HSBC Direct Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

HSBC Direct is an online bank with solid checking and savings options, but its mobile apps aren’t well-received.

Alice HolbrookMay 27, 2020

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Overall bank rating

HSBC
  • Savings

    Savings

  • Checking

    Checking

  • CD rates

    CD rates

  • Banking experience

    Banking experience

  • Overdraft fees

    Overdraft fees

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: HSBC Direct is the online-only arm of HSBC, a huge international bank with about 200 branches in a handful of U.S. states. The brick-and-mortar division of HSBC has low-rate accounts with fees that require some customer effort to waive, while HSBC Direct offers no-fee checking and high-yield savings accounts that must be opened online. It also has a few online CDs, though rates aren’t impressive. Customers at both arms of HSBC have the same access to ATMs, customer service and mobile apps.

Pros

  • No monthly fees on checking or savings accounts.

  • Solid rate on the savings option.

  • Low opening deposit requirements.

  • No ATM fees charged by HSBC Direct.

Cons

  • Low rates on most CDs.

  • Customer complaints about mobile apps.

  • Relatively small number of HSBC ATMs.

  • Hard to find basic information on one of its two U.S. websites.

Full review

HSBC Direct Savings

HSBC Direct Savings

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
APY

0.50%

With $1 minimum balance

The online-only account’s rate is competitive with other high-yield accounts. There's no monthly fee, and you need only $1 to open the account. Tools to track your spending and progress toward goals are available on the standard U.S. website.

HSBC Direct Checking

HSBC Direct Checking

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.01%

With $1 minimum balance

Unlike HSBC’s brick-and-mortar checking options, there are no hoops to jump through to get a monthly fee waived with Direct Checking; it doesn’t have one. You get access to all 385 HSBC ATMs, and the bank doesn’t charge if you use an out-of-network ATM, though the ATM operator might. You also earn a 0.01% APY, which is minimal, but many checking accounts don’t earn interest at all. The minimum opening deposit is $1. The account doesn’t offer paper checks.

HSBC CD

HSBC CD

2.0

NerdWallet rating 
1-year APY

0.70%

Minimum Deposit

$1,000

HSBC requires $1,000 to open an online CD, which is on the lower end for bank CD minimums. But its CD rates fall short of those at other online banks: 0.75% for its six-month term, 0.80% for its one-year term, and 0.80% for its two-year term. Many online banks offer terms up to five years, and more competitive rates.

Banking experience

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

HSBC has two U.S. websites, one for the brick-and-mortar HSBC Bank USA (the standard website) and the other for online-only HSBC Direct, but FAQs and overdraft pricing, among other information, are available only on the former.

The bank also has two sets of mobile apps, for U.S. customers only and for a global base. Customers have voiced concerns about the U.S. versions, noting that they don’t allow users to view their account APY, set up account alerts or transfer funds into an HSBC Direct account from an external account. “HSBC continues to invest in the mobile app and money movement capabilities to improve the experience for our customers,” says Ryan Lanfear, head of digital messaging experiences and sales at HSBC Bank USA. Lanfear notes that account alerts are a particular focus.

HSBC has extended phone and chat hours on weekdays and weekends. The bank also provides some support on Twitter. HSBC Direct customers are intended to do their banking without branches, but they won’t be refused service if they visit an HSBC branch. There are limits to what a branch can help them with.

Overdraft fees

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

HSBC charges $35 for each overdraft, up to three times per day. This is about in line with national banks, but unusually high for an online bank. HSBC provides a line of credit to cover overdrafts, but it has a high interest rate. And it doesn’t allow overdraft protection transfers from savings.

HSBC Direct Savings

HSBC Direct Savings

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
APY

0.50%

With $1 minimum balance

The online-only account’s rate is competitive with other high-yield accounts. There's no monthly fee, and you need only $1 to open the account. Tools to track your spending and progress toward goals are available on the standard U.S. website.

RATING METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, banking experience and overdraft fees. Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation. The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.