While your parents are probably proud of the fact they’ve never had a credit card, or credit card debt for that matter, you know credit cards are now just a reality of life. I know my parents dislike having and using their credit card and keep it only for emergencies, however, I also know that if I’m going to have a credit card, I’m going to have one which works for me, not against me as a liability in my wallet.
You no longer have to look at choosing a credit card as choosing the lesser evil, because a credit card doesn’t have to be evil at all if it has features which benefit you every time you use it. Therefore, as you consider the features of the HSBC credit card, consider how they marry with the way you already spend, save and interact with credit, and you’ll be well on your way to choosing a credit card that will be working for you too.
Benefits & Features
Start your comparison of HSBC’s credit card by looking at the features of the card, how those features work, and how they can – or won’t – work for you. In this way you can see exactly how it could fit in with your financial habits, and whether it will compliment or clash with your financial plans. Here are the biggest benefits
A 0% p.a. balance transfer interest rate: The balance transfer period on the HSBC credit card is 6 months, and this means that once you transfer an existing credit card balance from a non-HSBC credit card, you have eight months to pay off the balance while enjoying paying the introductory rate. If the balance is not repaid in the introductory balance transfer period, the interest rate on the transferred balance reverts to the card’s cash advance rate of 21.99% p.a..
No annual fee for the life of the card: This is one less thing you have to worry about, because while most cards charge you annually just for having their card in your wallet, your HSBC no annual fee card won’t cost you anything if you’re not using it, saving it for emergencies, or working on paying off your balance transfer.
Free additional card holder: If you want to help keep track of your spending by having all of the household credit cards on one account, you can include an additional card holder on your HSBC credit card account for free. Or you may want to provide security to your child as they are in high school or university, and you can add them to your account, making sure they have access to credit in an emergency.
Up to 55 days on purchases interest free period: With such a long interest free period, the HSBC credit card is designed as a transactor credit card, to be paid off in full each month, attracting no interest. This is because the purchase rate of 17.99% p.a. is not the lowest on the market, and so HSBC have given you a decent amount of time to pay off your purchases before you’re charged the comparatively high interest rate. However, the interest free days don’t apply to cash advances, which immediately attract the higher 21.99% p.a. cash advance interest rate, which is standard practice across most credit cards, so try and avoid ever taking cash out of your credit account.
Award winning transactor credit card: The HSBC credit card was named Money Magazine’s Best Transactor Credit Card in 2010 and 2011, so not only has the card been judged and named the winner by an independent leading authority, but it also proves that the features and benefits of the card are perfectly suited to those people who monitor and track their transactions, and budget to pay off their credit card balance in full each month.
A free and instant rewards program: The HSBC credit card has few fees because it is a basic card, without a rewards program which earns points for every dollar spent, and tracks your balance, redeeming your points on a short list of predetermined items. Instead, you earn rewards with the home&Away Privilege Program, where you receive instant discounts when you spend at one of the more than 19,000 partnered outlets around the world. Your HSBC home&Away discounts can be on anything from shopping or entertainment, to travel or accommodation. The home&Away program is different to something like Qantas Frequent Flyer (HSBC have a card linked with that program) in that you aren’t earning points to redeem for flights. However, there is a decent selection of promotions to choose from, such as vouchers for money off hotels and meals at restaurants. If you are unsure what is on offer with the home&Away privilege program, visit their website before applying.
Lower purchase rates are available: As has been alluded to above, there are credit cards with lower ongoing interest rates on purchases. This isn’t to say that this card is a bad one – it’s not. It’s just that there are better, cheaper options on the market if you are the type of user who will not pay your purchases off on time each month. There is one drawback with these competing no or low interest offers – they tend to have poor, or no, balance transfer deals. So it is really a case of choosing whether you want cheap purchases or balance transfers.
home&Away lacks frequent flyer points: Although the HSBC credit card offers a rewards program (called home&Away), it is focussed on offering special discounts and one-off offers through a range of domestic and international partner businesses. If you are looking for a rewards program linked to a frequent flyer program, this card isn’t for you.
Outstanding balance transfers revert to the cash advance rate: What this means is that if you have transferred a balance of $5,000 and you don’t get it paid off within 6 months (the introductory period for the balance transfer offer) and you keep the account open, whatever debt is left will be charged interest at the cash advance rate. This rate is currently at 21.99% p.a., which is higher than the rate charged on purchases. Ideally you would pay back your balance transfer inside the introductory period in order to avoid it.
How to Apply
You can apply for the HSBC credit card in just 10 to 15 minutes either online, by visiting a participating retailer, or posting in your application form. To be eligible to apply, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a permanent Australian resident.
- Have a good credit rating.
- Have an annual before tax income of at least $20,000.
To help make the application process run as smoothly as possible, you will need to collect the following information:
- Proof of your monthly before tax income, in the form of a payslip or a letter from your employer.
- Your employer’s name, address and phone number.
- Your current financial commitments, such as your rent or mortgage, and other loan and credit card repayments.
- Proof of your identity, such as a photo ID and your address, for example you can use your passport, driver’s license or utility bill.
- If you are completing a balance transfer at the same time, you will need the account details of your current credit card.
You can then go to the HSBC website and follow the prompts through the online application form, or you can download and print an application form, and post it to the HSBC offices in Sydney.
Applying for a new credit card can be done in just a few minutes, and you don’t even have to leave the house. However, just because you’re sitting there in your trackies, doesn’t mean this is a decision which should be taken lightly. Instead, take the time to consider whether you’re able to pay off your balance within the interest free period, because if you can’t, there are credit cards with lower purchase rates. Compare the rewards of the home&Away program to see if there are discounts you would actually use, and think about whether eight months is long enough for you to pay off your existing credit card balances, even if you are being charged zero interest.
The HSBC credit card has some inclusive, intuitive and relevant features and benefits available, so look carefully at your situation, and decide whether this card will be a step towards financial stability and control for you.