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One of the favorite cards of the Milesopedia team and community, the HSBC World EliteMD MastercardMD will unfortunately be withdrawn from the market by spring 2024. HSBC Canada has been acquired by RBC, and all products will be migrated from one bank to the other.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® holders will have their account transferred to RBC and their card replaced by an RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card. Certain benefits will be maintained, such as :
- No conversion fees for foreign currency transactions;
- A $100 travel credit for any hotel stay of $200 or more booked with Avion Rewards, within the first year.
In addition, unused travel credit from the HSBC World EliteMD MastercardMD will rollover to the new card. Other details of the transition remain to be confirmed, such as the transfer of HSBC Rewards points to RBC Avion Rewards and the card’s annual fees.
To keep you abreast of developments, our comprehensive guide to the transition from HSBC to RBC is continually updated with new information as it becomes available.
Alternatives to HSBC World Elite
The disappearance of this product is a great shame, as it came with a host of advantages for frequent travelers. However, in the world of credit card rewards, the only constant is change. New products are created, others disappear, and we have to adapt.
With that in mind, here’s a guide to help you choose the best card(s) to replace your HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
For travel insurance
One card stands out from the crowd for its excellent travel insurance: the National Bank World Elite Mastercard®. It’s the credit card offering the most comprehensive range of travel insurance in Canada.
It gives you peace of mind when you’re on the move, with extensive coverage including:
- Emergency medical care insurance (outside province of residence)
- Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
- Insurance in case of theft or loss of luggage
- Flight delay insurance
- Insurance in case of baggage delay
- Car Rental Insurance
What’s more, travel medical insurance can cover up to 60 days of travel, depending on your age. This is the longest coverage available on a credit card. Travellers aged 65 and over are also covered, for trips of less than 15 days.
Finally, the flexibility of trip cancellation/interruption insurance is a major advantage, since it applies even if you only pay for part of the trip with your card. All other cards require that all travel expenses be charged to the card.
For flexible travel points
A much-loved feature of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard was the flexibility of HSBC Rewards points. Indeed, these points could be applied to any travel expense, up to two months after the transaction.
In terms of flexible travel points, the equivalent is the Scene+ program. As with HSBC Rewards, Scene+ points can be applied to any travel expense charged to the card at a rate of 100 points to $1 in statement credit.
You can spend as you wish while traveling, then redeem your points when you return home.
What’s more, these two cards also allow you to save on the 2.5% conversion fee for foreign currency transactions. An excellent combo for a travel credit card!
The TD Rewards program also gets a special mention, since points can be used on Expedia for TD. Admittedly, this limits the options a little, since you have to use them on Expedia for TD to get maximum value (0.5¢ per point).
It’s also possible to apply them as an statement credit for any travel expense, but the rate is not advantageous: you’ll have to use 250 points for a $1 credit (a value of 0.4¢ per point).
However, you can use TD Rewards points for flights, hotels, all-inclusive packages, car rentals, cruises and even excursions.
For a good multiplier on travel expenses
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard was very lucrative with its accrual rate of 6 points per dollar spent on travel. Two cards on the market offer similar accumulation rates: the TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card and the BMO Ascend World Elite®* Mastercard.
Of course, this option is less flexible than with HSBC, but you can find almost anything on Expedia. With 8 points per dollar spent and a value of 0.5¢ per TD Rewards point, the net return is 4%.
With the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard, you can earn 5 points per dollar spent on travel, on any booking platform.
BMO Rewards points are worth 0.67¢ per point when applied as an statement credit toward travel expenses. This gives you a return of 3.35%. Be careful if the expense is not in Canadian dollars: the 2.5%foreign exchange fee on the transaction will eat into your net return.
To save on FX fees
The vast majority of Canadian credit cards charge conversion fees for foreign currency transactions. These FX fees are generally 2.5%.
For an annual travel credit
The HSBC World EliteMD MastercardMD offered an annual credit of $100 to be applied to expenses designed to enhance your travel experience. This benefit was much appreciated by travelers, who could use it for baggage fees, airport parking, seat pre-selection, and so on.
Many Canadian credit cards offer a similar annual credit that can be applied to certain travel expenses:
- National Bank World Elite Mastercard® ($150)
- TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card ($100)
- Platinum Card® from American Express ($200)
- American Express Gold Rewards Card ($100)
- BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card ($50)
- BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Card ($200)
- CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite* Privilege Card ($200)
These credits considerably reduce the annual fee for these cards. As with the National Bank World Elite Mastercard®, the credit completely offsets the $150 annual fee; it’s practically free!
For Costco purchases
All Mastercard cards are accepted in Costco warehouses. Unfortunately, these expenses are not considered groceries and don’t earn a special multiplier.
It’s up to you to choose your preferred rewards program and use the associated card for basic accumulation:
- With the National Bank World Elite Mastercard, you earn 1 NBC Rewards point per dollar, which you can then apply to travel discounts (value between 0.83 and 1¢ per point).
- With the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard, you’ll earn 1 BMO Rewards point per dollar, which you can apply as an statement credit toward travel expenses (value of 0.67¢ per point).
- With the MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard, you’ll earn 1 MBNA Rewards point per dollar that you can use for travel discounts through the MBNA travel agency (value of 1¢ per point).
Alternatives to HSBC World Elite - My strategy for travel expenses
With the imminent withdrawal of the MastercardMD HSBC World EliteMD Mastercard, I had to think about an alternative strategy to maximize rewards on my travel purchases. Indeed, with HSBC, I didn’t have to bother. I put all my travel bookings and foreign expenses on this card to earn 6 points per dollar, a 3% return.
Without this all-purpose card, I have to turn to the other cards in my wallet. For now, my strategy will be to book my flights, independent hotels and car rental on Expedia for TD with my TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card. These expenses will earn me 8 TD Rewards points per dollar, a return of 4%.
Then, once abroad, I plan to continue using my American Express Cobalt Card for restaurant and grocery purchases. Despite the 2.5% FX fee, I still come out ahead, as these purchases earn 5 points per dollar. American Express Membership Rewards points vary in value, but can be redeemed for a minimum of 1¢ per point. Taking all this into account, I get a minimum return of 2.5% on my food purchases when I travel.
Finally, for other expenses when traveling, I plan to use a card with no conversion fees. Both Scotiabank cards offer the same base multiplier, i.e. 1 Scene+ point per dollar spent. As American Express is not as widely accepted as Visa around the world, my choice is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite* Card. Considering the value of Scene+ points, I’ll get a 1% return on these out-of-category travel expenses.
Unfortunately, it will be difficult to replace the HSBC World Elite Mastercard® with just one product. To get all the same benefits, you’ll need to choose at least two cards.
However, the National Bank World Elite Mastercard® often tops the list in most of the categories listed above. This card is your best choice for excellent insurance, a $150 annual travel credit, flexible points to apply to travel and access to the National Bank Lounge at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport. Its only shortcoming is that it charges a 2.5% fee for foreign currency transactions.
So I recommend rounding out your travel wallet with the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card. This way, you’ll save on conversion fees abroad, and even gain access to VIP airport lounges worldwide with six passes per year. A truly winning duo!
Is the HSBC World Elite card discontinued?
What will happen to HSBC Canada?
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The HSBC Canada branch was acquired by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). By spring 2024, all banking products for HSBC customers will be migrated to RBC.
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