Asia Miles Credit Cards KrisFlyer

HSBC Revolution Review (2020)

Cover 6

Here’s our review of the HSBC Revolution credit card issued in Singapore. It forms part of our series of credit card reviews, which are all summarised on our dedicated Credit Cards page.

Dollar amounts refer to SGD, and ‘miles’ refer to KrisFlyer miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 5th August 2020.

HSBC Revolution
HSBC Revo Card Small
No annual
fee

4 mpd
online

4 mpd
contactless
APPLY HERE
HSBC Revolution
HSBC Revo Card Small

Zero
fee

4 mpd
online

4 mpd
contactless
APPLY HERE

  Mainly Miles Says


A once mundane card offering an uncapped 2 miles per dollar spent online or on local dining and entertainment has had a big shake-up.

Bonus categories have shifted to selected online and contactless transactions, however the earn rate has doubled to 4 miles per dollar, albeit with a monthly upper spend cap.

An entry-level income requirement and no annual fee sweeten the deal, so what’s not to like?

  Pros   Cons
  • No annual fee
  • 4 mpd on a range of useful spend
  • Generous points rounding for smaller transactions
  • 3-year points expiry
  • Competitive FCY transaction fee
  • Not all MCCs eligible for 4 mpd
  • Limited transfer partners
  • Bonus points take a month to credit
  • High miles transfer cost for those converting infrequently
  • Points don’t pool with other HSBC cards

  Eligibility


  • Minimum Age: 21
  • Minimum Income (Singaporean / PR): $30,000/yr*
  • Minimum Income (Non-Singaporean / PR): $40,000/yr

* Self-employed and commission-based Singaporeans or PRs – $40,000/yr

The HSBC Revolution card has an entry-level $30,000 per year income requirement for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, making it widely accessible.

  Fixed deposit alternative


If you do not meet the minimum annual income requirement of $30,000 or $40,000, you can still be considered for the HSBC Revolution card with a minimum fixed deposit of S$10,000, maintained with the bank until account closure.

  Annual Fees & Interest Rates


  • Annual Fee (principal): Free
  • Annual Fee (supplementary): Free

The annual fee for the HSBC Revolution card used to be $160.50, though it was waived for the first 2 years. That’s now changed and the card benefits from no annual fee perpetually.

Up to five supplementary cards can be added to your account, also for free.

Other fees and interest rates for the HSBC Revolution card include:

  • EIR: 25.9%
  • Interest-free period: 20 days
  • Minimum payment: 3% (capped at $50)
  • Late payment fee: $55
  • Cash advance fee: 6% (capped at $15)
  • Overlimit fee: $40

  Sign-up bonus


There is no current miles-earning sign-up bonus for the HSBC Revolution card, however you can choose from a welcome gift if you spend at least $800 within a qualifying spend period after your account opening date.

Welcome Gift

The qualifying spending period for the sign-up bonus is based on the date your card account is opened, as follows:

Card Opening Date Qualifying Spend Period
1st – 30th Jun 2020 1st Jun – 31st Jul 2020
1st – 31st Jul 2020 1st July -31st Aug 2020
1st – 31st Aug 2020 1st Aug – 30th Sep 2020
1st – 15th Sep 2020 1st Sep – 31st Oct 2020

If you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass, you’ll also receive an additional $30 of Grab rides.

HSBC Revo Card Small

APPLY HERE

Existing HSBC cardholders will only be eligible to receive $30 cashback instead of the welcome gifts. The welcome bonus is available until 31st August 2020, with full terms and conditions available here.

  Regular earn rates


The HSBC Revolution card earns:

  • 0.4 miles for every $1 of general spend

That’s applicable for transactions in Singapore or overseas (foreign currency). Clearly that’s a terrible rate, you should be earning at least 1.2 mpd for general spend locally and 2 mpd overseas, however the big draw for this card is of course the bonus earn rates.

You should not be using it for general spending outside the bonus categories.

  Bonus earn rates


The HSBC Revolution card earns:

  • 4 miles for every $1 spent on selected online purchases; and
  • 4 miles for every $1 on selected contactless payments.

These are the attractive miles earning rates that have come about since the card was revamped.

New 4 mpd v3
Old vs. new. The HSBC Revolution card has shifted to 10x Reward points (4 mpd)

These bonus earn rates have no minimum spend, however unlike previously (when the card offered a 2 mpd bonus rate) there is now an upper cap of $1,000 spend per calendar month across both categories.

“Reward points shall be calculated based on the total amount of Eligible Transaction posted into HSBC’s credit card system within each qualifying calendar month, rounded down to the nearest SGD1. Bonus Points are subject to a cap of 9,000 Bonus Points per calendar month, while Base Points are not subject to any cap.”

HSBC

  Selected online purchases


The first eligible 4 mpd bonus category refers to qualifying transactions made via the internet and processed by the respective merchant’s acquiring bank as an online transaction type through the Visa Worldwide networks.

Your transaction must also fall into one of the eligible Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) listed below to be eligible.

  Contactless payments


The next eligible 4 mpd bonus category refers to qualifying transactions made via Visa contactless through a contactless terminal mode which includes Visa payWave and Apple Pay.

Your transaction must also fall into one of the eligible MCCs listed below to be eligible.

  Eligible MCCs


These online and contactless purchases will have to fall under the following MCCs to earn at the 4 mpd rate for the first $1,000 of monthly spend, otherwise they will earn at the basic 0.4 mpd rate.

Category Eligible MCCs
Travel related such as Airlines, Car Rental, Lodging, Hotels, Motels, Resorts, Cruise Lines and Travel Agencies 3000 to 3350
3351 to 3500
3501 to 3999
4411, 4511, 4722
7011
Department Stores and Retail Stores 4816, 5045, 5262, 5309, 5310, 5311, 5331, 5399, 5611, 5621, 5631, 5641, 5651, 5655, 5661, 5691, 5699, 5732, 5733, 5734, 5735, 5912, 5942, 5992, 5999
5944 to 5949
5964 to 5970
Supermarkets, Dining and Food Delivery 5411, 5441, 5462, 5499, 5811, 5812, 5813, 5814
Others (including Transportation and Membership Clubs) 4121, 7997

This includes useful merchants like Deliveroo (online), foodpanda (online) and Cold Storage (online or contactless in-store).

Flight and hotel bookings made online should also be included, with travel on Grab and gojek also eligible.

  Contactless features


One of the bonus categories for the HSBC Revolution card is for selected contactless payments. Apart from Visa payWave, the card can also be added to Apple Pay.

Apple Pay Contactless.jpg

You can also download the HSBC Singapore app and use it as a virtual card on your mobile phone.

Unfortunately the HSBC Revolution does not currently support Google Pay or Samsung Pay.

  Eligible transactions


Since 1st July 2020, eligible transactions on the HSBC Revolution card for miles earning (just at the base 0.4 mpd rate, not necessarily the 4 mpd bonus rate), are all retail purchases including recurring payments, with the exception of:

  • 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 on money payments/transfers (including but not limited to Paypal, 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 for cleaning, maintenance and janitorial services (including property management fees);
  • Payments to insurance companies (including but not limited to sales, underwriting, premiums and insurance services);
  • Payments to educational institutions;
  • Payments on utilities;
  • 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.

Source: HSBC Rewards Programme T&C (Jul 20)

This list may be updated from time to time, so check the terms and conditions for the latest information.

Importantly, HSBC now excludes categories such as utilities, insurance premiums and education payments from miles earning.

GrabPay top-ups are also excluded.

  Posting date, not transaction date


For spend in the two bonus categories, it’s the date the transaction is posted to your account not the date the transaction was made that determines which calendar month it is apportioned to.

For example a 31st July transaction which posts on 1st August will be considered an August transaction in terms of the monthly spend cap.

Be careful that this does not lead to overspending in a calendar month, which would then mean reverting to 0.4 mpd for some of your otherwise-eligible transactions.

 Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?


No, with this card you’ll actually accrue ‘HSBC Reward points’ for your spending. These transfer to KrisFlyer miles at a 2.5:1 ratio, so for $10,000 of spending in the 2 mpd bonus category, you’ll net 50,000 HSBC Rewards points, which can be converted to 20,000 KrisFlyer miles.

  HSBC Mileage Programme


With most credit cards in Singapore you’ll pay a transfer fee, typically $25, each time you convert your points into an airline frequent flyer programme.

With HSBC it’s slightly different. You’ll instead pay an annual fee of $40+GST (i.e. $42.80) to enrol in the HSBC Mileage Programme. You are then be free to make unlimited transfers to KrisFlyer throughout the year.

HSBCtrans

If you’re the kind of person who likes to top up several times a year, this is typically more cost effective than with other cards. If you typically allow your points to accumulate and make an annual transfer into miles, you’re paying over the odds with HSBC for that single transfer.

Alternatively, you can redeem 9,000 Rewards points for a waiver of the Mileage Programme fee. Since 9,000 points converts into 3,600 KrisFlyer miles, which we approximately value at $68, this makes little sense and you should instead be paying the $42.80 fee to enrol.

You have to complete and send an enrolment form, which is a little archaic, to join the HSBC Mileage Programme. You can find a link to the form here.

  Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?


Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. The same earning rate, transfer cost, and minimum transfer ‘blocks’ (see below) apply if you choose to credit to Asia Miles.

KF & AM trans.png

Do be aware that in some of its advertising HSBC boasts that its Reward points can be redeemed with “over 40 airlines”, however in reality you can only convert your HSBC Reward points into Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles.

The bank is counting all Star Alliance and SIA Partner airlines, plus all oneworld carriers in the case of Asia miles, in its references to 40 airlines!

40 Airlines.jpg
How HSBC gets from two FFPs to over 40 airlines. (Image: HSBC)

While it’s true that you can redeem HSBC Reward points with all these airlines, you can only transfer into one of two FFPs in order to then do so.

↥  Is there a minimum transfer amount?


The minimum volume of miles you can transfer into KrisFlyer or Asia Miles is 10,000 (i.e. 25,000 HSBC Rewards points). Thereafter they must then be transferred in blocks of 10,000.

Previously, HSBC allowed smaller transfer blocks in 2,000-mile increments (i.e. 5,000 HSBC Rewards points), however this is no longer possible.

  When do points credit?


Initially you’ll earn at the basic 0.4 mpd level (1 Reward point per $1) for all transactions on the HSBC Revolution card, computed and credited into your account by statement cycle.

The bonus 3.6 mpd (9 Reward points per $1) will be credited into your account by the last day of the following calendar month from the eligible transaction, reflected in your statement no later than the last day of the second calendar month from the date of the transaction.

You therefore won’t be able to quickly top-up your HSBC Reward points balance at the 4 mpd rate by making an eligible transaction, like you can with the Citi Rewards cards for example.

  Monthly cap example


HSBC actually illustrate in the terms and conditions for its 10x Reward points using the Revolution card how easy it is to potentially exceed the S$1,000 monthly cap for bonus Reward points.

Bonus example
(click to enlarge)

As you can see here, $1,500 of spending in the eligible bonus categories yields only 9,000 Bonus Points, not 13,500, because the monthly cap is for $1,000 spend. The bonus 3.6 mpd (on the regular 0.4 mpd) was exhausted at $1,000 spend.

For the additional $500 spent in the bonus categories, the rate then reverted to 1 Rewards point per $1 (0.4 mpd), while the non-contactless restaurant spend was also eligible for just 1 point per $1.

  Do HSBC Reward points expire?


Yes, 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 February 2020 will expire on 31st March 2023.

Once you transfer to KrisFlyer miles, your points will have a further three-year validity. If you transfer into Asia Miles they will never expire, under the scheme’s new policy from January 2020 that provided you earn or redeem at least 1 Asia mile every 18 months, all your miles will remain intact.

  HSBC Reward points don’t pool


If you earn HSBC Reward points through another of the bank’s credit cards, such as the HSBC Visa Infinite, be aware that your points balance for each card is independent and will not be pooled together into a single balance for you to redeem from.

If you cancel your Revolution card, any HSBC Reward points accrued but not redeemed will be forfeited, they cannot be transferred to your Visa Infinite card in this example.

  How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?


HSBC states that “approximately three weeks is required to process the transfer of miles from a credit cardholder’s account to the credit cardholder’s personal frequent flyer account.”

In reality HSBC actually completes transfers to KrisFlyer miles in weekly batches, so the longest you should be waiting is one week.

That’s still quite a long time if you need the miles to lock in an available redemption, or for short term travel.

  Points rounding


Every eligible transaction you make using the HSBC Revolution card is rounded (up or down) to the nearest Singapore dollar (after conversion from foreign currency if applicable), before HSBC Rewards points are then assessed.

Example:

  • $20.49 rounds down to $20
  • $20.50 rounds up to $21

The appropriate multiplier of HSBC Rewards points is then applied to the transaction, depending on its nature. Technically this is then rounded down to the next whole point, though that’s never necessary with this card as the multipliers are either 1X or 10X.

Example (general spend earn rate):

  • $20 x 1 (local) = 20 points

Example (bonus earn rate)

  • $20 x 10 (local) = 200 points

↥  Minimum spend to earn points


Since every amount you spend is rounded to the nearest dollar before HSBC Rewards points are accounted for, $0.50 is the minimum transaction amount in order to earn points.

  The rounding benefit


HSBC’s rounding policy for Reward points earning is much better than the UOB PPV card, for example, when making smaller transactions.

Here’s a comparison for some smaller transactions.

Reward Points
(4 mpd transactions)
Charge HSBC Revo Card Small Card3
$1.00 10
(4 mpd)
0
(0 mpd)
(- 100%)
$3.50 40
(4.6 mpd)
0
(0 mpd)
(- 100%)
$4.99 50
(4 mpd)
0
(0 mpd)
(- 100%)
$5.00 50
(4 mpd)
50
(4 mpd)
$9.99 100
(4 mpd)
50
(2 mpd)
(- 50%)
$10.00 100
(4 mpd)
100
(4 mpd)

As you can see the HSBC Revolution is far superior for smaller (typically contactless) transactions when your spend does not exactly meet a S$5 rounded level.

You can also get slightly more than 4 mpd on smaller transactions with the bank’s round-up from 50 cents in the dollar onwards! (Technically S$0.50 = 10 Reward points = 8 mpd)

Do be careful to ensure your contactless spend with the HSBC Revolution is in one of the valid MCCs listed earlier in this review however (e.g. Supermarket, Department Store), whereas the UOB PPV card awards its bonus rate for all contactless transactions.

One annoyance of the UOB cards you won’t have to worry about with HSBC however is the avoidance of SMART$ merchants like Cold Storage, which will earn at the 4 mpd rate using the HSBC Revolution card for contactless payments without issue.

  FCY fee / cpm overseas


The HSBC Revolution card has a 2.8% foreign currency transaction fee, which is among the lowest on the market in Singapore.

You certainly won’t be wanting to make transactions in foreign currency at the basic 0.4 mpd earn rate with this card, which would be equivalent to ‘buying’ miles at an obscene 7.52 cents each, way more than you can ever realistically achieve in value.

At the 4 mpd bonus rate though, which would apply for example on a contactless payment charged to the card at a restaurant in Sydney or an online purchase from a department store in London, it’s a different matter altogether.

Here’s how that cost per mile compares to other credit cards in Singapore offering 4 mpd for at least some form of eligible transactions in foreign currency.

Cost per mile on overseas credit card transactions (4 mpd cards)
(Best to worst, July 2020)

Card Fee Miles per $ Cost per mile
HSBC Revo Card SmallHSBC Revo
2.8% 4.0 0.75¢
Card3UOB PPV 3.25% 4.0 0.86¢
$Card MC 2020Citi Rewards 3.25% 4.0 0.86¢
CardDBS WWMC 3.25% 4.0 0.86¢
Card 2UOB VS 3.25% 4.0 0.86¢
Card transOCBC TR 3.25% 4.0 0.86¢

Cost per mile also accounts for an additional 0.3% ‘spread’ over money changer currency rates, though this doesn’t apply to all banks and all foreign currencies, so is a worst-case scenario.

As you can see the HSBC Revolution is your top pick here if you can spend in an eligible 4 mpd category in foreign currency, with a very competitive cost of 0.75 cents per mile.

  What else can HSBC Rewards points be used for?


There are a variety of rewards other than airline miles you can use your HSBC Rewards points for, though as usual they all represent much poorer value.

We know that 2.5 HSBC Rewards points can be converted into 1 KrisFlyer mile, which we value at 1.9 cents each, so that’s approximately 0.76 cents value per HSBC Rewards point when used this way.

Other transfer options are largely for shopping and retail vouchers, for example a $20 Dairy Farm voucher (for use at Cold Storage, Giant, Guardian and others) will set you back 7,000 HSBC Rewards points.

The same number of points should be getting you 2,800 KrisFlyer miles (or Asia Miles), worth about $53.20. You should never be using your HSBC Rewards points for anything other than KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles transfers.

Some of these alternative redemption options can however be useful ways to ‘cash out’ of the scheme, for example prior to cancelling the card, if you fall below one of the airline miles redemption thresholds.

  Other benefits


There aren’t many additional benefits with the HSBC Revolution, as you might expect from a fee-free card. Some worth mentioning include:

  • Petrol savings at Caltex and Shell (see here)
  • HSBC ENTERTAINER offers (see here)
  • HSBC online card promotions (see here)

  Terms and conditions


Here are links to the full terms and conditions applicable to the HSBC Revolution card and the HSBC Rewards programme.

 HSBC Revolution Sign-Up Promotion T&C
 HSBC Revolution 10x Reward Points T&C
 HSBC Rewards Programme T&C

Our summary


The HSBC Revolution card has a new lease of life with its 4 mpd bonus categories, and while some of our readers used it for its unlimited 2 mpd online spend bonus after exhausting other 4 mpd cards first, for most these latest changes are a big improvement.

This gives miles chasers a fee-free opportunity to earn 4 mpd on relatively easy contactless payments at the likes of Cold Storage, when dining at restaurants, or for shopping and food delivery services or Grab rides.

Cover SS
(Photo: Shutterstock)

The very generous rounding policy for HSBC Reward points also puts it head and shoulders above some other cards for smaller transactions, like the UOB PPV, which takes a hit on the earning rate due to a S$5 rounding policy and doesn’t earn any miles for sub-$5 transactions.

UOB cardholders also have those pesky SMART$ merchants to avoid – no such problem with HSBC.

On the downside your HSBC Reward points don’t pool with other HSBC credit cards, and there are 10,000-mile blocks for making a transfer into the limited partner list – only KrisFlyer and Asia Miles. The annual fee for miles conversion might also put some people off, if you only transfer into miles once per year for example.

Overall though with zero annual fee and a flexible range of online and contactless options to earn up to 48,000 miles per year at the 4 mpd rate, there’s really no reason not to get your hands on the latest HSBC Revolution card.

Our Rating
4 / 5
among 4 mpd bonus cards

HSBC Revolution
HSBC Revo Card Small

APPLY HERE

Best in class: A must-have for the miles earner in Singapore
Excellent: A leader in its category with few if any downsides
Very good: Drawbacks largely outweighed by the positive aspects
Good: Useful benefits despite some poor features vs. other cards
Average: Worth considering but not an essential addition to your wallet
Conflicted: Some benefits but much better cards exist in the same category
Poor: Few benefits worth having
Very poor: Almost no benefits, not recommended
Awful: Not worth considering

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(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

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