Well, I’ve finally gotten full access to my HSBC Direct savings account. The process was a lot longer than I would’ve liked:
Day 1 – I applied online where they asked the usual prying questions and did one of those Experian/Equifax identity checks based on information on your credit report. I hate those, as the questions are always very weird, but I passed. I filled out the signature card online, and opted to fund my account online as well. Nothing to mail in, very nice. They then send two trial deposits to the account that you want to fund from.
Day 3 – In about two business days, the numbers show up in your account, and you have to go back and type in your deposit amounts. After verifying the amounts, HSBC will then suck the amount you want to deposit out of your designated account. I recommend starting out with a small deposit, you’ll see why next.
Days 9-11 – You then have to wait for two separate letters via snail mail. I suppose this increases security, but since I’m on the West Coast and the letters came from New York, they take forever. I got the first letter on Day 9, and it contains your Customer ID login, and is 20 digits long! I got the 2nd letter on Day 11, and it contains your password, another 8-digit beast.
Finally, now you can log into your account and see your money that disappeared from your checking account a week ago. Then, to initiate transfers in between external accounts, you have first make a Security Key, which can only be typed in via your mouse. After that, they want your ATM card number and PIN info. If you don’t have that just click on “Forgot PIN” and call the number they provide.
Finally, you can add external accounts. For most banks, including Emigrant Direct, Washington Mutual, Presidential, Bank of America, and so on, you just need your routing number and account number of your bank (no checks). One exception is ING, as it doesn’t play well with CashEdge-based transfer systems, which is what HSBC uses. You even get some free spare change from verifying all your accounts through the trial deposit method =)
Day 12 – Two more letters. ATM Card in one, and my HSBC account number and routing number (022000020) in the other. Do they have a vested interest in supporting the U.S. Postal Service or what? Check out Cap’s Review of this process too.
In the end, opening an HSBC Direct savings account to about 12 days, so be forewarned. Their customer service has been pretty good so far, with short hold times except for on weekends. The interbank transfer times are a bit slow, but it balances out with the added flexibility of being able to link almost any bank out there without having to send in checks.
Here is some possibly useful information if you need to contact them from my application form:
HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
Attn: Customer Relationship Center
P.O. Box 4045
Buffalo, NY 14240
Update: Currently HSBC Direct is offering 3.25% APY.