Review of the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card
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A decent flat-rate card, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard provides 1.5% cash back for everything you buy, with a 10% bonus every year. 0% intro APRs for both purchases and balance transfers round out the picture.
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The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card provides an easy way to earn some rewards no matter what you’re buying.
Ordinarily, it provides 1.5% cash back for every purchase. But for the first year, you’ll earn at a 3% cash back rate for up to $10,000 in purchases thanks to the card’s current introductory bonus.
Plus, a week after ever cardholder anniversary, you’ll get a 10% bonus on all of your cash rewards earned throughout the prior year. This effectively boosts the card’s reward rate up to 3.3% on purchases up to $10,000 for the first year, and then 1.65% afterward.
On top of this card’s rewards system, there’s a 0% intro purchase and balance transfer APR for 12 months, which is solid for a rewards card. After that, the regular 14.99–24.99% Variable APR applies. You’ll also find some basic protections available, for shopping and traveling.
For no annual fee, this is a simple but effective way to earn cash back everywhere. Keep reading to see if it’s right for you.
Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
We gave this card 4 out of 5 Stars because it’s a simple and inexpensive card to use. But it doesn’t have many extra features.
Why We Like It
- The 1.5% cash back rate makes this a good card for a variety of spending, rather than particular bonus reward categories.
- Getting a 10% bonus on your cash back makes this a bit better than other 1.5% cash back card offers.
- The card offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. After the introductory period, the regular 14.99–24.99% Variable APR begins.
- The 3% cash back introductory rate lets you earn much more generously than usual during your first year as a cardholder.
- This card can be cheap to use, with no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.
Why It Could Be Better
- There are only some basic shopping and travel protections available.
- Your credit score is only available on your statement, rather than freely online like many other cards.
The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard is one of a few rewards cards that are good for general spending. Check out some others below, along with some different kinds of rewards cards.
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
- Use this card wherever you want because you’ll always get 1.5% cash back, no matter what you buy. This makes it good to pair with a different reward card that has bonus reward categories at higher rates.
- Take advantage of the 3% introductory bonus reward rate and earn extra cash on your first $10,000 in purchases throughout your first year as a cardholder.
- Redeeming for statement credits, or by direct deposit into an HSBC bank account, are the easiest ways to get your cash back.
- Use the 0% intro APR to transfer a balance away from an account with a high APR, or to pay for larger purchases over the course of a year without accumulating interest fees.
- Since this is a Mastercard with no foreign transaction fees, it’s a good choice for spending outside the country. There’s no extra charge and it will be accepted pretty much everywhere.
- Keep tabs on one of your FICO 8 Credit Scores by checking it on your monthly statement. It’s based on your Experian credit report.
In the first year, while you earn 3% cash back, you’ll get an equivalent of 3.3% cash back after the anniversary bonus. You can earn the equivalent of 1.65% cash back with this card after the first 12 months, after the anniversary bonus is applied.
So you’ll get a slight boost to your points every year. When you add that to the rewards you earn, it means you’ll effectively be getting 1.65% cash back on your purchases. You’ll also receive a 10% bonus on all the cash back you earn each year, within seven days after your account anniversary.
That anniversary bonus is available as long as your account is active and in good standing. Being active here refers to having at least one transaction in the year that qualified for cash back rewards. And being in good standing refers to not being over the credit limit or delinquent on payments.
The icing on the cake? Your anniversary bonus also applies to any cash back earned at the 3% intro reward rate, which means you can actually earn 3.3% cash back on up to $10,000 in purchases during your first year as a cardholder.
You’ll have a few different options for redeeming your cash back. But these two ways are the simplest:
- Statement credits, which will lower your account balance
- Direct deposits it into an HSBC consumer checking or savings account
We recommend redeeming for statement credits, which will be the quickest and easiest way for most people. But if you have an eligible HSBC bank account in addition to the card, you can easily deposit your rewards into it as well.
There are a few other ways to redeem your cash back, but they require more work. They require you to make certain kinds of purchases at certain times, for instance, or book travel through certain services. And you won’t necessarily get the full value of your rewards when you do.
So, stick with statement credits or direct deposits to get your cash back. But if you do want to explore other options, you can also redeem in the following ways. Check your card terms to learn exactly how to redeem in these ways:
- Travel Statement Credits
- Online Travel Rewards
- TSA Pre✓™ Statement Credit
- Travel Packages and Experiences
- Gift Cards/Gift Certificates
Free FICO Credit Score on Monthly Statement
You can see one of your FICO 8 Credit Scores for free with this card. It’s based on your Equifax credit report.
However, your score will only be reported on your monthly statement, either digital or mailed. Many other cards will let you check your score online for free whenever you’d like. But no matter which credit card issuer provides the score, it will usually be updated only once per month anyway.
Purchase Assurance Protection
Eligible items you buy with your HSBC card are covered against damage and theft for 90 days.
If you find an item you bought being advertised for a lesser price, you could be reimbursed for the price difference. You must purchase the item entirely with your HSBC card. This applies to print and online advertisements. Claims must be made within 60 days of the date of purchase.
This applies to eligible items you buy with your HSBC card that have a manufacturer’s warranty of 12 months or less. This benefit will double the item’s warranty, up to a maximum of 12 additional months. If an item has multiple warranties they can each be extended.
MasterTrip Travel Assistance
Provides pre-trip planning and help with travel emergencies. That includes emergency card replacement or cash advances, medical assistance and referrals, and more. Available when traveling 50 miles or more from home.
Provides coverage against damage and theft for rented vehicles when you pay with the Cash Rewards Mastercard. You’ll need to decline the rental company’s own insurance or damage waiver in order for this to apply.
Master RoadAssist Roadside Service
Call 1-800-Mastercard if you need help with your vehicle when driving, like a tow truck or flat tire change. You may save some money compared to calling the service directly because some fees are pre-negotiated.
This service is not available outside the U.S.
Travel Accident Insurance
Provides $1,000,000 in coverage when traveling by common carrier, against accidental loss of life, limb, speech, sight, or hearing. Covers you, your spouse or domestic partner, and dependent children. You must charge the entire fare to your HSBC card to be eligible.
Mastercard Airport Concierge
Get a 15% discount on Airport Meet and Greet services. Airport concierges are available to escort you through the terminal, in some cases expediting you through security or immigration.
You’ll also get a few other standard benefits. Those include Fraud Protection, an assurance that you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges on your account. Just be sure to report any unauthorized activity as soon as you notice it.
There are also some account management features. See the full set of benefits for the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard.
The Costs & Fees
|Intro APR for Balance Transfers and Purchases||Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|0% for 12 months||14.99–24.99% Variable||27.24% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$0||None||Either $10 or 4%, whichever is greater, will apply on each balance transfer and credit card check.||Either $10 or 4%, whichever is greater, will apply on each cash advance transaction.|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|32.00%||Up to $37||Up to $25|
This is a very low-cost card, with no annual fee. It also offers a 0% purchase and balance transfer APR for 12 months, which can help you pay off large balances without racking up interest fees. But keep up on your payments every month or you’ll lose that intro rate.
There’s no foreign transaction fee. It’s also a Mastercard, so it will have good acceptance around the world. Those features together make this a pretty good card for traveling outside the U.S. That’s not true for some other general-use rewards cards, like the Citi Double Cash or Chase Freedom Unlimited.
The Bottom Line
The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard presents a simple way to earn cash back for every purchase you make.
It doesn’t have the most rewarding bonus categories. But it does make it easy to earn more than the 1% back on non-category purchases you’ll get with most reward cards, and the 3% introductory reward rate makes this card even more valuable.
The 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers is pretty competitive among general-use cash back cards, too.
You won’t get the most valuable extra benefits, but for no annual fee this card is cheap and easy to use. That’s especially true if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of figuring out which card to use for which bonus reward category.
There are a few other good general-use rewards cards with slightly different terms and features. Check out some similar card offers below. Or see the HSBC Gold Mastercard® (Review), a similar offer with no cash back and a longer 0% intro APR period.
How to Apply for the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard
Just click the Apply Now button to apply for this card. You’ll be taken to HSBC’s site to apply, where you can provide your personal information.
This card is rated for good credit. So you’ll need to have a decent credit history and financial situation to improve your odds of being approved. HSBC will check your Equifax or Experian credit report when you apply, possibly both.
Alternatives to the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard
It offers more cash back than most cards of this type, with:
- 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limit (must pay at least the minimum due on time):
- 1% cash back at the time of purchase
- 1% back when the purchase is paid off
Most general-use rewards cards offer about 1.5% cash back, but this card has them beat. It’s better than the 1.65% equivalent you’ll get with the HSBC card, after the 10% bonus. And it’s a better base rate than the Discover it Miles, which is next on our list.
The Discover it Miles and HSBC card both win out in the first year of card use, though, because Discover will double your miles and the HSBC card lets you earn at a 3% rate.
This 2% rate is the main feature of the Double Cash card. But it also has a 0% introductory APR offer for 18 months on Balance Transfers, before the regular rate of 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable) begins. This only applies to balance transfers, unlike the 0% purchase and balance transfer rate you get with the HSBC card.
Other than that, the Citi card also offers a few benefits that are a cut above the basics you get with the HSBC card. They include a concierge you can call any time to get non-emergency help of all kinds. And also the Citi Private Pass service, which provides special access to tickets at select events. Citi cardholders can also access the Citi Easy Deals shopping portal, where you can find discounts on some products and at some retailers.
So, the main difference is that you’ll be able to earn a bit more cash back with the Double Cash, compared to the HSBC card.
You might be wondering what a travel card is doing on this list of alternatives. But the Discover it® Miles (Review) is a surprisingly good card offer that isn’t limited to travelers and travel expenses.
- 1.5X miles per dollar for every purchase you make
- Discover Match: doubles the total amount of miles earned in your first year
Your miles will be worth 1 cent each with this card, so you’ll be earning the equivalent of 1.5% cash back with this card. And Discover Match will double that to 3 miles in the first year, or 3% back.
Unlike most travel credit cards, this card will provide the same value for your miles no matter how you redeem them. Most travel cards make you redeem for travel expenses if you want to get the best value. That means you have to have some travel-related spending.
But the Discover it Miles provides 1 cent per mile no matter how you redeem. So you can redeem your miles for statement credits for their full value, just like any cash back rewards card.
So even though it’s technically a travel card, you can use the Discover it Miles like any other rewards card. And it’s a pretty good offer compared to other general-use rewards cards, thanks in large part to Discover Match.
In addition to all that, this card has no annual fee.
Discover offers everyone free access to his or her FICO 8 Credit Score, based on TransUnion credit reports. You can access this service online at any time, whether you’re a cardholder or not.
The HCBC Cash Rewards provides cardholders with their FICO 8 Credit Scores based on Experian credit reports. But that is only available on your monthly statement, online or mailed. If you have the HSBC card, you can check to see how closely your FICO scores match up between your Experian and TransUnion credit reports.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
The extra terms and benefits are about the same for both cards. And they both come with basic shopping and travel protection. But one major difference is that the Freedom Unlimited offers a 0% rate for purchases for 15 months before the regular 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR starts. You’ll only get 12 months with the HSBC card.
You won’t be able to check in on any of your FICO scores with the Chase Unlimited card, however. So overall the HSBC Cash Rewards might have a slight edge over it in the long term, with its 10% bonus and FICO Score 8 access.
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review) has a bit more reward potential than the other general-use cards listed here. Instead of a set amount of cash back for every purchase, this card has bonus reward categories.
- 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
- 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 20% back for Amazon purchases in the first 6 months, up to $150 back; $100 back for spending $2,000 in the first 6 months (earned as a statement credit)
This card is more rewarding for certain types of purchases, as you can see. If you tend to make a lot of purchases of these types, a card like this could net you a fair bit of cash back every year.
The Blue Cash Everyday has superior benefits compared to the HSBC card. They include access to Amex Offers, a selection of discounts at many popular merchants. Some of those can be quite high, and most offer a discount of at least 10%. Another is Entertainment Access, which provides exclusive offers for live events in big cities. This one will be less useful on average, but it could still be quite valuable for some people.
All Amex cards allow you to see one of your FICO Score 8 credit scores online for free, whenever you’d like. It’s based on your Experian credit report. HSBC also provides your FICO score based on your Experian report, but you can only view it on your monthly statements. This isn’t a huge difference, however, because the score is updated monthly in both cases. But it does make checking your score with the Amex card more convenient (enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply).
With no annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday offers 15 months at 0% APR for purchases before the regular 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR begins (Rates & Fees).
Since these cards have different rewards programs, a good strategy could be using them both together. You can use the Blue Cash Everyday whenever you’ll get 3% or 2% back. And then use the HSBC card for every other purchase to get 1.65% back. Neither card has an annual fee, so you wouldn’t need to pay anything extra as long as you avoid interest.
This card has an annual fee of $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 (Rates & Fees), but for that price you’ll get:
- 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
- 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 20% back for Amazon purchases in the first 6 months, up to $200 back; $150 back for spending $3,000 in the first 6 months (earned as a statement credit)
The Blue Cash Preferred would also work well along with the HSBC card.
- 5% cash back in categories that rotate throughout the year (up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, activation required, see calendar below)
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Cashback Match: new cardmembers get double the cash back earned in the first year
The 5% cash back calendar for the Discover it Cash Back for 2021 is:
|Quarter||5% Cash Back Category|
|January – March||Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS|
|April – June||Gas Stations, Wholesale Clubs, Select Streaming Services|
|July – September||Restaurants, PayPal|
|October – December||Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com|
The changing categories are much different than the 1.65% back for every purchase you get with the HSBC Cash Rewards. With the Discover it Cash Back you’ll need to think about which purchases you’ll currently get 5% cash back for at any given time. It’s made for someone who will take more of an active interest in the rewards they’re earning. But if you’d rather go for something simple, the HSBC card doesn’t require much thought to use.
Discover will double the total amount of rewards you earn in your first year, which is a great offer. That means you’ll be getting 10% cash back in the bonus categories in the first year. And 2% back for every other purchase you make in the first year, which is better than the HSBC card.
There’s also a set of basic shopping and travel protections. And Discover offers everyone, cardholder or not, the ability to check their FICO Score 8 online. It’s based on your Experian credit report, just like the HSBC card.
You could use the Discover it Cash Back together with the HSBC Cash Rewards to earn a fair amount of cash back for every purchase.
You’d want to use the HSBC Cash Rewards during the first year for the first $10,000 in purchases, and then the Discover it Cash Back card afterward, which earns 2% back on non-category purchases in that first year. After the first year the Discover it Cash Back drops to 1% for those purchases, so the 1.65% you’ll get from the HSBC card is better.
If you like everything about the Discover it Cash Back except for the particular reward categories it offers, there are a couple other cards you might prefer. The first is similar but it’s issued by Chase and has a different set of rotating bonus categories. The second has static reward categories but it’s a Discover card, so it has the same extra benefits and features as the Discover it Cash Back.
- Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Review): No annual fee, different 5% rotating bonus categories than the Discover it Cash Back, plus more, 15 months 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers (then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable)
- Discover it® chrome (Review): No annual fee, 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in spending per quarter, See Terms at See Terms APR on purchases and balance transfers (then See Terms)
Do you have the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard card? How do you like it, and what do you use it for? Leave your own review of the Cash Rewards Mastercard, we’d love to hear from you!
Looking for other cards with long intro APR periods? Check out our picks for the Best 0% Intro APR Cards.
Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high-quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.
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