBC World Elite Mastercard gets this free $100 credit.
In theory, it is meant to be used to purchase seat upgrades, airport lounge access, or baggage fees.
And if you want to just cash it out to get as a statement credit as soon as the first month, you can simply use the refundable hotel trick.
So it’s very flexible and we have no choice but to value it at its full $100 value for all travelers.
3. 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 really quickly, 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, in this case at the beginning of Year 2. As mentioned, with the annual fee rebated and the massive welcome bonus, the math is clear the 1st year.
But since you get a $100 credit each year, the net fee in subsequent years is only $49 per year.
If you make purchases of just $1,960 in foreign currencies in a year, the 2.5% saving alone covers that net fee of $49 starting in Year 2 (assuming you don’t have another no-foreign-transaction-fee card, not even the free one that you can add when doing any card application).
4. The great earn rate
First, here are the card earn rates:
- 6 points per $ (≈ 3.6% or 3.0%) on travel purchases
- 4 points per $ (≈ 2.4% or 2.0%) on purchases in groceries (including gift cards), drugstores, and gas
- 2 points per $ (≈ 1.2% or 1.0%) on all other purchases
The effective return rate in parentheses is based on our Flytrippers Valuation first, and on the minimum value as a fixed-value travel credit after.
So there are always 2 things when looking at earn rates:
- The base earn rate
- The category bonuses (or category multipliers)
First, the card has a few categories with a multiplier rate, including the most important one for travelers. Every travel purchase will earn a whopping ≈ 3.6% (or at least 3%) back.
Finally, the base earn rate. It’s pretty average for all the categories that aren’t included in your other cards’ multipliers. If you use your HSBC points as airline points, getting ≈ 1.2% back on non-bonused categories is not that bad, but it’s not among the best either.
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 Card still earns more, despite the 2.5% fee
5. The good insurance coverage included
One of the best benefits of good travel credit cards (apart from the obvious travel rewards for free travel) is the insurance coverage included free of charge.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offers many types of coverage:
- Medical travel insurance
- Trip cancelation insurance
- Trip interruption insurance
- Flight delay insurance
- Baggage delay insurance
- Car rental insurance
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty
- Mobile device insurance
- Price protection
First, the medical travel insurance coverage is among the best in Canada, with 31-day coverage for your trips (compared to just 15 often). This is ideal for those who prefer longer trips.
This applies only to cardholders under the age of 65, as is often the case. For those who are 65 and above, there is 21 days of coverage, which makes the HSBC World Elite Mastercard among the best in Canada.
Unlike the other types of credit card insurance coverage, medical travel insurance coverage is valid whether or not you pay for the trip with your card. This 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 the standard car rental insurance and baggage loss & delay insurance.
You have the standard retail coverage: purchase protection if your item is lost, damaged, or stolen (for 90 days; $60,000 maximum) and an extended warranty (doubled; up to 1 extra year). The increasingly-popular mobile device insirance is included.
The price protection insurance is pretty rare and amazing, as it will reimburse you for the price difference if something you buy goes down in price in the first 60 days!
The most important credit card coverage is flight delay insurance. The HSBC World Elite Mastercard has it, but strangely this one among the least generous in Canada. Only $250 instead of $500 with almost all other cards (or even $1000 with some premium cards).
For tickets in Canadian dollars, it’s better to use another card to get that coverage. While very budget-minded, I personally am even willing to pay the foreign transaction fee on another card to get that coverage up to $1000 instead of $250.
I’ve taken advantage of flight delay insurance 12 times in the past 6 years, giving me exceptional value (over $5000 in free hotels during my delays… and also $1000 more in hotel points for free nights later).
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 $250 at least (and you’ll earn 6 pts/$ on the purchase and save the 2.5% fee if it’s in a foreign currency).
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offer is simply excellent, and there’s no reason not to take advantage of it right now if you are eligible. It’s one of the best Canadian cards overall. And the it might be your last chance for this offer, a great one (especially for those who don’t want to pay an annual fee). The increased welcome bonus ends September 29th.
What would you like to know about the HSBC World Elite Mastercard? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: Costa Brava, Spain (photo credit: Michael Cadieux)