HSBC Rewards points are among the best for travel rewards pros in Canada since they are easy to earn (especially with a higher income for this program specifically) and since they offer many travel redemption opportunities both for those who want to keep things simple and for those who want to maximize value.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is currently offering one of the highest free welcome bonuses ever seen in Canada and it also happens to be one of the best overall cards in Canada (the limited-time offer ends April 4, 2022).
Basically, you’ll earn 108,000 HSBC Rewards points by unlocking the somewhat unique welcome bonus. You can read all the details in our review of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard (which also includes a video presentation if you prefer that format).
We’ll have a lot more content, tips, and guides on all the major programs (including HSBC, Avios, Aeroplan, Amex, Marriott, etc.) very soon…
But right now we’re just going to look at 12 good uses for those 108,000 HSBC points.
As you might know, HSBC points are hybrid rewards, so we will divide the article into the 2 different ways that they can work:
- Travel credit to erase any travel expense (1 good use)
- Transfer to airline rewards programs (11 good uses)*
*Note that this option only exists with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard (not available on the HSBC +Rewards Mastercard or the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard that have lower welcome bonuses anyway)
1. Travel credit to erase any travel expense (1 good use)
As a travel credit: 108,000 HSBC points = $540 in discounts.
The only option that has a fixed value… isn’t really a “good” use at all in fact.
It’s a good use only if you want to keep it simple and are willing to get a bit less value in return, as so many people are.
Instead of being worth ≈ $699, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard‘s welcome bonus is worth a flat $591 if you use it like this. But it’s much simpler: you can apply the points to any travel expense.
You don’t have to think anything through, you don’t have to maximize anything, you don’t have to take any specific flights, you don’t have to book on any particular site… it’s really as simple as it gets.
Any travel expense. Very simple.
That’s why the other option is ≈ 20% more valuable. But that’s honestly not a huge difference if you prefer the simple uses, compared to the American Express Membership Rewards program for example, where you get ≈ 50% more value by transfering points.
And even a net value of $591 with just one welcome bonus is pretty amazing!
2. Transfer to airline rewards programs (11 good uses)
As airline points: 108,000 HSBC points ≈ $648 in discounts.
HSBC points can be transferred to 3 programs (with the number of points you’d get with your 108,000 HSBC points):
- British Airways Avios (43,200 points)
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (38,880 points)
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (34,560 points)
The Avios program is by far the most appealing, even if it is a bit more niche than the better-known Aeroplan program. Depending on your travel preferences it can be very valuable too.
Here are 11 good uses of 43,200 Avios points (108,000 HSBC points).
And for a lot more details, you can also download our free 31-page guide with everything you need to know to get started with HSBC World Elite Mastercard, loaded with tons of pro tips and tricks to avoid common mistakes (and it comes with 3 useful documents as a free bonus)!
1st good use of Avios points: 2 roundtrip flights from Toronto/Montreal to Miami
For 22,000 points, you get a direct roundtrip flight to Miami on American Airlines, and you’d even have points left over. You have to pay taxes (≈$90), but if the cash price of this flight is even slightly high, this is a great use of points for a very popular destination for Canadians. You’d be short just a few points for the 2nd roundtrip with the welcome bonus, but you can easily make that up.
2nd good use of Avios points: 3 one-way flights from Toronto to Dublin
For 26,000 points, you can also get a roundtrip flight from Toronto to Ireland on Aer Lingus on off-peak dates (most of the year). Taxes are a bit higher (≈ $150), but this is still often a great redemption. This could soon be possible from Montreal as well, if the newly-announced Aer Lingus route eventually launches post-pandemic.
3rd good use of Avios points: 1 one-way business class flight from Toronto to Dublin
Same as above, except you can choose business class for 50,000 points (usually with other programs, business class is “just” twice the price). Airline reward programs are definitely the way to go if you want to travel in premium cabins (as I did for the first time on a long-distance flight in May) but know that Aeroplan points are often much better for business class flights.
4th good use of Avios points: 5 one-way flights from many Canadian cities to New York/Washington/Chicago/Philadelphia
For just 9,000 points one-way, you get a roundtrip from the Canadian cities served by American Airlines or Alaska Airlines to the closest hubs, which are major US cities that are perfect for long weekend getaways with just ≈ $90 in taxes to pay per roundtrip flight. From Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal you can go to the above cities, while from Western Canada cities you can fly to Seattle as the Avios flight award chart is distance-based. You’d also be short just a few points, easily earned with a bit of spending on your card.
5th good use of Avios points: 5 one-way flights from Miami to the Caribbean and Central America
For 9,000 points, you can get 5 one-way flights from American Airlines’ mega-hub in Miami to almost anywhere in the Caribbean and Central America. This can be very useful given how positioning flights to Miami are often extremely affordable in cash and given how flights to some islands are very expensive in cash.
For 11,000 points, you can go a bit further like to the rest of the Caribbean like I did to go to Bonaire since it’s a bit farther away from Miami.
6th good use of Avios points: 10 one-way flights within Europe
For just 4,000 points, you can get many short-distance flights within Europe on a few airlines (Iberia, Vueling, Aer Lingus), which gives you many many flights. But you should make sure to compare the value with the many cheap cash fares easily available in Europe, often as low as €10 on ultra low-cost carriers (ULCCs). On British Airways, these flights cost a bit more (4,750 points).
7th good use of Avios points: 7 one-way flights within Asia
You can also get short-distance one-way flights around many hub airports in popular destinations in Asia. For just 6,000 points, it is around Kuala Lumpur (KUL) on Malaysia Airlines (like flying to Phuket). For juste 7,500 points, it is around Hong Kong (HKG) on Cathay Pacific (like flying to Taipei) or around Tokyo (HND and NRT) on Japan Airlines (like flying to Osaka), following a strange devaluation only for those 2 airlines.
8th good use of Avios points: 7 one-way flights within Australia
For 6,000 points, you can also get short-distance one-way flights around Australia on Qantas with minimal taxes (like flying from Sydney to Brisbane).
9th good use of Avios points: 7 one-way flights within Morocco
For just 6,000 points, you can also get short-distance one-way flights around Morocco on Royal Air Maroc with minimal taxes (like flying from Casablanca to Marrakesh).
10th good use of Avios points: 7 one-way flights within Southern Africa
For just 6,000 points, you can also get short-distance one-way flights around South Africa on Comair with minimal taxes (like flying from Johannesburg to Durban)
11th good use of Avios points: 1 roundtrip flight from New York/Boston/Chicago to Madrid
For just 34,000 points, you can also get a roundtrip flight from those 3 US cities to Spain on Iberia on off-peak dates (most of the year). Or a one-way business class flight for 50,000 points if you prefer. If you don’t mind positioning to those cities, that can be a great use of points to get to Spain.
Bonus: Many other sweet spots around the world
Don’t miss our upcoming guide to the Avios program for even more great redemptions as these are just a tiny portion of the possibilities, especially for many short-distance flights or for flights that are rarely discounted when paid for with cash.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is one of the best cards in Canada. These examples may give you a good idea of what you could do with the increased welcome bonus, while you wait for our more comprehensive guides.
Have any questions about the HSBC World Elite Mastercard? Ask me in the comments below.
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Featured image: Landscape in Spain (photo credit: Jorge Salvador)
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