HSBC Direct Review

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HSBC AdvanceHSBC Direct has usually had one of the most competitive interest rates, so I opened an account there. I didn’t open it because I was planning on moving funds from a 2.70% ING Direct account, I did it because the cost of opening an online savings account was near zero and because I could then start funneling income deposited into a 0% Bank of America checking account into the new HSBC Direct account. It doesn’t make much sense to move funds from ING or Emigrant to HSBC, but it does make sense to change the destination of funds from Bank of America.

There were a few other non-financial reasons for opening the account. First, there’s no marginal cost to opening another savings account. HSBC has a well known international name and has consistently been among the leaders in interest rates. I would be hesitant to open an account at a lesser known bank. HSBC’s international presence is also a benefit. When we were in China and Taiwan, HSBC was everywhere (along with Citigroup) and that’s a side benefit. Lastly, my mom has an HSBC account, in part because of the China and Taiwan presence, and having that link is convenient as well.

Opening An HSBC Account

The HSBC account opening process is quick and painless (~10 minutes), though it requires more information than most banks because they try to set up everything in one pass. You start by giving the typical personal information all banks ask including social security number. They do a quick inquiry and ask you for three items from your credit history. Then, you get the option of linking a bank account right there.

They verify your bank account by requesting your login credentials and then login. My bank account was linked within seconds (and the transfer was initiated). No more waiting 3-5 business days for two small deposits, the verification process is done right there. Very nice touch.

After about two days, HSBC starts sending you emails (there are quite a few) about your registration, how to log on and set up your account for the first time. Specifically, they’ll email you a link to the Internet Banking Activation page and a registration code, but don’t bother going trying to activate until you get your temporary password by postal mail. Yeah, they mail your temporary password by pony express.

In all fairness, the letter got here pretty quickly. I opened my account on June 4th, received my temporary registration number by email on June 6th, and received the temporary password on June 7th (the letter was dated June 5th). However, because of the mail, any time that was shaved off in the bank linking portion is now definitely lost waiting for a password via mail (probably why they do that). It’s all done in the name of security but it strikes me as a bit unnecessary and overkill.

From here, you go to the activation page, enter in those codes, set up your account access credentials (which includes a username, password, and security key that must be entered by on-screen keyboard), enter two security questions, and you’re in! (whew!)

Bank to Bank Transfers

HSBC Bank to Bank Transfer PageOne of the features of online savings accounts that was once allowed but now stopped by many online banks was the ability to link online savings accounts. I used to have my Emigrant Direct and my ING Direct linked together so a transfer took only a handful of days, but about a year ago they severed the tie and began requiring paper checks to link accounts together.

Well, I was curious as to whether HSBC would let me link up with ING Direct and they did! I submitted a request through the Bank to Bank Transfer online form, HSBC made two trial deposits to my ING Derect account, I verified the transaction and the link was created. It’s important to remember that Federal Reserve Regulation D limits the number of transactions on a savings account to six a month, so I just expended two in the verification process.

Quicken & Money Data Support

Quicken and MS Money data addicts users will be happy to know that HSBC Direct offers support for both applications (for Quicken, you get Windows and Mac version support).


HSBC Bank to Bank Transfer PageAt the moment, I’ve been playing a little with my account and it seems pretty standard compared to other online savings accounts I’ve had. The one noticeable difference is that it’s not as sleek as the ING Direct interface and there doesn’t seem to be any way for me to easily create additional accounts. Of course, only ING Direct offers that option at the moment so it’s not like HSBC is really inferior to peers.

Overall I’m pleased with HSBC Direct so far.

Here’s another, incredibly comprehensive, HSBC Direct review written by your good friend and mine, Cap.

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38 Responses to “HSBC Direct Review”

  1. F2O says:

    I’ve had my HSBC account for just over two years now and have been very happy. The ACH transfers take a while, but other than that I have no complaints. Also, they seem to do these teaser rates every 6-9 months. Last January they had a promotional 6% on new money deposited through March

  2. Travis says:

    I’ve been using HSBC for all of my savings for about a year now and the rate seems to be consistently higher than ING. The transfers take 3 business days. That’s the only irritating thing, but I’ve been pleased. Customer service has been great for me. Just send it through Bank Mail, and you’ll get a response soon. Never had to wait long on the phone if I have a problem. I have also started using the Online Checking they have as well. It’s been great for me and it earns 2.00% I think. Don’t quote me on that without looking. Overall, I’d encourage anybody to sign up. I was glad to see the rate change to 3.50%.

    • HSBC4U says:

      I opened an HSBC-USA account knowing I would travel in Asia and thought it was convenient. However, their service is the worst of any Bank I have ever been with. A wire transfer from HSBC to HSBC took over 5 days to receive! and when I transfered funds from HSBC to my Citibank account they took 7 days when they said it would take 3 days !! Their website misses lots of information and their FAQ is minimal. You will end up having to make calls that can take up to 60 minutes before you get an answer and when you finally do they will transfer you around the Globe and everyone you speak with, like robots, will ask you same security questions but no real answers. They may have you call again during working hours or will follow up for you but they will never call you again. Most frustrating. Their Representatives are not in USA and their English is hard to understand unless your hearing is perfect at 0 decibels.

      It only took 4 months before I finally got my debit card!

      • rachel says:

        I have been dealing with HSBC for a number of years and I find something interesting about them… if my balance is over $40,000 I get treated differently.

        Recently, I had a divorce I had to pay for and I ran up a personal line of credit of $7200 paying my legal bills until I could get my settlement. They called every month from a “collection” number if I didn’t make a minimum payment on the personal line of credit every month of 3% of the balance by the 8th of the month. Scratch that, the first fews calls said the 11th of the month, the next calls said the 8th of the month. Even if my monthly payment was short $30.00 (due to a calculation error on my part) I received a call. All while maintaining the $35K in the other bank account.

        I subsequently moved the line of credit and my $40K to a different institution and have not paid a cent (other than interest that is charged which gets added to my balance) in payments for over 3 months now and have not had one sinlge peep from the other bank. They raised my limit! HSBC says that is their policy, but it was never their policy when I had $40K plus in the account!

        I will never

      • Garry says:

        They are fee happy when you travel!!! Even when you make a ATM withdrawal from a HSBC bank … they charge you 3% AND give you a very poor exchange rate!!! I got rid of them!!!!

  3. cheapo says:

    Actually you can open multiple online savings account with HSBC, just it isn’t as easy as it is with ING. You need to apply for the account and it is easier to do this online, since your information can be pre-populated. I haven’t gone this route yet. but was told by a customer server rep that multiple online savings accounts are possible.

  4. Actually, I had an account with HSBC and I had a hate/love relationship with them. I loved the online nature of the account, but i didn’t use phonebanking much… so they shut off my phonebanking TWICE for security reasons.

    I specifically applied for phonebanking when I thought I wouldn’t have access to a PC… and sometimes I don’t. They also turned off other services that I didn’t use very often, it was VERY annoying. Finally, I found that their interest rates weren’t that good compared to the local bank across the road.

    I did like the convenience and access, but it wasn’t worth the extra 1% pa that I was paying. And they were just TOO cautious IMHO. They issued a dongle with a unique password… Dunno, not so impressed by their amount of security.

    I also applied for my accounts to be set up for autopayments: but it was a nightmare, eventually I just stopped trying to get it done. And switched to another bank. Would have liked to like HSBC, but didn’t find it as great as it could’ve been.


  5. Steve says:

    I currently use HSBC, and I have 7 accounts. I am very happy with them, but I do agree that opening additional accounts is tedious. You have to go through the application process again, and mail in a check to open it (I tried to use my brick and mortar checking account numbers, but that can only be done once, which I used for my first account). But once the account is in place, it is very easy to use, and offers interest rates that are near the top.

  6. Chris says:

    What does the HSBC rate drop down to after Aug 15th?

  7. andy says:

    great review. I just a comparison between ing and hsbc, and pretty much reached the same conclusion as you. I did like that I can also access my hsbc funds via an atm withdrawal.

  8. Dave says:

    HSBC treated me very poorly when I tried to open my account, I’d recommend ING Direct over HSBC. Here’s the facts, I applied on a Sunday and heard nothing from them so on Wednesday (3 business days) I called and asked why my account was not opened yet. The person said I had to talk to a woman named Tanya and that her hours were 8-5 EST. I called that extension and got some guy in fraud investigation that then put me into her voicemail, so I left a message. I called back today, Thursday, around 10am PST (1pm EST) and got the same guy. He put me into her voicemail……3 hours later I called again and got the same guy. He directed me to a guy named George whom proceeded to tell me that my account was being reviewed and that he was in the fraud department and that this will just take some time becuase Tanya needs to review my account and she left early today. I proceeded to tell the guy to cancel my account based on the fact that I had to call them 3 times and not one person could tell me why my account was being held up. I had $30K to deposit, not a large amount for a company like HSBC, but enough that I wanted customer service if I needed something. Meanwhile my friend set up an account with ING, his was set up within 2 days with no issues. Plain and simple, HSBC has the worst customer service I have ever experienced. I’d advise anyone to call both companies before setting up an account, see who answers the phone and who keeps you on hold and decide for yourself.

    • Ron says:

      I have a terrible experience with HSBC Direct in Taiwan also. I went online to apply for an online account and went to their branch to verify my identity with my id’s on the next day.
      A few weeks later, I still couldn’t access my account. Later, I got an email said that they wanted to verify my id again. I was traveling and could not attend in person and that account got canceled. And I don’t understand why does this kind of account need a specialist to handle your account? Does this specialist need to sell you some products?

  9. Ann says:

    Applied on Saturday, 8/16 and received email on 8/19 stating trial deposits sent to my bank. Checked my bank and trial deposits credited 8/18. Only my bank did the trial deposits as one entry. Had to call my bank to verify the two amounts to verify with HSBC. I set up an initial transfer of $25 when applying. Now have a $20K CD maturing 8/24 that I want to wire transfer funds to HSBC. Guess I’ll have to put proceeds in savings account while I wait so many days before being able to complete this with HSBC as I guess I now need to wait for more info from them to access account, i.e. temp password etc. Have they streamlined this any? I also will have to set up additional savings accounts but am concerned now with the procedure after reading above posts. Maybe I should also try a ING account opening? Any ideas out there?

  10. Ann says:

    Has anyone looked at or know anything about FNBODirect? I just looked at the site and it is paying 3.50% APY. The sign up seems quicker than HSBC. Any feedback would be appreciated.

  11. Ann says:

    So far I LOVE FNBO. I have already completed my login data and have transferred money from Credit Union. Still haven’t received temporary password from HSBC as of today and I had big bucks wired to them on 8/26. Called HSBC last night to verify receipt of transfer. Also just noticed HSBC has a ** rating as compared to FNBO’s **** rating. Can multiple accounts be opened at FNBO? I’m retired so I really need to be reassured I didn’t make a mistake going with HSBC. Any thoughts out there?

  12. Belinda says:

    I opened an FNBO Direct savings account a few weeks ago, and I love it. This is my first online bank account, so I can’t compare its application process with HSBC’s, but I thought it was very simple and straightforward (it involved two trial deposits to my regular bank account for verification). I filled out the information online on a Thursday or Friday afternoon (forget which one), and by the following Tuesday everything was up and running, with the website showing my transferred amount. I’ve had one interest payment posted, and so far so good. Great interest rate, no fees, and easy to use web interface.

    On another note, does anyone have advice about the best way to transfer money to someone else’s foreign bank account? Is an internet bank faster or cheaper? I just completed a wire transfer with my brick-and-mortar bank to send some money to an overseas relative, and my bank charged me $60 in addition to quoting me a suspiciously low exchange rate (hidden costs?). Since my relative’s account is with HSBC, I am considering opening an online savings account with them myself if that will speed up wire transfers or save me the fees.

  13. Jim says:

    HSBC Direct’s rate just fell to 2.25% APY. Nearly every other online bank has a higher rate now.

  14. willy says:

    hbsc sucks online service always problems

  15. Matt says:

    If you don’t worry too much about interest rate..then i do recommend ING. I have HSBC online for 2 years and i think i have called them most than any other banks.. the reason is.. they keep on blocking online access for god knows what reason .. (they call it for security reason)… oh yeh .. after calling them it will take x number of business days to get it back online ..its simply pain …. and of course BtoB transfer takes ages … 5-6 days to clear .. are you kidding me?

    ING direct is much more faster and very easy way to go is to have checking and savings account with ING ….that way transfer can be done instantly for easy access of money (ATM/Debit linked to checking account).. oh yeh ..not to mention ING checking has some great features .. its called electric orange .. good thing is .. For online Bill pay.. they don’t pay until you have that amount in your account .. .and also they don’t have OD fee policy .. what they do is .. charge nominal % of interest on OD amount if used which is pre determined by line of credit. isn’t that just great??? ING ROCKS.

  16. aaron says:

    is hsbc direct only limit to us canada and taiwan country. I from philippines can i as well open an hsbc direct account? thnx

  17. Kotze says:

    Run Run Run in the opposite direction from HSBC. Yes, they have moments of products working, but the inconsistency is astounding.

    I have been left with no access to my internet banking and my card would not draw money (I also could not make internet payments) on 2 occasions both lasting a week (I’ve only had the account 8 months). Spending over £100 on international calls to them, I am told that the card is fine. Yet – it still does not work.

    Basically, I cannot trust them – which is a pity as when the products work, they work well.

  18. M Patel says:

    I have account at ING Direct and HSBC Direct both. Whereas I am more than please with ING, HSBC has led me down on several occasions. On ING I could order my account status report for free whereas HSBC charges for it. I could get to ING support faster, HSBC let me wait for considerable amount of time (atleast 10 mins). I could manage my CDs easily on ING than HSBC. Though HSBC gives me little more in interest than ING, it compensates it by giving me bad service. 🙂

  19. Lee says:

    HSBC transfers to another bank take 3 to 4 days; that’s much longer than most. ING takes 2 days, E-Trade and Ally are quick – I have seen both do a transfer in one day.

  20. Karan says:

    I’ve used HSBC and ING Vysya(ING in India) and personally speaking I would never recommend HSBC. Their service is poor. I tried to upgrade my account into a Power Vantage type and they took over a month, continuously telling me that it was under process and delays were from corporate HQ. Eventually I simply closed HSBC altogether. Btw their security dongle for netbanking also sucked… it was quite a pain to carry along

  21. mikestreb says:

    Similar to FNBO, I have an account with HSBC (tough to keep all of the letters straight). I have since moved all of my money out, when their rates hit rock bottom. Anyone know how to cancel an account here? I need to get rid of about 6 accounts that I created while I was rate chasing.

  22. Caryn says:

    “New York plaintiff Lynne Carnegie paid $110 for a nine-day advance on a $500 tax refund. Block and Household took her money and never blinked. – see more – Household, now part of HSBC, also foreclosed on Madie Wilson, 89 years old, and never blinked. They also back your Best Buy and Levitz credit cards, and credit cards for over 60 other merchants”

    HSBC also stands accused of “defrauding” US military personnel, some of whom are on duty in Iraq, by overcharging them on high interest loans, according to a study out today from a leading US-based human rights group. Inner City Press and its Fair Finance Watch, based in New York, has uncovered the potentially damaging evidence from documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Here at Household HSBC Watch we know this charge is true. We observed and documented it over the years. — see more —

  23. Caryn says:

    I am so freaking pissed off at HSBC – they are the bank that holds the mortgage on the short sale we made an offer on NINE WEEKS ago! And today they tell us they want another $100,000 as they will not accept it as a short sale! NINE bloody weeks – I have to get back at these morons, for keeping us waiting for nothing! …How do I get this publicized! DO NOT BANK or get a MORTGAGE with HSBC! They are IDIOTS!See More

  24. Anonymous says:

    I bought a bed through hsbc years ago and with there interest rates and late charges I still owe as much now as I did 9 years ago how do I end this mess. harriet

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