HSBC has launched its first general spend credit card in Singapore, and it has some interesting features including fee-free miles transfers and no fewer than 9 frequent flyer partners.
HSBC launched a new travel credit card last week – the TravelOne card – a general spend option which boasts nine frequent flyer transfer partners and a 20,000 miles sign-up bonus when you apply between now and the end of August 2023.
The card also boasts fee-free transfers to frequent flyer miles until the end of 2023, while the transfers themselves will be instant, or in the worst case take only one business day.
Another plus that might make you keen to dive in with this one – the sign-up bonus is also open to existing HSBC cardholders too, not just new-to-bank applicants, as is usually the case with these promotions.
|Annual fee: $194.40/yr|
Local earn rate: 1.2 mpd
FCY earn rate: 2.4 mpd
Lounge access: 4 per year
FCY fee: 3.25%
Min. age: 21
Min. income: $30,000/yr
|20,000 miles when you spend|
The annual fee is non-waivable in year one. It is waived each year from the second membership year onwards, provided you spent at least S$25,000 in the previous membership year.
To apply for an HSBC TravelOne card, you must be aged 21 or above and have a minimum annual income of:
- S$30,000 for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, or
- S$40,000 for self-employed or commission-based Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents, and for foreigners residing in Singapore
If you do not meet the income requirements, a minimum fixed deposit collateral of S$10,000 will suffice instead.
The HSBC TravelOne card earns:
- 1.2 mpd for local spend (i.e. transacted in SGD), and
- 2.4 mpd for overseas spend (i.e. transacted in foreign currency).
No minimum spend or upper cap applies on earning with this card, but do note that unfortunately CardUp and ipaymy transactions do not earn miles on this (or any HSBC) card.
Here’s how that compares to some other general spend cards with similar income requirements on the market in Singapore.
Earn rates (general spend cards)
(Best to worst, May 2023)
|Card||Local Spend||FCY Spend|
|UOB PRVI Miles||1.4 mpd||2.4 mpd|
|OCBC 90oN||1.3 mpd||2.2 mpd|
|HSBC T1||1.2 mpd||2.4 mpd|
|Citi PM||1.2 mpd||2 mpd|
|DBS Altitude||1.2 mpd||2 mpd|
|KF Ascend||1.2 mpd||2 mpd*|
|KrisFlyer UOB||1.2 mpd||1.2 mpd|
|KF Blue||1.1 mpd||2 mpd*|
|BOC EM||1 mpd||2 mpd|
* During June and December only, otherwise the local spend rate applies
As you can see while the local earn rate of 1.2 mpd is run-of-the-mill, the FCY rate is on the more attractive side at 2.4 mpd, matching the UOB PRVI Miles cards.
The minimum spend to earn points with HSBC is also attractive at S$0.50, with some cards like those issued by OCBC and UOB earning no points at all for transactions less of than S$5.
HSBC is running a sign-up deal for those applying for the TravelOne credit card between now and 31st August 2023, with 20,000 bonus miles (paid as 50,000 HSBC Reward points) on offer when you spend S$800 or more by the end of the calendar month following the month of card approval.
The great thing about this offer is that it’s open to new and existing HSBC credit card holders.
That means if you’re already holding on to another HSBC card, like the Revolution or Visa Infinite products, you can still benefit from these bonus miles if you also pick up the TravelOne card between now and the end of August.
To be eligible you will need to:
- Apply by 31st August 2023
- Consent to receive marketing and promotional materials from HSBC
- Pay the annual fee of S$194.40
- Charge a minimum of S$800 in qualifying transactions by the end of the calendar month following the month of card approval (e.g. approved 19th May = meet the spend by 30th June)
Provided you have S$800 spend coming up, these 20,000 bonus miles cost 0.97 cents each based on payment of the S$194.40 annual fee.
There is a slightly higher cost, however, if you have to divert some or all the spend away from 4 mpd / 6 mpd credit cards to meet this threshold with the TravelOne card, which will be the case for some of our readers. It doesn’t dramatically change the equation though – this bonus is still worth it.
Qualifying transactions for the S$800 minimum spend comes with the usual HSBC exclusions, as shown below.
Spend exclusion categories
- Foreign exchange transactions (including but not limited to Forex.com);
- Donations and payments to charitable, social organisations and religious organisations;
- Quasi-cash transactions (including but not limited to transactions relating to money orders, traveler’s checks, gaming related transactions, lottery tickets and gambling);
- Payments made to financial institutions, securities brokerages or dealers (including but not limited to the trading of securities, investments or crypto-currencies of any kind);
- Payments onmoney payments/transfers(including but not limited toPaypal, SKR skrill.com,CardUp, SmoovPay,iPayMy);
- Payments to any professional services provider (including but not limited to GOOGLE Ads, Facebook Ads, Amazon Web Services, MEDIA TRAFFIC AGENCY INC);
- Top-ups, money transfers or purchase of credits of prepaid cards, stored-value cards or e-wallets (including but not limited to EZ-Link, Transitlink, NETS Flashpay and Youtrip);
- Payments in connection with any government institutions and/or services (including but not limited to court costs, fines, bail and bond payment);
- Any AXS and ATM transactions;
- Tax payments (except HSBC Tax Payment Facility);
- Payments forcleaning, maintenance and janitorial services(including property management fees);
- Payments toinsurance companies(including but not limited to sales, underwriting, premiums and insurance services);
- Payments toeducational institutions;
- Payments onutilities;
- The monthly instalment amounts under the HSBC Spend Instalment;
- Balance transfers, fund transfers, cash advances, finance charges, late charges, HSBC’s Cash Instalment Plan, any fees charged by HSBC;
- Any unposted, cancelled, disputed and refunded transactions.
Full terms and conditions for the sign-up bonus are available here.
The most significant leap for this card is a new variety of airline and hotel loyalty programme partners for you to transfer your HSBC Reward points across to.
For other HSBC products like the Revolution and Visa Infinite cards, transfers are only supported to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, but the HBSC TravelOne card allows you to transfer intonine FFPs, as shown below.
HSBC FFP Transfer Partners
This is a strong list, including Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam options, and introduces Vietnam Airlines Lotusmiles as a credit card conversion partner for the first time in Singapore.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club (QRPC) is also a de-facto inclusion, since you can link your British Airways Avios and QRPC accounts and make unlimited instant free 1:1 transfers of any amount between them, whenever you like.
In all cases with these nine FFPs, the same transfer ratio of 25,000 HSBC Reward points to 10,000 miles applies (2.5:1), so the ‘advertised’ miles per dollar rates on this card are true for all of them.
Of less interest, but still potentially useful for some readers, you can also transfer HSBC Reward points accrued on the TravelOne card to three hotel loyalty programmes:
- Accor Live Limitless (25,000 : 5,000)
- IHG One Rewards (25,000 : 10,000)
- Marriott Bonvoy (25,000 : 10,000)
Hotel points value shouldn’t be totally discounted of course – the 50,000 Reward points (20,000 miles) sign-up bonus for this card could instead be transferred into 10,000 Accor points – worth EUR200 (S$290) against a future hotel stay.
That alone makes the annual fee of S$194.40 worth paying, provided you can hit S$800 spend.
More to come?
By end of 2023, HSBC is promising to havemore than 20 airline and hotel transfer partnersavailable, at least eight more than it has now, so it will be interesting to see what the new options are in due course.
Fingers crossed for some useful additions like Turkish Miles&Smiles, Alaska Mileage Plan and Air Canada Aeroplan (some of these are already launch partners for the TravelOne card in Malaysia).
Hopefully all these partners can also be added as options for other HSBC credit cards in future, not just the TravelOne card.
Transfers are instant (or are they?)
One useful feature HSBC is promising with the TravelOne card is instant conversion from HSBC Rewards points to frequent flyer miles or hotel points.
This will be possible through the HSBC Singapore app (App Store | Google Play), and is currently exclusive to this card within the bank’s lineup.
Here’s HSBC’s step-by-step summary of how it will work.
There’s a little caveat, however, with a sneaky “or within one business day” get-out for the bank, plus if you’re transferring to Accor Live Limitless it will take up to five business days.
That could mean a Friday night transfer not crediting until Monday or Tuesday the following week in some cases.
It will be interesting to pick up some data points from readers on the actual transfer times in the months ahead – hopefully it is indeed simply instant!
↥ Minimum transfer quantity
The minimum transfer quantity is 25,000 HSBC Reward points, into 10,000 miles.
After that though, transfers can be made in 5 HSBC Reward point (2-mile) denominations.
That’s good news, because to unlock the sign-up bonus by spending S$800 you’ll accrue 960 miles for local spend (800 x 1.2) or 1,920 miles for FCY spend (800 x 2.4), in addition to the bonus itself.
That means you’ll have at least 20,960 miles and perhaps upwards of 21,920 miles in your rewards account for an exact spend of S$800 once the bonus miles come in, and thankfully you can transfer that exact quantity to miles, (since it’s greater than 10,000).
2-mile redemption blocks also avoids having ‘orphan miles’ stuck on your card, but only provided you keep your balance above 25,000 Reward points (10,000 miles) at all times.
Unfortunately HSBC does not allow you to combine points accrued on different cards, so if you have 24,999 HSBC Reward points on your TravelOne card it’s impossible to pool those with your Revolution card points, for example, to achieve a transfer.
Free transfers till December 2023
Another good thing about the TravelOne card is that unlimited transfers to frequent flyer programmes are free of charge until 31st December 2023.
That can also help you split up your miles stash and transfer them into different FFPs, provided each transfer is at least 10,000 miles, without incurring any additional cost.
For example, if you accrue 22,000 miles you could transfer 10,000 into KrisFlyer and 12,000 into British Airways Avios if you wished, with no fees to pay for either transfer during the rest of 2023.
From 1st January 2024 it’s not clear whether HSBC will require TravelOne cardholders to subscribe to the HSBC Mileage Programme (S$43.20 per year for unlimited transfers), or charge a one-time fee for each transfer (typically S$25-27).
The TravelOne card comes withfour complimentary lounge visitsper calendar year,under the DragonPass programme.
This includes a wide range of 1,300 lounges globally, with all 10 third-party options here in Singapore at Changi Airport accounted for.
The great thing about the lounge visits being based oncalendar year, assuming you pick up the TravelOne card in the coming months, is that you’ll be able to use up four visits in 2023, then a fresh four visit allowance will be loaded on 1st January 2024 for you to use next year.
If you then cancel the card before the second year annual fee is due – you’ve potentially scored eight lounge visits in your first card membership year (for your single S$194.40 annual fee).
Lounge visits can only be used by the principal cardholder, and unused visits do not carry over to the next calendar year. Terms and conditions are available here.
HSBC Reward points expire
HSBC Reward points expire at the end of a 37-month period commencing from the month subsequent to the month in which such points were awarded.
That gives you three years and one month of validity. For example any points awarded in May 2023 will expire on 30th June 2026. Something to bear in mind with this card, especially once the (unknown) miles transfer fee kicks in next year.
- Travel insurance
Complimentary travel insurance coverage (including COVID-19) of up to US$100,000 for you and your family when you charge the full cost of your air ticket to the card. Full policy wording here.
- Mastercard Travel Rewards
Cashback and discounts in-store and online at several retailers worldwide. Details here.
- Mastercard Priceless Specials
A range of offers and benefits from Mastercard, like 3 nights for 2 at selected hotels. Details here.
HSBC has launched the TravelOne credit card in Singapore, which is a good general spend option with a typical earn rate for local spend (1.2 mpd) and arguably a more decent one than most cards offer for transacting in foreign currency (2.4 mpd).
While this clearly doesn’t eclipse specialised bonus 4 mpd or 6 mpd cards, as an uncapped general spend option it’s not a bad one.
The sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles for payment of the annual fee and a moderate spend in the first full calendar month after approval means buying miles at an attractive 0.97 cents each, and is also available to existing cardholders, plus there are up to eight lounge visits in your first card membership year – if you play it right.
The big benefit though is a myriad of new transfer partners across the main alliances, with more supposedly to come later this year, though this will only be truly useful if the list can be tapped by those holding other HSBC credit cards in Singapore – especially the 4 mpd Revolution card.
What do you think of the new HSBC TravelOne credit card? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)