Posts Tagged ‘HSBC’

Show Me The Money!

Sterling

So, I’m happy to announce that I just received my HSBC card! Yessss! I think I willed it into being since I’ve been thinking positive thoughts for 20+ days now. In any case, I have run into the issue of transferring money from my Bank of America account into my HSBC Passport account. I have deposited a large amount of money from US Loan Checks directly into my HSBC account (at a $1.61 exchange rate… only a couple of cents higher than the actual; not bad) but since that takes up to six weeks to clear, I need some cash to be thrown in there ASAP. Now, the most obvious option would be the direct wire transfer from B of A to HSBC. BofA allows account holders to wire money online now, so it makes it super easy, but they offer two plans of attack:

1) Transfer ‘x’ amount of dollars from the US into the UK and allow the UK branch to exchange the money at their exchange rate on the given day of receipt

or

2) Transfer ‘x’ amount of pounds sterling from the US into the UK account at the exchange rate provided by Bank of America on the given day (today the exchange rate is $1.589 but BofA is having me change my money at $1.668!!)

I spoke with the guy at HSBC and he said that the latter option seemed to be the most viable since (theoretically) HSBC can make the exchange rate whatever they want at the time of receipt — for example, although the exchange rate at this moment in time is $1.589, HSBC’s exchange rate might be $1.63 and Bank of America’s might be $1.61 — the $1.589 is a base but not a given… banks have the flexibility to set their own rates based on the market. For peace of mind, he said that exchanging it at a higher rate that you are sure of might be better than depositing the money and just hoping for the best! This seems like a logical idea, but BofA’s pricing is extraordinarily high. Like I mentioned — though the exchange rate is $1.589 right now, BofA is going to exchange my money at $1.668! That’s such a rip-off it’s asinine. For people that aren’t obsessive about following the rate of exchange every second of the day, this might seem okay, but I guarantee you it’s not. So, that being said — I don’t like either option. They both seem shitty to me and I feel like either way, I’m losing money that should be mine.

So here’s my shady, alternative plan of attack: Since Barclay’s and Bank of America are sister banks, I can pop into a Barclay’s branch and take out 200 GBP at the exact exchange rate at that moment in time without incurring international fees or bank transaction fees. Soooo… I might make a few runs to Barclay’s over a week or so and take the cash from Barclay’s and run it over to HSBC and deposit the cash in my account. Obviously more work than the direct transfer, but at least I’m not being charged a $45 wire fee + an exchange rate that I’m not comfortable with.

Anyone else have ideas on how to work the system?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

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UPDATE: Bank of America Situation.

Bank-of-America-RGB

Quick update for fellow Bank of America customers!

I called their customer service (again!) and had a heart-to-heart with an associate to find out any way that I could get out of the fee situation. Here’s what I ascertained from the conversation:

CampusEdge Checking: I asked if I could revert to the CampusEdge checking to do away with fees. This is a no-go. The CampusEdge account is good for five years max, at which point you gain a normal checking account. Once you’ve racked up five years on that account, there’s no going back. If you’re of a B of A customer that hasn’t had their CampusEdge checking for five years, this would be something to look into!

Direct Deposit: After September 30th, I won’t have any more paychecks being deposited into my account (sad…), so I wanted to find out if there were any other deposits that qualified as direct deposits. Yes — there are a number of items that qualify. If you have any monthly income that’s electronically transferred into your account on a monthly basis, the fee is waived. Aside from paychecks (which people our age will normally consider), there are things like social security income, pension, child support, alimony, veteran’s benefits, etc. So, for me this doesn’t mean anything because I’m not a veteran, I’m not collecting a pension or social security and (fortunately) I don’t have an ex-husband/baby daddy to deposit money into my account monthly. If you happen to be collecting alimony/child support, though, this could work for you!

Notice for Cancellation: Since I hate fees with a passion, if I end up cancelling my account, I don’t want to incur a single dollar in fees. I asked what kind of notice they need to close down a checking account. The answer? A mere 48 hours once there’s a balance of $0 and your account can be closed. You don’t need 30 days notice or anything crazy. You probably have to sign some legal documentation though, so check with your local B of A branch.

After giving it some thought, I think I may keep $2000 in my checking account to keep it open and active. Like I had mentioned earlier, Bank of America counts Barclay’s & Deutsche Bank as sister banks, which means that a withdrawal at any of those cashpoints can be done without incurring a single cent in transaction fees. You get the money at the exchange rate at that given moment in time. It’s really quite nice (and a reason that I love B of A). Traditionally, I would probably transfer all of my money to the UK as to not deal with exchange rate fluctuations (who really wants to think about that?), but after reading a lot of forex literature, it seems as though the exchange rate will actually be going down. If that’s the case, I will probably like keeping some money in USD so it can work for me. If I start to see that the exchange rate is going up (and the USD is weakening) then I’ll just withdraw all of my money, put it into my HSBC account and cancel my Bank of America checking.

Stupid exchange rates.

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Bank Blahs {B of A Customers, Check It}.

BankOfAmerica

Whilst daydreaming yesterday, a thought interrupted my British fantasies: I had not yet contacted Bank of America to discuss my moving abroad/not having money in my American account situation. When I called, I spoke with a super helpful gentleman who gave the me the lowdown on my account come September:

A savings account can stay active (without fees) as long as there is $300 or more in the account.
A checking account only needs $2 a month to stay active and will not incur fees as long as the account is the recipient of direct deposit.

The checking is where I’m now having an issue. Obviously keeping $2 in there is no big deal, but the direct deposit? That’s an issue. I have had direct deposit through my company for the last four years, but now that I’m moving abroad there are no paychecks, pension money, Social Security and Supplemental Income (SSI) benefits, or other regular monthly income headed into my account. Without direct deposit, checking accounts are subject to an $8.95 – $9.95 monthly fee, unless you keep a minimum of $1500 in the account. I’m not really okay with that, to be honest.

Since this situation has arisen, I have opted to keep my savings account open in the US, but after transferring my money to my new UK HSBC Passport Account, I will likely close my US checking account. There’s no benefit to paying the $8.95 fee for a year (which adds up to $107.40 in just 12 months!)  since I won’t actually be using the account. Sure, I am familiar with B of A and they have always been super helpful, but these fees aren’t going to cut it. I really liked the fact that B o fA counts Barclay’s and Deutsche Bank as its sister banks and reduces my international charges, so I’m hoping that HSBC will have something similar. Alternatively, I may just keep $1500 in my checking for a while and use my US Visa Debit card at Deutsche Bank & Barclay’s cashpoints while I’m overseas; if the exchange rate goes up, though, that money’s coming out — I really don’t want to have to deal with/worry about exchange rate fluctuation! I’m going to pop into a branch and interrogate one of the associates to find out if there are any other deposits that can qualify as direct deposit and thusly remove the monthly fee. Also, I had noticed that the CampusEdge checking account (which I used to have) has no fees — regardless of how much money is in the account or the direct deposit situation. The account was created especially for high school and college students and after five years you are administratively enrolled in a normal checking (as I was when I hit 21), where fees can be incurred. I’m going to also see if they can re-enroll me in that account while I’m pursuing graduate-level education so I can continue to bank with them. If not, so long Bank of America. It was nice doing business with you!

Signature Stamp - Shannon