HSBC expat bank account: fees, features and more

Zorica Lončar

Looking for a change of scenery, a chance to study abroad or your work is taking you overseas?

If you’re about to become an expat, living in a foreign land, then it’s important to start thinking about how to handle your banking needs.

In this guide, we’ll run through everything you need to know about the HSBC expat bank account. This includes the fees, rates, features and much more, to make sure you’re fully informed - and able to decide if it’s the right account for you.

We’ll also be making some comparisons with an alternative, the Wise multi-currency account.

So, let’s get started.

HSBC expat bank account - what is it and how does it work?

The HSBC expat bank account is specifically designed for expatriates living and working overseas. It includes a wide variety of features tailored to the needs of expats. It’s especially useful for people who live and work in various countries at different times.

Here are some of the account’s most useful features:¹

  • Current accounts are available in GBP, USD and EUR.
  • Additional savings accounts can be opened in 19 other currencies.
  • Fee-free global money transfers via mobile banking.
  • A free physical and digital Global Money Debit Card.
  • Access your accounts anytime with the mobile app, or via online banking.
  • Manage your foreign exchange services (Forex) with the HSBC Expat FX App

Benefits of the HSBC expat bank account

The HSBC expat bank account is best suited for expatriates who are constantly on the go. If your work takes you around the globe frequently, then having your money in one fixed location is invaluable.

On top of this, the account is, as HSBC puts it, “fluent in 19 different currencies”. This means you can make effortless payments almost anywhere you are in the world with the same account.

This makes it also perfect for travellers who don’t want to worry about their account every time they touch ground in a new location.²

We would also say this is a great option for international students, but for reasons that’ll become clear in a moment, this is not the case.

With that said, some of the top reasons for applying for a HSBC Expat bank account are:

  • Quick and easy payments across borders with Global Money Account
  • A relationship manager to help you manage your money.
  • Easy online and mobile management of your account.
  • Your offshore account can be held in addition to other accounts in your resident country.

How to open an HSBC expat bank account

Think this could be the right option for you? If so, you’ll need to know how to open this account. We’ve put together some helpful information below, to guide you through the process.


Firstly, the eligibility for a HSBC expat bank account is pretty strict.

You’ll need to fulfil one of these requirements:³

  • Save or invest at least £50,000 (or currency equivalent) with HSBC Expat within 3 months of opening your account
  • Have a salary of at least £100,000 (or currency equivalent)
  • Already be an HSBC Premier customer in another country or region (which requires you to have an annual income of at least £75k, or have £50k in savings).

It’s for this reason that the HSBC expat bank account is not a good option for international students. It’s much more suited to workers whose jobs take them across the globe.

There is an alternative for students however, in the form of the HSBC international student bank account.

How to apply - step-by-step guide

If you meet the eligibility criteria, then signing up for a HSBC expat bank account is very similar to opening any other kind of bank account. However, the identification process is more extensive and requires the use of a smart device.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Go to the webpage for the HSBC expat bank account and scroll to the bottom to find a red button that reads ‘check eligibility and apply’.
  2. On the next page you can check which of the eligibility criteria applies to you.
  3. Now you simply have to fill out the form. However, the second step of the form will require the use of a smart device.⁴
  4. You’ll need to take a photo of your ID, and then a short video of yourself. Once this is done the form continues as standard.⁴
  5. Submit the form.
  6. HSBC will either consider the application and get back to you, or they may accept it there and then and set up your account.

Fees to use the HSBC expat bank account

Now we come to the important part - how much does it cost to use the HSBC expat bank account? Let’s take a look:⁵

Transaction typeHSBC PremierHSBC Advance
Monthly FeeNoneNone
Minimum Relationship Balance£50,000 (or £100,000 annual sole salary)£15,000
Cash Withdrawal FeeNoneNone
Underfunding Fee£35£15
Global TransfersFree£5 (free via mobile app)
Card payments and ATM withdrawalsNo fee - but 2.75% Exchange Rate Adjustment applies to non-sterling paymentsNo fee -  but 2.75% Exchange Rate Adjustment applies to non-sterling payments

Fees and exchange rates for international transfers

HSBC uses what it calls the ‘HSBC exchange rate’ to convert currency for international transfers. However, it doesn’t go into detail about how close this is to the mid-market exchange rate.

It’s likely though that if HSBC is using the mid-market rate then it comes with a noticeable mark-up. This means a poorer rate for you, and makes your transaction more expensive.

The good news is that there are alternatives available, which could save you money when sending transfers or spending overseas.

Save with Wise when managing your money internationally

If the markup on the HSBC expat bank account’s exchange rate is a deal breaker for you, then consider an alternative - the Wise multi-currency account.

With Wise, you can manage your money in 50 currencies at once, so it’s great for expats, travellers and international students alike.

For everything from international transfers to ATM withdrawals abroad, Wise sticks faithfully to the mid-market exchange rate and only ever charges only a small, transparent fee.

What’s more, the accessible, easy-to-use Wise app makes the process of managing your money internationally a seamless experience.

Join Wise today

Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees


Sources used:

  1. HSBC Expat - Multi currency accounts
  2. HSBC - International Bank Account
  3. HSBC Expat - Application Refusal
  4. HSBC Expat - Application
  5. HSBC Expat - Tariff of charges document
  6. HSBC Expat - Global money account

Sources last checked on date: 04-May-2023

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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