HSBC USD Account Review: A Full Guide on Fees and Features 2023
HSBC offers foreign currency accounts in 14 different currencies including USD. These accounts don’t come with a debit card, so they aren’t really intended for travel purposes. However, foreign currency accounts like the HSBC USD account can still be handy for people who need to hold a US dollar balance and make USD payments.
This guide runs through the important details of the HSBC USD account - and we’ll also introduce a couple of more flexible alternatives for comparison. Online and mobile providers like Wise and Revolut offer multi-currency accounts which can have better exchange rates and lower fees compared to the HSBC USD account, with linked cards for payments and withdrawals. More on that later.
What is the HSBC USD account?
HSBC offers foreign currency accounts in 14 currencies, including USD. You can open an HSBC USD account if you already have a local GBP account, with no extra monthly fee to pay.
HSBC foreign currency accounts don’t come with linked debit cards, which means you can’t use them for spending while you’re abroad. However, you’ll be able to access your account through online banking, to send immediate or future dated payments locally and internationally, and get cash in GBP and USD in an HSBC branch when you need it.
Pros and cons of HSBC USD account
The HSBC USD account offers some helpful features, but it’s not perfect. Here is a look at some of the major pros and cons of the HSBC USD account before we get into a more detailed review.
No monthly fee
Online banking access
No fee to send money to other HSBC accounts
Live exchange rates for immediate transfers
No debit card
Exchange rates are likely to include a markup
Some account fees apply
HSBC foreign currency account alternatives
HSBC’s USD account might not necessarily the best fit if you’re looking for a way to spend and make ATM withdrawals in USD. Alternative providers can offer a cheaper overall service, with some neat features not available from traditional banks. We’ll run through some key information for a few HSBC alternatives, to help you see which account might work best for you.
Open your free account online, to receive payments with local bank details in a range of currencies, send money to 80+ countries, hold 50+ currencies and spend with your linked card in 170+ countries, too. All currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with low fees for the extra services you might need:
Foreign Currencies: 50+
Fees & Exchange Rates: Mid-market exchange rate, low transaction fees
International Transfers: From 0.41% fee
Debit Card: Available
Open a free standard account or upgrade to an account with a monthly fee to get more perks and a higher level of fee free transactions. 30+ supported currencies with a linked card for spending and withdrawals, and some great budgeting and saving tools:
Foreign Currencies: 30+
Fees & Exchange Rates: Mid-market exchange rate to plan limits, low transaction fees based on account type
International Transfers: 0.3% - 2% fee, some accounts offer discounted transfer fees
Debit Card: Available
Starling Business USD Account
If you need a USD account for your business, and would prefer to stick with a licensed bank rather than a fintech provider, Starling can be a good option. There are USD accounts for businesses as well as options for GBP and EUR account services, with low overall fees and features to help cut business administration time.
Foreign Currencies: USD - accounts are also available in GBP and EUR
Fees & Exchange Rates: 5 GBP/month fee, currency conversion uses the mid market rate with a fee of 0.4%
International Transfers: no fee for ACH payments to US accounts
Debit Card: Available
Here’s a head to head summary of HSBC vs Wise and Revolut, for USD and multi-currency account options:
|Monthly fees||No fee||No fee||0 GBP - 12.99 GBP/month depending on account tier|
|Currencies you can hold and exchange||USD||50+||30+|
|Exchange rates||Rates are likely to include a markup||Mid-market exchange rate||Mid-market exchange rate to plan limits|
|Debit Card and ATM fees||Not available|
Get a debit card for 7 GBP
2 withdrawals to 200 in value per month for free - 0.5 GBP + 1.75% after that
Debit card is free to order, but delivery fees may apply
ATM withdrawals fee free to plan limits (200 GBP/month for standard plans)
|International payment fees||7 USD for most payments||From 0.41%||0.3% - 2% for most payments (paid account plans may offer some discount on fees)|
As you can see, the options, features and fees of different types of foreign and multi-currency accounts can vary significantly. Compare a few to pick the right one for your needs.
How does the HSBC USD account compare?
HSBC is a huge and established banking brand, but it’s not your only option. In the UK you’ll also be able to choose USD accounts from other traditional banks, from neobanks and from online specialist services. Each offer quite different features, which may suit different customer types.
To give a quick overview, we’ve compared HSBC’s USD account to specialist providers Wise and Revolut - which offer both personal and business services - and to digital bank Starling, which offers USD accounts to businesses only. We’ll look at these providers in a little more detail later to help you decide which account might suit your needs best.
|Availability||UK customers with an HSBC GBP account||Available to customers in most countries around the world||Available to customers in the UK, EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US||Limited companies only|
No monthly fee
Currency conversion is likely to include a markup
Some international payment fees apply
No monthly fee
Currency conversion and international payments from 0.41%
0 - 12.99 GBP monthly fee depending on plan
Currency conversion with no markups to plan limits
International payments from 0.3% - 2%
Currency conversion from 0.4%
International transfers can be made by ACH to US bank accounts only - no fees apply
|Linked Debit Card||Not available||Available||Available||Available|
Which service and account suits you will depend a lot on what you need. Specialist providers like Wise and Revolut are fintech companies rather than banks, but they can often offer lower fees and better exchange rates compared to foreign currency accounts from traditional banks. A neobank like Starling offers a broader range of services compared to specialist providers, but has no branch network, unlike an old school bank like HSBC.
Read on for more about the HSBC USD account - and we’ll also touch on these alternatives in more detail later to help you pick the perfect match for your needs.
Want to compare more options? Check out our full guide to the best foreign and multi-currency accounts in the UK.
What is the eligibility for an HSBC USD account?
To open a USD account with HSBC you’ll need to be aged over 18, and to have an eligible HSBC GBP account. Most HSBC current accounts are accepted, but the Basic Bank Account is not.
Who is it good for?
The HSBC foreign currency accounts don’t have a linked debit card, which means they’re not ideal for people who want to get access to foreign currency cash overseas, or who want to make payments as they travel. However, you can hold a USD balance, and make payments around the world with the live HSBC exchange rate. Payments can be set up for immediate processing, or up to a year in advance.
Overall the features of the HSBC USD account probably mean it would suit someone who needs an account with a traditional bank they can use for holding USD to make international payments, such as paying an overseas mortgage or study costs.
When is a multi-currency account needed?
Different types of foreign currency and multi-currency accounts suit different customer needs. Some accounts are focused on personal customers who want a flexible account to hold and exchange multiple currencies, and spend with a linked card. Others are more aimed at holding a foreign currency balance in one target currency only, with facilities for making payments - handy if you have regular overseas bills to pay for example.
There are plenty of ways foreign currency account services can help both personal and business customers cut the costs of transacting internationally, and also make it more convenient when spending in a foreign currency. However, which account suits you best will come down to what you’re intending to do with it.
Here’s a quick overview of the HSBC USD account set against the providers we looked at earlier, and who they may suit:
HSBC - useful for people who prefer to transact in person in a branch, who need to hold a USD balance for immediate or future international transfers
Wise - great fit for customers looking for a flexible online multi-currency account with linked debit card
Revolut - strong contender if you want to upgrade to a monthly fee to get more free transactions and unlock some bonus features and perks
Starling - good for business customers who need to access a fuller range of financial services from a licensed bank, but who don’t need a physical branch network
How to open a USD account with HSBC
If you’re an existing HSBC customer you can log into your online banking and apply for your HSBC USD account in just a few minutes. You can also call HSBC on 03457 404 404 to open your account by phone.
If you don’t already hold an eligible HSBC account you’ll need to get a GBP account set up first before you can open your USD account. There are plenty of HSBC current accounts to choose from, many of which can be set up online by uploading your paperwork and completing an application form. You may need to agree to a credit check to be eligible for an account.
What documents you'll need
To get an HSBC USD account you’ll need to already hold a UK current account with HSBC. That may mean you don’t need to go through much in the way of verification, because you’ve already presented all your paperwork to open your initial account. If you’re new to HSBC and need to start the process of verification you’ll usually need to provide:
Proof of ID, like a passport
Proof of address, such as a utility bill in your name
Here’s a rundown of the key fees you’ll pay with your HSBC USD account:
|Service||HSBC USD account fee|
|Monthly fee||No fee|
|Send money within the UK|
Payments in any currency to other HSBC accounts are free
Payments in EUR are free
Payments to non-HSBC accounts in any other currency - 7 USD fee
|Send money internationally|
Payments in any currency to other HSBC accounts are free
Payments to accounts in the EEA in EUR are free
All other payment types - 7 USD fee
Payments outside the EEA are likely to include intermediary fees
Where currency conversion is required, a markup may be added to the mid-market exchange rate
|In branch cash withdrawal in USD or GBP||No fee|
HSBC exchange rate
If you need to convert funds from one currency to another with HSBC, the HSBC exchange rate will apply. Rates are updated continually, so you’ll be notified of the live rate at the time your payment is made.
It’s useful to know that the rate you get from HSBC is likely to include a markup - an extra fee - added to the mid-market exchange rate you’ll see using a currency converter tool or a Google search. This is common, but can push up costs significantly, and makes it harder to see what you’re really paying for your transaction.
How to use the HSBC USD account
You can make payments from your HSBC USD account in a branch, by phone or online. The fees are the same for all service types, so you can pick whichever is easiest for you. Usually sending your transfer online or using your phone is the easiest option. Here’s how:
Log into your online or mobile banking service
Look for the option for International Payments
Follow the prompts to add the recipient’s information and details of the transfer
Complete any required security or verification steps
You can pay into your HSBC USD account from your HSBC GBP account or from another bank account.
You’ll be able to send payments from your HSBC USD account to be deposited into other bank accounts around the world. You can also request an in branch withdrawal of cash.
How to use the HSBC USD account abroad
Because the HSBC USD account doesn’t come with a linked card it can’t be easily used while you’re overseas. You’ll still be able to log into your account online to arrange payments, but you won’t be able to spend in stores or make cash withdrawals.
HSBC USD account limits
You can send money to your own HSBC accounts or to accounts held in other banks around the world. Limits vary depending on the payment type and whether you’re an HSBC Premier customer:
International payments online - 50,000 GBP
International payments in branch - unlimited
International payments by phone - 10,000 GBP for standard HSBC customers, unlimited for Premier customers
Transfers to your own HSBC account online - 250,000 GBP
In a branch or by phone - unlimited
Are HSBC multi-currency accounts safe?
Yes. HSBC is a huge global banking brand which is FCA licensed in the UK and also overseen by other regulatory bodies around the world.
Foreign currency and multi-currency accounts can offer a broad range of features which help anyone living an international lifestyle. Different accounts focus on different customer needs. The HSBC USD account probably suits customers who need face to face service in a branch, and want to hold a dollar balance and make international payments - but don’t need a linked payment card.
Other providers have their own features - Wise offers free online accounts for 50+ currencies and the mid-market exchange rate, while Revolut has a broader range of account features and services, but you’ll need to pay a monthly fee to access them all. Comparing a few providers including traditional banks and online specialist services is the best way to pick the perfect account for your needs.
Yes. You can open an HSBC USD account as long as you also hold a HSBC current account.
You’ll usually need to add funds to your HSBC USD account from your linked GBP current account, or with a transfer from another bank account.
Yes. There’s a fee of 7 USD for most international transfers, plus exchange rate markups to pay.
The HSBC USD account doesn’t come with a debit card which can make it tricky to use when you’re overseas. You’ll still be able to log into your account in online banking to check and manage payments, though.