HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard Review: 3% Back in Year One

The card's first-year rewards rate is attractive, but you may get equal or better value from a card with a traditional, upfront sign-up bonus.

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This page includes information about the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card currently unavailable on NerdWallet.

Our Take


NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: It's a solid choice as an everyday, top-of-wallet card for those who aren't interested in keeping track of bonus categories. But better options may exist, especially after Year One.

HSBC Cash Back Mastercard

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Annual Fee


Regular APR

12.99% - 22.99%, Variable

Intro APR

0% Introductory APR on credit card purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Pros & Cons


  • High rewards rate

  • No annual fee

  • 0% Introductory APR on credit card purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months from account opening, then a variable APR of 12.99% - 22.99% will apply

  • No foreign transaction fee


  • Potentially complicated redemption

Alternate Pick: Upfront welcome bonus

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Longer intro APR period

This card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, but it also offers a rich welcome bonus: One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Plus, there's a lengthy intro APR offer: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual Fee


Annual Fee


Annual Fee


Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The defining feature of the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card is a first-year rewards rate that you won't find on most other cash-back cards in its class.

Instead of an upfront sign-up bonus, it earns 3% back on all purchases within the first 12 months of opening your account, up to the first $10,000 in spending. After that, you earn 1.5% back on everything.

That 3% rate is eye-catching, especially for a $0-annual-fee card. But it's really just a repackaging of a traditional bonus offer.

If you're planning to spend $10,000 in your first year, you'd get just as much value back from a normal 1.5% flat-rate card with an upfront $150 sign-up bonus. And if you spend less than that in Year One — but still enough to snag that upfront bonus — the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card is the worse deal of the two.

The card does offer multiple redemption options beyond just cash, which may appeal to those seeking flexibility. But those options typically aren't a good value and require you to jump through some hoops.

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card: Basics

Card type: Cash back.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Rewards: Earn an introductory 3% cash back on all purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases. After that, the card earns 1.5% back on everything.

You also have the option of redeeming your rewards for things like travel, merchandise or gift cards. But when you do that, you typically get less than full value — as low as 67 cents on the dollar for gift cards and 80 cents for travel and merchandise — so those options are not a wise use of rewards.

APR: 0% Introductory APR on credit card purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months from account opening, then a variable APR of 12.99% - 22.99% will apply.

Balance transfer fee: 4% of the amount transferred, or $10, whichever is greater.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other benefits: Travel accident insurance, rental car insurance, plus discounts and other Mastercard benefits.

Why you might want the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Solid ongoing rewards

Max out this card's first-year offer and you'll snag $300 in rewards in those initial 12 months. Thereafter, you'll get 1.5% back on everything. That's solid earning potential. But it should be noted that this is not the best deal for lower spenders who may hit, say, a $1,000 spending requirement for a traditional bonus, but not a $10,000 first-year cap. For them, a normal 1.5% flat-rate card with a $150 bonus upfront would offer greater value.

Multiple redemption options

Taking your rewards as a credit on your statement is the easiest and least restrictive option for most cardholders. But if you have an eligible HSBC bank account, you can choose to redeem your cash back as a direct deposit into that account. You can also redeem rewards for eligible charitable giving. In all three cases, you'll get full value for your rewards. There are other ways to use your rewards, including for travel (airfare, hotels, rental car, etc.), merchandise, gift cards and credit for the application fee for the TSA Precheck or Global Entry program. As noted above, redemption values for these alternatives will be poor, but you do have options.

No foreign transaction fees

Unlike many cash-back cards, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card travels well abroad. You'll pay no foreign transaction fees on purchases internationally.

Valuable side perks

As a cardholder, you’ll get a complimentary ShopRunner membership that offers unlimited free two-day shipping and free return shipping at over 140 online stores. You’ll also get $5 off on Postmates orders of $25 or more (not including taxes, delivery fees and tips). Other side perks include rental car coverage, cell phone insurance and more.

Why you might want a different credit card

YOU want your bonus upfront

There's no shortage of 1.5% cash-back cards that offer traditional upfront welcome offers. One example is the $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which offers the following to new cardholders: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.And unlike the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card, you don't need to bank with the issuer in order to redeem cash-back rewards as direct deposits. Chase allows you to deposit cash back in the account of your choice.

YOu want a higher ongoing rewards rate

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer earns 2% cash back on every purchase: 1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay it off. The annual fee is $0. If you're willing to pay an annual fee — and willing and able to join the Alliant Credit Union — you could also consider the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card. The annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $99. But you'll earn an unlimited 3% cash back on all purchases in the first year and a whopping 2.5% back on everything else.

YOU want better 0% intro APR terms

The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card offers a 0% intro APR period on purchases and balance transfers, but you can find cards with longer interest-free windows and lower balance transfer fees. The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card doesn't earn rewards, but it does offer an intro 0%* intro APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers*, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49%* Variable APR. The fee for balance transfers is 3%, and the annual fee is $0*. If your goal is to pay down debt, you may also consider cards that don't charge balance transfer fees.

YOU want easier and more valuable REDEMPTION options

With the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card you may face certain redemption restrictions: You may be limited to using your cash rewards only for eligible airline tickets, or you may need to contact HSBC representatives for certain redemptions. There's also a $15 ticket service fee when you book airfare through the Online Travel Rewards option. For fewer redemption hurdles, consider the $0-annual-fee Discover it® Miles, which earns 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. You can redeem rewards for a statement credit to cover travel purchases or you can redeem them for other options, like cash at the same value. It offers a potentially generous sign-up bonus, which the issuer phrases this way: "UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match."

You can also visit NerdWallet's roundup of the top credit cards to get to see how these options compare.

Is the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card right for you?

The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card is a solid option for those who want a flat-rate cash-back card with a few unique features.

Otherwise, there are some cash-back credit cards that can provide more redemption flexibility and better rewards.