Foreign currency and multi-currency accounts are helpful for expats, anyone who travels often - and even people who love to shop online with overseas retailers. By holding your money in different currencies, it’s easier to manage exchange rate fluctuations and cut the costs of international transactions.
This guide will cover all you need to know about foreign and multi-currency accounts with HSBC Hong Kong.
If you’re looking for a multi-currency account because you need to send or receive international payments, it pays to look at the costs of using a third party provider instead of your regular bank. To help you compare, we’ll also highlight Wise as a smart way to send and receive safe, low cost cross-border transfers.
As you might expect from a global banking brand, HSBC Hong Kong offers a range of account options for people looking to manage their money across currencies.
Specific foreign currency current accounts are available in renminbi and US dollars, with savings account products available which let customers hold up to 10 different foreign currencies at a time. You can also get a Personal Integrated account which brings together savings, foreign currencies and investments, and allows you to manage different aspects of your finances more easily. To open an account you’ll need to make an appointment at your local HSBC branch and present the paperwork required to support your application. More on that later.
Here are a few of the options available, and some key facts you should know:
Although you won’t be able to get a multi-currency current account from HSBC, you can apply for an account which lets you hold, manage and write cheques in US dollars and renminbi¹.
Foreign currency savings accounts are instant access, meaning you can get to your money when you need to, using your ATM card, or through online and in branch services. As an alternative you can choose a time deposit option, under which you lock away your savings for a fixed length of time. Usually the longer you leave your deposit, the better the interest you can earn².
Hold up to 10 foreign currencies from the range available³ - more on that coming up.
The HSBC Personal Integrated account pulls together current and savings accounts, as well as foreign currency products and investments. This means you can manage all aspects of your personal finance in one place, with savings in up to 11 currencies including renminbi. This account has no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirement, making it an accessible option if you want to use your HSBC account to work across multiple currencies⁴.
To apply for HSBC Advance accounts you’ll need to hold at least HKD200,000 in your combined HSBC accounts. With Advance you can hold up to 11 currencies and get priority service in branches as well as your own dedicated phone support.
Premier customers must have a total HSBC balance of HKD1,000,000 or more. You’ll get expert advice and specialist privileges and benefits, and can hold up to 11 foreign currencies, with both current and savings account options available.
To apply you’ll need a relationship balance of HKD7,800,000 or more. With HSBD Jade you can hold and manage up to 11 currencies, with exclusive investment opportunities and personal support for both your financial needs and lifestyle choices
The different account products have different features and benefits. You’ll be able to opt for a simple but functional account like the Personal Integrated Account - or if you hold a higher balance with HSBC you could apply for one of the premium options such as HSBC Advance, Premier or Jade. These come with a range of perks - but you’ll need to maintain a minimum balance amount or pay fall below fees.
You can open an easy access savings or time deposit account, or use your integrated or premium account to hold any of the following currencies:
- Australian dollar
- Canadian dollar
- UK pounds sterling
- New Zealand dollar
- Japanese yen
- Singapore dollar
- Swiss franc
- Thai baht
- US dollar
You’ll get an HSBC card linked to your easy access savings account, HSBC premium (Advance, Premier or Jade) or Personal Integrated Account. You may also be able to apply for a credit card which ties into the account you choose.
No matter what currency you hold in your account, you’ll find there’s a fee to pay when you send an international transfer. Here’s a look at the key fees for telegraphic transfers with HSBC HK⁵:
|Service||HSBC Hong Kong fee|
|Inward telegraphic transfer|
|Outward telegraphic transfer arranged online||HK$50 + possible exchange rate markup|
|Outward telegraphic transfer arranged in branch|
|Other fees to consider|
The table mentions possible exchange rate markups when sending international transfers with HSBC.
You may see these extra fees when sending a payment which requires currency conversion. Instead of using the mid-market exchange rate for international payments, it’s common for banks and other third party service providers to add a markup or margin to the rate used. This is an additional charge, and it makes it tricky to see the full price you’re paying for your transfer.
Check the exchange rate you’re offered by your bank or chosen money transfer service, against the mid-market exchange rate for your currency which you’ll find on Google. If there’s a markup added, you might be better off using a modern provider which uses the mid-market exchange rate, like Wise.
You can apply for your new HSBC multi-currency account by attending a meeting at a local branch and providing the paperwork required for the specific account type you’ve chosen.
For any HSBC HK account you’ll need to bring along:
- Proof of ID - your HKID card, or government issued travel document
- Proof of your residential address - such as a recent utility bill, a letter from your employer or university, or a tax bill
Check the specific documents you need to support your application as these can vary according to account type as well as your residency status. For example, you might also need to provide⁶:
- Details of your nationality
- Information about why you’re setting up an account in Hong Kong
- Proof of salary and employment
- Source of your income and the opening deposit
- Levels of activity you expect in your account
- Tax residency and ID number
If you need a multi-currency account to send and receive international payments, it’s good to know that you may be able to save money if you use Wise.
Wise payments use the mid-market exchange rate with no markup and no hidden fees. There’s just a simple, low upfront fee - and you’ll be able to see exactly what your recipient will get before you confirm the transaction.
Send quick and secure payments all over the world - for less - using Wise.
To talk to someone from HSBC HK you have a few different options:
- Find the closest branch location using the HSBC branch finder tool, and call in for face to face help⁷
- Make an appointment online and attend a meeting at a local branch
- Call the HSBC application helpline on (852) 2233 3722
- Or for general queries, call (852) 2233 3000
As one of the biggest banks in Hong Kong - and the world - it’s no surprise that HSBC HK has a good range of options for people who want to hold and manage their money across different currencies. Depending on what you need, you can choose from a simple, low cost account - or one of HSBC’s high end offers.
No matter which account works for you, you might still find you can save on international payments by using Wise. Check out how the fees and exchange rates on offer from Wise measure up against HSBC and other major Hong Kong banks, to cut your costs and have more to spend on yourself.
Sources used in the article:
HSBC HK - Current Accounts
HSBC HK - Foreign Currency Savings Accounts
HSBC HK - FAQ
HSBC HK - Personal Integrated Account
HSBC HK - Bank Tariff, Pages 11 and 20
HSBC HK - Points to note for account application
HSBC HK - Branch Finder
Sources last checked on 21-October 2020.
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 TransferWise 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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