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HSBC review by EugeneV

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#1 markber


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Posted 14 September 2005 - 11:18 AM

A great review of HSBC bank was posted by EugeneV on FW:


HSBC Bank USA website:

HSBC Internet Banking:
This site is also used for "Secure Bank Mail" for account-related communication, which somewhat helps prevent spoofing.

HSBC provides free Yodlee-based account aggregation service to its customers:
You need to have an account to sign up for it but it is not integrated with Internet Banking (separate user ID/password and separate but equally poor customer service).


There is nothing about HSBC regular Savings worth discussing.

HSBC is offering OnlineSavings account, currently paying 3.75% APY. You can check current rates in this thread. While a few banks and Credit Unions offer higher interest, all of them (currently) have high minimum required to obtain it. If you need a truly liquid high interest account, consider OnlineSavings, with just $1 minimum needed to open.

Occasionally HSBC offers signup bonus for this account. Check this discussion as well as this thread for current promotions.

This account, as its name suggests, must be opened online and will not allow you to use most teller services. You will get an ATM card. However, you can also add it to your MasterCard debit card issued with Checking accounts. NOTE: only one Savings account may be linked to each card. ALSO NOTE: if only one of the accounts is joint, they may be unable to link the second (individual) account to the card issued for the joint account, and vise versa, over the phone. A CSR claimed that she did this in the branch, but I have not had the chance to verify that it actually worked yet.

Another benefit is higher sending/receiving daily and monthly limits and fees waived for Bank-to-Bank transfer, discussed below.

You will receive a warning if you exceed the federally-mandated maximum number of transactions on the savings account (six; ATM and online transactions do not count). If you do it the second time, they will convert your Savings into Basic Checking (whether you want it or not).


HSBC offers Free Checking accounts and is currently giving away $50 bonus for signing up. See this discussion for details. This account does allow you to use teller services either. You will get a free order of checks and a debit card with PayPass RFID chip (although some people received a regular debit card instead - see discussion linked above). There is $1 fee for using non-HSBC-owned ATMs (it is $1.50 for OnlineSavings). NOTE that certain activity is required in order to keep this account free; they will convert it into Basic Checking and charge monthly fees after three months of inactivity.

Internal Transfers and Overdraft Protection

You can transfer funds between linked accounts online, instantly. You can use a special overdraft LOC ("Select Credit") or an HSBC credit card for overdraft protection (but not your Savings account, as some banks allow). I do not think you can use a former Household Bank-issued credit card for OD; you may be required to open a new one. Overdraft is considered cash advance by the credit card and is subject to 3% fee (before interest). Therefore opening a separate Overdraft LOC makes sense. They will pull a hard inquiry either way.

Credit Cards

HSBC took over Household Bank, which occasionally has some great credit card promotions (by invitation only - see this thread and this thread). Their own credit cards are rather unimpressive. The reward structure is similar to MBNA's WorldPoints.

US Branches & ATM

HSBC is a global bank, with branches in 75 countries and territories. Their presence in the US, though, is limited to NY and some areas in PA, DE, FL, CA, OR, WA and Washington, DC. You can locate branches and ATMs here. According to HSBC employee newsletter, in addition to their one branch open in Hillside, NJ, they plan to open at least six more: in Fort Lee, Englewood, Hoboken, Parsippany, Morristown and Westerfield by year's end, and as many as 50 branches in the next three years.

International branches & ATM; foreign ATM fees

HSBC ATM or debit card is a must-have for travelers. You will get that day's interbank exchange rate with no additional currency conversion fee. The ATM transaction itself is free at HSBC ATMs (and ATMs at banks owned by HSBC) and will cost you $1 (Checking) or $1.50 (Savings) elsewhere. NOTE that the non-HSBC ATM operator may have an additional charge. International ATM fees and rates are discussed in this thread.

Initiating ACH (Bank-to-Bank) Transfers

HSBC uses CashEdge for Bank-to-Bank (ACH) transfers. As an added security measure, you will be able to establish a separate password to access this feature and BillPay. You need a browser with enabled Java applet support in order to enter this password on a Virtual Keyboard (to prevent key loggers from stealing your information).

There is no limit on the number of external checking and savings accounts you can link. You do not need to mail any checks. Most accounts are added by confirming two small deposits and some by simply entering your remote username and password. Transfers from other banks to HSBC are free. Transfers from HSBC have a $3 transaction fee, waived for OnlineSavings account holders. You can setup both one-time and recurring transfers. Daily limit is 100K for OnlineSavings account holders and the monthly limit is 1M. I am not sure what the limits are otherwise but I remember them being substantially lower. Transfers requested before 8:00 PM EST are processed before start of business on the next business day (source account is debited - make sure funds are available!). Destination account is credited three business days later. For example, transfer requested before 8 PM on Monday is processed very early on Tuesday morning but you will not see your money until Thursday. Normally there is no additional hold once the money is transferred.

The spelling of your name does not have to match, but the other bank may reject the request (it really depends on the other bank; some verify randomly).

Bill Pay

HSBC BillPay will let you pay anyone in the US (they'll mail a check, for free). Your account will be debited on the day you select for payment rather than when the check is actually cashed. Perhaps, some payments are processed electronically; I haven't seen any evidence of this.

Premier Accounts

HSBC is offering some perks to Premier members. You need to have 100K in combined personal deposit and investment balances or $500,000 in combined personal deposit, investment, and credit/mortgage balances. Business owners may use their commercial balances to qualify for personal Premier membership. You can also try this service free for three months and pay $50/month afterwards if you do not qualify otherwise. I started a separate thread on the subject here. Some of the benefits of Premier are:
Free self-to-self international fund transfers via secure Internet access to more than 40 different countries, preferred rates on CDs, higher ATM daily withdrawal limit, $1,000 check cashing at any branch, no issuance fees for travelers cheques, money orders, official checks and foreign drafts, discounts on select loans, below-market auto loan rates, concierge services, emergency travel assistance and "portable" HSBC Credit History."

Source: fatwallet.com/t/52/519997/

#2 PFJournal.com


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Posted 14 September 2005 - 11:56 PM

I use HSBC and I think they are great. Good customer service and a great product.

#3 pangya88


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Posted 17 September 2005 - 04:01 AM

However, you might want to consider other banks if you plan not to use their account regularly. I just closed my FREE checking account since it was NOT FREE as advertised. After 3 months (or so) of account inactivity, they converted my FREE checking account to some account and charged a monthly fee.

It's all in the fine print. So make sure to read it carefully.

#4 markber


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Posted 17 September 2005 - 05:59 AM

QUOTE(pangya88 @ Sep 16 2005, 09:01 PM)
However, you might want to consider other banks if you plan not to use their account regularly.  I just closed my FREE checking account since it was NOT  FREE as advertised.  After 3 months (or so) of account inactivity, they converted my FREE checking account to some account and charged a monthly fee. 

It's all in the fine print.  So make sure to read it carefully.
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I had to complain to HSBC CEO, Sir John Bond, about the deceptive practice of HSBC USA not to disclose critical account information (e.g. what transactions are considered "customer activity") necessary to avoid the conversion of free checking to basic checking. I got all my fees refunded but it looks like it did not change the ways HSBC USA conducts its business.