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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
- No annual fee
- Low-barrier welcome bonus
- Earns a lot of points on travel purchases
- Decent travel insurance for a no annual fee card
- $6K annual spending cap for the highest points earning rate
- Non-travel redemptions get less impressive value per point
- Charges foreign transaction fees
You can get 20,000* bonus HSBC Rewards points, worth $100 in travel value*, if you apply for the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard® and make $1,000 in purchases within your first 60 days. Conditions apply. Offer valid for non-Quebec residents only. Quebec residents are eligible for a different offer.
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®
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.
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 HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard®
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.
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% (if you reside in Quebec 21.99%)
- Balance Transfer Interest Rate: 22.99% (if you reside in Quebec 21.99%)
- 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.
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?
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.
‡, ††, ✪, ***, Terms and Conditions apply.
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.
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The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the issuer of this credit card. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. ®MBNA and other-trademarks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.
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 HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard
*Terms and Conditions apply.
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