Editorial Review

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

That promotional rate, along with an annual anniversary bonus, sets this card apart from the rest of the pack.

Chanelle BessetteSeptember 21, 2018

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Our Take

4.1

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: Strong ongoing rewards an annual bonus make this a pretty good choice as an everyday, top-of-wallet card.

HSBC Cash Back Mastercard

on HSBC's website

Rates & Fees

on HSBC's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable APR

Intro APR

0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable APR.

recommended credit score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable APR
Intro APR
0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable APR.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • High rewards rate

  • No annual fee

  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable APR.

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • Potentially complicated redemption

Alternate Pick: Upfront welcome bonus

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Longer intro APR period

This card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, but it also offers a rich welcome bonus: Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. Plus, there's a lengthy intro APR offer: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 26.24% Variable APR. Terms apply.

Read our review

Full Review

The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card used to be a fairly standard flat-rate rewards card, and in some ways it still is.

The $0-annual-fee card still earns an ongoing rate of 1.5% back on everything, but in April 2019 it added a twist. Now, in the first year, you'll earn 3% back on all purchases, on up to $10,000 in spending. Once you hit that threshold, the card returns to its normal 1.5% rate. It no longer offers an upfront $150 sign-up bonus.

Fortunately, the card retained a distinguishing feature during that revamp: an anniversary bonus, offered each year, which boosts your overall rewards rate beyond what you'd earn with even some of the best flat-rate cash-back credit cards on the market.

The card offers multiple redemption options beyond just cash, but its strings-attached quirks might give you some pause. Here's what to know.

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card: Basics

  • Card type: Cash back.

  • Annual fee: $0.

  • Sign-up bonus: None.

  • Rewards: 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.

  • APR: 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable APR..

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

  • Foreign transaction fee: None.

  • Other benefits: Purchase protection, extended warranty, price protection.

Benefits

  • Anniversary bonus. Every year, you get a bonus equal to 10% of the rewards earned in the preceding year. This effectively raises your rewards rate to 3.3% back in the first year (up to the $10,000 spending cap) and 1.65% on everything else.

  • 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 also redeem your cash back as a direct deposit into that account. Other redemption options include travel, merchandise, gift cards, charity donations and credit for the application fee for TSA Precheck. Redemption details and steps vary for these options, so consult the fine print of the card’s rewards program.

  • Purchase-related shopping benefits. As some major credit card issuers eliminate side perks, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card holds strong by offering:

    • Purchase protection, which covers most purchases made with card for up to $1,000 against accidental damage or theft for 90 days from the date of purchase.

    • Extended warranty, which doubles the original warranty on items bought with the card, for up to one additional year.

    • Price protection, which refunds the difference if you buy an item with the card, then see it advertised for less within 60 days.

  • 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.

Drawbacks

  • Balance transfer fee. Although the card offers a 0% APR period on balance transfers, it charges a transfer fee of 4%, with a minimum charge of $10. You can find a fee of 3% on some competing cards. Some don’t charge any balance transfer fees.

  • Sometimes-complicated redemption options. Statement credit is easy. But if you want cash back, it has to be deposited into an HSBC consumer checking or savings account. You might face hurdles with travel redemption, too. For example, you may be limited to using your cash rewards only for eligible airline tickets; you may need to contact the HSBC Rewards Department directly to request a statement credit for travel; you may need to book directly through HSBC's online travel rewards site; or you may need to contact an HSBC travel counselor for travel packages or experiences.

Alternatives

For a higher cash-back rate: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Even with a 10% anniversary boost from the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card, its rewards rate after the first year won't equal what you get with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. This card earns 2% cash back on every purchase: 1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay it off. The annual fee is $0. One nit to pick: This offer does not include a sign-up bonus.

FOR A longer 0% PERIOD on PURCHASES: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card doesn't earn rewards, but it does offer an intro 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 20 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% - 25.74% Variable APR. That's among the longest promotional interest-free rates available. The annual fee is $0.

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

Should you get the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card?

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.