A multinational bank with Hong Kong origins and headquarters in London, HSBC Bank has had a presence in the United States since 1865. This banking giant has branches in 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, not to mention mobile banking options. In addition, HSBC Direct is the bank’s online-only institution, which offers branch-free banking direct to customers. This in-depth review will help you determine if HSBC will meet your banking needs.

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Pros

  • Minimum deposit of $1 for checking or savings account

  • Easily waived monthly checking account fee

  • Minimum balance of $1 to earn annual percentage yield (APY)

  • No minimum balance requirement or monthly fee for Everyday Savings Account and HSBC Direct Savings

  • Bonuses available for new customers and referrals

  • International banking options

Cons

  • Present in only 10 states and the District of Columbia with fewer than 250 branches

  • Low APYs on interest-bearing checking accounts

  • Overdraft protection possibly more than insufficient funds fees

  • HSBC and HSBC Direct unconnected online

  • The number of ATMs isn't available online

Pros Explained

  • Minimum deposit of $1 for checking or savings account Customers can open a new account online with just a $1 deposit. The minimum initial deposit drops to $0 if you go to a branch and have a bank representative open the account for you.
  • Easily waived monthly checking account fee HSBC charges a $15 monthly fee for its Choice Checking account, which is the standard non-interest-bearing account. However, this fee is waived if you either maintain a $1,500 minimum balance or have a recurring monthly direct deposit, which makes it very simple to avoid the fee.
  • Minimum balance of $1 to earn annual percentage yield (APY) HSBC Everyday Savings Account, HSBC Direct Savings, and HSBC Direct Checking all earn interest with a balance as low as $1. Additionally, both HSBC’s other two interest-bearing checking accounts and the higher-yield savings accounts only require a $5 balance to earn interest.
  • No minimum balance requirement or monthly fee for Everyday Savings Account and HSBC Direct Savings These accounts do not charge any maintenance fees, nor is there a minimum balance for either.
  • Bonuses available for new customers and referrals – As of this writing, HSBC is offering a limited-time welcome bonus of up to $475 for new customers opening an interest-bearing checking account, as well as a referral bonus of up to $2,000 for successfully referring a friend to open a qualifying account.
  • International banking options – As a multinational bank, HSBC has branches and ATMs in more than 66 countries. U.S. customers can access any HSBC ATM in the world, most of them fee-free, as well as count on service and support at HSBC branches wherever they are located. 

Cons Explained

  • Present in only 10 states and the District of Columbia – HSBC is a multinational bank, but its presence in the U.S. is somewhat limited. You can find physical branches in only 10 states: Calif., Conn., Del., Fla., Md., N.J., N.Y., Penn., Va., Wash., and the District of Columbia. And there are only 246 branches in those locations.
  • Low APYs on interest-bearing checking accounts – Customers cannot expect annual percentage yields (APYs) to be high anywhere right now, particularly after the Fed recently reduced rates. However, HSBC’s 0.01% APY on both the Premier and Advanced checking accounts is a low rate even under current circumstances. This is especially frustrating with the Advanced account, which is supposed to have tiered APYs based on your balance but currently only pays 0.01% no matter how high your balance.
  • Overdraft protection possibly more than insufficient funds fees – HSBC offers something called “Select Credit,” a personal line of credit, as a method of overdraft protection. If you choose to sign up for this overdraft protection, you will pay up to 15.99% annual percentage rate (APR) on overdrafts, in addition to a transaction fee equal to the amount transferred to cover the overdraft, up to a $10 maximum per day. This is compared to an insufficient fund fee of $35. While using Select Credit as overdraft protection may be cheaper for customers who are able to quickly repay the line of credit, it is expensive protection, and finding the details of these costs takes a little sleuthing on the site.
  • HSBC and HSBC Direct unconnected online – Despite both being under the umbrella of HSBC as a multinational bank, the HSBC U.S. website is separate from the HSBC Direct website, with no clear navigation between the two. Customers must know that each site exists to be able to find products from both.
  • Number of ATMS not listed on website – While you can do a search for an ATM near you on the HSBC website, it does not list the full number of ATMs available in the United States. There is a $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee, and considering that it is unclear just how many in-network ATMs exist, new customers may not be able to make an informed choice about the convenience of an HSBC account.

Who Is HSBC Bank Best For?

HSBC Bank is well suited to customers with robust savings accounts and those who may have international banking needs. In particular, you’ll find HSBC works great for you if you:

  • Wish to bank with a large multinational institution with a long history
  • Reside in Calif., Conn., Del., Fla., Md., N.J., N.Y., Penn., Va., Wash., or the District of Columbia
  • Travel internationally on a regular basis
  • Want to open a savings account with no minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fee
  • Can receive regular direct deposits
  • Want a generous welcome bonus and have the necessary means to qualify for it
  • Want to receive generous referral bonuses

What Does HSBC Offer?

HSBC Bank customers have access to a full suite of deposit accounts and services, which include:

Savings Accounts

HSBC Everyday Savings

HSBC Everyday Savings is a basic account that can help make it easy to get into the savings habit. With no minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fees, customers don’t have to worry about losing ground with their savings because of fees. In addition, the ability to earn APY on balances as low as $1 means that you can also expect some (very modest) growth with this account, even if you have a low balance. That said, the APY of 0.01% is very low and does not necessarily compare with other no-minimum-balance savings accounts, especially those offered by online banks.

HSBC Advance Savings

For banking customers with a little more to put aside in savings, HSBC Advance Savings may be a better option. This account, which you can only open if you also have an HSBC Advance Checking account, does have a monthly $25 maintenance fee. This can be waived if you do at least one of the following:

  • Maintain a minimum combined $5,000 balance in all of your HSBC deposit and investment accounts
  • Have a monthly recurring direct deposit of any amount to your HSBC Advance Checking account
  • Carry an HSBC U.S. residential mortgage loan

This account has a tiered APY. You will earn 0.01% on balances less than $15,000, and 0.05% on balances greater than $15,000.

Minimum Balance to Obtain APY APY
$0 to $14,999.99 0.01%
$15,000 to $49,999 0.05%
$50,000 o $74,999.99 0.05%
$75,000 or more 0.05%
(As of June 6, 2020)

The fact that HSBC identifies four APY tiers for the Advance Savings account suggests that the upper tiers will increase their rates once rates increase overall.

HSBC Premier Savings

As its top-tier savings account, HSBC Premier Savings has more to offer savers with deep pockets. Similar to the Advance Savings account, you will have to open an HSBC Premier Checking account to qualify for it. In addition, there is a $50 per month maintenance fee unless you meet one of the following requirements:

  • Maintain a minimum combined balance of $75,000 in all of your HSBC deposit and investment accounts
  • Have monthly recurring direct deposits equalling at least $5,000 total to your HSBC Premier Checking account
  • Carry an HSBC U.S. residential mortgage loan with an original loan amount of at least $500,000

This account also offers a tiered APY.

Minimum Balance to Obtain APY APY
$0 to $24,999.99 0.01%
$25,000 to $99,999.99 0.10%
$100,000 or more 0.15%
(As of June 5, 2020)

Please note that you receive a lower APY in the HSBC Premier Savings account for balances between $15,000 and $24,999.99 than you would for the same balance in an HSBC Advance Savings account. If you are deciding between these two savings accounts, take this APY gap into consideration.

HSBC Direct Savings

As an online-only savings account, HSBC Direct Savings offers a higher APY than any of HSBC’s other savings accounts. The 1.30% APY is available at any balance you keep within the account. With a $1 minimum deposit to open, no monthly maintenance fee, and no excess withdrawal fee, this is a very inexpensive account to open, in addition to offering a high APY.

As HSBC Direct Savings is online only, it comes with all of the benefits and drawbacks of a branch-free account. To start, you must handle all of your banking transactions via automated telephone banking and/or Personal Internet Banking. This account allows you to deposit money remotely using the mobile check deposit on the banking app and online transfers. Online transfers between HSBC checking and savings accounts will post immediately via the bank’s Quick Transfer function. However, transfers into or out of HSBC Direct Savings involving another bank will take more time—generally one to two business days.

Checking Accounts

HSBC Basic Banking

The name of this account says it all. Not exactly a checking account, the HSBC Basic Banking offers customers a no-frills banking service that allows them to take care of all the things they’d need a checking account to do. Basic Banking comes with a no-fee HSBC Debit Mastercard, Personal Internet Banking, online Bill Pay, eStatements, and access to the mobile app.

This account does charge a $1 monthly maintenance fee that cannot be waived. However, there are no minimum balance and direct deposit requirements. The account limits your checks and withdrawal slips to eight per month in aggregate. Once you have passed that limit, you will pay $0.35 for each additional check or withdrawal slip, but this fee does not apply to ATM withdrawals and transactions using the Bill Pay service.

Having a Basic Banking account means you are eligible for optional overdraft protection through HSBC Select Credit. This personal line of credit lets you borrow money as necessary, up to your available credit limit, and it can also be used as overdraft protection. 

Overdrafts covered by Select Credit will be charged up to a 15.99% APR, and you will also have to pay a transaction fee equal to the amount transferred to cover the overdraft, up to a $10 maximum per day. Taking these costs into account, the $35 insufficient fund fee for overdrafts may be the cheaper option.

HSBC Choice Checking

This checking account is geared toward customers who want a non-interest-bearing account that handles all their checking and banking needs. HSBC Choice Checking comes with a $15 per month maintenance fee, but you can easily waive this fee by either keeping a $1,500 minimum combined balance in all of your HSBC deposit and investment accounts or having a recurring monthly direct deposit of any amount.

As with the Basic Banking account, HSBC Choice Checking provides customers with a no-fee debit card, access to internet banking, online bill pay, eStatements, and the mobile app.

Account holders are eligible to earn up to $2,000 in annual referral bonuses if they successfully refer a new customer who opens a qualifying account.

ATM transactions are free at most HSBC ATMs worldwide, but this is a lackluster promise at best. Not only is it unclear how many HSBC ATMs are available within the United States; the website itself states that customers may be charged additional fees by the ATM operator, including a fee by another HSBC entity operating ATMs outside the U.S. The out-of-network ATM fee is $2.50 if you are forced to use a non-HSBC ATM.

HSBC Advance Checking

The HSBC Advance Checking account is the interest-bearing checking account that the bank has set up as an eligibility requirement for opening an HSBC Advance Savings account. The account charges a $25 monthly maintenance fee unless you maintain a $5,000 minimum balance in all of your HSBC accounts, have a monthly recurring direct deposit, or carry an HSBC U.S. residential mortgage loan.

In addition to the same debit card, online and mobile banking, and optional overdraft protection (via Select Credit) available through Choice Checking, Advance Checking account holders enjoy the following benefits:

  • Up to four reimbursements of non-HSBC ATM third-party surcharges in the U.S.
  • Free select style HSBC Advance checks
  • 0.01% APY earned on all Advance Checking balances above $5

HSBC Premier Checking

Having this interest-bearing checking account is the eligibility requirement for opening an HSBC Premier Savings account. Expect to pay a $50 monthly maintenance fee unless you either maintain a $75,000 minimum balance in all of your HSBC accounts, have monthly recurring direct deposits totaling $5,000, or carry an HSBC U.S. residential mortgage loan with an original loan amount of at least $500,000.

There are some pretty impressive benefits available to Premier Checking customers, including paying no foreign transaction fees when you make purchases with your HSBC Premier Debit World Mastercard and access to priority services and emergency financial support at any HSBC branch in the world.

The downside of this checking account is its currently low interest rate. As with Advance Checking, you will only earn 0.01% APY on your balances above $5. The higher requirements for this account do not translate into a higher APY, at least not at the moment. The APY may increase when the Federal Reserve raises rates again.

HSBC Direct Checking

This online-only checking account gives customers the best of both worlds, as it is an affordable interest-bearing checking account. HSBC Direct Checking has no monthly maintenance fee whatsoever, plus an APY of 0.01% on all balances above $1. This account also comes with the HSBC Debit Mastercard.

Like Direct Savings, this account is online only, which means you have to handle all of your transactions via automated telephone banking, Personal Online Banking, ATMs, and/or the mobile app. The account comes with no checks whatsoever, so it will not work for any customers who may need to write checks on occasion.

Certificates of Deposit

HSBC offers customers three CDs with terms ranging from six months to 24 months. According to both the HSBC and the HSBC Direct site, these rates are only available if you open the new account online. 

Term APY Minimum Deposit
Six Months 0.60% $1,000
One Year 0.70% $1,000
Two Years 0.70% $1,000
(As of June 5, 2020)

Credit Cards

HSBC offers six credit cards, all under the Mastercard umbrella, with varying perks and benefits.

  • HSBC Gold Mastercard – This no-annual-fee card offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 months. The card also boasts no foreign transaction fees and a late fee waiver.
  • HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard – This cashback card also has no annual fee and offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. You can also enjoy 3% unlimited cashback for the first 12 months on up to $10,000 in purchases. After that, your rewards drop down to 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases.
  • HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard for Student Account – Created specifically for students, this card does not require a credit history for approval and has no annual fee. Cardholders receive 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases. Hold this card in good standing for four years and you can graduate to the general Cash Rewards Mastercard.
  • HSBC Advance Mastercard – Maintenance-fee-free for HSBC Advance and Premier Checking or Savings account holders, this card charges a $45 annual fee for non-account holders. Signing up entitles you to introductory 3X Points on dining and select entertainment purchases plus 2X Points on all other purchases in the first 12 months, up to $25,000 in purchases. At that point, you receive 2X Points on dining and select entertainment purchases and 1X Points on all other purchases. The introductory period also offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. 
  • HSBC Premier World Mastercard – HSBC Premier Checking or Savings account holders can get this card with no annual fee; all others will pay a $95 one. This card offers 35,000 bonus points for signing up, provided you spend $3,000 in the first three months. You also get 2X Points on travel and 1X Points on all other spending.
  • HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard – This card has a $395 annual fee, plus a $65 fee per authorized user. In return, you receive 50,000 bonus points for signing up, provided you spend $4,000 in the first three months. You will also receive 3X Points on travel, 2X Points on dining, and 1X Points on all other spending. The card comes with some primo travel perks, such as a $100 air travel credit per year, travel protection, access to airport lounges, and application fee statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. 

Other Financial Products Offered By HSBC Bank

In addition to the above products and services, HSBC also offers the following:

  • Purchase mortgages
  • Refinance mortgages
  • Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs)
  • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
  • Self-directed trading
  • Managed investment portfolios
  • Private banking
  • Financial advisors
  • Business loans

HSBC Customer Service

The customer service phone line is reachable from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, seven days a week. In addition, you can interact with live chat on both the HSBC and the HSBC Direct websites 24/7. Surprisingly, the bank also invites customers to tweet questions or concerns to the customer care Twitter account from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. EST on Saturday.

HSBC’s mobile app, 2.3 stars on Google Play and 3.5 stars on iTunes, offers some forward-thinking security features, such as fingerprint ID on Android and facial recognition on iOS, in particular. Having a mobile app is even more important for this bank, considering the small number of HSBC branches in America.

How to Bank With HSBC

HSBC makes it very easy to open accounts online, even if you do not reside in one of the 10 states served by its 246 bank branches. Once you have opened an account, both the online banking portal and mobile app make it easy to handle all your transactions, even if you can’t make it to a brick-and-mortar branch. However, you may find it’s a little difficult to find fee-free ATMs, so you may need to do some reconnaissance to access your cash if you do not live near an HSBC branch.

Verdict

As a multinational bank, HSBC has a great deal to recommend it for the right customer. International travelers, those who maintain large bank balances, and those looking for a bank to handle their mortgage as well as their regular banking needs would all be well served by HSBC’s offerings. The wide array of products and services mean there is something for almost everyone, but it is clear that most of its products are geared toward wealthier clients.

The focus on higher-income clients is part of what may make this bank a bad fit for a lot of average customers. If you do not live in the 10-state geographical footprint, the more-basic accounts might be somewhat onerous to use. Several of these accounts limit or restrict check usage, meaning you will have to go into a branch for a cashier’s check. And that’s not to mention the low number of ATMs, making it expensive to access your own money with one of the basic accounts in a state that is not served by HSBC. However, if you have little need for cash, no need for checks, or can afford one of the more deluxe accounts, these issues probably will not bother you.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of banks. We collected over 20 data points across more than 80 banks—including products available, interest rates, fees, and accessibility—to ensure that our content helps users make the right decision for their savings and banking needs.