Asia Miles Credit Cards KrisFlyer

HSBC Visa Infinite Review (2020)

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Here’s our review of the HSBC Visa Infinite 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 15th June 2021.

HSBC Visa Infinite
HSBCviNEW2 small
35,000
welcome miles

Unlimited
lounge access

Free airport
limo rides
APPLY HERE
HSBC Visa Infinite
HSBCviNEW2 small

35,000
welcome miles

Unlimited
lounge access

Free airport
limo rides
APPLY HERE

  Mainly Miles Says


Some nice benefits, including a 35,000 miles welcome bonus in year one, but without the same gift in subsequent years it’s hard to justify this card’s $650 annual price tag after that.

Lacklustre miles earning rates for at least the first year don’t help either.

  Pros   Cons
  • 35,000 miles sign-up bonus
  • Up to five unlimited LoungeKey accounts
  • Up to 24 airport limo rides per year
  • Earn miles for transactions from $0.50
  • Concierge service
  • Golf, dining and spa privileges
  • High income requirement
  • Poor miles earning rates for at least the first year
  • Limited FFP transfer partners
  • High miles transfer cost for those converting infrequently
  • Points don’t pool with other HSBC cards
  • No recurring annual miles bonus

  Update: COVID-19


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the following changes were announced on 24th November 2020:

  • HSBC has extended un-utilised travel services in 2020 for usage till 31 December 2021. This includes complimentary airport limo rides and expedited immigration services. These can then be used in addition to any travel services earned in 2021. See the updated FAQ here.
  • HSBC has reduced the number of Reward points needed for annual fee waiver from 130,000 to 105,000 (equivalent to 42,000 miles), or 79,000 (31,600 miles) for HSBC Premier customers. Click here for details.

  Eligibility


  • Minimum Age: 21
  • Minimum Income: $120,000/yr

The HSBC Visa Infinite card has a $120,000 per year income requirement for all applicants.

  Fixed deposit alternative


If you do not meet the minimum annual income requirement of $120,000, you can still be considered for the HSBC Visa Infinite card with a minimum fixed deposit of S$30,000, maintained with the bank until account closure.

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  Annual Fees & Interest Rates


  • Annual Fee (principal): $650
  • Annual Fee (HSBC Premier customers): $488
  • Annual Fee (supplementary): Free

The annual fee for the HSBC Visa Infinite card is $650.00. HSBC Premier customers are entitled to a discounted annual fee of $488.00. The annual fee is not waivable.

Up to five supplementary cards can be added to your account for free. Supplementary cardholders must be at least 18 years old.

Other fees and interest rates for the HSBC Visa Infinite 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


The HSBC Visa Infinite card currently has a sign-up bonus of 35,000 miles, which is almost consistently offered year round. In early 2019 a 40,000 miles offer was also available for a limited time.

If you have held the HSBC Visa Infinite card before and cancelled it within the last 12 months, you will not be entitled to the sign-up bonus.

Sign Up Gift.jpg

The sign-up bonus is paid as HSBC Rewards points, which you can then transfer into frequent flyer miles.

Don’t get too excited by the “over 40 airlines” advertising tagline. In reality you can only convert your HSBC Rewards points into Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles. The bank is then counting all Star Alliance and SIA Partner airlines, plus all oneworld carriers in the case of Asia miles, in its sum of 40!

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

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

Since we value KrisFlyer miles at 1.9 cents each, these 35,000 miles are worth at least $665 against future Singapore Airlines flight redemptions, so the card effectively pays for itself, even if you won’t use the other perks in year one.

Looking at it another way, it’s an effective cost per mile of 1.86 cents for regular cardholders and 1.39 cents for HSBC Premier customers.

There is no minimum spend required to trigger the sign-up bonus.

Those who apply online with MyInfo via SingPass will also be entitled to $30 cashback, provided their application is made by 31st July 2021, for cards approved and issued by 15th August 2021. See the terms and conditions for that offer here.

HSBC is also currently offering a referral bonus of $120 when you successfully recommend a friend or family member to apply for the card before 31st August 2021, provided they haven’t held the HSBC Visa Infinite for at least 12 months. Terms and conditions are available here.

  Renewal bonus


HSBC previously used to offer miles to some customers when paying their annual fee on card renewal (e.g. at the end of the first year), however this was never consistently offered.

More recently we understand a miles renewal bonus is generally not awarded in subsequent years, so you’ll have to justify the full cost of this card ($650 or $488 depending on your banking relationship status with HSBC) for subsequent renewals.

  Regular earn rates


The HSBC Visa Infinite card earns:

  • 1 mile for every $1 spent locally (i.e. transacted in SGD), and
  • 2 miles for every $1 spent overseas (i.e. transacted in foreign currency).

Those rates increase, but only from year two, provided you spent at least $50,000 in the previous year, to:

  • 1.25 miles for every $1 spent locally (i.e. transacted in SGD), and
  • 2.25 miles for every $1 spent overseas (i.e. transacted in foreign currency).

To retain the higher rate, which HSBC calls the ‘step up earn rate’, you’ll still need to transact at least $50,000 in each card membership year, otherwise you’ll drop back to the regular rates for the following year.

For example if you spend $52,000 in Year 1, then you’ll be entitled to the ‘step up earn rate’ in Year 2, but then if your spend in Year 2 is only $48,000 you’ll be back to the regular earn rates for Year 3.

These earn rates (especially in Year 1) compare poorly with other credit cards on the market in Singapore, including the UOB PRVI Miles (1.4 mpd locally, 2.4 mpd overseas).

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  Bonus earn rates


The HSBC Visa Infinite card offers 4 miles per dollar spent at selected (high-end) retailers, with no cap. Known as the ‘Infinite Bonus Miles’ promotion, the following retailers and outlets are included:

Retailer Eligible outlets
Bang & Olufsen 10-12 Scotts Road,
Grand Hyatt Singapore #01-05
Diesel 290 Orchard Rd,
Paragon #02-47A
Georg Jensen 391 Orchard Road, #B1-03A
Takashimaya Shopping Centre
Max Mara 333-A Orchard Road,
Mandarin Gallery #01-10/02-11
MAX&Co. 290 Orchard Road,
Paragon #02-12
TUMI 2 Bayfront Avenue, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Galleria Level #B2-41

391 Orchard Road,
Ngee Ann City #03-05

333A Orchard Road,
Mandarin Gallery #01-19

252 North Bridge Road,
Raffles City Shopping Centre #01-33A

26 Sentosa Gateway,
Resorts World Sentosa #02-105

65 Airport Boulevard,
Terminal 3, Departure/Transit #02-52
Terminal 1, Departure/Transit Lounge West #02-35
Singapore Changi Airport

Y-3 333-A Orchard Road,
Mandarin Gallery #01-05

These are expensive places to shop, no doubt, but if you were eyeing up that TUMI suitcase or Bang & Olufsen speaker the important part of this deal is that there’s no upper earning cap, unlike other cards offering 4 miles per dollar on shopping transactions.

Note that the base earn rate for your card will initially be applied to transactions at these outlets. The bonus Rewards points, brining the total to 10 HSBC Rewards points (4 miles) per dollar, will be awarded on a quarterly basis one month after the quarter ends.

B&O Store Singapore (Bang & Olufsen).jpg
Bang & Olufsen’s Scotts Road store is one place you’ll get an unlimited 4 mpd with your HSBC Visa Infinite card. (Photo: Bang & Olufsen)

That’s quite a long wait of up to four months before you’ll see the bonus points in your account, so this isn’t a quick way to top up your balance.

Eligible transactions made by supplementary cardholder(s) will be calculated towards the awarding of bonus Rewards points but only the account of the primary eligible cardholder will be credited the bonus Rewards points.

Full terms and conditions are available at the product landing page (under Lifestyle and Dining benefits).

  Eligible transactions


From 1st July 2020, HSBC’s expanded list of categories for points earning exclusions came into effect. The following categories won’t earn any miles with this card:

  • 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.

 Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?


No, with this card you’ll actually accrue ‘HSBC Rewards points’, both for the sign-up bonus and for your spending. These transfer to KrisFlyer miles at a 2.5:1 ratio, so for $10,000 of local spending in the first year of card membership, you’ll net 25,000 HSBC Rewards points, which can be converted to 10,000 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.

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.

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  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

↥  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?


HSBC Rewards points should reflect in your account once the transaction posts, which takes anywhere between one and three days.

You won’t have to wait until your monthly statement for the points to be added, so if you’re making a purchase to achieve a short-term top-up they should be available to you within a few days.

The only exception is the points from any 4 mpd bonus spend merchants.

  Do HSBC Rewards 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 since January 2020 that provided you earn or redeem at least 1 Asia mile every 18 months, all your miles will remain intact.

  HSBC Rewards points don’t pool


If you earn HSBC Rewards points through another of the bank’s credit cards, such as the HSBC Revolution, 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 Visa Infinite card, any HSBC Rewards points accrued but not redeemed will be forfeited, they cannot be transferred to your Revolution 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.

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  Points rounding


Every eligible transaction you make using the HSBC Visa Infinite 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, rounded down to the next whole point.

Example (regular earn rate):

  • $20 x 2.5 (local) = 50 points
  • $20 x 5.0 (overseas) = 105 points

Example (Step up earn rate)

  • $20 x 3.125 (local) = 62.5 points (rounded down to 62 points)
  • $20 x 5.625 (overseas) = 112.5 points (rounded down to 112 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.

  FCY fee / cpm overseas


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

With a relatively mundane regular overseas earn rate of 2 miles per dollar however, it’s certainly not the best card to use as it means paying 1.50 cents per mile when spending in foreign currency.

There are better cards than that for overseas spend, and you should be looking at the BOC Elite Miles or Standard Chartered Visa Infinite for much better rates, not just in cost per mile terms but miles per dollar too.

A possible exception is the ‘step up rate’ on the HSBC Visa Infinite card, applicable from year two and requiring at least $50,000 of spend in the previous year. In this situation you are paying 1.33 cents per mile for foreign currency spend, a much more competitive rate.

Cost per mile on overseas credit card transactions by card
(Best to worst, August 2020)

Card Fee Miles per $ Cost per mile
image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02.pngSCVI 3.5% 3.0* 1.22¢*
HSBCviNEW2HSBC VI
(Step up rate)
2.8% 2.25 1.33¢
AscendCC.pngKF Ascend
(Jul & Dec)
2.5% 2.0 1.36¢
Card Trans.pngUOB PRVI Miles 3.25% 2.4 1.43¢
Card.pngMaybank Horizon Visa 2.75% 2.0 1.48¢