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 Rewards Mastercard® credit card
12.99% - 22.99%, Variable
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
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
- 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
- No Annual Fee.
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® 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 $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Plus, there's a lengthy intro APR offer: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR.Read our 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 $150 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% APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% 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: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel or to redeem as Cash! The more you earn, the more you get."
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.
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