Financial Literacy for Everyone

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Finding the Right Financial Institution

Choosing the right bank is an important step. As with any financial decision, it is important to figure out what you want and need beforehand. There are countless banks to consider, and residents in Hong Kong can also bank in Renminbi, as the city is a major offshore center for the currency of Mainland China. Here are a few things to consider before you open an account:

  • Location. Does the financial institution have branches in the areas where you work and live?
  • Availability of ATMs. The ATMs owned by your bank won't charge you to withdraw cash locally, but other banks' ATMs may. Does the financial institution have machines in locations that are convenient for you?
  • Hours. Do you work during the day? Perhaps you need a financial institution with extended hours. Some are even open on Sundays.
  • Customer service. Do their customer service offerings fit your needs?
  • Online banking. The Internet has made it very convenient to keep track of your finances online. Find out if the institution you are considering provides online access to your account.

Other Benefits
These days, banks are more than just places to keep your money. Many serve as one-stop financial service shops. In addition to checking and savings accounts, as well as credit cards, here are some services and products offered by most financial institutions:

  • Lines of credit
  • Personal, business and car loans
  • Mortgages
  • Online or mobile banking
  • Automatic bill pay
  • International banking
  • Financial planning
  • Investment management
  • Health, home and car insurance
  • Retirement programs

Having all of these services in one place can provide not only convenience, but also savings. Many financial institutions will offer lower fees and higher interest to customers who use multiple services and products.

Integrated bank accounts
As banks widen the range of financial services they provide to customers, many now offer integrated bank accounts. An integrated account groups together the different types of accounts that a customer may have, including savings accounts, checking accounts, foreign currency accounts, investment accounts and credit cards, and allows assets to be transferred between them more conveniently.

Banks typically offer different tiers of integrated accounts, affording increased privileges such as higher deposit rates, lower fees and shorter waiting times for customers who maintain bigger overall balances in their accounts.

Additional Bank Fees
Pay close attention to the additional fees that a bank may charge. The charges are generally small, but they add up. Here are some of the most common fees:

  • Account Fees for Insufficient Balance. For some accounts, banks may levy a fee when the average balance falls below a minimum threshold over the period of a month.
  • ATM Fees. If you withdraw cash locally from an ATM owned by a bank other than your own, your bank could charge you (for a withdrawal outside the system).
  • Overdraft Fees. These are fees banks charge customers who withdraw money locally from an ATM or make a debit card purchase that exceeds the balance in their account.

Contact your bank for more details about fees and charges

Hong Kong – a center of offshore Renminbi banking
As more companies in Hong Kong do business in Mainland China, it is increasingly common for them to transact in Renminbi. The amount of Renminbi in circulation in Hong Kong is also growing rapidly as the city attracts more Chinese tourists. Banks in Hong Kong now offer a wide array of services in Renminbi to allow businesses and consumers to use the Chinese currency for deposits, settle payments and buy investment products. This makes Hong Kong one of the leading international centers for offshore Renminbi banking, as the Chinese government continues to limit the convertibility of the currency. Here are some Renminbi financial services offered by banks in Hong Kong:

  • Savings accounts
  • Current accounts
  • Time deposits
  • Investments
  • Insurance