HSBC is a full service, worldwide bank with several brick and mortar branch locations nearby as well as a personal internet banking service. To me, that brick and mortar reality is a sense of security that I can get ahold of real human being anytime I'm having a problem with my bank account.
After comparing the different features, fees, and interest rates, I decided to open an online savings account with HSBC. Currently, HSBC is paying 3.50% on new deposits into an online savings account through August, 2008 as a promotion, and is still paying 3.00% as their regular online savings rate right now. I only needed $1 to open an online savings account with HSBC, and there is no monthly service charge for this account.
Well, I like my proof in the pudding whenever I'm evaluating some new-fangled product that sounds too good to be true, so I only approved a transfer of $1 from my checking account to open up an HSBC online savings account back in May of 2006. It took about two weeks for the account to open because similar to PayPal, I had to confirm two tiny cents deposits made by HSBC into my checking account. That's a bit of a hassle, but that's the price I pay for using a small community bank for my checking account instead of a larger, national bank. By the third week, I received all of my new account information from HSBC in the mail, including an ATM card for immediate cash withdrawals.
*Tongue in cheek* I can't say that I've ever used the ATM card because the whole point of opening the online savings account was to save my money in a place where I couldn't access it easily to spend it at the mall, but could access it easily in case of emergency. This account also comes with a free online bill pay service that I haven't used either because I use my checking account for my bill pay service. For an online savings account with HSBC, there is no fee for bank to bank transfers, and you can make an unlimited number of deposits each month. But there is a limit to how many transfers can be made out of your HSBC online savings account within a month; I believe 6 withdrawals is the limit, but don't quote me on that because I can't find that little detail at the moment. It takes 3 business days for a bank to bank transfer to be completed.
Customer service from HSBC has been very good. Soon after I opened my online savings account with HSBC in May of 2006, they updated and upgraded their online banking security protocols, and I found myself locked out of my online savings account. I made a phone call to their Customer's Relations department using their toll-free number and I worked with the computer techs directly while they walked me through step-by-step to regain password access to my online savings account. And I have never had any other problems with my HSBC online savings account since.