Here’s a credit card opportunity I hadn’t noticed until Doctor of Credit exposed a 35% transfer bonus from HSBC to British Airways through Jan 4, 2018. After some research, I think it’s worth a look, though get ready to digest some details. First, let me first give you the summary.
- Option 1 – Premier World Mastercard (“PWM”, $0-95 annual fee): signup bonus = 35,000 points, = 35,000-50,000 Avios OR $600 in air ticket or travel credit.
- Option 2 – Premier World Elite Mastercard (“PWEM”, $395 annual fee) : signup bonus = 50,000 points, = 50,000-75,000 Avios OR $750 in air ticket (only?).
Here’s a comparison of the two Premier cards.
Originally, I was thinking the PWM version (the NON-Elite) makes more sense, assuming you can get the annual fee waived (more below). But, with that not 100% certain, and with the possibility of Triple Dipping the annual travel credit and Uber credit, the PWEM may actually be better. Let me walk you through all the details.
Redeem Points for Transfer Partners (with Transfer Bonus): HSBC points transfer 1:1 into British Airways Avios, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. So 35,000 points from PWM signup are worth a minimum of 35,000 miles. With the current 35% transfer bonus to BA, that turns into 47,250 Avios. Per the Flyertalk thread on this card (feel free to Google it), there was a 50% transfer bonus to BA in Dec 2016, which would have converted to 52,500 Avios. With the 50,000 signup from PWEM, that would be 75,000 Avios, Far as I can tell, transfer bonus happens several times a year. I would target one of these for maximum value.
Redeem Points for Travel Statement Credit & Air Ticket: According to DoC in July 2016, the 37,500 points from PWM (conveniently what you end up with after the minimum spend) can be redeemed for $600 in travel statement credit OR air ticket purchase through their portal. However, according to the PWEM application page, only “50,000 points = $750 air travel” is mentioned, so I’m not sure if that works for travel statement credit.
Annual Fee & Required Premier Checking: Yes, having a Premier checking account is required for getting either Premier card, and importantly, it waives the $95 annual fee for PWM. Normally it requires a staggering $100,000 deposit to waive monthly fee ($50), and sometimes it has a signup bonus, but not currently. However, I have an idea. You may be able to open the Premier checking, apply for PWM with annual fee waived, close the checking account and pay just the $25 early termination fee (if closed within 180 days). I don’t know if this will work, but that’s what I would do. Worst case for PWM, you pay $25 + $95 annual fee. Still well worth the sign up bonus IMO. In comparison, the Chase BA card has an annual fee of $95 (not waived first year) for 50k Avios and spending $3,000.
Which Premier Card Should You Get?
There are a few variables:
- Whether you can get $95 annual fee waived on the PWM. If not, you pay $95 and potentially $25 early termination fee for the closed checking account.
- Whether you can Triple Dip the PWEM. I’m confident you can at least double dip, assuming information is correct that the travel and Uber credits work on a calendar year basis.
Triple Dip PWEM – If indeed the annual credits work on the reported calendar basis, and you receive the physical card by Dec 20-ish, there’s a decent chance you can Triple Dip the Uber and travel credits ($100 each) for one annual fee. That means getting them in Dec 2017, any time 2018, and Jan 2019. However, I don’t know 100% that it will work: if it works like Citi Prestige, the charge must post before the Dec statement closing date (so really depends on statement closing date); meanwhile if it works like Amex Platinum, the charge must post before end of year (so will likely work). Of course, you can try this for the PWM too, for just the (lower) Uber credit. In any case, you should be able to Double Dip no matter when you apply.
Here’s a comparison of the 2 cards with the net gain or loss (total credits – AF), with the 2 variables (Triple Dip vs Double Dip, PWM AF waived vs not waived):
As you can see, if Triple Dip works, you come out ahead with PWEM (assuming you fully use the Uber and travel credits) regardless of whether PWM AF is waived or not. However, if only Double Dip, you come out ahead with PWM AF waived, but lose out (slightly) if not waived.
Regardless of which version you get, there’s not many data points on:
- How inquiry- and/or new account-sensitive is HSBC?
- How MS sensitive for either signup bonus or ongoing spend? (my guess is not very, but who knows)
FWIW, DoC readers in NY and LA (the state) indicate Equifax as the credit bureau pulled.
In a Nutshell
I don’t think there’s enough time to apply now and get the sign up bonus in time for the 35% transfer bonus deadline of Jan 4. But since HSBC seems to have a transfer bonus several times a year, I would apply when you have bandwidth and save the points for a transfer bonus (or just spend it on travel/statement credit). Personally, I’m sitting out at this time since I already have a large number of inquiries and am targeting some other cards. I plan to revisit when I have bandwidth, or if the sign up bonus increases, as it did before.
Do you have any experience with these HSBC cards?