By | March 13, 2006

Actually, I had an account at Citibank for ages…

Never had a problem with their online or phonebanking services, not that my needs are difficult to meet…

Didn’t think they were that great though, until

I decided to switch to HSBC…

1. online banking
2. phone banking
3. branch nearer my home
4. saturday opening
5. English speaking
6. convenient cost-saving mortgage…

BUT, I have been quite UNimpressed by
HSBC for at least three of those reasons…
1. shortly after I joined, they canceled Saturday banking
2. they denied us a mortgage because they said they didn’t do loans on houses with ODD zoning (ie. NOT residential)
3. AND, within three months, they canceled my phone banking because they said I never used it… True. BUT… I wanted that service because it’s not always convenient to find a computer that is safe.
4. It took them nearly a year to contact me about a message I sent them via their internet banking service.

1. I never transferred my money from other bank(s) to HSBC, denying them a fair amount of cash… >>> THEY LOST $$$
2. we remortgaged with a bank who had NO problem lending money on our property… and other banks were also willing and happy to lend us…
>>> THEY LOST $$$
3. I have been checking their interest rates against local banks. To my dismay, their rates are about .4-.5% LOWER for CDs than the local banks…I’m thinking of closing my account there instead, and moving most stuff back to Citibank and to one or two local banks instead.
4. Result: I will probably NEVER use their bank here in Taiwan much again.

Oh, and I forgot (added later)…
I tried to use their online banking to set up a new CD, but the system kept rejecting me… so even the online bank doesn’t work properly.

So out of six reasons for joining HSBC, I only have location (and it isn’t THAT convenient, really) and English speaking left ( I must confess even there that Speaking Chinese at HSBC certainly helped get things done faster…) So overall, 0/6.

I would strongly suggest that Foreigners AVOID HSBC and deal with Citibank or the local banks (whose rates for services are generally better). And Service-wise, Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank were quite a lot better than HSBC for service!

hsbc and citibank DON’T deduct 20% withholding tax from interest payments, like other banks here do.

I used to try to get the IRS here to take into account the money I paid in interest every year as part of my taxes already paid. But some years they didn’t even bother, just handed back the tax papers…

But that extra 20% can make quite a difference over the years.

Something to consider.

And if you’re in any doubt, check you bank book to see whether your bank deducts withholding or not…