There are plenty of no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada in Canada, but the HSBC World Elite Mastercard might be one of the most underrated. It kind of flies under the radar since HSBC isn’t really a brand Canadians think about, but it’s one of the biggest banks in the world. To complicate things, there are actually two versions of this card: the HSBC World Elite Mastercard and the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard. 

The Premier version is exclusive to premier chequing account holders who maintain a $100,000 balance in combined personal deposits and investments with HSBC and gives you an annual $50 rebate off the annual fee. The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is available to anyone as long as you have a personal income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000. Perhaps HSBC saw the success of the Scotiabank Passport Infinite card and realized that there was a real opportunity here to appeal to potential customers. Continue reading my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review for my full thoughts about the card.

HSBC World Elite Mastercard benefits

  • $149 annual fee – First year free
  • 20,000 welcome bonus points ($100 value) after your first purchase 
  • 40,000 additional points when you spend $5,000 in the first 180 days 
  • 3% (6 points per $1 spent) in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases
  • 1.5% (3 points per $1 spent) in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $100 annual travel enhancement credit
  • 31-day travel insurance coverage
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey (fee per visit still applies)
  • 10% discount on select hotel bookings on your card with Expedia and Agoda
  • Unlimited Wi-Fi through Boingo at over 1 million hotspots worldwide
  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty

Offer for Quebec Residents

  • $149 annual fee 
  • 20,000 welcome bonus points ($100 value) after your first purchase 
  • 70,000 additional points if you keep your account open and active for 180 days

To be clear, this HSBC World Elite Mastercard review refers to the card that is available to Canadians.

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offers an okay sign up bonus of up to 20,000 points. Since it takes 200 points to claim $1 in travel, the 20,000 welcome points are worth $100. However, the card often comes with a promo where you can earn additional points (e.g. another 20,000) which is why it’s one of the best travel credit cards in Canada. The card also comes with a few additional benefits that many other cards don’t offer such as free Boingo Wi-Fi and travel medical insurance that covers 31-days if you’re under the age of 65.

With HSBC rewards, you’re allowed to book your travel on your own and then call in to redeem your points. In other words, there’s no need to book through their own portal so you have maximum flexibility. You could even book directly with hotels to get your loyalty points or find the best promotions out there and then redeem your points. That being said, you need a minimum of 25,000 points ($125) to redeem a travel credit when you make your own booking which will annoy many people.

Even though there’s an annual fee, you do get a yearly $100 travel enhancement credit which can be applied towards things such as select airline seat upgrades, airline baggage fees and airport lounge passes. Some people don’t think that this benefit is of any real value, but I think it’s one of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard’s best features since it has so much flexibility.

3% (6 points per $1 spent) in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases and 1.5% (3 points per $1 spent) on all other eligible purchases is pretty generous while the 31-day travel insurance coverage is much better than some of the best credit cards with travel insurance. The 10% discount on hotel booked with Expedia and Agoda is obviously appealing, but it doesn’t apply to all hotels which can be a concern if you have a specific property in mind.

I should also mention that if you’re a resident of Quebec, the sign up bonus is usually different. Quite often the Quebec offer is better than the rest of the country.

Transferring points to airline partners

With the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, you can transfer your points to a few airline partners. Oddly enough, the airline transfer partners aren’t even listed on the HSBC website, but a call to customer service has confirmed the following.

  • 25,000 HSBC Rewards points transfer to 8,000 Asia Miles
  • 25,000 HSBC Rewards points transfer to 9,000 Singapore Krisflyer Miles
  • 25,000 HSBC Rewards points transfer to 10,000 British Airways Avios

As you can see, there’s no set formula when it comes to the transfer of miles, but think about the potential of your earnings. If Singapore Airlines is one of your preferred carriers, the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard is one of the few cards that allow you to earn Krisflyer points which is the frequent flyer program of the airline. This may not matter to most travellers, but it’s worth highlighting nonetheless.

HSBC World Elite Mastercard travel insurance

  • Travel medical – $1,00,000 for 31 days if you’re under the age of 65
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption – up to $2,000 per person / $5,000 total
  • Delayed and lost baggage – up to $750 / 12 hours ($200 for essential items after 12 hours)
  • Common carrier travel accident – $500,000
  • Auto rental collision / loss damage – 31 consecutive days / $65,000

Overall, I like the HSBC World Elite Mastercard travel insurance but there are some things that need to be pointed out. First off, to qualify for any of your travel insurance that’s not related to medical, you need to charge 75% of your travel expenses to your card for it to apply. This isn’t bad considering some cards require you to charge 100% of your expenses if you want your insurance to be valid.

I love how this card covers you for 31 days, but that’s only if you’re under the age of 65. If you’re 65 or older, you’ll need to buy a separate travel insurance policy. I personally think the trip cancellation/trip interruption is a bit low at $2,000 per person / $5,000 total as there are cards out there that give you $2,500 per person / $10,000 total in protection. The delayed and lost baggage is also a bit low at $750 and it’s a bit odd that you need to wait 12 hours before you can make a claim for essential items when other cards usually only require a 4-6 hour delay.

Final thoughts

Despite the just okay sign up bonus, my HSBC World Elite Mastercard review is positive. It’s easily one of the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees and is arguably one of the best travel credit cards in Canada since it comes packed with benefits. The flexibility of your HSBC Rewards points will also appeal to people who travel with different airlines.