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HSBC Credit Cards6 min read
HSBC issue a variety of credit cards, from basic cash back rewards to high-end travel cards.
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First established in Hong Kong, HSBC has grown into a renowned bank that provides personal and commercial financial services to a global crowd.
Its U.S. subsidiary, HSBC Bank USA, only began to assert its presence within the last few decades, but it’s since constructed branches across the nation.
It’s also become a relatively high-profile credit card issuer.
HSBC’s portfolio of credit cards is slim, but it offers some interesting options, so you might find something that suits your spending habits just right.
Low Interest Rate
Looking to pay off a balance transfer with a long 0% APR introductory period? You could do worse than the HSBC Gold Mastercard’s 18 months, but you’ll find even longer offers, as well as options with no balance transfer fees, among our picks for the best cards for balance transfers.
Cash Back Rewards
The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card offers flat-rate cash back on every dollar spent. While the card’s usual reward rate is 1.5%, you’ll get 3% cash back on all purchases up to $10,000 for the first 12 months, plus an annual 10% anniversary bonus on all cash rewards. That’s a pretty strong offer for a card with no annual fee.
|HSBC Platinum Mastercard® with Rewards Credit Card||$0||
|HSBC Advance Mastercard® Credit Card||$45, $0 first year ($0 with qualifying HSBC Advance or Premier checking account)||
This card works a lot like the Cash Rewards card above, but you earn points instead of cash back. It offers a similar bonus, where you receive 3X points on all purchases up to $10,000 in the first 12 months after account opening. Then, after the first year or hitting the limit, you get 1X point for every dollar spent. You can exchange points for a variety of merchandise or gift cards, or you can simply redeem them as cash back.
The HSBC Advance Mastercard® Credit Card boasts yet another introductory bonus that doubles your rewards, albeit with a higher spending limit and different spending categories. Other than that, there’s not much to it, aside from a 0% intro APR offer for purchases and balance transfers and a handful of basic benefits. To apply for this card, you’ll need an HSBC Advance or Premier checking account.
|HSBC Premier World Mastercard® Credit Card||$95, $0 first year ($0 with qualifying HSBC Premier checking account)||
|HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card||$395||
HSBC’s low-tier travel rewards card has a straightforward rewards program and a few useful benefits on top of the basic perks you’ve likely come to expect from any travel card. Cardholders can transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs, which adds a bit of flexibility. You must have an HSBC Premier checking account to apply for this card, and as long as you have the account, there’s no annual fee. But the card costs $95 annually after the first year if you don’t.
As its name suggests, the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card is HSBC’s premium credit card, and its $395 annual fee and upscale benefits reflect this. The card provides complimentary membership to the LoungeKey network of lounges, although you only get two free visits per year. Cardholders also get statement credits for air travel, TSA PreCheck, and select rideshare purchases. You’ll need an HSBC Premier checking account to apply for this card, too.
HSBC Credit Card Features
All credit cards HSBC currently issues in the U.S. use the Mastercard network. That means you’ll seldom have to worry about whether or not a merchant will accept your HSBC credit card.
But it also means that HSBC cards generally include a host of network-provided features that you might find useful. Mastercard benefits you’re afforded as an HSBC cardholder may include:
- Various types of insurance: Protections vary by card, but often include cell phone protection, car rental insurance, purchase assurance, and extended warranty protection.
- Travel benefits: Include several types of insurance, from baggage delay coverage to travel accident insurance, plus perks like travel assistance and 24-hour concierge services.
- Price protection: If you find something you just bought being advertised at a lower price within 120 days of your initial purchase, you may be reimbursed for the difference.
- Identity theft resolution services: Provides a valuable helping hand if you think you’ve fallen victim to identity theft.
- Lost/stolen card reporting: If you report your credit card lost or stolen, you’ll get a temporary card the next day in the U.S.
- ShopRunner: Complimentary ShopRunner membership offers unlimited, free, two-day shipping, plus free return shipping, with more than 140 online stores.
You’ll also usually enjoy a few benefits provided through HSBC itself, including free access to FICO credit scores, mobile banking tools, and fraud alerts.
HSBC credit cards include chip-and-PIN capability, which may increase their appeal for frequent international travelers.
HSBC’s fraud alerts should come in handy for catching unauthorized purchases and other illicit activity on your credit card account. However, if you prefer to go the extra mile to protect your personal information, consider setting fraud alerts on your credit reports or simply freezing them.
A Brief Summary of HSBC Services and Subsidiaries
As one of the largest banks in the world and the largest in Europe, it’s little surprise that HSBC’s success stems from a plethora of services and subsidiaries catering to a variety of financial needs. All told, HSBC serves more than 39 million customers, and its network spans 66 countries and territories.
The bank’s four main global businesses include:
- Commercial Banking: HSBC works with businesses of all shapes, sizes, and persuasions throughout 53 countries and territories. Its commercial banking branch specializes in global trade and receivables finance, global liquidity and cash management, global banking, and insurance and investments, and it facilitates more than $740 billion in trade each year.
- Retail Banking and Wealth Management: From personal banking to financial planning, HSBC’s retail banking arm currently supplies a wide variety of financial services to nearly 40 million customers around the world.
- Global Private Banking: HSBC Global Private Banking lends expert assistance to high-net-worth individuals, including business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs, as well as their families.
- Global Banking and Markets: Serving thousands of clients in more than 50 countries and territories, HSBC Global Banking and Markets works with corporations, governments, and institutions.
A Brief History of HSBC
Though the bank’s roots are firmly planted thousands of miles away, HSBC’s story isn’t much different from that of the other massive banks involved with the U.S. financial scene.
Fulfilling a Need
The beginning of HSBC can be traced directly to one man: Thomas Sutherland.
A seasoned Scottish businessman, Sutherland was working for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company in the 1860s when he noticed there was often something missing in communities throughout Hong Kong and the China coast: strong local banking facilities.
Opportunist that he was, Sutherland saw no reason why he couldn’t fill that need himself, and so he initiated the establishment of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.
The bank’s first location, in Hong Kong, opened in March 1865. Its second location opened the next month in Shanghai. The bank was officially incorporated in 1866.
HSBC began opening branches soon after its establishment, stimulating rapid success. The bank’s network spread outward, quickly reaching Europe and North America. But despite flourishing far and wide, HSBC’s focus remained on its home territory of China and the Asia-Pacific region in general.
In 1874, HSBC broke further ground, handling China’s first public loan. This set a precedent, and HSBC issued most of the nation’s public loans in the years that followed.
The bank continued to thrive under the fruitful leadership of Thomas Jackson, whose tenure ran from 1876 to 1902, and HSBC soon became Asia’s most prominent financial institution.
Wars and Recovery
The arrival of the 20th century brought about a host of serious changes for HSBC. The bank began diversifying the services it provided in its home region, servicing numerous loans for national governments (China in particular) that often helped spur the development of modern infrastructural projects, such as railways.
The First World War shook things up for a time, but in the wake of the action, a massive increase in the trade of rubber and tin helped the bank continue along its path to the top. In fact, this boom soon led to the construction of new branches in Bangkok, Manila, and Shanghai throughout the early 1920s, a streak which culminated in the 1935 construction of a brand-new HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong.
That’s when things took a turn.
A recession hit the area in the 1930s, and with it came political turmoil. Then came World War II, which saw much of the bank’s staff tragically taken prisoner.
HSBC weathered the storm, despite the war’s toll, and played an integral role in Hong Kong’s post-conflict reconstruction. Things were less than stellar outside of Hong Kong, however, and it soon became clear that serious change was required to ensure the bank’s long-term international success.
Adaptation and Expansion
When it became clear that things had to change, HSBC took quick action through a number of acquisitions. It purchased both Mercantile Bank (formerly Mercantile Bank of India, London, and China) and the British Bank of the Middle East in 1959.
HSBC then further diversified its services by adding a merchant banking arm in 1972.
Throughout this period, HSBC experienced consistent growth by acquiring other banks or forming strong business subsidiaries.
A Modernized Approach
By the end of the 1970s, HSBC had solidified its plan to reinforce its name around the world.
The bank established a “three-legged stool” approach, where it would be supported by three key markets: Asia-Pacific, the U.S., and the U.K. The key to success? More acquisitions.
HSBC added its U.S.A. leg in the 1980s by purchasing the Marine Midland Bank, a Buffalo-based institution that continued operating under the same name until HSBC’s global rebranding. HSBC then tried to make its mark in the U.K. by acquiring the Royal Bank of Scotland, but this acquisition fell through, so the bank instead opted for a 14.9% stake in Scotland’s Midland Bank (similar name, different bank!).
HSBC Holdings plc was established in 1991, and the bank thereafter achieved full ownership of Midland Bank in July 1992 to fulfill its “three-legged stool” philosophy. Once this acquisition was complete, the HSBC HQ was relocated to London, where it remains today.
The Bank You Know Today
HSBC rode out the 20th century on a high note, acquiring other banks (and lots of customers) around the world.
To better position itself as an identifiable international name, the bank unified its brand in 1998, adopting the hexagon logo with which you’re now likely familiar in hopes of developing an instantly recognizable brand.
Since then, the bank has grown consistently. And while it now proudly flaunts its prowess as a global power, HSBC maintains a strong focus on growth opportunities in its home territory of Asia-Pacific.
Sean Messier works to empower individuals with the knowledge required to use credit cards responsibly and to their advantage. His writing- and research-based background has granted him experience in an array of topics, from finance to business and beyond. Sean distills the knowledge accumulated over years of experience in the credit space into consistent, actionable articles, guides, and reviews.
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