Basic Banking Account at HSBC

Low-Fee Checking with Lots of Features

Remote Check Deposit
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HSBC’s Basic Banking account is a decent option for your first checking account. It’s a low-fee account, in which you’ll pay $3 per month for checking. There are plenty of truly free checking accounts out there, but you might have a good reason to go with HSBC: maybe you can’t find a free account that works for you, or maybe you want the ability to use HSBC branches and ATMs.

If you can stomach the $3 fee, the account has everything you need for a full-fledged checking account.

Alternatively, you can avoid the fee altogether by using a different HSBC account and qualifying for a fee waiver.

Account Highlights

No minimum balance: there’s no minimum to open the account, and you don’t need to keep any minimum on deposit with HSBC to avoid further fees (of course, you have to keep your account balance at or above zero, otherwise you’ll pay overdraft charges).

Online bill payment: it’s easy to pay your bills online by having HSBC send a check to your payee or transfer money electronically. This is possibly one of the best reasons to open a checking account anywhere.

MasterCard debit card: in addition to writing checks and paying bills online, you can spend with your debit card (or use it to get cash at an ATM). Each accountholder gets a card for free.

Checkwriting: of course you’d expect to have the ability to write checks. With this account, you can write up to 8 checks per month.

After that you’ll pay $0.35 per check. Keep your checkwriting to a minimum by using the online bill payment service and your debit card.

Mobile check deposit: there’s no need to bring checks to the bank (or stuff them into an ATM) to make deposits – simply snap a picture of the check using your mobile device.

To open an account, start an application online. You can complete most of the process online, but you’ll need to mail in a form with your signature. If printing isn’t an option for you, you’ll need to visit a branch or find an account that you can open entirely online.

Overdraft Protection

HSBC offers overdraft protection with this account (subject to approval). This is an optional service that costs extra money – you don't need to use it, and you probably shouldn't use it with any regularity. That said, if you (on very rare occasions) don't have enough in your account to cover a purchase, you can have HSBC lend you money in the form of an overdraft line of credit.

What's the alternative to using overdraft protection? Your card might be declined when you try to make a purchase. No big deal. If you have cash or another card, you can pay for your purchase without incurring additional fees.

What Happened to Free Checking?

In years past, HSBC offered a completely free online checking account. In 2009, presumably related to the financial crisis, HSBC changed those accounts to resemble the Basic Banking account described above. Unless you’re grandfathered in and actively use those accounts, you’ll either have to pay a fee or switch to a different account.

HSBC isn’t the only bank to make it hard to find free accounts. However, free checking is not dead. Your best bet for a free account is to find a small credit union, a local bank, or an online bank.