Wednesday, June 3, 2009

HSBC has stupid account dormancy rules

Back when I first started testing the waters of online savings accounts, HSBC had one of the better rates out there. That, combined with their numerous access methods (including online bill payment and no-fee ATM access at BMO/HSBC machines) made them a strong choice for parking the lion's share of my Emergency Fund. For over a year now, I've basically kept just over $1,000 of my savings in my HSBC account, on the basis of a decent (though far from stellar) interest rate and easy access to the cash.

Fast-forward to today, and HSBC is offering a whopping 1.05% rate on their Direct Savings account, and I decide that maybe I'll move a chunk of that cash over to Canadian Tire, where I can earn twice as much interest. So, I login to my HSBC account (as I have at least once a month for as long as I've had the account), enter the details to transfer money to my primary chequing account, and am met with an error message that they can not complete the transaction at this time.

Wait, what?

This account currently has a balance just over $1,040, and I'm able to login and view the account details to my heart's content. Why are they barring me from making a withdrawal?

A quick call to customer service brings to light that, if you have no debits on the account over a 12-month period, they flag the account as dormant, and you have to re-activate it by faxing them your signature and waiting 24 hours before you can complete a transaction.

Looks like HSBC will no longer be my Emergency Fund container of choice.

I'll keep $150 with them, and set up recurring transactions to churn $15 in and out once every six months to keep the account "active", but I'll be looking to put the bulk of my balance elsewhere.

I realize that $1,000 isn't exactly big potatoes, but my Emergency Fund is growing, and they had been my preferred savings institution. I was willing to overlook their low rate in favour of their access methods, but now they've driven me out the door.

Maybe CTFS will be happier to have me as a customer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just had a letter to the same effect from some insolent HSBC bureaucrat. I'm going to sack them too.