Review of the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Feb 10, 2018 | Updated Feb 12, 2018

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The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard provides an easy way to earn some rewards no matter what you’re buying.

It provides 1.5% cash back for every purchase. There are no bonus categories to think about. But there is a signup bonus that’s pretty competitive with other credit cards.

You’ll get a slight bonus to your rewards every year. And there’s a 15-month 0% intro balance transfer APR you can take advantage of, which is good for a rewards card. 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.

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®
Apply Now

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: None
  • Interest Rate: 14.24%, 18.24%, or 24.24% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, with no limit
  • $150 cash back signup bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 15-month 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers, then 14.24%, 18.24%, or 24.24% Variable
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No penalty APR
  • One late fee waiver per year
  • Mastercard shopping and travel benefits

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 this card

  • The 1.5% cash back rate makes this a good card for a variety of spending, rather than particular bonus reward categories.
  • The signup bonus is pretty easy to get.
  • Getting a 10% bonus on your cash back makes this a bit better than other 1.5% cash back card offers.
  • The 15-month 0% APR for balance transfers is fairly good compared to most cards.
  • This card can be cheap to use, with no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.

Why this card could be better

  • The 15-month 0% APR only applies to balance transfers, not purchases.
  • 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: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • 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.
  • Redeeming for statement credits, or by direct deposit into an HSBC bank account, are the easiest ways to get your cash back.
  • Use the 15-month 0% intro APR to transfer a balance away from an account with a high APR.
  • 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.

The Rewards

You can earn the equivalent of 1.65% cash back with this card, after the anniversary bonus is applied.

Earning

  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Signup bonus: $150 cash back for spending $500 in the first 3 months after account opening
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus on all cash back rewards earned in the previous year

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 receive that 10% bonus 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.

Take note that the anniversary bonus will not apply to the $150 signup bonus.

Redeeming

You’ll have a few different options for redeeming your cash back. But these two ways are the simplest:

  • for statement credits, which will lower your account balance
  • by directly depositing 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
  • Travel Statement Credits
  • Online Travel Rewards
  • TSA Pre✓™ Statement Credit
  • Travel Packages and Experiences
  • Gift Cards/Gift Certificates
  • Charity

The Benefits

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.

Price Protection

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.

Extended Warranty

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.

MasterRental Insurance

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.

Other Benefits

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 Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
0% for 15 months 14.24%, 18.24%, or 24.24% Variable 26.24% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
None  0% 4%; Min $10 4%; Min $10
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
31.24% Variable Up to $37 Up to $25

This is a very low-cost card, with no annual fee. It also has that 15-month 0% APR you can use to help pay off large balance transfers over time. But keep up on your payments every month or you’ll lose that intro rate. And remember that only applies to balance transfers, not purchases.

Even though you don’t have an intro rate for purchases, you can still use this card at no extra cost. Just pay off your entire balance on time each billing period to prevent interest from accruing, or other fees. That’s a great strategy to improve your credit and avoid credit card debt.

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.

Customer Support

Phone Support

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard Application Line and Customer Service 1-888-385-8916
HSBC Credit Card Underwriting and Approval Line 1-866-574-4421

We’ve had some trouble getting information from HSBC’s customer support. You won’t be able to call their credit card division directly, you’ll need to be transferred.

We had some questions, and ended up speaking with a friendly representative who was pretty knowledgeable about the card. However, he couldn’t tell us whether or not the 10% anniversary bonus would apply to the $150 signup bonus. And apparently nobody else knew either, because we were told that he’d have to call us back later with the answer.

A call back was promised later that day, the next day, or a few days later — when that rep would be working again. Although this may have been a tough question that few people have asked them before, we didn’t expect it to be such a mystery.

We got our call back in just 15 minutes. That’s not bad, if they had to go research a question. We were told that the 10% anniversary bonus does not apply to the $150 signup bonus.

In our original call, we were also able to learn that your cash back will be valued differently depending on how you redeem it. Statement credits and direct deposits will provide the maximum value, of $1 per $1 of cash back. But other options, like gift cards, may provide less value depending on the particular offer.

However, we also got some misleading information from them. The first rep we spoke to said that this card provides 2% cash back for every purchase for the first 6 months of card ownership. But that offer is no longer available with the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard. It used to come with this card, but has expired.

The second rep we spoke with, after being transferred, told us that we’d earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase. This is what the card actually offers at the time of publication. So this was not very good, and a real customer calling for information could easily come away with the wrong idea.

We also called a separate time to ask which credit reports they’ll check when you apply. The first rep we spoke to couldn’t tell us. We were transferred to the more specific credit card division, as expected. But rep #2 couldn’t tell us either. He guessed that they would check all three of the major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). But he didn’t really know.

He told us that we could either take this information, or press on to yet another customer support division, through the “Credit Card Underwriting” phone line. We chose to continue the adventure, but we had to hang up and call this line ourselves. We called 1-866-574-4421 and reached rep #3. She quickly and easily told us that they will check Experian or Equifax credit reports when people apply for their cards. It’s not clear which report will be checked. “The system just picks one,” she said.

If you have complicated questions, it may take a while to explain what you’re trying to learn. Their reps, while friendly and eager to help, have a tendency to read long explanations of card features, whether or not you’re asking about them specifically. If you’re persistent, you can probably learn what you want to know eventually. But it may be wise to call again to speak with a different rep to confirm what you heard.

HSBC isn’t exactly known for their great customer support. They came in very last place in the recent J.D. Power annual Credit Card Satisfaction Study for 2017. HSBC has never really been known for their credit cards, but they’ve recently released some decent offers. If they plan to put more effort and resources into credit cards in the future, hopefully we’ll see their customer support improve as well.

Web Support

HSBC’s website is designed fairly well, like most major banks today. You should be able to find information about the credit card offer you’re looking for.

The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard has most of its information laid out nicely on its web page. And there are links to PDF’s of the card brochure and Guide to Benefits. This is a nice touch by HSBC. However, the card details don’t include much about the value you can expect to get from your cash back from the different redemption methods.

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 15-month 0% intro APR for balance transfers is pretty competitive among general-use cash back cards.

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.

HSBC Gold Mastercard®
Apply Now

HSBC Gold Mastercard®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: None
  • Interest Rate: 12.24%, 16.24%, or 20.24% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 18-month 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers, then 12.24%, 16.24%, or 20.24% Variable
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No penalty APR
  • One late fee waiver per year
  • Mastercard shopping and travel benefits

Alternatives to the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard

Citi Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash Card (Review) is a general-use rewards card for no annual fee.

It offers more cash back than most cards of this type, with:

  • 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limit:
    • 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. But the Discover it Miles wins out in the first year of card use because Discover will double your miles.

This 2% rate is the main feature of the Double Cash card. But it also has an 18-month 0% introductory APR balance transfer offer. This only applies to balance transfers, like the 15-month 0% 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.

Discover it Miles

You might be wondering what a travel card is doing on this list of alternative cards. But the Discover it Miles (Review) is a surprisingly good card offer that isn’t limited to travelers and travel expenses.

It offers:

  • 1.5 miles per dollar for every purchase you make
  • Discover Deals shopping portal: get 5-50% off at participating retailers.
  • Mile for Mile 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 the Mile for Mile 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, because of the Discover Deals and Mile for Mile Match.

In addition to all that, this card has no annual fee. It also has a 14-month 0% intro APR period for purchases and balance transfers. The HSBC card offers 15 months at no interest, but only for balance transfers and not purchases.

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.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited (Review) has a similar structure to the HSBC card. It has no annual fee, and provides:

  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Signup bonus: $150 cash back for spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
  • Signup bonus: $25 cash back for adding an authorized user and making a purchase in 3 months

So the rewards programs are almost identical. The main signup bonuses are the same, $150 for spending $500. But the Freedom Unlimited has a small extra signup bonus too. And the HSBC card adds an annual 10% bonus, while the Chase card does not.

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 has a 15-month 0% APR for both purchases and balance transfers. You’ll only get 15 months at no interest for balance transfers 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, with its 10% bonus and FICO 8 access.

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

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.

For no annual fee, it provides:

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and department stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: $150 back for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

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 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.

The Blue Cash Everyday has a 15-month 0% intro rate for both purchases and balance transfers. That’s better than the HSBC card, which only gives 15 months for balance transfers.

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.

You can also get an enhanced version of the Blue Cash Everyday, which is called the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express® (Review).

This card has an annual fee of $95, but for that price you’ll get:

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and department stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: $200 back for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

The Blue Cash Preferred would also work well along with the HSBC card.

Discover it

The Discover it (Review) is another rewards card with no annual fee. But instead of set categories, this card has bonus reward categories that change every three months.

Cardholders get:

  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate throughout the year (up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, see calendar below)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Cashback Match: new cardmembers get double the cash back earned in the first year
  • 5–50% cash back at a variety of retailers through the Discover Deals shopping portal

The 5% cash back calendar for 2018 is:

Quarter 5% Cash Back Category
January – March Gas Stations & Wholesale Clubs
April – June Grocery Stores
July – September Restaurants
October – December Amazon.com & Wholesale Clubs

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 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.

The Discover it, and all other Discover cards, also come with access to the Discover Deals marketplace. This provides some pretty good discounts at specific retailers, both online and offline.

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. And 2% back for every other purchase you make, which is better than the HSBC card.

The Discover it also comes with a 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers for 14 months. That’s just a month shorter than the HSBC card, but it applies to both types of card balance. The HSBC card only offers that 0% rate for balance transfers.

There’s also a set of basic shopping and travel protections. And Discover offers everyone, cardholder or not, the ability to check their FICO 8 Credit Score online. It’s based on your Experian credit report, just like the HSBC card.

You could use the Discover it together with the HSBC Cash Rewards to earn a fair amount of cash back for every purchase. However, you wouldn’t need to get the HSBC card until after your first year with the Discover it. The Discover card will provide 2% back for non-category purchases in that first year, which is better than the HSBC card. But after that first year the Discover card 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 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.

  • Chase Freedom® (Review): No annual fee, different 5% rotating bonus categories than the Discover it, 15-month 0% intro APR
  • Discover it® Chrome (Review): No annual fee, 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, 14-month 0% intro APR

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.
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