HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card Review: 3% Cash Back For a Year

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If you’re looking to maximize your cash back rewards on everyday spending, HSBC has an offer aimed at catching your attention.

The HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card is a credit card that offers 3% cash back — without any spending category restrictions — for the first year of membership. After that, you’ll enjoy everyday spending earnings of 1.5% cash back.

Does that first year of additional cash back rewards and other perks make this a good choice for your wallet?

I’ve taken a close look at this HSBC offering to see if it holds up against popular cash back cards like the Citi Double Cash, which is a card you’ll find in money expert Clark Howard’s wallet.


Table of Contents

Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best cash back credit cards. We’ve compared the HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card to the best cards in this segment of the market. And we’ve determined that it’s a viable choice — thanks to its bonus cash back categories and the fact that it doesn’t have an annual fee.

As you’re deciding whether this card is a fit for you, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.


What Is the HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card?

The HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card is a cash back credit card that does not charge an annual fee.

The hook for this card is a 12-month introductory period of 3% cash back rewards along with an introductory 0% APR offer for both new purchases and balance transfers.

Those two offers are temporary, but the card does give you unlimited 1.5% cash back as an everyday reward and has other perks like a complimentary subscription to ShopRunner.


HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card: Specs and Perks

Let’s take a look at the fine print to examine some of the card’s perks and drawbacks:

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Cash Back Rewards

  • Promotional Cash Back Period: This card offers 3% cash back on all purchases in the first year of card membership with a spending cap of $10,000. That means the maximum cash back you can earn at this bonus rate is $300. After you hit that cap, the rest of your purchases on the card will earn its standard 1.5% cash back rate.
  • Everyday Cash Back: Even after the first year bonus expires, you’ll still get 1.5% cash back on all purchases. That’s not nearly as good as the 2% cash back offers from cards such as the PayPal Cashback Mastercard or Citi Double Cash, but it’s still better than many cards on the market.
  • Redemption Options: As some credit cards issuers do, HSBC issues cash back rewards as points. You can use these “Cash Rewards points” to get actual cash back (in the form of a check), direct deposits into an HSBC account or statement credits on the card. But the points also can be used for things like travel, gift cards and merchandise. Here’s a more detailed look at your options:
HSBC has a variety of redemption options for its cash back rewards.
HSBC.com

Cardholder Benefits

  • Introductory APR Period: This card has a one-year 0% APR period for both new purchases and balance transfers. If you move an existing credit card balance over to this card, the transfer will be subject to a fee of either $10 or 4%. It’s also worth noting that there is no limit on how much you can transfer as long as it does not exceed your credit limit for the card. You cannot transfer a balance from another HSBC card.
  • Cell Phone Protection: If you pay your wireless bill with this credit card each month, you are eligible for protection of up to $600 per claim if your phone is stolen or damaged. You can read more about this type of coverage and competing credit cards that offer it here.
  • Free ShopRunner Subscription: This could come in handy for cardholders who enjoy online shopping. ShopRunner offers free two-day shipping and free returns on purchases made from more than 100 retailers including Under Armour, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
  • Rental Home Discount: If you book a home rental through onefinestay, you can receive 10% off your stay just for being a cardholder.
  • Golf Discounts: You can tee up some discounts with your HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card by taking advantage of the Priceless Golf program through Mastercard. This can help with tee times at popular TPC courses as well as discount offers for sessions at Topgolf.
  • Auto Rental and Travel Insurance Benefits: This card gives access to the MasterRental Coverage from Mastercard, which will provide protection for physical damage and theft to most rental vehicles. You also can get accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $1,000,000 when traveling.

Cardholder Fees

Here’s a quick look at some of the fees you may encounter with the HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card:

  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $10 or 4% of the balance, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the advance, whichever is greater.
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None.
  • Late Payment Fee: Up to $39.

HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card vs. Citi Double Cash

If you’re considering a cash back credit card, you’re likely looking for a card that’s going to optimize your rewards based on your spending habits.

To help determine if the HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card is actually your best option, I compared this card to the Citi Double Cash.

Spending Comparison

The Double Cash, which is one of Clark Howard’s favorite credit cards, gives users 1% cash back when they make a purchase and an additional 1% cash back when the bill is paid. As long as you’re paying your bills each month, that’s an effective 2% cash back on every purchase you make without any spending limits or category restrictions.

For the purposes of this spending comparison, we’ll break things down by Year 1 spending first to account for the HSBC Cash Rewards 3% bonus for the first year of spending, and then we’ll look at how the spending changes in Year 2 without the boost.

Spending Breakdown: Year 1

Annual SpendingHSBC Cash Rewards (3% up to $10,000, then 1.5%)Citi Double Cash (2%)
$1,000$30$20
$2,500$75$50
$5,000$150$100
$7,500$225$150
$10,000$300$200
$12,500$337.50$250
$15,000$375$300
$20,000$450$400
$25,000$525$500
$30,000$600$600

As you can see in the chart, there’s a decided advantage for the HSBC Cash Rewards card during the first year. Thanks to that 3% cash back bonus, you can earn an extra $100 in rewards when spending $10,000 with the HSBC card instead of using the Citi Double Cash or a comparable 2% cash back card.

However, you can see the impact of the 3% bonus wanes quickly once you hit that $10,000 spending cap. Any dollar spent on the HSBC card beyond the $10,000 threshold receives only 1.5% cash back rewards. And while you’re still better off with the HSBC card in Year 1 with spending that exceeds the bonus cap, it is not nearly as clear cut.

Things level off completely at the $30,000 annual spending mark. That may seem like a lot, but that’s only $2,500 in spending per month.

Spending Breakdown: Year 2

Annual SpendingHSBC Cash Rewards (1.5%)Citi Double Cash (2%)
$1,000$15$20
$2,500$37.50$50
$5,000$75$100
$7,500$112.50$150
$10,000$150$200
$12,500$187.50$250
$15,000$225$300
$20,000$300$400
$25,000$375$500
$30,000$450$600

With the HSBC Cash Rewards card dropped to its standard 1.5% cash back in Year 2, the script flips quickly from Year 1. The Citi Double Cash is the better choice no matter how much you spend, with the half-percent difference looming larger as you spend more money.

At the same $10,000 spending threshold that stood to make you $100 in Year 1, you’re now losing $50 in comparison to the Citi Double Cash.

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The Big Takeaway

So what do we take away from the spending exercise?

It’s that the 3% cash back bonus sounds great as a marketing ploy for the HSBC card, but the long-term benefits are not really there when compared to a card that gives a higher standard rate of cash back.

Once you make it to $30,000 in spending, the cards completely even out on the cash back rewards. And that’s assuming you garnered all $300 of the 3% cash back bonus in Year 1.

So it’s safe to assume that, in the long run, you’re going to make more money with the Citi Double Cash.


Final Thoughts

Are you considering adding the HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:

HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
3% cash back for first 12 months Only 1.5% cash back after first year
12 months of 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers No welcome bonus offer
Cell phone protection if you pay wireless bill with this card 3% cash back is capped at $300 in cash back rewards

Bottom Line: The HSBC Cash Rewards card has many nice things to offer that make it competitive in the cash back credit card space.

However, far too many of them fall into Year 1 as a temporary benefit to make this the choice for a long-term everyday spender for most people.

If you’re the type of person who carries a lot of credit cards, it’s totally conceivable that you’d want to sign for this card to enjoy the first year’s 3% cash back and introductory APR offers. But for most people who carry just a couple of credit cards, this approach is probably too short-sighted.

Money expert Clark Howard believes most cash back credit card seekers are likely to be best served by the reliability of a card that offers an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.

Do you have experience with the HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!

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