Full Review of HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard
Generous rewards program
Introductory interest savings
Significant spending required to earn a competitive introductory bonus
No ongoing bonus rewards
- Generous Rewards: During the first 12 months after you open your account, you’ll earn 3% cash back on every purchase; after that first year, you’ll earn 1.5% in cash back. You’ll also receive an automatic 10% rewards bonus on all the cash back you earn on your anniversary, effectively giving you a 1.65% rewards rate.
- Introductory Interest Savings: The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. Just keep in mind that your balance-transfer requests need to be posted within 60 days from account opening to qualify for the promotional rate. Also, note that the card charges a balance transfer fee of 4% of the transfer amount, with a minimum of $10. Even with that fee, though, you could save money by moving a balance from a high-interest credit card to this one.
- Cell-Phone Protection: If you use the HSBC Cash Rewards to pay your monthly phone bill, you'll get up to $600 in protection for your cell phone, subject to a $50 deductible. While theft is covered, an unexplained loss of the phone is not. And any eligible damage must affect the phone’s functionality, which precludes repairs for cosmetic reasons alone, or due to abuse or what’s deemed to be normal wear and tear. Finally, this is secondary coverage that kicks in after you’ve received the benefits from any other insurance coverage, including that from home or auto insurance.
- Significant Spending Required to Earn a Competitive Bonus: In order to earn a bonus that rivals that of its best competitors you must spend quite a bit on the card. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, for instance, you’ll earn $200 cash back after you spend just $500 in the first three months. With the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card, you’ll get 20,000 bonus points, which is worth $200 in cash back, when you spend $1,000 in the first three months. By contrast, the introductory bonus with the HSBC Cash Rewards depends on earning the card's 1.5% in extra cash-back rewards on your spending over the first year. To earn a bonus of $150, then, you would need to charge $10,000 to the card. And that’s the maximum amount of spending that’s eligible for the 1.5% bonus, meaning you could not earn a bonus of $200 or $300, regardless of what you spend. Charging nearly $1,000 a month to a card isn't inconceivable, especially when you're earning an outstanding rate of 3% in total cash back for those charges. But it’s limiting, because it may hamper you in taking advantage of optimal rates on certain purchases with cards you already have in your wallet. And it might encourage those who can't afford that level of spending to indulge anyway, because of the alluring rewards rate.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Prefers uncomplicated rewards with single rate for all spending
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Primarily responsible for household grocery and other major purchases
The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard is designed for people who want a relatively simple cash-back credit card that delivers above-the-norm rewards. The latter are thanks mostly to the card’s 10% anniversary bonus, which bumps up the effective rewards rate from a respectable 1.5% to a generous 1.65%—with nothing extra required to earn that higher rate, except a little patience (since the 10% bonus earnings arrive at the end of the year).
The card is also worth considering if you need some time to pay off a balance from another credit card without it incurring interest charges; alternatively, it provides a break from high interest if you plan some major purchases with another card that you could benefit from an interest-free period to pay off. While other cards, such as the Chase Freedom, offer longer 0% APR promotional periods, not all of those competitors offer the same level of regular rewards as the HSBC Cash Rewards. (The Chase Freedom’s regular rate is 1%, for example, compared with at least 1.5% for the HSBC Cash Rewards.)
Finally, the HSBC Cash Rewards has appeal, too, if you have no insurance on your cell phone, since it extends $600 in coverage provided you pay your cell-phone bill with the card. While there are caveats to the protection, including that it covers a total loss only when the phone is stolen, it still provides some peace of mind about the most valuable item most of us ever carry around with us.
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard Bonus
With this card, you’ll double your cash-back earnings, to 3% in cash back, on up to $10,000 in spending during the first 12 months. Assuming you achieve that spending, you'd receive a bonus of $150 in cash back.
You'd also receive $150 from your regular cash-back earnings of 1.5% of spending. And those would be eligible for the 10% anniversary bonus at the end of each year you own the card, which raises the effective earnings to 1.65%. The bonus 1.5% earnings, however, are not eligible for enhancement by that 10% anniversary percentage at the end of the year.
Rewards Earning Details
You’ll earn a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make, plus a 10% annual anniversary bonus on those earnings, which provides an effective 1.65% rewards rate. That makes this card potentially more lucrative than many other cash-back credit cards that earn 1.5%. (There are, however, cards that offer a potentially higher cash back rate, like the Citi Double Cash card, which pays 1% on all purchases and another 1% when you pay your bill.)
Rewards Redemption Details
HSBC offers several redemption options for the cash back you earn with HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard. They are:
- Book flights, hotels, car rentals and local travel experiences
- Get cash back in the form of a direct deposit to an HSBC bank account or a statement credit
- Buy gift cards
- Purchase merchandise
All the options redeem at the same 1:1 rate, but gift cards are available only in certain denominations, as is normal.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Because the card offers a flat rewards rate on everything, you maximize your rewards by simply using the card for every transaction you can.
That practice is especially important, and lucrative, in the first year with your card. That's when you can earn double the regular 1.5% earnings on up $10,000 of spending, thanks to the card's introductory bonus. That said, be wary of spending more than you can afford in order to maximize that bonus. While credit card rewards are welcome, they can quickly be neutralized, and more, by interest charges if you can’t pay off your card balance in a timely way—in this case, at the end of the 12-month introductory 0% APR offer on new purchases.
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard's Outstanding Perks
- Onefinestay discount: You’ll get 10% off when you book high-end vacation rentals through onefinestay.
- ShopRunner membership: You'll get unlimited free two-day shipping and free return shipping at more than 140 online retailers.
- Postmates discount: Whenever you place an order of $25 or more for food, drink, or grocery delivery, you'll get $5 off.
- Priceless Golf: You’ll get discounted access to select golf courses, complimentary grounds passes for PGA tournaments, lessons with PGA professionals, and more.
- Cell-phone protection: Get up to $600 per claim if your cell phone is stolen or damaged, and you pay your monthly bill with the card.
- Secondary rental car insurance
- Mastercard travel and lifestyle services
- Mastercard identity theft protection
HSBC was not included in J.D. Power's 2019 Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study. The bank provides cardholders with free access to their FICO credit scores, which can be helpful if you’re working on improving your credit.
HSBC's customer service is available by phone at 800-485-1794, but representatives aren't available 24/7 like most credit card issuers. You can call anytime between 7:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. Eastern time. You can also manage your account online or with the HSBC mobile app.
HSBC's security features are largely standard for the credit card industry. One exception is its contactless payment ability. Instead of swiping or inserting your card, you can simply tap your card to a contactless card reader and check out faster and with the same level of security as you get from your card's chip.
The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard is a simple, flat-rate rewards card that offers an appealing combination of offers for the first year in which you own it. Those introductory perks include a doubling of its 1.5% cash-back rewards and a introductory 0% APR offer on new purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from the account opening, albeit with a 4% fee applied to transfers. The card also has an appealing 10% anniversary bonus on earned cash-back at the end of every year you own the card.
There's also the intriguing perk of coverage against damage or theft for your cell phone, which comes automatically if you bill your monthly carrier service to the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card.
However, the card's rewards are geared toward higher rollers. Because the bonus depends on fairly hefty spending to be competitive, smaller spenders may be better off with a cash-back card with a lower minimum spending requirement to receive a bonus. Examples are a number of cards that offer $150 if you spend as little as $500 in the first three months you own them.