Here’s The MileLion’s review of the HSBC Visa Infinite, launched in October 2011 at a glitzy party hosted at nightclub Avalon. I suppose the idea was that just like Avalon, you needed to be on an exclusive guest list to get invited for a HSBC Visa Infinite.
But exclusivity is a fickle mistress. Avalon has long since shuttered and made way for the next big thing, while the HSBC Visa Infinite has thrown open its doors to the unwashed mass
es affluent. Still, it holds the dubious distinction of being the most expensive card in the entire $120K segment; no mean feat for sure!
Is this a club you want to be part of?
|HSBC Visa Infinite|
|The HSBC Visa Infinite offers excellent travel benefits, though its mediocre earn rates and lack of renewal miles hold it back.|
|👍 The good||👎 The bad|
|💳 Full List of Credit Card Reviews|
Overview: HSBC Visa Infinite
Let’s start this review by looking at the key features of the HSBC Visa Infinite.
|Income Req.||S$120,000 p.a.||Points Validity||37 months|
|Welcome Gift||35,000||Transfer |
|FCY Fee||2.8%||Transfer Fee||S$42.80 per yr.|
|Local Earn||Up to 1.25 mpd||Points Pool?||No|
|FCY Earn||Up to 2.25 mpd||Lounge Access?||Yes|
|Special Earn||4 mpd at selected boutiques||Airport Limo?||Yes|
|Cardholder Terms and Conditions|
The HSBC Visa Infinite is part of the so-called $120K segment, a group of premium credit cards that offer exclusive travel and lifestyle benefits. However, unlike most $120K cards it has yet to switch over to metal card stock (though it’s made from 85.5% recycled plastic, for those who care about that sort of greenwashing).
If you have the kind of fragile masculinity that can only be placated by the reassuring thud of an embossed piece of metal, you might want to consider other alternatives like the Citi Prestige or OCBC VOYAGE.
How much must I earn to qualify for a HSBC Visa Infinite?
When the HSBC Visa Infinite first launched, invited applicants needed to have a minimum income of S$250,000 per year!
These days, the requirements aren’t quite so steep. The HSBC Visa Infinite is currently available to anyone with a minimum income of S$120,000 p.a.
If you don’t meet the income requirement, you may be able to apply by placing a S$30,000 fixed deposit with HSBC. Visit a HSBC branch for more details.
How much is the HSBC Visa Infinite’s annual fee?
|Principal Card||Supp. Card|
(S$488 for HSBC Premier)
(S$488 for HSBC Premier)
The HSBC Visa Infinite has an annual fee of S$650, reduced to S$488 for HSBC Premier customers. The annual fee is strictly non-waivable, regardless of how much you spend per year.
Up to five supplementary cards are free for life.
Cardholders receive 35,000 miles for paying the first year’s annual fee, which works out to:
- Regular customer: 1.86 cents per mile
- HSBC Premier customer: 1.39 cents per mile
While this is a decent price, it’s only available in the first year. HSBC does not officially award any miles for paying subsequent years’ annual fees (you can call up to appeal, but nothing is guaranteed).
How many miles do I earn?
|🇸🇬 SGD Spend||🌎 FCY Spend||➕ Bonus Spend|
|1-1.25 mpd||2-2.25 mpd||4 mpd at selected boutiques|
HSBC Visa Infinite cardholders normally earn:
- 2.5 HSBC Rewards Points per S$1 spent locally (equivalent to 1 mpd)
- 5 HSBC Rewards Points per S$1 spent overseas (equivalent to 2 mpd)
An enhanced step-up rate can be unlocked for the second year if a cardholder charges at least S$50,000 within the previous 12-month membership year:
- 3.125 HSBC Rewards Points per S$1 spent locally (equivalent to 1.25 mpd)
- 5.625 HSBC Rewards Points per S$1 spent overseas (equivalent to 2.25 mpd).
That’s more competitive, but S$50,000 is a very high threshold to meet, and would almost certainly involve diverting spend away from 4 mpd opportunities.
Moreover, you’re stuck with the mediocre regular earn rates for the first 12 months at least, which would place the HSBC Visa Infinite near the bottom of the $120K pile.
|💳 Earn Rates for $120K cards|
|DBS Vantage||1.5 mpd||2.2 mpd|
|OCBC VOYAGE||1.3 mpd||2.2 mpd|
|UOB VI Metal Card||1.4 mpd||2.0 mpd|
|Citi Prestige||1.3 mpd||2.0 mpd|
|Maybank VI||1.2 mpd||2.0 mpd|
|HSBC VI||1.0 mpd|
(Enhanced: 1.25 mpd)^
(Enhanced: 2.25 mpd)^
|SCB VI||1.0 mpd|
(Enhanced: 1.4 mpd)*
(Enhanced: 3.0 mpd)*
|AMEX Plat. Reserve||0.69 mpd||0.69 mpd|
|^With min. S$50,000 spend in previous membership year|
*With min. S$2,000 spend per statement month
If it’s any consolation, HSBC does have the lowest foreign currency transaction fee in the market at 2.8% (other banks charge 3.25-3.5%). This means that using your card overseas represents buying miles at:
- Regular rate: 1.4 cents/mile
- Step-up rate: 1.13 cents/mile
Holders of an Everyday Global Account can also buff the earn rate with an extra 1% cashback.
HSBC Visa Infinite cardholders earn 10 HSBC Rewards Points per S$1 (equivalent to 4 mpd) for spending at the following boutiques:
- Max Mara
This offer is available till 31 December 2022, and there is no cap on the maximum bonus you can earn.
When are HSBC Points credited?
HSBC Points are credited when your transaction posts, which generally takes 1-3 working days.
How are HSBC Points calculated?
Here’s how you can work out the HSBC Points earned on your HSBC Visa Infinite.
|Local Spend||Round transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 2.5. Round down to nearest whole number|
|FCY Spend||Round transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 5. Round down to nearest whole number|
|Local Spend||Round transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 3.125. Round down to nearest whole number|
|FCY Spend||Round transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 5.625. Round down to nearest whole number|
Because all transactions are rounded to the nearest S$1, the minimum spend required to earn points is S$0.50, whether in local or foreign currency.
Unlike some cards which award points for every S$5 spent (such as the OCBC VOYAGE and UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card), the HSBC Visa Infinite awards points for every S$1 spent. This results in fewer points lost through rounding, allowing it to outperform ostensibly higher-earning cards for smaller transactions.
Earn Rate: 1.0 mpd
|UOB VI Metal |
Earn Rate: 1.4 mpd
|S$5||4.8 miles||6 miles|
|S$9.99||10 miles||6 miles|
|S$15||14.8 miles||20 miles|
|S$19.99||20 miles||20 miles|
|S$25||24.8 miles||34 miles|
|S$29.99||30 miles||34 miles|
If you’re an Excel geek, here’s the formulas you need to calculate points:
|Local Spend||=ROUNDDOWN (ROUND(X,0)*2.5)|
|FCY Spend||=ROUNDDOWN (ROUND(X,0)*5)|
|Where X= Amount Spent|
|Local Spend||=ROUNDDOWN (ROUND(X,0)*3.125)|
|FCY Spend||=ROUNDDOWN (ROUND(X,0)*5.625)|
|Where X= Amount Spent|
For the full list of formulas that banks use to calculate credit card points, do refer to these articles:
What transactions aren’t eligible for HSBC Points?
A full list of transactions that do not earn HSBC Points can be found in the T&C.
I’ve highlighted a few noteworthy categories below:
- Charitable Donations
- Government Services
- GrabPay top-ups
- Professional services provides (e.g. Google & Facebook Ads, AWS)
- Real Estate Agents & Managers
HSBC also excludes CardUp, ipaymy and RentHero transactions from earning points.
What do I need to know about HSBC Points?
|❌ Expiry||↔️ Pooling||✈️ Transfer Fee|
|37 months||No||S$42.80 for 12 months of unlimited conversions|
HSBC Points expire at the end of 37 months following the time they were earned.
For example, any points awarded in August 2022 will expire on 30 September 2025.
HSBC Points do not pool across cards. If you have 10,000 HSBC Points on the HSBC Revolution, and 15,000 HSBC Points on the HSBC Visa Infinite, for example, you won’t be able to combine the two when redeeming.
Since points do not pool, you will have to transfer all your HSBC Points before cancelling the HSBC Visa Infinite, or else forfeit them.
Transfer Partners & Fees
HSBC’s marketing materials suggest the HSBC Visa Infinite has more than 40 airline partners:
You’ll get 35,000 air miles redeemable with over 40 airlines
This is somewhat misleading, because HSBC Rewards Points can only be transferred to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. Points transfer at a 5:2 ratio, with a minimum transfer block of 10,000 miles.
|Frequent Flyer Programme||Conversion Ratio |
(HSBC Points: Partner)
Where does the “over 40 airlines” figure come from? Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are part of Star Alliance and oneworld respectively, and HSBC is counting the total number of airlines in these two alliances, plus Singapore Airlines’ partnerships with Virgin Australia, Vistara etc.
While it’s technically true you could redeem miles with more than 40 airlines, it’s not the same as having all 40 airlines as transfer partners. Different frequent flyer programmes have different sweet spots; for example, British Airways Executive Club members can redeem Avios for good value short-haul awards. This is not available to someone holding Asia Miles.
Instead of charging a fee per conversion, HSBC instead charges cardholders an annual S$42.80 Mileage Programme fee, which covers unlimited conversions over a 12-month period. Alternatively, they can pay 9,000 HSBC Points for a programme fee waiver (please don’t).
Even though HSBC Points do not pool, you will only pay a single Mileage Programme fee regardless of how many HSBC credit cards you have. This covers transfers to both KrisFlyer and Asia Miles.
Other card perks
Complimentary Entertainer subscription
All principal HSBC cardholders receive a complimentary copy of The Entertainer, which packs more than 1,000 1-for-1 offers for dining, entertainment and travel.
As a premium card, HSBC Visa Infinite cardholders enjoy additional offers as shown in the table below.
Complimentary airport limo & expedited immigration clearance
HSBC Visa Infinite cardholders receive two complimentary airport limo transfers and expedited immigration clearances per calendar year (four if they’re HSBC Premier customers).
One additional ride and expedited clearance can be unlocked by spending S$2,000 per calendar month, capped at 24 per calendar year (including the complimentary entitlements).
This is one of the lowest spending requirements on the market, with other cards charging as much as S$5,000 per month for one ride!
|Maybank VI||S$3K per month for 2 rides||8 per year|
|HSBC VI||S$2K per month for 1 ride*||24 per year|
|Citi Prestige||S$12K per quarter for 2 rides||2 per quarter|
|OCBC VOYAGE||S$5K per month for 1 ride||2 per month|
|AMEX Plat. Reserve||N/A||N/A|
|UOB VI Metal Card||N/A||N/A|
|*First 2 (Regular customer) or 4 (HSBC Premier) per membership year are free|
Earned limo rides can be utilised from the start of the following month after which the minimum spend criteria was met, up till the end of the calendar year. This gives them a validity of up to 12 months, though some will be valid for as little as 1 month.
All limo bookings must be made at least 24 hours ahead of the pickup time, and a maximum of three passengers (including the cardholder) can share one vehicle. A full list of FAQs can be found here.
The benefits of expedited immigration clearance may be less apparent in a place like Singapore where everything runs like clockwork, but seasoned travellers will know of airports where it can be the difference between a five minute and multi-hour wait.
These fast track services are available at more than 30 airports across the Asia Pacific region, including Bali, Colombo, Dubai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul.
Unlimited complimentary lounge visits
HSBC Visa Infinite cardholders enjoy unlimited airport lounge access to more than 1,100 airport lounges worldwide via LoungeKey. This benefit is available regardless of what airline or cabin you’re flying in, so you can access the lounge even when flying with a low cost carrier.
No separate Lounge Key card is required; cardholders need only present their HSBC Visa Infinite Credit Card and boarding pass and mention LoungeKey at reception.
A guest fee of US$32 applies, but the good news is that up to five supplementary cardholders can enjoy the same benefit, free of charge. Therefore, an entire family could access the lounge for free, assuming the principal cardholder issues supplementary cards to his/her spouse and children.
As far as cards in the $120K segment go, this is pretty competitive- especially since the LoungeKey network used by HSBC is much wider than the Plaza Premium network used by OCBC.
HSBC Tax Payment Facility
HSBC Visa Infinite cardholders can earn miles when paying their income tax bill, simply by charging it to their card.
For example, a cardholder with a S$10,000 tax bill would follow these steps:
- Apply for the tax payment facility via this link
- Upon approval, HSBC will credit S$10,000 to his/her designated bank account (which can be with any bank in Singapore). This cash is used by the cardholder to pay IRAS directly.
- His/her HSBC Visa Infinite Card is billed for S$10,000 plus an admin fee of S$150 (1.5%)
Assuming the cardholder is eligible for the step-up earn rate, a total of 12,500 miles will be earned (S$10,000 @ 1.25 mpd). This works out to a cost per mile of 1.2 cents. If the cardholder is on the regular earn rate (S$10,000 @ 1 mpd), the cost per mile is 1.5 cents.
Cardholders can also choose to pay via monthly instalments to take advantage of the interest-free instalments that IRAS offers under its GIRO scheme. In this case, the card will be billed ~S$833 per month plus an admin fee of ~S$12.50, with points awarded accordingly.
Up to 50% off dining
HSBC Visa Infinite Cardholders can save up to 50% off the bill when dining at Goodwood Park Hotel or Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel.
|Goodwood Park Hotel|
|Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel|
The discount scales depending on the number of diners, as shown below.
|Number of Diners||Discount on Food Bill|
|Card member + 1 guest||50%|
|Card member + 2 guests||33%|
|Card member + 3 guests||25%|
|Card member + 4 or more guests||20%|
What’s particularly noteworthy is that at the discount applies to beverages as well at the Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel. It’s rare to see such an offer extended, and the opportunity to save up to 50% off on alcohol could be very attractive indeed.
Dining discounts used to be available at Mandarin Oriental Singapore too, but ended on 31 July 2022 without being renewed.
1% bonus cashback with HSBC EGA
One unique feature of the HSBC Visa Infinite is the ability to earn an additional 1% cashback on all transactions with the HSBC Everyday Global Account (EGA).
This is available to customers who deposit the following fresh funds into an EGA each month:
- HSBC Personal Banking: S$2,000/month
- HSBC Premier and Jade: S$5,000/month
If they also perform at least five eligible transactions (i.e. not those stated in the exclusions section above) of any amount each month, they’ll earn 1% cashback capped at S$300 per month for HSBC Personal Banking and S$500 per month for HSBC Premier and Jade.
Complimentary travel insurance
|Accidental Death||US$2 million|
|Others||Trip Cancellation: S$10,000|
Travel Delays: S$1,000
Rental Car Excess: S$2,000
HSBC Visa Infinite cardholders (and their immediate family) will enjoy complimentary travel insurance when they charge their airfares to the card. Travel insurance is also activated when a cardholder redeems airline miles, and charges the taxes and fees component to his/her HSBC Visa Infinite card.
The travel insurance policy is underwritten by AXA, and features coverage of up to:
- US$2 million for accidental death, or total and permanent disablement
- S$100,000 for overseas medical expenses
- S$10,000 for post medical expenses in Singapore
- S$5,000 for overseas hospitalisation allowance
- S$10,000 for trip cancellation
- S$1,000 for travel delays
- S$2,000 for rental car excess
- S$100,000 for personal liability
In terms of coverage, it’s one of the most comprehensive policies I’ve seen offered by a credit card. Complimentary insurance policies by other cards may not cover travel inconvenience (e.g. flight and luggage delay, luggage damage, missed flight connections), rental car excess, or personal liability, but HSBC’s policy includes all of this and more.
This policy even covers COVID-19 medical expenses up to the following limits:
- S$100,000 for overseas medical expenses (per family)
- S$5,000 for overseas hospitalisation allowance (per family)
- S$250,000 for emergency medical evacuation (per family)
- S$10,000 for trip cancellation (per family; individual cap is S$2,000)
- S$5,000 for trip curtailment or rearrangement (S$5,000)
Summary Review: HSBC Visa Infinite
The HSBC Visa Infinite is something of a mixed bag.
On the one hand, it struggles with fundamentally unattractive earn rates, which you’re stuck with for at least the first year. Spending S$50,000 in local currency to attain the step-up tier in the second year would entail an opportunity cost ranging from 25,000 miles (assuming your alternative was the 1.5 mpd DBS Vantage) to 150,000 miles (assuming you could have put that spend on various 4 mpd earning cards).
Moreover, you don’t get any miles for paying the S$488/650 annual fee in the second year, which seems stingy compared to what other $120K cards are offering.
On the other hand, the HSBC Visa Infinite has some serious travel credentials, with unlimited lounge access for the main cardholder and up to five supplementary cardholders, a relatively low limo spending requirement (+ 2 free rides each year), and complimentary travel insurance that’s comprehensive enough to be your main source of coverage. There’s also a free copy of The Entertainer, and you can offset the mediocre earn rate somewhat if you’re willing to jump through hoops with the HSBC EGA.
The question then, is whether this is substantially better than what other $120K cards can offer, and for that you should read the annual $120K card showdown article. I’d personally be more inclined to get this card if I were a HSBC Premier customer (to enjoy lower annual fees and four free limo rides), though I’d have to think long and hard about ditching it in the second year when there’s no renewal miles.
So that’s my review of the HSBC Visa Infinite. What do you think?
|An essential card for miles chasers, with few viable alternatives|
|A very good card, although other equally good alternatives may exist|
|A decent card to round out your collection, but not absolutely essential|
|Very limited use cases, and outperformed by most other cards|
|Paperweight. Use for picking teeth or ninja stars|