Earn up to 100,000 bonus points and collect points as you spend.
Alongside these benefits, rewards credit cards often come with higher annual fees. This makes it important to compare your options to make sure the benefits outweigh the costs. Use this guide to learn how rewards credit cards work, the different programmes available and how you can compare them to get the most out of your rewards.
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How do credit card rewards programmes work?
Rewards credit cards usually earn you points for every HK$1 spent on eligible transactions. When you have earned enough points, you can redeem them for rewards, such as travel, flight upgrades, vouchers, cashback and merchandise.
Most rewards credit cards have higher annual fees than other options because it costs lenders money to offer a rewards programme. This makes it important to compare the potential costs against the value of the rewards offered so you can decide if the benefits are worth it.
What rewards do credit cards offer?
The rewards you can get with a credit card depend on the card you choose and the rewards programme. Some of the most popular reward categories include:
- Flight upgrades
- Shopping vouchers
- Instant shopping discounts
- Dining offers
How can I use my credit card rewards?
The steps required to use your points to redeem rewards varies depending on the credit card and the rewards programme. But there are a few key factors to remember:
- Account login. You must log in to your credit card account or rewards programme account to make redemptions. Once you’re logged in, it’s usually a simple process of going to the “Rewards” section, then selecting “Use points” and following the prompts.
- Required points. Every reward option available for redemption has a specific point value (e.g. 28,500 points for a HK$100 gift card). This means you need to have at least that amount of points in your account to redeem your chosen reward.
- Points-plus-pay. Some programmes, such as Asia Miles, allow you to use a combination of points and money to redeem your chosen rewards. This gives you more flexibility if you haven’t earned enough points when you want to make redemptions.
Types of credit card rewards programmes in Hong Kong
There are a variety of different rewards credit cards you can compare and choose from based on the benefits you want. These can be separated into four types of reward programmes, which we’ve outlined below.
Air miles programmes
Air miles programmes are designed to earn you points which can be redeemed when you travel with a particular airline, such as Cathay Pacific or Hong Kong Airlines. There are two main ways you can earn air miles points with a rewards credit card in Hong Kong:
- Direct earn air miles credit cards. These cards are linked with a specific air miles programme and rewards are added directly to your airline loyalty account. The air miles programmes that are linked to direct earn credit cards in Hong Kong include Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club, Japan Airlines’s Fly On programme, Hong Kong Airlines’s Fortune Wings Club and Air China’s PhoenixMiles.
- Indirect earn air miles credit cards. These rewards credit cards let you transfer the points you earn to many different frequent flyer programmes from all around the world, giving you more flexibility if you fly with a range of airlines. Credit card reward programmes that indirectly earn frequent flyer points include American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Asia Miles, which can be used for the 15 airlines that are part of the oneworld alliance.
Credit card rewards programmes
Many credit card companies in Hong Kong have their own branded rewards programmes for customers. These options allow you to redeem points for a variety of rewards, including air miles, merchandise, shopping vouchers and credit on your account. Some credit card rewards programmes are:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- HSBC Red Hot Rewards
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
- DBS$ Reward Scheme
- Standard Chartered 360° Rewards
- Fubon Credit Card Bonus Point Program
- China Construction Bank Bonus Points Reward Program
Some credit card companies offer instant redemptions with certain retailers. If you have a HSBC RewardCash credit card, for example, you can redeem your points in-store at retailers such as Broadway and SOGO.
Retail reward programmes
Some rewards credit cards enable you to earn points at a higher rate and offer other benefits, such as discounts and shopping vouchers, at certain retailers.
Cashback credit cards
These types of rewards cards add credit or “cash” to your account when you meet certain spending requirements. Most cashback credit cards offer a percentage of your total spend as cashback, or provide a one-time cashback sum as an introductory offer when you apply and spend a certain amount during the first couple of months. Some cards offer a higher cashback rate for spending in certain sectors, such as online or dining.
How to compare reward credit cards in Hong Kong
Comparing credit cards helps you find the features that suit your lifestyle while also keeping costs affordable. Below, you’ll find a checklist of things to consider when you are comparing reward credit cards.
- Points per dollar. The more points you earn per dollar spent, the greater the potential value. A good rule of thumb is to look for a card that offers cashback of at least 1% of most transactions, or the lowest level of spending per Asia Mile earned.
- Point expiry and caps. Some credit card reward points expire after a certain amount of time, and some accounts have a limit on how many points you can earn in a month or year.
- Bonus point offers. Reward credit cards often have sign up deals that give you hundreds or thousands of bonus points. Usually these offers require you to spend a certain amount of money on the card in the first few months you have it. As these offers only last for a limited time, they should only be considered after you have a clear idea of the type of card you want so that you can get the most value out of the deal and the rewards card you choose.
- Point values. To work out the value of your rewards, consider how many points it would take to redeem. For example, if you need 28,500 points to get a HK$100 gift voucher and your credit card has an earn rate of 1 point per HK$1 spent, you would have to spend HK$28,500 to make a redemption. Breaking down the rewards like this can help you determine whether it’s worth your time and money.
- Rewards partners. Rewards programmes often partner with retailers and businesses to provide you with a wider range of redemption options. You may also have the opportunity to earn bonus points when you shop with partner stores. Choose a credit card rewards programme that has partnerships with your favourite brands and products so you can take advantage of these options.
- Redemption limitations. Some reward programmes have blackout periods when you may not be able to make redemptions. Check the fine print for this information and consider the impact it could have on you.
Rates and fees
- Annual fees. Most rewards credit cards charge an annual fee. The value of the rewards you earn should be equal to or more than the annual fee of a credit card.
- Foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards apply a charge for transactions made overseas or with an international retailer online, usually around 2% of the total transaction. Make sure you consider this fee before choosing a card – especially for any rewards card that offers more points for foreign transactions.
- Interest rates. Credit cards in Hong Kong typically charge high interest rates of between 30% and 40% for purchases. If you think you’ll carry a balance, consider how much interest your purchases will accrue and whether the rewards will outweigh this cost.
- Cash advance rates. If you use a rewards credit card for a cash advance transaction, such as getting money from an ATM, you will be charged interest at the cash advance rate, which could be as high as nearly 40% p.a. You will also be charged a cash advance fee and an administration charge. Cash advances usually don’t earn reward points either
- Other fees. Rewards credit cards may come with a range of other fees, such as late payment and over the credit limit charges. Make sure you check these costs and factor them into your comparison so that you can choose a card that is affordable for you.
Some rewards credit cards come with a variety of additional features that can add value to the account you choose. Popular perks include:
- Airport lounge access
- Shopping and dining discounts
- Hotel stays
- Airport limousine service
- Extended warranty coverage
- Price match guarantees
- Concierge services
Will a rewards credit card work for me?
The value of a rewards credit card depends as much on the cardholder as the actual card you choose. So rather than making a definitive statement about whether or not reward credit cards are valuable, let’s take a look at the key factors that make them likely or unlikely to work for you.
A rewards credit card could be worth it if you:
- Pay off your credit card balance in full every month
- Currently use or plan to use a credit card on a regular basis
- Have a clear idea of the type of points you want to earn
- Are part of or want to join an existing reward programme that could be complemented by a credit card (i.e. an air miles programme or shopping reward programme)
- Earn enough to pay a higher annual fee
- Can regularly make use of the rewards or complimentary extras on the card, such as airport lounge access
A reward credit card might not be right if you:
- Have a lot of credit card debt
- Often carry a balance on your credit card
- Rarely use a credit card
- Won’t be able to regularly use complimentary extras on the card
- Can’t afford a higher annual fee
- Are tempted to overspend in order to earn rewards
It’s worth noting that there are some exceptions to the guidelines above. If you can’t afford a high annual fee, for example, you might still get a lot of value out of a rewards credit card where the annual fee is waived for the first year or longer. On the other hand, if you regularly use a credit card but also have a lot of debt, it might be better to consider using a prepaid card instead so that you are not tempted to overspend.
While rewards credit cards can be a useful way to get something back for your purchases, it’s important to remember that you have to repay everything (plus interest). There are also annual fees and other costs to consider. But by factoring in both benefits and costs when you compare reward credit cards, you can find an option that suits your needs.
Frequently asked questions
Want to know more about rewards credit cards? Below, you’ll find answers to the most common questions we get asked about them.