“Premier” seems to be the new marketing buzz word when it comes to credit cards, but does the HSBC Premier World MasterCard live up to that name in 2013?
Got $100k sitting around? If so, then you can qualify for the HSBC Premier credit card. The requirement stipulates that:
“To qualify for an HSBC Premier relationship, you need to open an HSBC Premier checking account and maintain $100,000 in combined U.S. personal deposit and investment balances.”
So once you do that, you can apply for their Premier MasterCard – which is their top of the line credit card. There’s no annual fee but if your balance on your HSBC bank accounts dip below $100,000 after applying for the card, then you will have to pay a monthly maintenance fee of $50 (that’s $600 per year).The question is… whether you’re getting it for free or paying $600 annually, will you really want it in either scenario?
So what benefits does it give you?
- No foreign transaction fees – You’re seeing this benefit on more cards these days, so I would certainly expect it on this HSBC credit card, too!
- Variable 11.99% interest rate – Purchases, balance transfers, and credit card checks have a variable rate of 11.99%. This is definitely below average, but then again, if you have $100k cash, it would be foolish to carry a balance on your card!
- Premier Privileges Savings Program– I have to give props to the HSBC Premier card for this benefit, because it’s quite unique and thus far, no other U.S. card issuers have a similar program (at least not one that is as developed).In short, the HSBC Premier Priviliges gives you offers at various retailers, restaurants, hotels, and more. The downside? Most of the offers are international and only at select destinations.
For example, when I looked for offers under the “Clothing and Fashion” category there were only 18 available. But among those I only recognized two brands – Burberry and Polo Ralph Lauren – both of which were only valid at Vietnam locations.
Will they be useful for you or not? Here is the HSBC Premier Privileges website so you can judge for yourself.
- Travel Protections – Benefits for delayed luggage, lost or stolen luggage, rental car insurance, and others which you come to expect from any half-way decent credit card nowadays. However the ability to get an emergency cash advance of $2,000 if the card is lost/stolen is a more unique benefit worth pointing out. Next-day worldwide emergency card replacement is another included perk you don’t see much of.
- World MasterCard Benefits – If you’re not familiar with this MasterCard tier, it comes with several benefits including extended warranty, satisfaction guarantee on eligible purchases, and others.
What about the rewards?
If you’re like me, rewards will make or break a credit card deal. With the HSBC MasterCard Premier you have the potential to earn above-average:
- 1 point per dollar spent. At first glance, of course, that sounds like absolute crap. But once you review what the points can buy, you will see they can be worth more than the typical penny.
I dug up the information on the HSBC website and put together this chart showing the rewards value for airline ticket discounts, gift cards, and cash back:
As you can see, the airline ticket discounts always give you more than 1 cent value, maxing out at about 1.67 cents/point for the higher tiers. The gift cards are a terrible deal for the two bottom tiers (2k and 4k points) but once you hit the two highest tiers (16k and 24k points), HSBC is giving a generous 1.25 cent/point.
I would say the HSBC Premier World MasterCard rewards do live up to their name as being “premier.” With that said, they certainly aren’t the best on the market considering there are 2% cash back cards available, without the $100k deposit requirement! But regardless, the 1.67% rebate value for airline tickets is nothing to sneeze at.
As far as benefits are concerned, I was hoping for more. Truth be told, much of what you are getting are just the World MasterCard benefits and not a whole lot extra. Sure, the low 9.99% rate is nice, but then again, the target audience for this credit card probably isn’t someone who carries a balance.
Would I move $100k over to HSBC to get their Premier credit card? Definitely not. However, if I already had $100k at their bank and was looking for a no annual fee card with no foreign transaction fees and above-average rewards, then I would definitely consider this.
Something else to keep in mind… obviously interest rates at bank accounts suck right now, no matter what bank you go to. That being said, the difference of an extra 0.5% on a $100k balance would be $500 per year. If HSBC pays you a high rate – then great, there’s no reason to move. But if you can find an online savings account with a higher rate, say 0.5% higher than HSBC, the extra $500 in interest would be more than enough to pay the annual fee for the Platinum American Express card. So if you are a current HSBC banking client, make sure you look at it from that perspective too.
Written or last updated for 2013