HSBC Review: Is It the Right Bank for You?

HSBC offers services nationally, internationally and digitally.

HSBC, short for Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, got its start in Hong Kong in 1865 as a way to facilitate and finance trade between Europe and Asia. In 1980, it purchased a controlling interest in Marine Midland Bank, which was based in Buffalo, New York, and later acquired the rest. Today, HSBC Bank USA offers traditional, in-person banking as well as online banking for personal, corporate and business needs.

If you’re interested in online and mobile banking, then HSBC is worth your consideration. Explore the different banking options to see if HSBC aligns with your financial habits and needs.

Who Is HSBC Best For?

HSBC is best for anyone looking for a traditional banking experience with a global reach. The company operates in more than 60 countries and territories worldwide, including the U.S. You can bank online or find a physical branch. Just be aware that in the U.S., branches are concentrated on the East and West coasts.

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If you’re looking to open a new bank account or change your financial institution, consider the pros and cons of banking with HSBC.

 

Pros and Cons of Banking With HSBC

ProsCons
24/7 access to your account with HSBC mobile app and online bankingLow annual percentage yield (APY) and interest rates on checking and savings accounts compared with other banks
You can change your HSBC ATM card and debit card PIN at any HSBC ATM.CD APY rates are also comparatively low.
Student Choice Checking account has several advantages.All checking accounts have a monthly service fee, though some of these can be waived by meeting minimum account and deposit requirements.

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Who Might Want To Skip HSBC?

Customers who want high APY and interest rates for their checking and savings accounts might do better at another bank. While you have access to physical HSBC branches where banking can be a one-stop shop, those in the U.S. might be pretty far away unless you live in certain states.

Before opening an account with HSBC, learn what it’s best and worst for compared with other financial institutions.

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Who Is HSBC Best For and Worst For?

Best ForWorst For
Creating a relationship with bank employees at a physical branch if you live in one of the 10 states that have branchesCustomers who like to write unlimited checks each month but only have enough funds for a lower-tiered checking account.
An array of checking tiers depending on your account balanceThose seeking high APY rates for their savings accounts
Access to ATMs worldwideSomeone who does not need international banking options

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Types of Accounts Available

HSBC has an array of accounts available to its customers. The one that’s right for you depends on your financial needs and habits.

Consider the account types, features, fees and rates before opening an account.

Types of Available HSBC Accounts Available

Account TypeFeaturesRatesFeesComparative Rates
Checking AccountBasic Banking

Choice Checking

These accounts do not earn interestBasic Banking: $1 monthly maintenance fee

Choice Checking: $0 monthly maintenance fee for first 6 years for students and for non-students who maintain minimum balance; $15 for non-student customers if minimum balance is not met

Wells Fargo’s Everyday Checking does not earn interest and imposes a $10 monthly service fee unless you meet certain requirements.
Interest CheckingHSBC Advance

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HSBC Premier

HSBC Advance: 0.01% APY

HSBC Premier: 0.o1% APY

HSBC Advance: $25 monthly maintenance fee

HSBC Premier: $50 monthly maintenance fee

Ally Bank’s Interest Checking account earns 0.10% APY for accounts with a balance below $15,000 and 0.50% APY for accounts with a balance above $15,000.
Savings AccountHSBC Everyday Savings

HSBC Advance Savings

HSBC Premier Savings

HSBC Everyday Savings: 0.01% APY

HSBC Advance Savings: 0.05% APY

HSBC Premier Savings: 0.15% APY

HSBC Everyday Savings: $0 monthly maintenance fee

HSBC Advance Savings: $0 monthly maintenance fee

HSBC Premier Savings: $0 monthly maintenance fee

Bank of America’s Standard Savings APY is 0.03%. That rises to 0.06% for the Platinum Honors account and Preferred Rewards for Wealth Management account.
CDsTerms range from 6 months to 2 yearsRates depend on your term.

6-month term: 0.75% APY

12-month term: 0.95% APY

24-month term: 1.30% APY

Penalties might be imposed for early withdrawal from CD accounts.Discover Bank offers a 2.00% APY on a 12-month term CD and 2.05% on a 24-month term CD.
Individual Retirement AccountsTraditional IRA, Roth IRAReturns depend on your investments.As with all IRAs, tax penalties may apply for withdrawals made before the minimum age requirement.N/A
Investment (Nonbank) OptionsMutual funds

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Fixed-income investment products

Structured products

Equities and ETFs

Annuities

Insurance

There are a lot of variables to consider before landing on a rate. An HSBC Global Asset Management Team can help you determine different rates for different products.Trading fees vary depending on your products and financial goals.N/A
LoansPersonal Loans

Select Credit

Mortgages

Home Equity Line of Choice

Personal Loans: Borrow anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 depending on your HSBC customer tier. Terms as low as 6.99% APR for new customers and 5.99% for existing customers.

Select Credit: Borrow up to your available credit limit. The variable introductory rate ranges from 7.49% to 15.49% APR. Comparative variable rates range from 9.49% to 17.49% APR.

Conforming Mortgage: Fixed and adjustable rates vary.

Jumbo Mortgage: Select, Preferred, Deluxe and Elite adjustable and fixed rates vary.

Affordable Mortgage: CommunityWorks and SONYMA fixed rates vary.

Fees vary based on your plan and repayment agreement.Citibank: Personal Loans: 7.99% to 23.99% APR

Citibank: Mortgage Loan: 4.125% APR for 30-year fixed-rate loan as of Dec. 18, 2019

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Checking/Interest Checking

HSBC offers four different types of checking accounts: Basic, Choice, HSBC Advance and HSBC Premier. All come with a Mastercard Debit Card that is unique to the specific account type. Before choosing a plan, compare its rates and features to some of the best financial institutions’ checking accounts.

Features

  • HSBC Premier offers access to preferred mortgage rates and high-yield HSBC saving accounts.
  • HSBC Advance offers access to preferred mortgage rates and global transfers.
  • Choice Checking offers a Mastercard Debit Card that has no monthly service fees.
  • Basic Banking offers a Mastercard Debit Card that has no monthly service fees.

Pros

  • Option for Overdraft Protection on all checking accounts
  • Worldwide ATM and customer support

Cons

  • Only HSBC Premier and HSBC Advance Checking are interest-bearing accounts.
  • All checking account tiers have a monthly maintenance fee unless you keep a high account balance or make recurring deposits. Basic Banking’s monthly fee cannot be waived, but it’s only $1.

Learn More: 15 Best New Bank Promotions and Bonuses

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Savings

HSBC offers Premier and Advance savings accounts as well as an HSBC Everyday Savings account. All earn interest and you can open an account online or at an HSBC branch. Compare the features and rates to the best financial institutions’ saving accounts before signing on with HSBC.

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Features

  • HSBC Premier raises the interest rates as your account balance grows, so the more money you keep in the account, the higher your interest earned.
  • HSBC Advance can be connected to any checking account even if it’s not an HSBC checking account.
  • HSBC Everyday Savings has an automatic savings feature where you can set up a recurring deposit to help build your account balance.

Pros

  • All tiers offer free internet banking.
  • All tiers are FDIC-insured.

Cons

  • Low APY rate compared to online savings accounts with other banks

Find Out: Here’s How Long It Takes for a Check To Clear at Your Bank

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CDs

Certificates of deposit are a good way to earn extra savings by growing your money with higher APY rates. You can choose your CD term and interest rate when opening a CD at HSBC.

Features

  • Terms vary from 6 months to 2 years.
  • FDIC-insured

Pros

  • You have the option to automatically renew your CD or transfer the funds into a different CD.
  • Interest compounds daily

Cons

  • Minimum of $1,000 to open a CD
  • Comparatively low APY rates

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Individual Retirement Accounts

HSBC offers retirement plans in the form of IRAs as well as an education savings account. Both can be tailored to match your needs and saving habits.

Features

  • Traditional IRA: This IRA lets you invest on a tax-deferred basis, meaning you don’t pay taxes on the money until it is withdrawn. Contributions to this account have the potential to be tax deductible, depending on your income level.
  • Roth IRA: As you invest in this account your contributions will be taxed, so withdrawals from it are tax-free.

Pros/Cons 

The pros and cons of this account really depend on your saving habits and needs, though HSBC IRAs likely don’t differ that much from IRAs offered elsewhere.

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Investment (Nonbank) Options

HSBC offers a multitude of ways to invest your money beyond the usual savings, CD and IRA accounts. Contact an advisor from HSBC’S Global Asset Management Team to learn more about the different options and strategies.

Features

  • Mutual Funds: HSBC advisors can help you design a fund portfolio based on your needs and risk tolerance.
  • Fixed Income Investments: These are mainly fixed bond investments with a set return schedule.
  • Structured Products: These involve either a single security, a basket of securities, an index, a commodity, a debt issuance and/or a foreign currency. HSBC provides a risk-return calculation at the beginning of your term as well as a fixed date of maturity.
  • Annuities: With annuities, you pay premiums in exchange for a guaranteed distribution of income over time.
  • Equities and ETFs (exchange-traded funds): Equities are stocks that represent corporate ownership stakes. ETFs are a collection of stocks, bonds or options.
  • Insurance: HSBC provides the following four insurance products:
    • Term life
    • Whole life
    • Variable Universal life
    • Universal life

Pros/Cons

Pros and cons of the above investments depend on the specific investment type, which can be created with the help of the HSBC Wealth Management Team.

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Loans

If you need to make a large purchase, start a new life adventure or refinance your home, HSBC offers loans and lines of credit. You can apply for any of these online or in person.

Features, Pros and Cons

  • Select Line of Credit: With this product, you can borrow up to your available credit limit.
    • Pro: HSBC boasts of a competitively low APR.
    • Con: Your credit limit might not be very big.
  • Personal Loan: You can borrow between $3,000 and $50,000, depending on your financial situation and customer status.
    • Pro: If you are an HSBC Premier customer, you can receive the maximum loan amount.
    • Con: Loan maximums are much smaller if you are not an HSBC Premier customer.
  • Mortgages: You can buy a new home or refinance an existing one with an HSBC conforming mortgage, jumbo mortgage or affordable mortgage.
    • Pro: New mortgages can be paid with a fixed or adjustable rate. Refinancing your mortgage might lower your monthly payments.
    • Con: Other financial institutions might offer you better rates, so it pays to shop around.
  • Home Equity Line of Choice: This lets you turn your home equity into funds for a needed repair, debt consolidation or other large expenses.
    • Pro: You only pay interest on the amount you borrow.
    • Con: Only HSBC Premier customers have access to the largest credit line.

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How To Bank With HSBC

Banking with HSBC is easy and accessible. Here are the five main ways to do so:

  1. Visit an HSBC branch using the online locator.
  2. Call a customer service representative at 800-975-4722.
  3. Tweet @HSBC_US.
  4. Send a letter to the HSBC customer service address, premier banking address or mortgages address.
  5. Conduct business and chat with a customer service rep using your mobile app and online account.

Technology

HSBC offers an online banking account as well as a mobile app. Both give you 24/7 access to your accounts from anywhere in the world. The mobile app gives you access to your funds and lets you transfer money and deposit checks. Online banking offers the same features except for depositing checks.

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Fees

Like any bank, HSBC imposes fees for its services. Here’s a rundown of the checking account fees:

  • Choice Checking
    • Students are not charged fees for six years after opening an account; for other customers, the fee is $15 per month.
    • This fee can be waived if you have $1,500 in account deposits or a recurring direct deposit into this account.
  • Basic Banking
    • $1 monthly fee regardless of your balance
    • This fee cannot be waived.
  • HSBC Advance checking
    • $25 monthly fee
    • The fee is waived with a $10,000 minimum account balance or $5,000 minimum account balance in addition to a recurring direct deposit into this account.
  • HSBC Premier checking
    • $50 monthly fee
    • The fee is waived with a $75,000 minimum account balance or recurring deposits of at least $5,000 per month. You can also have the fee waived if you have a U.S. mortgage loan of at least $500,000.

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Availability of Funds

The availability of funds largely depends on when you deposited them and when they get credited to your account. However, some deposits have same-day availability, including the following:

  • Cash deposits either with a teller or at an ATM
  • Transfers between HSBC Bank USA accounts in the same name
  • Real-time payments
  • Electronic direct deposits
  • Wire transfers

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HSBC Breakdown

HSBC is a good option if you like traditional banking and travel a lot. However, some customers might be turned off by the low interest and APY rates.

Consider the drawbacks and benefits of HSBC before investing your money.

Drawbacks and Benefits of  HSBC
BenefitsDrawbacks
Digital banking readily accessibleComparatively low APY and interest rates
Global presenceMonthly fees for most checking accounts
An array of account tiers available with overdraft protectionOnly three term options for CD products

HSBC is a large bank offering a wide range of services. However, other banks, including Capital One, offer higher savings rates. HSBC will likely only make sense if you live or work near a branch of the bank.

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    Rates and fees are accurate as of Dec. 1, 2019, and are subject to change. This content is not provided by HSBC. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by HSBC.

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    About the Author

    Jared Nigro is from Pittsburgh, which is obvious by the way he gravitates toward cheese at parties. He is a comedy writer from The Groundlings Sunday Company, Upright Citizens Brigade and has his own digital show on Comedy Central called “Broken People.” When he isn’t being funny, he’s reading books on debt and finance and listening to his favorite finance podcast, ChooseFI.