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If you’re looking into getting a foreign currency account, HSBC could be a good bet. A major bank with a global presence, HSBC offers a convenient Currency Account aimed at people with international lifestyles.
But is it the right choice for you, how much does it cost and how do you open an account? We’ll answer these questions and more below, in this handy guide to the HSBC foreign currency account.
Plus, we’ll even throw in a tip for an alternative solution, one which could save you money - the Wise multi-currency account.
But more on that later. For now, let’s focus on the HSBC foreign currency account.
So, what is the HSBC foreign currency account? It’s essentially a currency holding account, which you can open in one of 14 major currencies including USD, EUR, AUD and NZD¹. If you want to manage another currency, you’ll need to open a separate account.
From your currency account, you can send, receive and spend money in your chosen currency - all managed through online banking.
With a foreign currency account, you can simplify how you manage money in different currencies.
You can make faster payments in your chosen currency, without the need for currency conversion. This also helps you avoid unnecessary fees and exchange rate losses.
And when you do need to convert currency, you can keep an eye on live exchange rates and choose the optimum time to do it.
If you have friends or family in other countries, manage a business across borders or are a global freelancer, a foreign currency account could be a good solution.
Before you can open an HSBC Currency Account, you’ll need to first check that you’re eligible. There are two key requirements¹:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must have an active HSBC current account - if you don’t have one, you can explore HSBC’s current accounts here.
Tick all the boxes? Great, now you’re ready to apply for an HSBC Currency Account.
The easiest way to do it is online, by logging onto your online banking. According to HSBC, you should be able to apply for a new account in a matter of minutes¹.
If you prefer, you can also open an HSBC Currency Account by phone. Call 03457 404 404, or +44 1226 260 260 from outside the UK¹.
HSBC isn’t currently offering the opening of its Currency Accounts in branches at the moment due to Covid-19¹, but this could change in the future.
Before opening a multi-currency account, it’s very important to check the fees and charges very carefully.
The great thing about the HSBC Currency Account is there’s no monthly maintenance fee¹ to worry about. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t charges to pay when you send or receive money internationally.
So that you know what to expect, here’s a rundown of the key fees you need to know about with the HSBC Currency Account. In this case, we’re focusing on the Currency Account in Euros, so if you’re opening an account in a different currency you’ll need to check which charges will apply.
|Charge - HSBC Currency Account (EUR)²
|Send money within the UK
|€0 to HSBC accounts/all other accounts in EUR€7 to other accounts in all other currencies
|Send money outside the UK
|€0 to HSBC accounts/other accounts within EEA in EUR€7 to other accounts in all other currencies + intermediary bank charges
|Receiving money from outside the UK
|€0 for payments in EUR from within EEA€7 for all other payments
With this kind of account, there’s no need to convert currency when making payments or receiving money in that same currency. But when other currencies are involved, you’ll be at the mercy of the bank’s exchange rate.
Many banks including HSBC use their own rate³, which often includes a margin or markup added on top of the mid-market rate. This is the fairest rate you can get, and the one you’ll find on Google or on currency sites like XE.com. If the rate you’re being offered doesn’t match this, it means there’s a markup added and your conversion will be more expensive.
This is why it always pays to compare rates against the mid-market rate before converting your money, or making an international payment. Better still, choose an account that guarantees the mid-market rate, like the Wise multi-currency account.
You can make payments and transfers of all kinds from your HSBC Currency Account using online banking. There’s no fee², unless your transfer falls into one of the chargeable categories listed above.
You can also set up payments in branch or by telephone, again with no charge unless you’re sending outside the EEA or in a different currency than is held in your account².
The HSBC Currency Account is a good option if you want to manage your money in one or a couple of other currencies. But there is potentially a better solution out there.
The Wise multi-currency account lets you send, spend, hold and convert no fewer than 54 currencies all at once. You can send money worldwide for small, transparent fees, and you’ll always get the real, mid-market exchange rate.
There’s even an international Wise debit card for contactless spending in 200 countries, where currency is converted automatically at the fairest possible rate.
You can get a Wise account in minutes, and it could work out to be significantly cheaper than using your bank.
And there you have it - the HSBC foreign currency account in a nutshell. We’ve covered everything from how to open an account to how much it costs.
You should now have all the info you need to decide whether it’s the right option for you, or if you should shop around for an alternative.
Sources used for this article:
- HSBC - foreign currency account
- HSBC - fee information document
- HSBC - personal banking terms and conditions and charges
Sources checked on 02-Feb-2022.
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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