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What is a currency account?

Currency accounts are a way to store, send and receive multiple currencies.

They can be useful if you regularly make payments, or receive money, in other currencies. So, something like the HSBC Currency Account could suit you if you:

  • travel a lot
  • have a mortgage outside the UK
  • regularly earn money outside the UK
  • are planning to retire outside the UK

But before jumping in, it’s worth looking at some of the benefits and things to think about.

The benefits

Cost-effective way to move money internationally

With currency accounts, you can move money from one currency to another, reducing your conversion fees. You can also use currency accounts to buy things outside the UK and save on international transaction fees.

Fast and flexible

If you have more than one currency account, you may be able to transfer instantly between them. 

If you track exchange rates, you can move money straight away when you feel the rates are favourable. This can also come in handy if you need to make an urgent international payment.

Secure, no matter what the currency

If your currency account is with an authorised UK bank, it will be protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme:

  • up to £85,000 per eligible person, per bank
  • up to £170,000 for joint accounts

Things to think about

Are all your currencies covered?

A currency account won’t cover all currencies. When looking at providers, make sure the currencies you need are included. Your needs could change over time, so it may be worth looking for a provider with a wide range of currencies.

What are the fees and conditions?

Some currency accounts may charge monthly account fees, or payment fees when you make transfers. It may help to avoid these if you can, as they can stack up.

You may also find with some currency accounts, you have to keep a minimum amount in each currency, otherwise you may be charged extra fees. However, an HSBC Currency Account has no minimum amount.

Does the account meet your needs?

Currency accounts may not include all the features you’d expect from a bank account. For example, an HSBC Currency Account doesn’t come with:

  • a debit card
  • a cheque book
  • an overdraft facility
  • a linked lending facility

Who is eligible?

There may be conditions around who can apply for a currency account. For example, if you’re opening an HSBC Currency Account, you’ll need to be:

  • applying for a sole account
  • 18 years old, or older
  • an existing HSBC customer (your HSBC account must be active and this excludes Basic Bank Account holders, as well as first direct and M&S Bank customers)

What next?

If you feel a currency account may be useful, make a list of exactly what it is you’re looking for. It could be:

  • a particular currency
  • no fees
  • the ability to transfer between currencies instantly

Or, it could be all of the above.

Once you have that list, take a look at the different types of currency accounts to find one that will meet your needs.