When I was younger, I didn’t look forward to the twenty-four hours of flying it took to get from our home in New York to our family in Taipei, Taiwan.
I always loved it when I got there, especially the street food, but the flight that took us to California, then Alaska, then Japan, and then finally to Taiwan was felt like an eternity for a kid.
It was especially unnerving to sleep for 8 hours and STILL be flying.
What I wouldn’t appreciate until much later was how complicated the finances of life could be when your worlds are separated by currencies and banking systems.
The banks that operated in Taiwan, especially in the 1980’s, were not the same ones that operate here. Nowadays, things are more streamlined but there are still these lines of demarcation.
This was the first time I’d heard of HSBC, which is short for The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (though the first time I heard of them it was their subsidiary, Hang Seng Bank). They were founded 1865 to help finance trade through Hong Kong and Shanghai with the West. The bank is over a hundred and fifty years old!
HSBC would expand internationally out of Asia in the mid-1900s and would find itself in the United States after acquiring a majority stake in New York-based Marine Midland Bank in 1980. HSBC would acquire the balance of Marine Midland Bank in 1987 and rename it HSBC Bank in 1998.
HSBC Bank USA (FDIC #57890) is the arm of the bank that operates in the United States and is headquartered in New York City, New York.
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HSBC Advance Checking Account Details
HSBC Bank USA has a lot of banking products – from deposit to loans to credit cards.
The product that is most interesting to me is their HSBC Advance Checking account. As a long time Bank of America customer, I know that the central hub of most financial maps is a checking account with a physical location so you can withdraw (and in rare cases, deposit) cash.
More importantly, as a traveler and as my parents realized, one of the big benefits of the HSBC Advance Checking account is international support – you get access to HSBC ATMs worldwide (there may be fees, but you can get access). If your wallet is lost or stolen, you can get up to $10,000 USD in local currency at any HSBC branch.
The interest rate on the HSBC Advance Checking account is on par with other brick and mortar banks – a far cry from the interest rates at online banks – but that’s to be expected.
HSBC Advance Checking Fee Structure
There is a $25 monthly maintenance fee that can be waived if you qualify as an HSBC Advance relationship. The HSBC Advance relationship requires you to maintain a total U.S. balance (deposit and investments) of at least $10,000 or maintain a $5,000+ balance plus have a recurring direct deposit every month. If you have a business account, that also counts towards the total balance requirement.
If you compare this with other brick and mortar banks, the balance requirements are slightly higher than some others. Bank of America’s Core Checking Account has a $12 monthly fee that is waived if you have a qualifying direct deposit of $250+ or maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance. You don’t get the same level of international support (or any kind of opening bonus), but it’s a data point to compare.
HSBC’s fee waiver requirements are slightly higher but all within range with similar banks – and you get all the international perks.
Is It Worth It?
If you want ease and integration internationally, HSBC Bank is a strong option.
Many banks have international partnerships. For example, Bank of America partners with a variety of banks that give you the opportunity to use international ATMs while avoiding the non-Bank of Ameria ATM $5 usage fee. If you’re in the UK, Barclays UK is your best friend. If you find yourself in France, look for a BNP Paribas. If you are in Germany or Spain, Deutsche Bank ATMs are where it’s at.
The downside is that you are still responsible for a 3% international transaction fee since the funds are converted from USD to the local currency. You can always opt to have the local bank do the conversion, which may be more or less than 3%. You avoid the $5 fee though.
If you are willing to jump through a few hoops, you may be better off going with one of our favorite online banks, Ally Bank. Ally Bank charges a 1% fee when you use international ATMs but they also pay you interest on your checking account.
Wells Fargo – $200
Wells Fargo has a nationwide promotion of $200 for a new checking account when you open a new checking account with at least $25 and receive a total of $2,000 or more in qualifying direct deposits into the new checking account within 90 days from account opening.
You can learn more about the Wells Fargo promotions to see how to get it.
Axos Bank – $100
Axos Bank has a great promotion where you can get $100 when you open a high yield savings account and an Essential Checking account using promotion code GET100. The high yield savings account has a $250 minimum deposit. On the checking account, you have to receive direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more within 60 days.
SoFi Money – $50 – $100
SoFi Money will give you $50 if you open an account and deposit $500. The bonus is small but the requirements are so simple that I had to list it first.
If you are willing to set up a deposit of $500 or more, you can get a bonus of up to $100.
These bonuses are so easy to get. Learn more about SoFi promotions here.
Bank of America – $100
Bank of America offers a $100 cash bonus if you open a new account and set up and receive at least 2 qualifying direct deposits of $250 or more into that account within the first 90 days of opening. It has a monthly fee that is easy to have waived, you can learn more about this offer here.