HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard: Card Review

photo credit: HSBC

The HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard offers significant travel benefits… if you meet the stringent qualification requirements… and if… and if…

Qualification Requirements
To apply you must:
1) have a minimum annual income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000, or a minimum of $400,000 in assets under management; and
2) be a HSBC Premier client, which requires an active HSBC Premier chequing account and a balance of $100,000 (no, that is not a typo; one hundred thousand dollars!) in combined personal deposits and investments with HSBC.  If this does not make you bat your eyes, read on.

Annual Fee: $149, but HSBC Premier clients receive a $50 annual fee rebate.
Interest Rate: 17.9% (remember, never keep a balance on any credit card – if you need to, you can’t afford it).

TRAVEL PERKS

    • No foreign currency conversion charges – only the exchange rate applies
    • 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases, 1.5% on all other eligible purchases. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, merchandise, financial rewards, and rewards for miles
    • Membership to LoungeKey (but you still pay the fee per visit, currently $27)
    • Unlimited Wi-Fi through Boingo at over a million hotspots worldwide (up to four devices)
    • 10% discount on select hotel bookings on your card using HSBC Expedia and HSBC Agoda
    • $100 annual travel enhancement credit redeemable towards select airline seat upgrades, airline baggage fees and airport lounge passes
    • Concierge Service
    • Insurance coverage includes: Baggage Delay or Loss insurance, Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption/Delay insurance, Car Rental insurance, Purchase Assurance and Extended Warranty Insurance, and 31 day Worldwide Emergency Travel Medical insurance (but only for those under 65)

PROS

  • The no foreign currency conversion charges and the travel rewards can be quite valuable
  • Concierge Service

 UNDECIDED

  • If you hold the card the annual fee is basically covered by the $50 annual fee rebate and the $100 annual travel enhancement credit, if you use it. So in essence this card has no fee assuming you do not value the time it would take you to get the rebate and annual travel enhancement credit… and that you would in fact do the work.

CONS

  • The “Worldwide Emergency Travel Medical Insurance” is only available for the primary cardholder and spouse, both under age 65! This is a serious Boomer disincentive… begging the question why would anyone over the age of 65 want to pay for a perk that they are not entitled to? We get that older clients are an insurance risk, but to make them pay for this insurance that they are not entitled to crosses a line. That many credit card companies do this does not make it OK. If anyone over the age of 65 does apply for this card, see if you can negotiate to have HSBC remove this Boomer+ tax.
  • The “Worldwide Emergency Travel Medical Insurance” is not available in Cuba. This begs the question if this is really a Canadian product.
  • Seriously hefty qualification requirements. If you don’t maintain the $100,000 balance, your account will be closed. As we age, sometimes life happens, and we have to dip into our savings. And if this happens then the conditions associated with this card would result in hitting your credit rating (even if you do not have a credit balance on your card), just when you may need a good credit rating the most.
  • The HSBC web site is lacking important information required to make an informed decision. For example, they do not indicate what other reward programs their points can be transferred to (e.g., Asia Miles, Singapore Krisflyer Miles, British Airways Avios) and the transfer value.
  • The 10% Agoda or Expedia “discount” must be made through the HSBC websites (e.g., does not apply if you book trough Agoda or Expedia directly) and is only available for eligible hotels. This “perk” may actually cost the user more than if they book directly with their hotel of choice or a wide variety of online resources  (where they can also use promotions and discounts to reduce fee).
  • No sign up bonus.
  • You have to apply in-branch. For people who have mobility issues this can be an unnecessary burden.

BoomerTraveller’s reaction to this card:

Always read the fine print before make before you make a financial decision …

Guide to Benefits and Terms

Travel Details

Insurance Details 

If you have experience with this card, please share your observations.

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