A closer look at the credit card that Canada voted as the number one No Foreign Transaction Fee card

The results of Canada’s Choice 2021
were revealed earlier this month covering 10 categories of credit cards
and loyalty with some surprising and not so surprising results. The third of which we look is the card that took the top spot in the No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card category and that’s theHSBC World Elite® Mastercard®

Other posts in this series:

Much like some other Canada’s categories, Canada’s thoughts and our own research and opinion
here at Rewards Canada aren’t far off from each other. Canada ranked the HSBC World Elite Mastercard as the number one overall No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card in Canada and while we don’t have a separate No FX fee ranking of our own we do consider this card the best option in that category – I mean we do rank it as fifth best card overall in Canada ahead all other No FX cards.

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard:

As ranked by Rewards Canada in our Top Travel Rewards Credit Card 2021 rankings:
5th overall & 3rd in hybrid

As ranked by Canada in Rewards Canada’s Canada’s Choice 2021:
1st in No Foreign Transaction Fee Cards

Let’s look at some of the reasons why this card ranks so high both by us and by the Canadian population:

Welcome bonus points value

At the time of posting this the HSBC World Elite Mastercard
is offering a welcome bonus of up to 100,000 HSBC Rewards Points along with the annual
fee being rebated in the first year. This is the biggest bonus seen on the card for those who do not live in Quebec and it is the second time they have offered 100K on the card. For those who live in Quebec the offer is up to 130,000 points but you do have to pay the annual fee. 

Here’s how the bonus part of the welcome offer is broken down:

• Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Points ($100 travel value)

• Spend $6,000 in the first 180 days to earn an additional 50,000 Points ($250 travel value)

• Earn 10,000 Points ($50 travel value) for adding your 1st Authorized User

• Receive an additional 20,000 Points ($100 travel value) as an Anniversary Bonus

• Annual Fee Rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($149 value)

Those 100,000 points can be redeemed for $500 towards any travel which is such a nice feature of this card. This card is a true any airline any time card as you don’t book any travel through HSBC. You simply book your travel how you want with whomever you want (with the airline directly, a travel agency, a hotel, etc.) and once that charge shows up on your account you simply redeem the points against the charge. You don’t even have to have the full amount of points as you can do partial redemptions. That is, you can buy $1,000 of travel and if all you have ready to redeem is the 100,000 points for $500 you can redeem that as $500 credit towards that $1,000 purchase. 

There is another redemption option that can further increase the value of the welcome bonus and that’s converting the points to one of HSBC’s airline transfer partners. Those partners are British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. These are the conversion rates:

This means the card earns 0.96 to 1.92 Asia Miles per dollar spent, 1.08
to 2.16 KrisFlyer Miles per dollar spent and 1.2 to 2.4 Avios per
dollar spent. Those are some pretty good earn rates for these programs.  If we take British Airways as an example where we value Avios at a minimum of 1.5 cents per Avios the 100,000 point welcome bonus on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is worth no less than $600. That’s a minimum however, ideally you would convert to Avios when HSBC runs a transfer bonus (the last one was just in July 2021) and that has been as high as 40%. If you transfer your 100K (I’m not taking into account the additional points you would have with your spend) to BA during a 40% transfer bonus your 100K welcome bonus would translate to no less than $840 in value.  Speaking of transfer bonuses there is also one happening right now (that is at the time of posting this) of up to 15% more miles when you convert to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (Learn more about that here)

Earning & Benefits

card itself earns 3  HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on all spending outside of travel. For travel purchases it earns 6 points per dollar spent. That translates to a 1.5% and 3% return on your spending when you redeem for the any travel any where option. Those are some middle of the road to even great earn rates when compared to the competition. And that 1.5% is one of the best earn rates for shopping at Costco since they only accept Mastercard.

Recommend reading: The Top 5 Mastercard Cards to use at Costco Canada (updated again)

Then you have the benefits and the first big one is the premise of this post and that is this card being the best No Foreign Transaction fee card in Canada. What this means is HSBC will not charge you the foreign transaction fee that most credit card issuers levy on purchases made outside of C$. That fee is typically 2.5% but some cards go as high as 3%. That can translate to some big savings if you travel outside of Canada a lot and/or shop online a lot from retailers outside of Canada. It is also ideal if you make purchases for your business outside of Canada so long as HSBC doesn’t stop you from making business transactions on the card.  I always refer to our one reader many years ago who told us they were importing $30,000 worth of goods from New Zealand every month and paying for it on their credit card. Not paying foreign transaction fees on those purchases would amount to $9,000 in savings in one year alone!

The benefits on this card don’t end there however. The card also has a $100 annual travel enhancement credit. This is a credit that can be used
towards travel related charges like seat selection fees, baggage fees,
lounge access passes and more. The credit renews on the card anniversary
date each year. It has a very good insurance package that includes 31 day out of province emergency medical coverage.

Also like most World Elite
Mastercards in Canada, the card offers Mastercard Airport Experiences
Provided by LoungeKey. This means you get free membership in LoungeKey
which is a lounge access program that is pretty much the same as
Priority Pass (they are both run by the same company). Although this benefit was recently affected by Plaza Premium leaving LoungeKey which means 13 less locations in Canada that you can access with the card. However globally there are still a lot of options.

Recommended reading: Rewards Canada’s Guide to Business Class Lounge Access

Finally another benefit to be aware of with this card is unlimited
free Wi-Fi through Boingo and that includes Wi-Fi on WestJet flights.

Recommended reading: HSBC World Elite Mastercard Review

Wrapping it up

Here at Rewards Canada we rank the HSBC World Elite Mastercard as one of the top 5 best credit cards in Canada thanks to a strong earn and burn proposition, airline transfer partners and of course the No Foreign Transaction fee benefit. In fact it is the only card in our Top 5 Cards to have the benefit. Based on the way the
votes went a lot of Canada also feels the same way as with this card.

Click here to learn more about and apply for the HSBC World Elite Mastercard