UPDATE: I have cancelled my HSBC Visa Platinum credit card recently, because over the last two years they have been systematically getting more and more worse. None of the below mentioned advantages really apply to HSBC cards anymore. Read more in my update below dated January 6, 2011.
I was recently upgraded to a lifetime free Visa Platinum credit card from HSBC. Earlier, I had a Visa Gold credit card from them for about three years. It’s a good credit card for the following reasons:
– Good offers from time to time (I’ve observed that of all the credit cards, HSBC and ICICI Bank come up with the maximum number of offers or discounts on purchases on their credit cards. On HSBC, one regular good offer is the 10% cash back scheme which comes around Diwali time each year and gives you a discount of 10% on the bill amount upto a maximum of Rs. 1000).
– No penalties if payment is made up to 1-2 days late (It happened once with me).
– Good internet banking service (You can pay your bills through HSBC’s internet banking and it will be charged to your card and you will currently also get a 3% discount on the bill amount).
– Good customer service but funny sometimes (Will explain more later).
– Good security (They give a security device which generates a random six-digit number everytime, that you need login into or to pay any bills online via their website).
– Decent choice of rewards/gifts when redeeming reward points.
– True to their word (They circulate their Terms & Conditions and follow them strictly, and don’t put unfair or random charges on you).
But recently there was a funny incident with their customer care. I got a mail and a phone call from HSBC asking if I would like to upgrade my Gold card to a lifetime free Platinum one. Earlier also they had called me for the same but at that time it wasn’t lifetime free, and so I refused it. But this time it was free, so I agreed for it.
Now, all the formalities for the upgrade were completed. I got a few calls for verification that went fine. But then there was no news, even after two weeks. So I called up their customer care to enquire. The guy talking to me said that there were some notes regarding the upgrade on the system but no status on the same!
So I forwarded the mail for the lifetime free Platinum card upgrade which they had sent me to email@example.com and asked about the status. They gave a standard reply that since the Platinum card comes loaded with lots of features, they are unable to provide it free of cost! They mentioned the annual fees, etc. below.
The funny part was that right below was their original mail which I had forwarded to them, which explicitly said that it was an invitation to upgrade to a lifetime free Platinum card! It also said that I should mail firstname.lastname@example.org for any queries. So I wonder if they even read the full mail properly! And how come their customer service executives don’t know about their own offers??
Anyway, about two days later I saw the new Platinum card number in my online HSBC account, and then got it by mail a few days later. Even the outstanding balance and reward points were transferred from my old card to the new card as promised, albeit after a few days. So no problem.
But I must say this is a one-off case. Generally they are prompt in responding and also answer the queries properly. So overall I’m quite happy.
And the HSBC Platinum card is definitely a matter of pride to have!
UPDATE: January 6, 2011
I cancelled my HSBC Visa Platinum credit card a few weeks ago. They had been getting worse over a period of time, and in the last year or so, they became so bad that I would literally get high blood pressure every time I interacted with them through email, phone or any which way.
– They said their card was lifetime free, but they charged me Rs. 4000 as annual fees twice, which then took about 3 months to get back after repeated follow-ups and numerous false assurances from them.
– Their customer care has absolutely become hopeless! They don’t understand what the customer is asking and give incorrect or unrelated information in the reply. It takes couple of mails to get the point across. Most of the time, they simply keep repeating the old points even when I specifically point out that I am asking something else. This caused me so much frustration!
– When I tried to redeem my reward points, the vouchers never arrived at all! After numerous follow-ups, I was told that the courier company could not deliver the parcel and so it came back! Apparently my house was “out of service area”. This is strange considering there was never any issue with the statements arriving to my house! And then it was a headache to get my reward points re-credited so I could redeem them again! Not to mention, by the time I redeemed again, the gifts and vouchers had become significantly costlier (in terms of points), so I got a much poorer deal eventually.
– It is a big hassle to delete even billers from your account. Even that takes couple of mails to them to get it done.
– Once they sent a person to my home to collect a part payment, despite my claim that I had already paid it and it would be credited soon. They said it’s just a safety measure to verify that I am not charged late payment fees. Finally I saw that they charged me Rs. 100 for the home visit, which was pretty useless in the first place as the online payment was credited before the due date as I had claimed!
– Unlike in the past, there are no exciting offers or discounts with HSBC cards anymore. So I no longer see the value of having it.
There are a couple more points, but I’m unable to remember them now. I should’ve updated this article when the frustration was fresh in my mind!