HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card: Worth Applying For?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

Editor's Rating

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A great cash back rewards credit card.
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card
This product is not available through ValuePenguin.
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Editor's Rating

?
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers.","showIcon":false,"tooltipLabel":"?"}

A great cash back rewards credit card.
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card
This product is not available through ValuePenguin.
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Citi is an advertising partner.

Relative to other cards in its class, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card doesn’t have the slickest name, the most brand recognition or the flashiest marketing behind it. Thanks to a solid 1.5% cash back earning rate and a unique 10% anniversary bonus — not to mention some pretty pleasing benefits, including travel benefits — it does have one of the best cashback rewards programs. The card is an under-the-radar offering that is far more appealing for those who have their eye on the bottom line.

In this article:

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card review: Generous cash rewards with practical perks

A solid welcome bonus

Other cashback credit cards offer enticing cash bonuses to new cardmembers, which can be a tempting carrot when you’re comparing cards. Although the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card doesn’t offer that, it does offer a solid 3% cash back on all purchases for the first 12 months that you’re a cardmember, up to $10,000 in purchases.

While it’s not as simple and straightforward, it could be equivalent to or perhaps even better than the upfront cash bonuses offered by competing cards, depending on your spending levels. If you spend the maximum $10,000 in your first year, for example, you’ll earn 30,000 Cash Rewards points. Because most credit cards value cash rewards at 1 cent per point, that’s equivalent to $300 — more than the cash bonus offered by the card’s chief competitors.

Reliable cash rewards

Sure, an introductory offer of 3% cash back is alluring. But what happens when your bonus expires? After 12 months or $10,000 in spending — whichever comes first — you’ll earn 1.5 Cash Rewards points for every $1 you spend. That means you’ll earn $15 for every $1,000 in spending. That isn’t the highest earning rate among cashback cards, but it’s not the lowest, either. Some cards, for example, may offer as high as 3% or even 5% cash back, but those earning rates typically apply only to certain purchase categories, such as gas or groceries.

For purchases in non-qualifying categories, the same cards generally offer just 1% cash back. The nice thing about the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card is that its 1.5% cash back applies on all purchases, regardless of spending category, which makes it easy to both earn rewards and track them.

Love for loyalists

Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card is its anniversary bonus: HSBC will say thanks on your anniversary by giving you a 10% bonus on all Cash Rewards earned during the previous 12 months. If you typically spend $2,000 a month on your card, that means you’d accrue 36,000 reward points, or $360, in a year. Thanks to your anniversary bonus, that suddenly increases to 39,600 reward points, or $396. At the end of the day, that means the 1.5% cash back you receive on purchases is more like 1.65%. That makes the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card instantly more lucrative than other cashback cards that offer the same earning rate but no anniversary bonus. Plus, it feels nice to be recognized and rewarded for your loyalty.

No annual fee

The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card has No Annual Fee. While that’s certainly not unique — provided you have good credit, you generally shouldn’t expect to pay an annual fee for most cashback cards — it’s an important benefit to note if you’re trying to maximize rewards but minimize costs.

Competitive interest rates

Although it’s not unique, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (after that, it’s 14.49%, 18.49% or 24.49% Variable, depending on the cardholder’s creditworthiness). Alongside its introductory cash back, that makes the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card an attractive and sensible choice for anyone who’s in the market for a new card.

The regular purchase and balance transfer APRs can be significant if you carry a balance from month to month — especially if you can only qualify for the highest APR — but it’s quite competitive relative to other cashback cards in its class, which we’ll touch on next.

Middle-of-the-road balance transfers

Among cashback cards in its class, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card has a decent balance transfer policy. If a balance transfer is your primary objective, however, you can do better.

As we just noted, the card offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 12 months (after that, it’s 14.49%, 18.49% or 24.49% Variable), but it requires transfers to be posted within 60 days of opening your account. Also, it charges a balance transfer fee of either $10 or 4%, whichever is greater.

For comparison, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months (after that, it’s 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)APR) during which it charges a 3% transfer fee. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card also offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 15 months (after that, a 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR applies). It charges a 3% transfer fee on balances that are transferred during the first 60 days, then 5%.

To compare further, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months (after that, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable) and charges a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.

So when it comes to balance transfers, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card has a shorter introductory period than other cards and a similar fee structure to its competitors.

Sweet travel benefits

If you’re a frequent traveler and/or your primary objective is travel rewards, you should probably be shopping for a travel card instead of a cashback card. Travel rewards are better by design.

That said, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card offers some solid benefits that cardholders can take advantage of when they go on vacation. For example, you get 10% off when you book a rental home through Onefinestay; rental car insurance; and access to Mastercard’s Travel & Lifestyle Services program. That comes with trip planning assistance, a discount on airport meet-and-greet services, hotel benefits such as room upgrades and early check-in/late checkout, and access to Mastercard’s Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee program. Under that, Mastercard refunds the difference if you use your card to book a prepaid hotel room and then find the same room at a cheaper rate.

The card also charges a $0 foreign transaction fee and offers travel accident insurance coverage of up to $1 million. Terms apply.

Finally, you get $5 off any purchase of $25 or more made through Postmates; free two-day shipping and free return shipping through ShopRunner; and discounted access to select golf courses.

Numerous redemption options

Variety is the spice of life — and of credit card reward redemption. That’s particularly true of the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card, where multiple different redemption options give you maximum flexibility.

For example, you can redeem your points for travel, gift cards or merchandise. Or, you can opt for statement credits. If you have an HSBC Bank account, you can even receive rewards as a direct deposit into your account. Because point values may fluctuate based on your preferred redemption option, you should read the card’s fine print before you redeem your points to make sure you’re not throwing them away.

ValuePenguin’s verdict: A strong choice when cash is king

The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card is not the best card if you’re trying to accumulate miles or other travel rewards. It’s not the best card if you’re looking for a sweet bonus or an incredible deal on balance transfers. And it’s not the best card if you’re looking for premium benefits.

But if your goal is to accrue maximal cash back with minimal costs — and some solid value-added benefits — you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card.

A No Annual Fee annual fee, solid introductory terms, a reliable earnings rate, a competitive APR, a unique anniversary benefit and attractive travel benefits make this a leading card for anyone who puts cash back at the top of their rewards wish list.

Alternatives to the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card is a solid card with good terms and great benefits. Depending on your goals and priorities, however, there might be better choices.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is comparable in many respects to the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card. Both cards, for example, have a $0 annual fee and 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day. This card, however, has a couple of key advantages. One is its attractive cardmember bonus. Although the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card offers 3% cash back on all purchases for the first 12 months that you’re a cardmember, up to $10,000, with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card you can one-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. While the former could be more lucrative if you’re a high spender, the latter is a surefire benefit that you can count on by spending $500.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers the same bonus as the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card: one-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. If you’re a big spender, that might be inferior to the 3% cash back promised by the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card, but it’s a much better carrot if you’re a low to moderate spender. This card also has a $0 annual fee.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card beat when it comes to cash back. Even when you take into account the HSBC card’s most unique benefit — a 10% anniversary bonus on all cash rewards earned during the previous 12 months — the latter offers just 1.65% cash back while the former offers a full Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer also has a $0 annual fee.

The information related to the cards Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card have been independently collected by ValuePenguin and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card
This product is not available through ValuePenguin.
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