Foreigner opening a bank account in Malaysia? Read more what options are available, documents needed to open a bank account and more
A foreign currency or multi-currency account can be helpful if you get paid in foreign currencies, or if you need to make international payments often. Multi-currency accounts can also be handy for people who travel a lot or love to shop online with overseas retailers, and those who want to diversify investments by holding foreign currencies.
This guide to the Hong Leong Bank foreign currency account covers all you need to know about eligibility, account options and the HLB exchange rate you’ll access. We’ll also touch on the Wise Multi-Currency Account as a low cost, flexible alternative.
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Foreign currency or multi-currency accounts let customers hold one or more foreign currencies, and can be used to make one off or regular payments, to get paid in an international currency, or to invest.
Hong Leong Bank offers two foreign currency account options for personal customers:
- Foreign currency account (current account)¹
- Foreign fixed deposit account²
You can hold 10 foreign currencies in the current account for day to day spending such as remitting money overseas to support a family member, getting paid by an overseas employer, or paying international bills. Currencies available include:
- US dollar
- Canadian dollar
- Australian dollar
- British pound
- Chinese renminbi
- Hong Kong dollar
- Japanese yen
- New Zealand dollar
- Singapore dollar
Minimum opening deposits apply, which can vary by currency. If you hold a USD balance you’ll need to deposit at least 1,000 USD, while HKD accounts can be opened with a 10,000 HKD initial deposit, for example.
The Foreign Currency Fixed Deposit Account is aimed more at people who are looking to invest and hold foreign currencies, rather than for day to day spending. The same range of currencies - and the same minimum deposit requirements - are in place, but with this account you can hold funds for a fixed term to earn a higher interest amount. If you need to withdraw a payment before the end of the fixed term, penalties may apply. More on the Hong Leong Bank interest rate later.
Let’s take a closer look at the fees and interest rates available for both HLB foreign currency account options.
If you want to hold foreign currencies to earn interest you’ll probably want to choose the fixed deposit account option. Although theoretically interest is payable on the day to day foreign currency current account, at the time of research, the interest payable is 0.0% across all currencies, reflecting global markets. However, these rates may change over time, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
If you’re able to lock away your foreign currency balance in a fixed deposit (FD) account, you’ll be able to earn interest which varies by currency and based on how long you keep it in the account. The Hong Leong Bank FD rate at the time of writing ranges from 0.0% for EUR and JPY deposits, to 0.45% for 12 month holdings of USD, and 1.15% returns on a 12 month term for CNY.
There are also a few associated fees it’s worth knowing about:
|Hong Leong Bank foreign currency account cost³
|10 MYR Depending on the transaction type other costs such as commissions, postage or cable charges may also apply
|30 MYR every 6 months
|Early withdrawal penalty
|If you withdraw from a FD account early you may pay penalty fees and lose interest accrued
Using a multi-currency account can mean you avoid the need to exchange currency unnecessarily. If you get paid in a foreign currency you can hold it in your HLB foreign currency account until you next need to send money in that currency. That avoids unnecessary double conversion fees, and can help you manage fluctuations in the exchange rate.
If you know you’re going to need a foreign currency for a future payment you can also buy and hold the funds when the exchange rates are favourable. However, it’s important to note that the HLB exchange rate⁴ includes a markup on the mid-market exchange rate. This can push up the overall cost of currency exchange and means you may be able to find a better deal with a specialist provider.
You can get the Hong Leong Bank exchange rates online or by visiting a local branch. For reference, the calculator below displays the real mid-market exchange rate and a comparison between different providers for international transfers.
Ready to get started? Let’s look at how to open your Hong Leong Bank foreign currency account.
To open your HLB multi currency account you must:
- Already have an account with HLB
- Be a Malaysian citizen, permanent resident, or foreigner with valid documentation
- Be over 18 years old
It’s possible to open your MYR current or savings account online or in a branch, but you’ll then need to visit a branch to open your foreign currency account.
To open your HLB foreign currency account you’ll need to select the right account type for your needs and get in touch with HLB in branch, online or by phone. A member of the customer service team can talk you through the documents you need to provide and how to activate your account, based on your specific needs.
Select the account you are interested in, on the HLB website, and tap I’m interested to get started.
Hong Leong Bank contact details:
Phone number for all banking inquiries is 03 7626 8899 (open 9am to 6pm)
You can also contact HLB via social media or online chat on their website.
Let’s summarise some of the pros and cons of the HLB foreign currency accounts.
The Hong Leong Bank foreign currency account does have some great benefits - especially if you prefer to manage your money via a bank branch. However, if you’re looking for a cheaper and more flexible option you might be better off with a Wise Multi-Currency Account.
You can open your Wise account online or in the Wise app for free with no service fee and no minimum balance. You’ll be able to hold and convert 50+ currencies, and get paid from 30+ countries fee-free with your local account details. You can also get a linked debit card to spend without foreign transaction fees when you shop online with international retailers, and when you travel!
The Wise account doesn’t pay interest, but does offer international payments and currency conversion with the real exchange rate and low, transparent fees which usually beat the banks.
Use this guide to help you decide if the HLB foreign currency account is right for your needs, and don’t forget to check out the Wise Multi-Currency Account as a great alternative.
Sources checked on 11.02.2022
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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