For your everyday spending without worrying about different earning categories, this flat-rate cash-back card makes life simple with its Cash Rewards program. The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard has a typical rewards-earnings rate, but in the first year, the rate is doubled. Add on the 0% interest rate on purchases for the first 12 months, and you can squeeze a lot of value from this card, especially in year one.
It's recommended you have "good" to "excellent" credit (a 660 credit score or above) before applying.
Great first-year bonus
0% introductory interest rate
No short-term sign-up bonus
High balance transfer fee
- Great first-year bonus: Because you earn double the regular cash-back rate during the first year (on up to $10,000 in spending), your bonus can be worth up to $300, which surpasses sign-up bonuses on similar cards.
- 0% introductory interest rate: Not having to pay interest on purchases in the first year is great, especially if you’re trying to get the most out of your double cash back. Plus, if you want to try to pay off another card’s lingering balance, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard gives you 12 months to do so through a balance transfer without tacking on interest.
- No short-term sign-up bonus: You won’t get the lump sum bonus that other cash-back cards offer (such as $150 if you spend $500 in the first three months), but the year-long double cash-back bonus could easily beat traditional sign-up offers.
- High balance transfer fee: The 0% APR makes it tempting to move a balance over, but unfortunately, a 4% (or $10) fee will be tacked on. This is on the higher side, as many balance transfer cards charge only 3% or even nothing at all.
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard’s Sign-Up Bonus
The HSBC Cash Rewards card doesn’t offer a traditional sign-up bonus, but instead provides 3% back on purchases made in the first 12 months on up to $10,000 (after which you’ll earn 1.5% Cash Rewards).
How this might look in the first year: Spend to the limit ($10,000) and earn $300 in Cash Rewards; then let’s say you spend another $5,000 that year and earn $75 back in Cash Rewards. You’ve earned a total of $375.
Earning Points & Rewards
Besides the earnings information spelled out above, keep in mind that in the second year and every year after that, you’ll earn 1.5% on all your purchases. That’s on par with the rate you’ll earn on many similar cards.
There is no annual limit on the amount of cash back you can earn, and the Cash Rewards do not expire. However, as with most cards, you must keep your account open and in good standing to enjoy the rewards program.
Cashing in for a statement credit is the easiest option. A statement credit uses your earned cash back to lower your credit card bill. But a statement credit is not your only choice. You can get your money directly deposited into your bank account if you have an HSBC bank account.
You can also choose from among 100 gift cards for merchants such as Macy's, Starbucks, Home Depot, Amazon.com, and Best Buy. And you can use points to buy merchandise, donate to charitable causes, or get a statement credit for TSA Precheck.
Lastly, you can use your cash rewards for a rebate on booked flights, hotels, and car rentals. Airline ticket statement credits start at 10,000 Cash Rewards, hotel stays at 5,000 Cash Rewards, and car rentals at 2,500 Cash Rewards. But you’ll have to contact the HSBC Rewards Department to do so. This is probably more of a hassle than someone who chooses a flat-rate cash-back card would want to deal with.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard, like most cash-back cards with flat rates, is all about earning rewards for the spending you’ll do anyway. It’s worth taking advantage of that 3% earnings rate in the first year up to $10,000, which means spending just over $800 a month. And because you won’t pay any interest on purchases in the first 12 months, you’ll have a bit of wiggle room if you need to carry a balance during that period.
Of course, the whole point of this card is to earn cash back, so you don’t want to get into the habit of carrying balances once the introductory period is up, or the finance charges will negate your earnings.
If you already have a travel rewards card or a credit card that earns extra points on certain purchases, a flat-rate cash-back card like the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard is a perfect complement. Most of those cards only earn 1% on purchases that don’t fall into the bonus categories. If you use this card instead for those types of purchases, you’ll get 1.5% or even 3% for those buys, instead of just 1%.
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard’s Excellent Perks
This card has a couple of benefits for cardholders that the editors of The Balance consider superior to the most common credit card perks.
- Cellphone coverage: Get up to $600 per claim reimbursed if your cell phone is lost, stolen, or damaged.
- Travel accident insurance: Receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $1,000,000 when traveling.
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard’s Other Features
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Free shipping through ShopRunner membership
HSBC didn’t have impressive scores in J.D. Power’s 2019 credit card customer satisfaction survey, a well-known industry ranking study. It earned a below-average rating. However, live customer service chat is available 24/7, and cardholders have access to their free FICO credit score.
The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard has standard security features (zero fraud liability, chip technology, etc.). But the Mastercard ID Theft Protection is a nice extra. It provides you with one-on-one support if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft.
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard’s Fees
The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard has the typical fees you’d find among similar cards, and a lack of foreign transaction fees makes the card a good choice for travel abroad. But the card has slightly higher-than-average balance transfer and cash advance fees.