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HSBC Banking

The HSBC banking range is about as wide as it's possible to get from a bank- indeed if you want more than a current and savings account, and would like to look at investments and offshore banking, HSBC have particular expertise in catering for the more aspiring customer. The usual suspects: loans, credit cards, mortgages, pensions and insurances also make an appearance of course.
The "Basic" bank account has no credit facility, and really is a no-frills service. Even statements are only delivered quarterly. However, you do benefit from HSBC's phone, internet and digital TV information services. You can also get cash from Post Offices using the Basic card, which might be helpful.

The standard HSBC account has a Switch card and agreed overdraft facilities. It's worth mentioning here that nowhere on HSBC's site are account charges (or interest benefits) mentioned. If you switch to HSBC from another bank, there are more sweeteners on offer, including two months free of any overdraft fees or charges and a reduced credit card offer. We think it's pretty rotten not to offer these deals to everyone in some form; and transferring for the sake of the benefits may damage a good relationship with your previous bank, so think carefully first. One clever benefit of this account is a sweep- your spare cash can be automatically swept into a savings account in order to earn some interest.

Two other accounts deserve mention. The first is foreign currency accounts- HSBC handles these more effectively than most other banks (for example demanding no minimum balance), albeit at a price. Euro denominated accounts cost as little as £0.60 per cheque, major currencies (dollars, yen) £1.20 per cheque, but then look: other currencies £35 per cheque cashed! If you're not paid in a major currency, seek advice before signing up.

The other HSBC banking account of note is the Amanah finance system, which is a suite of financial tools designed to eliminate religious conflicts associated with conventional banking and provide a service acceptable to strict Muslim law.