For a while now there have been rumors that HSBC planned to enter the online checking account arena, competing with the likes of Capital One 360′s Checking. Instead of using the apparently taboo words “checking account”, HSBC Direct announced today the Online Payment Account, which has the following major features:
- $1 to open, no minimum balances
- Yield of 2.50% APY
- Three non-HSBC ATM fee rebates per calendar month
- Link with unlimited external accounts
- Online Billpay Service
- Can send paper checks via BillPay, but no checkbooks
- Instant transfers to/from HSBC Online Savings account available, but account not required
However, I also got an e-mail from them saying you can’t apply for it until May 31st, and there is no mention of it on their main page. Weird.
My initial impressions? If you use the HSBC Direct savings account already, I’d definitely sign up for this. Why not? You get more features, and there are no minimums. One possible use would be when you needed cash, you could just go to an ATM, move money over from Savings -> OnlinePayment account, and then withdraw to take advantage of the ATM rebates. For people who rarely receive or write paper checks, this could fill a void and allow them to go completely electronic.
But really, how awesome would it be if they just added Billpay and ATM rebates to the Online Savings account, or even better, just made this Payment account pay 5.05% interest?! How hard it is to merge them together instead of adding more complexity?
Personally, I still both write and receive enough paper checks each month to prefer my current Washington Mutual bank setup or even my old Presidential Bank setup over either ING’s or HSBC’s paperless checking accounts.