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What is a student's banking needs for overseas education?

If you are considering studying abroad, you'll need to think about how you'll manage your finances. Choosing the correct overseas bank account is essential because understanding different types of bank accounts and using credit cards wisely is part of the process. Banking overseas could be different from what you are used to in Malaysia, and each of you will have different needs.

Being a student overseas, you may need to send and receive money transfers internationally and locally. For example, a scholarship may be deposited directly into your local account, while your tuition fees may be directly debited from your account. Your parents could also transfer funds into your account electronically without going to a local bank branch.

Additionally, having a local bank account allows you:

  • To receive foreign currency support
  • To pay your bills securely, with no added charges
  • To create a good local credit history
  • To view your account balances and transactions
  • To directly deposit your salary if you're working part-time
  • To manage your credit card payments

If you've already arrived at your destination, this helpful checklist for settling in will make it smoother and easier for you to start your life as an international student.

You will need a local banking account

Getting by in some countries without a local bank account is not easy, so save yourself all that hassle. For example, in the UK, you're usually required to have a bank account to apply for a mobile phone contract and pay your utility bills. You will also need to have an account for your employer to deposit your salary.

Are you moving to the US or Canada? Having a bank account will make it much easier to manage your finances. You can do nearly all of your day-to-day banking, including paying your bills, from a chequing account. In addition, any scholarships or financial aids will most likely come as a cheque or directly deposited into your account.

Choosing the right bank and account

There are bank accounts specially tailored for students and graduates that come with incentives such as cash rewards, welcome deposits, railcards, and no maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements.

What's even better is a bank account that helps you with your student visa! The HSBC International Student Program in Canada provides you with a chequing account and a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) to help pay your daily living expenses. Doing it this way fast-tracks the visa requirements of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's Student Direct Stream (SDS).

On top of the incentives, you'll also want to consider ATM fees both at home and abroad, how good the online and mobile banking tools are (can banking be done on the go?), and whether you believe you need overdraft protection as well as a credit card.

It would help if you had overdraft protection

Having an overdraft means you can spend more than what's in your account. Pre-arrange this with your bank, and it can be a helpful way of borrowing money.

While you can borrow what you need, the interest rates are likely higher than other borrowing options. In addition, exceeding your arranged overdraft limit affects your ability to get future credit. Therefore, to avoid being charged any interest, it is essential to check if your student and graduate account overdrafts are interest-free.

However, instead of relying on overdrafts, perhaps it's better to create and maintain a tight budget so you can control your spending habits.

Will you need a credit card?

A credit card is an excellent short-term borrowing option if you don't have the cash but need to buy something now. If you pay the credit card bill in full, there are no interest charges.

The advantages:

You can build up your credit score by borrowing wisely with your credit card, and financiers will be more inclined to approve your more significant borrowings in the future. Make sure you pay off your card in full instead of just paying the minimum every billing cycle.

Other benefits can include payment protection plans when you spend over your limit. The Consumer Protection Act states that both the credit provider and the retailer are equally liable for your purchases in the UK. If you feel short-changed, then you should be entitled to a refund.

In summary, credit cards are more secure than cash, with many of them offering attractive spending rewards. In addition, it will be easier for you to manage spending habits with banking statements that itemise your transactions and avoid overspending by setting credit limits.

The disadvantages:

If you do not manage your credit card spending well, you could fall into unnecessary debt. In addition, paying only the minimum amount each billing cycle prolongs the debt while adding interest to your loan.

Likewise, cash advances may seem like quick and easy money to get but bear in mind that you'll incur interest the moment you borrow. There might be a high rate involved and other service fees, too. In addition, some cards may charge a fee if you go over your credit limit, use your card overseas or make a late payment.

Moving money to your student account

International bank transfers can often be slow and expensive. But with HSBC Global View and Global Transfers (GVGT), it's seamless, easy and best of all, free. Yes, HSBC Premier lets you make instant transfers worldwide from Malaysia to other eligible HSBC accounts with zero fee.1

You can also view and manage all of your eligible worldwide HSBC accounts online with GVGT so that you can manage your finances better at home and abroad.

Get your banking needs organised with HSBC Premier before you leave to study abroad. You won't have to worry about overseas transactions, withdrawal fees, or banking in multiple currencies. HSBC Premier can help you open an overseas account in2 more than 30 countries worldwide.

Ready to open an HSBC Premier account?

New to HSBC Premier

To meet either one of the Premier criteria below:

  • Maintain a Total Relationship Balance (TRB)3 with us of RM200,000 or more at all times
  • Have a minimum home loan of RM1,000,000 with your Premier Mortgage4

Existing to HSBC Premier

Ready to open an overseas account? Book an appointment and we'll guide you through the process.

Leave your details

For more information, call us on 1300 88 9393 (local) or +603 8321 5222 (overseas).

Important notes

1HSBC Premier and HSBC Advance customers only. Instant foreign currency to foreign currency exchange transfer is available 24 hours 7 days. Transfer involving Ringgit Malaysia is from Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm. If you perform any transfer outside those hours, the actual amount to be debited will be based on the next business day's exchange rate.

2Subject to host country/region's approval.

3Total Relationship Balance (TRB) includes any: Deposits in Current Account/-i, Savings Account/-i, Time Deposits, Term Deposits-i, and/or Investments in Unit Trust funds/Shariah-compliant Unit Trust funds, Structured Investments/-i, Dual Currency Investments/-i and/or Direct Retail bond, and/or Cash value from Family Takaful/Life Insurance products with investment-linked and savings components.

4Account Fee waiver until full and final settlement of home financing.

5Account fee waiver as long as you fulfil the qualification criteria.