Like many foreign born individuals who come to the US to study and work, I\’ve had to address the requirement of financially helping my family still living overseas – in this case my mother.
I\’ve tried a variety of options ranging from wire transfers to using services like Xoom. Unfortunately these services all placed an unnecessary burden both on myself and the recipient. I wanted a long term solution.
Initially, I thought I had found this by obtaining a secondary card on one of my credit cards and sharing it with my mother. This was definitely convenient. However, there were foreign transaction fees incurred. Yes, I know Capital One doesn\’t charge these fees but they won\’t issue secondary cards to non-US persons defined as those not having a US social security number. While I took the hit of the fees and used this solution for two years, in the past year I\’ve had the secondary card compromised twice! Again, the banks are good about reimbursing you and investigating the fraud. However, the hassle is unbearable and in certain parts of the world no amount of precaution helps prevent your credit card from getting compromised.
So, after much research I\’ve come up with my new solution. It uses HSBC\’s Easy Send service. This is a nifty service that lets you have a separate account associated with a checking account. You can have them issue an ATM card to your family member to just access this separate account while keeping your other accounts isolated and secure. Next, whenever you want to provide your family members with money, you simply transfer money in to your Easy Send account. They don\’t have any transaction fees as long as you use an HSBC ATM.
I had a pre-existing relationship with HSBC in that I had an HSBCDirect Savings account. They\’ve consistently had the best rates (from the well-known banks) and I highly recommend their Savings account. But, to avail myself to the Easy Send service I had to open a Checking Account. I was concerned about incurring new fees, however, as long as I maintain a combined balance of $5000 all three accounts remained fee free. The image above shows your home screen when you log into to your HSBC account online. In my case, I see three accounts corresponding to my HSBC Savings, Checking and Easy Send Accounts.
I am now a huge fan of this solution. Not only have I removed my foreign transaction fee expenses (withdrawals made in a foreign country are done at the banks exchange rate for the day), but I\’ve also limited my exposure to fraud. Hopefully my experience will assist others facing similar issues.