HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® Review

Annual Fee
$0
Sign Up Cash Value
Travel Value
$125
Max Earnings Rate
1.5%
Foreign Transaction Fees
2.5%
Min Personal Income Required
N/A
Recommended Credit Score
740 850 670 739 580 669 0 579
Fair-Good
Special offer: Earn 25,000 points* ($125 travel value) if you spend $1,000 in the first 180 days. Must apply by Oct 31, 2022. Conditions apply.

The HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that earns points for travel purchases and everyday spending. For budget-conscious domestic travellers, it’s a decent rewards card to have in your wallet. However, frequent international travellers, or those who value the flexibility to redeem their points on non-travel purchases, should consider alternative rewards cards.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Low-barrier welcome bonus
  • Earns a lot of points on travel purchases
  • Decent travel insurance for a no annual fee card

Cons

  • $6K annual spending cap for the highest points earning rate
  • Non-travel redemptions get less impressive value per point
  • Charges foreign transaction fees

Welcome Bonus

You can get 25,000* bonus HSBC Rewards points, worth $125 in travel value, if you apply for the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® by October 31, 2022, and make $1,000 in purchases within your first 180 days. Conditions apply. Most cards only provide a 90-day window to meet the spending requirement for a welcome bonus, so 180 days is very generous. Offer valid for non-Quebec residents only. Quebec residents are eligible for a different offer. And Quebec residents have no spending requirements at all to earn the 25,000* free points—they just have to keep their account open and active for 180 days.

Note that this welcome offer is only available to new HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® applicants who haven’t held this card within the last 12 months.

Apply for the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard®

Earning Rewards

The HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® earns rewards points at different rates for eligible purchases in different purchase categories:

  • Travel: 3 points for every $1 spent*
  • Gas and Daily Transit: 2 points for every $1 spent*
  • (Almost) Everything Else: 1 point for every $1 spent*

Eligible travel purchases include purchases from airlines, car rentals, hotels, cruises, railways, tour operators, timeshares, cottages, campgrounds, and travel agencies. As for gas and daily transit, eligible purchases include service stations, taxis, bus lines, commuter passenger fees, and ferries.

The 3 points per $1 rate applies on up to $6,000 of travel spending per calendar year*. After exceeding $6,000 in travel purchases you’ll earn at the base rate for your travel purchases—1 point for every $1 spent*—until a new calendar year starts. This is a reasonable spending cap for a no annual fee rewards card; those who exceed $6K in annual travel spending should likely pay an annual fee for a higher-end travel card with more comprehensive benefits.

Redeeming Rewards

Points appear in your HSBC Rewards account within five business days following a qualifying purchase. From there, you can redeem your points for the following:

  • HSBC Rewards: Pay off part of your HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® statement balance, pay down your HSBC mortgage, or convert points into an HSBC savings account deposit.
  • Shopping Rewards: Redeem for free gift cards from popular retailers like Amazon.ca, Best Buy, and Walmart. You can also redeem for merchandise across categories like electronics, fashion, health, kitchen, and sports, from well-known brands like Apple, Bose, and Coach.
  • Travel Rewards: Redeem points against your card purchases of airline tickets, vacation packages, car rentals, and other travel-related spending. This option applies to purchases with any travel agent, airline, or travel website, including discounted travel purchases. Points are also transferable to certain frequent flyer programs, like British Airways.

Redeeming rewards points for travel gets the best value per point possible. If you make $5,000 in travel purchases you’ll earn 15,000 points, which can be redeemed for travel rewards worth $75. This gives each point a maximum of $0.005 in redemption value, and yields a 1.5% return on your travel spending.

The value you get for your points varies for other redemption paths, but will always be worth less than what you get when redeeming for travel. Gift cards, HSBC savings account deposits, and non-travel statement credits usually get $0.003 per point redeemed, and redemptions against your mortgage balance have a $0.004 value per point.

Redeeming different merchandise and gift card rewards require different amounts of points depending on the gift card or item you want. You can check the redemption requirements when browsing your HSBC Rewards account. Note that paying off statement credits requires at least 5,000 points; if you’re redeeming for merchandise, you need to use points for at least 80% of the redemption amount.

Points don’t expire unless you cancel your account. You don’t get a post-cancellation grace period to use points, so if you decide to cancel, make sure you spend your points beforehand.

Apply for the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard®

Insurance Coverage

Travel credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee typically won’t provide insurance coverage of note. But the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® stands out in that it comes with several built-in travel insurance benefits, and also offers the option of additional travel coverage for purchase.

HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard®: What's Covered?
Delayed and Lost Baggage: Up to $100 per day for up to three days for purchase of necessities if your checked baggage is delayed by the carrier for six hours or more.
Hotel/Motel Burglary: Up to $1,000 in burglary insurance for hotels and motels in the event of theft where there are signs of forceful entry.
Trip Interruption: Up to $1,500 per insured person and up to $5,000 per trip if you need to return home early while on a covered trip.
Extended Warranty Insurance: Automatically doubles manufacturer warranties up to one additional year on eligible items purchased with your card.
Purchase Assurance: 90-day coverage for loss, damage, or theft of eligible items purchased with your card.
Optional Travel and Medical Insurance: Pay $69 annually to add emergency travel medical insurance and trip cancellation coverage. This coverage applies for unlimited trips but only up to 17 days per trip.

Paying for the optional travel medical and trip cancellation insurance is likely a worthwhile investment, as buying 17 days of à la carte travel medical and trip cancellation coverage from a travel insurer will likely cost at least $60 or so, and that’s just for one trip. The optional insurance for the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® can be used repeatedly throughout the year for the $69 fee.

Related: Best Credit Cards for Travel Insurance

Interest Rates and Fees

  • Purchase Interest Rate: 20.99%
  • Cash Advance Interest Rate: 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
  • Balance Transfer Interest Rate: 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.5%
  • ATM Fees: $2 in Canada and $4 outside Canada
  • Over Credit Limit Fee: $29 (does not apply for Quebec residents)
  • Dishonoured Payment or Cheque: $25 (does not apply for Quebec residents)

Since it doesn’t charge an annual fee, the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® is a good middle-ground option if you don’t travel enough to justify paying for a premium travel credit card. However, paying 2.5% in foreign transaction fees makes the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® less than ideal for spending while on international trips. A smart approach to the card is to use it for booking travel expenses before you head for overseas travel, so that you can rack up the points without paying extra fees. While you’re on an overseas trip, it’s better to spend with cash or to use a no foreign transaction fee credit card.

The Home Trust Preferred Visa is an example of a more international-friendly card, as this card doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Alternatively, if you do a lot of international travel, it might make sense to spend $149 per year on the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®, which will allow you to amass more rewards points while simultaneously avoiding foreign transaction fees.

Eligibility Requirements

You must be a Canadian resident and the age of majority in your province to apply for the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard®. HSBC doesn’t make its credit score preferences public, but you’ll likely be approved provided you have an average or higher credit score, given that this is a no annual fee card with no income requirement.

HSBC EasyID is used to complete your application online, for which you must provide your passport, driver’s license, or provincial government-issued ID to verify your identity.

How Does It Compare to the Competition?

 HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard®American Express® Green CardMBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
Welcome Offer25K points (worth $125 in travel value) when you spend $1K in your first 180 days. Must apply by Oct 31, 2022. Conditions apply.10,000 Membership Rewards® points for spending $1,000 within your first 90 days. Terms and conditions apply.Up to 10K points ($50 cash back value) + 4 points per $1 spent on dining, groceries, digital media, memberships, and utilities for the first 90 days.
Annual Fee$0$0$0
Regular Earn Rates3 points per $1 spent on eligible travel*; 2 points per $1 on eligible gas and transportation*; 1 point per $1 on (almost) everything else*Earn 1 point per $1 you spend on everyday purchases and 2 points per $1 when you shop through Amex Travel Online. 2 points per $1 on dining, groceries, digital media, memberships, and utilities; 1 point per $1 on everything else
Max Point Value$0.005 each for travel$0.02 each for travel$0.01 each for travel
Other HighlightsSome good travel and purchase insuranceTransfer points to other travel programsAnnual Birthday Bonus that pays up to 10,000 extra points

The HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® has a lucrative sign-up bonus and allows cardholders to amass a lot of points on travel spending. But other cards might allow you to earn more points on your non-travel spending, and the value that HSBC Rewards points get when they’re redeemed falls short compared to competing travel rewards programs/cards as well.

If you want to earn points across a wider array of spending categories, the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® might be a better choice than HSBC. It’s a great fit if you spend a lot of money on groceries, or if you can charge major utilities (like electric or heat) to your credit card. The points you earn get decent value when they’re redeemed, at one cent per point for travel redemptions and half a cent per point for redemptions against non-travel charges on your card statement.

The American Express® Green Card earns less points overall than either the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® or the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®, but that’s balanced out by the exceptional value you get for Amex Membership Rewards® points. For example, when redeemed for a short-haul flight via the Fixed Points Travel Program, Amex points are worth $0.02 each—four times the maximum value for HSBC Rewards points. Non-travel redemptions get great value as well, as Amex points can be redeemed for one cent each against any purchase on your card statement.

Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button.

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

Should You Apply for the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard®?

Overall, earning points on travel spending is the main strength of the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard®. If you’re looking for a fairly comprehensive travel rewards card and you refuse to pay an annual fee, it won’t hurt to try the card out. But keep in mind that if you spend over $6,000 per year on travel, the points-earning potential for this card falls off.

For frequent international travellers, paying for a premium travel card like the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® makes more sense, provided you meet its income requirements. Conversely, if you travel only occasionally, it might make more sense to go for a rewards card that gives you better value for spending and redeeming on everyday, non-travel purchases.

Apply for the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard®

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Author Bio

Tom Blake is a personal finance blogger originally from Burlington, Ontario. His work has featured in Business Insider, Frugal Rules, MoneyCrashers, and a number of other financial blogs. When he's not in Canada Tom lives as a digital nomad, writing from locales like Colombia and Dubai. You can connect with Tom at his blog This Online World.