I do not have a bank with HSBC, but I was curious to see what type of credit cards choices they have so I did a little research. Unfortunately, my first impression was confusion. The section on credit cards is so confusing that I am not able to quickly distinguish the differences between each credit card. After further digging, I learn that you cannot even apply for a credit card online, you have to do it in person. The more obstacles they create, the less interested customers will be in their products.
That being said, let us give them the benefit of the doubt and see if they have any hidden gems. Here is a summary on the different credit cards:
- No annual fee
- Choice between earning points or cash back.
- Points earned towards HSBC Premier World Rewards points
- Earn 5,000 points when you enroll in the Rewards Program
If you choose to earn points:
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases in foreign currency
- Earn 1.5 point per $1 spent on gas, grocery and drugstore
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Points can be redeemed for gift cards, products or travel
- Minimum 10,000 points, which gets you $125 travel credit, additional increments of 5,000 for $62.50
If you choose to earn cash back:
- Earn 2% cash back per $1 spent on purchases in foreign currency
- Earn 1.5% cash back per $1 spent on gas, grocery and drugstore
- Earn 1% cash back per $1 spent on all other purchases
- All the cash back is credited to you on your January statement
I must say, the no annual fee makes this a hidden gem in the making. But further research is required.
You can even use your rewards points to contribute to your mortgage. 10,000 points gets you $100. However, the best return for your points is to use them on travel credits. The catch is that you need an exact amount to be able to redeem your points. If you have a $465 flight ticket, you will need to use 40,000 Rewards Points. What gets complicated is if you paid $470 for your ticket, then how does the extra $5 work? This is a question you would want to ask the agent when you visit a branch to consider an application for this credit card, because it is not well explained on the website. But it seems to me that you would need an additional 5,000 points to cover the $5 which will end up being a deal break for me. Therefore, it is probably less hassle just to get the cash back instead.
The other piece of missing information is the cost of a foreign transaction fee. The 2 points per $1 on foreign purchases is attractive, only if there is 0% foreign transaction fee, otherwise the fee will offset any points earned.
I am not a big fan of any of these credit cards, but if you want one of their products, since they all have no annual fees, I suggest that you try to qualify for the highest premium credit card that you can qualify for to enjoy a higher rate of return.