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HSBC banking offer & avoiding fees and rates ...

We discuss and wring our hands here in the Forum often about the best ways to avoid fees and charges and exchange grifts of various kinds, so I was alert to a new piece of junkmail that showed up in my mailbox this week --

HSBC is offering a hefty bribe ($375) for opening a new checking or savings account and maintaining a $10K balance for a certain period of time. This looks very similar to offers that have come through my mail slot from Chase, the obvious difference being that Chase is blue and HSBC is red :-)

The interesting thing about this mailer from HSBC is the mirror-image perks of being an accountholder: instead of looking for a USA bank that doesn't charge fees for using an ATM in Europe, this HSBC offer includes no ATM fees for using your HSBC account in the USA. It goes without saying (not really) that you don't pay fees for using an HSBC ATM at HSBC branches in Europe. The account terms also say no foreign transaction fees -- but not clear to me if that means no fees for using it here or using it there...

Depending on how often you regularly use ATMs or do banking generally in Europe, this could be a deal to consider.
HSBC has a few branches in San Francisco and Oakland, but just a few.

Posted by
11292 posts

Thanks for posting this. HSBC has lots of branches in New York and Philadelphia (the two cities I'm in most often), so this could work well if you live there.

And I had the same thought as you; when I got the mailer about HSBC's offer, it reminded me of Chase's frequent offers. I already have an account at Chase, but it has to be "new money" to qualify for the offer, and I just don't have that much extra cash lying around!

Posted by
1965 posts

I also don't have money to play with, but if I was going to open a new checking or savings account in a big bank, I think it's worth considering HSBC along with all of the other evil megabanks -- certainly they aren't as malevolent as Bank Of America, for example.

Posted by
2576 posts

I see. B of A and the others are “evil” and HSBC is a good guy because of the ATM fee thing? Really? See this: In February 2015, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released information about the business conduct of HSBC under the title Swiss Leaks. The ICIJ alleges that the bank profited from doing business with tax evaders and other clients.[17] The BBC reported that HSBC had put pressure on media not to report about the controversy, with British newspaper The Guardian claiming HSBC advertising had been put "on pause" after The Guardian's coverage of the matter.[18] Peter Oborne, chief political commentator at The Daily Telegraph, resigned from the paper; in an open letter, he claimed the newspaper suppressed negative stories and dropped investigations into HSBC because of the bank's advertising.[19]

In 2016, HSBC was sued by Mexican families involved in deaths by organized-crime gangs for processing funds ("money laundering") for the Sinaloa cartel.[20]

Posted by
13225 posts

I was attracted to the HSBC offer by the possibility of low-fee money transfers to banks in Europe for reservations, etc. Our credit union does not do these at all. But my husband pointed out the dark side of this bank, as set forth by Alan. So that was unacceptable.

Chase wants to give me $600 for opening an account with them and maintaining a high balance. But I just do not want another checking account. So I'll just have to pass on that.

Posted by
1965 posts

I think you misread my comment above, Alan -- I was including HSBC among all of the other malevolent banks.
And my labeling is not based on who charges fees for what, but on just the kind of criminal or at least unethical conduct that you highlighted -- all the big banks have been given enormous fines over the last few years, even after their squads of lawyers and back-room negotiators wore regulators down.

I do have some extra animus towards BofA, though, because as a devotee of the SF Bay Area, I still have in mind the early days of the company when it was still called the Bank of Italy and benevolently managed by A.P. Giannini as an institution "for the little fellow". When it was shanghaied and zombified by NationsBank in Charlotte, NC twenty years ago, with its good name scalped and then laid over the horror of NationsBank to whitewash away that company's history, I was even more emotional about it than you seem to be in your comment above. It still pains me that banks from Charlotte, Dallas, and Atlanta get to hide behind the name of a San Francisco institution.

On the issue of checking accounts also mentioned, I too lament the eclipse of Main Street by Wall Street.

Posted by
6882 posts

Every big bank has tiered products and will treat its customers according to how much assets they could bring in (meaning they will waive all sorts of things for their preferred customers and give them an extra level of service - just like business travelers are treated by the airlines). Right now, there's a flurry of banks competing with each other for people's deposits, and each are putting out promotions in the hundreds to set up new checking/savings accounts. It's an easy way to get some extra travel funds (or extra money for whatever) if you can adhere to all the small print of their promotion terms (then you can just close the account).

In contrast, if you're not a preferred (or otherwise deemed valuable) customer, then you'll get hit with all sorts of annoying fees and you may be better off with a credit union and online banks which have the least amount of overhead.

Posted by
13225 posts

Avirosemail, i do not see anything in the Wikipedia article to cause such animus against Bank of America. Banks come and go and change their names.

When I lived in Alaska the little bank I started with became Key Bank, which then became First Interstate. Or maybe vice versa. When that Bank turned into Wells Fargo, I left.

Can you point to any bad behavior on the part of Bank of America to compare with Alan's information about HSBC?

Posted by
1965 posts

I'm sorry, Lola, but it seems like I haven't been expressing myself very clearly in this thread --

"i do not see anything in the Wikipedia article to cause such animus against Bank of America"
• I shared the link to the Wikipedia article about Giannini in order to contrast the positive origins of Bank of America/Italy when he was running it with the horrible modern management of the North Carolina-based contemporary institution. The Wikipedia article tells part of the great story of the bank's early days. I foolishly assumed that the crimes and destruction wrought by the modern Bank of American were common knowledge among residents of the USA. Were you not here in lower 48 during the mortgage/financial crisis a decade ago?

"Can you point to any bad behavior on the part of Bank of America to compare with Alan's information about HSBC?"
• I'm not sure how to take this question -- are you being flip? I can give us all a quick review of the highlights (lowlights) regarding today's Bank of America:

The top 50 violations, major legal settlements, and regulatory fines levied against Bank Of America regarding only its involvement in the mortgage crisis amounted to over $90B -- that's ninety billion dollars after their lawyers and lobbyists and 'southern hospitality' (if you know what I mean) wore down the official agencies. It included the sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities, forcing customers to sign up for extra credit card products, securities fraud, defrauding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, kickback schemes inflating the cost of insurance that homeowners were forced to buy, faulty mortgages, harassing debt-collection calls to customers' cell phones in violation of the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, hiring practices that kept qualified black job applicants from getting jobs, steering black brokers into clerical positions and reassigning their accounts to white workers, failing to pay proper overtime, foreclosure abuse, providing "false and misleading statements about the health of" Merrill Lynch before its acquisition, deceptive marketing tactics, using a rigged system to arbitrate credit card debt collection disputes, and wrongfully foreclosing upon active duty servicemembers without first obtaining court orders.

These are just the notable crimes committed between 2008 and 2014:

MarketWatch says BofA tops the list of violators regarding the financial crisis ( but what about other kinds of unethical practices and cheating and putting regular folks out of their homes and businesses?

Another tracker shows 128 major violations by BofA:
Here's a $42M crime from last year:

Between 2012 and 2016 BofA was the most fined bank in the world:

Again, I'm just scratching the surface here. Also again, I don't mean to imply that other big banks are not also evil
and I also don't mean to imply that BofA has never done anything good -- I'm sure it does plenty of good. For one thing, it seems like they were wise enough not to lie down with the Trump/Kushner crime family, which was why the Trump/Kushner family had to get its financing from DeutscheBank and the oligarchs, etc. Maybe we can make a generalization that the European banks are evil for working with criminal clients while the American banks are evil because they are themselves criminals?