Ok, following two weeks of meandering, I think it’s high time I posted some practical information on this blog. So I’m starting a regular column called “For All Practical Purposes,” which will focus on practical issues related to relocation and making a new home in major global cities.
First up: Premier Banking Accounts.
While interviewing a few of my friends, it came to my attention that life could be so much easier on the move if you have a premier banking account.
To put it simply, this is a personal banking account that is global in nature – that allows you to access and manage your money from anywhere in the world. So say you spend a lot of your time in Singapore, London and New York, you can open Premier Accounts in all three cities that would essentially be the same account… to put it simply.
Of course, this won’t come cheap. Generally, you are required to put a significant amount of money – say 100,000 USD – into a fixed deposit with the bank in one of the cities you are in, which will then qualify you to open Premier Accounts in that city and any other city you spend your time in, and in which the bank has a presence.
If you can afford it, however, the practical benefits of having a premier banking account are tremendous, including:
– Easy opening and management of bank accounts across cities. One of the biggest frustrations when you relocate to another country is opening a new bank account and managing funds spread across bank accounts in the home and destination city/ies. Premier Banking allows you to manage all your accounts remotely, allowing for easy transfer of funds and monitoring of investments wherever you are. Also, a bank account in the destination city can be arranged before you arrive in the destination city (with you receiving your debit / credit cards, checkbooks and so on before you even get on the plane), such that you can hit the ground running.
– Speedy support for even the most basic banking services. You will have your own dedicated relationship manager in each city where you have an account, a scarily efficient banking hotline, and priority service in branches of your bank. If you’re particularly bad at doing even the simplest things (like me), it is a delight to speak to someone in person or over the phone who would not treat you like an idiot while helping you very speedily with your request.
– Credit transfer from your home country to your destination country (a minimum level of credit only, depending on which is your home city). This can be particularly useful in the UK or the USA where even the simplest administrative tasks like up a mobile phone plan requires a credit check.
Clearly, this is just the tip of the iceberg where benefits are concerned, and it’s best to check out the full details with the Bank that you choose. While a few major global banks offer premier banking services (Citibank has its Citigold service, for example), I stand firmly by HSBC for their truly global reach and quality customer service.
The table below provides the minimum deposit for opening an HSBC Premier Banking Account in 13 countries, converted into USD for purposes of comparison only. Please note that eligibility criteria vary significantly across the cities / regions, and that in most cases, a minimum deposit is just one of a few options to qualify for Premier Banking. It is best to check out the relevant website [google “HSBC Premier” + (country)] for the full details wherever you are based.
Table 1 – Minimum deposits for HSBC Premier Banking in 13 countries
|City||Minimum Deposit||In USD|
|Hong Kong||HKD 1,000,000||130,000|
|China (Mainland)||RMB 500,000||78,500|
|S. Africa (Offshore)||GBP 60,000||96,000|