These days, the world is a pretty small place, so there are lots of reasons you might need to send money abroad. Whether you're transferring just a small amount to repay a friend based overseas, or you work outside of Hong Kong and are sending your entire salary home, it pays to know a little about how international money transfers work.
How HSBC processes your international transfer depends a bit on the account you hold with them, but also on where your cash is headed. Because the timescales - and costs - involved in moving money abroad are often quite hard to calculate, it’s a good plan to do some research in advance so there are no surprises. It’s likely that, instead of HSBC, you could actually save a bit of money by using a money transfer provider like TransferWise. But more on that later.
A quick example before we get started.
A theoretical online transfer sending HK$10,000 from Hong Kong to a pound sterling bank account in the UK.
At first glance, it looks like sending money through HSBC is cheaper, but that’s before you take into consideration a likely exchange rate markup and the fees from intermediary and recipient banks. On average, banks often markup an exchange rate by 4-6% to make money on converting your currency. Which means it’s a good idea to compare the exchange rate you’re offered with an online currency converter to find out how much your international transfer is really costing you.
In addition, nearly all transfers sent internationally are sent via SWIFT. Which means there are likely 1-3 intermediary banks as well as the recipient bank that may levy fees of their own. Costing you even more.
|Provider||Fee||Exchange Rate||Total Cost|
|HSBC (Hong Kong)||$115||Exchange rate + markup||$115 + exchange rate markup + likely fees from intermediary and recipient banks|
|TransferWise||$68.68 + $196.08 debit/credit card fee||The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google||$264.76|
Now that you have a general idea of how much it truly costs, here’s all you need to know about making an international transfer - also known as a telegraphic transfer - with HSBC Hong Kong.
Some premium bank accounts from HSBC Hong Kong have slightly different terms and conditions when it comes to international money transfers. This could mean that the fees are different and the amount of time it takes to arrange a transfer might also vary. Check out the details for your specific account, too.
Before you start, it’s a good plan to understand the fees involved when making an international transfer with HSBC Hong Kong.
|HSBC Bank Transaction||Regular Fee|
|Incoming international transfer||Up to HK$250 depending on the circumstance of the transfer|
|Outgoing international transfer||HK$100 to HSBC branches in mainland China, any other transfers made online cost HK$115HK$240 for any international transfer made in a branch|
|Additional fees may apply||See additional fees section|
Don't forget that as well as any flat fees applied, you need to know if the exchange rate used is fair. HSBC Hong Kong has an online calculator where you can see their current exchange rate. However, as exchange rates move all the time, this could have changed slightly by the time the transfer is processed. The small print on the web page with the calculator specifies that it’s indicative only, and customers should check when they place their transfer.
Depending on where you’re sending money to, you might also find that it's not HSBC that sets the exchange rate for your transaction. It might be an intermediary or agent bank that chooses the exchange rate that's applied. Unfortunately, where intermediary banks choose the rate to be used, they generally don’t offer a great deal. To make sure they make a profit, intermediaries can mark up the exchange rate, and keep the difference. This means that the rate that’s actually used may vary quite a bit from the exchange rate offered on Google. Check if your chosen currency is affected before you commit.
|International transfers with HSBC Hong Kong||Additional fees|
|Intermediary/overseas bank fees||In the general terms and conditions documents available online, HSBC clarifies,* “*beside the outward telegraphic transfer charges levied by HSBC, there are other overseas/other bank charges involved*.”*|
|Recipient fee||HSBC explains: “*At the recipient bank's discretion, charges may be collected on the beneficiary account and deducted from the transfer amount. Please check with the recipient bank for more details*.”|
|Sending an international transfer to an account held in a name using Chinese characters||There’s an additional fee of HK$150 if the account you’re transferring to has Chinese characters in the name|
|Amendments, cancellation, enquiry or return of a transfer once processed||HK$250 plus any charges levied by the other bank or banks involved in the transaction|
|Submitting a transfer request by fax||Additional charge of HK$150 on top of the regular costs|
|Transfer returned due to lack of funds||Additional charge of HK$150|
If you want a different way to send or receive money from abroad, TransferWise might be just the fit for you. As specialists in international money transfers, TransferWise lets you move your money quickly and safely, using the real exchange rate and with only a small transparent cost per transaction.
If you need to move money internationally often - because you live or work overseas for example -you might also benefit from a TransferWise borderless multi-currency account.
With a borderless account, you can hold your money in different currencies, and move it around the world at the touch of a button. You can convert money using the real exchange rate - the one you’d find on Google - when you need it the most. And if you get paid in the EU, the UK, Australia or the US but live elsewhere, a borderless account will let you get paid locally using local bank details - cutting out international transfers entirely. Even better, there are no intermediary banks involved, so no extra fees to worry about.
See for yourself if you can get a better deal with TransferWise.
HSBC Hong Kong allows customers to make international money transfers online, by visiting a branch, or by phone if you prefer.
To send money through an international bank transfer, you're going to need a few key details. These might vary a little depending on where your money is going, but you can expect to be asked for the following:
- The transfer amount
- The full name of the person you’re sending the money to and their address
- The recipient’s IBAN if available or account number and branch details if not
- The SWIFT/BIC code, or routing number if you’re transferring to the USA
- The reason for transfer, if you’re sending RMB
If you’re sending money in RMB, it’s a legal requirement to specify why you’re doing so, using one of the accepted codes. You’ll be asked to submit this information when you place your transaction.
(Source 23 January 2018)
What do I need or what should I give to the sender in order to receive an international bank transfer?
You’ll need to give the sender the following to receive an international money transfer with HSBC:
- Your full name and address
- Your bank account number
- Your bank’s SWIFT/BIC code
- Your bank’s address
- The amount being transferred - and the currency to be used. Don’t forget to take into account any charges you’re liable for.
You can use this helpful tool to find, or check your SWIFT/BIC code.
How long it takes to process an international transfer depends on where your money is going, and whether it’s a transfer to another HSBC account held in a different country. For some customers with premium accounts who are transferring to their own HSBC accounts held overseas, a transfer can be made almost instantly. However, for all other transfers, you can expect a delay of a few days.
It’s also important to understand that HSBC processes international transfers throughout the working day, which means the cutoff time for payments is 5:55 pm on weekdays and 11:55 am on a Saturday, with no transfers taking place on a Sunday. If you’re making a transfer in RMB the cut off times are different, and no transfers are initiated on a Saturday, so it’s worth checking when your payment will be processed.
(Source 23 January 2018)
The bank doesn’t offer a way to speed up payments.
If you have specific questions about your transfer, there are several different ways you can talk to the advisors at HSBC Hong Kong:
- Log in to online banking for frequently asked questions
- Request an appointment at your local branch, through the online booking system, or use HSBC Hong Kong branch finder to get help in person
- HSBC Premier customers can call (852) 2233 3322, HSBC Advance customers can call (852) 2748 8333, and other customers should call (852) 2233 3000
Making international money transfers is part of everyday life for many people. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it’s always cheap or straightforward. Common pitfalls and hidden fees can make it expensive and lead to nasty surprises. So, wherever you’re transferring your money to, it’s smart to do your research in advance, to make sure you get the best deal for your situation.
|This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.|