Thursday, April 05, 2007

Opening an account in KL for expats like us is tedious =(

One of the most important things to do when moving to Malaysia is to consider your bank accounts. It was hard going around buying grocery and big Ikea stuff while paying in cash. That means you have to be cash-rich all the time and risk the danger of losing that money in case something happens. So when coming here, consider opening an account soon and getting hold of that all-important credit card!!!

We were lucky we had trips back and forth Manila-Singapore-KL before we actually settled in. So I was able to get some advance work done, which you might want to consider doing.

HSBC is definitely our TOP choice and recommendation. They are professional and indeed things moved on (not quickly) but at least it got processed professionally.

First thing to do: if you have HSBC accounts in your home country, you will need some pre-work.

My hubby had a Premiere HSBC account
& HSBC credit card in France . I had a gold credit card in HSBC Philippines. We both contacted our local HSBC and requested a "letter of introduction". Those letters were sent to the HSBC contact in Malaysia (they have a center where they collect all international correspondence). It is called the International Banking Center. Details below for your reference:

International Banking Centre
Kuala Lumpur Main Office
HSBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad
No 2, Lebuh Ampang
50100 Kuala Lumpur
00 603 2270 3688

Plus when I was in Manila, I went to HSBC office to have my documents photocopied and stamped as "photocopied from original" which is certified by an officer in HSBC Manila. That means they are assured that my passport, etc papers were real.

You can download all the documents you need to fill up at HSBC Malaysia online. That means fill up the papers needed for CREDIT CARD, as well as opening for a checking / savings account. All those papers filled up, partnered with the stamped "original documents" were mailed to HSBC Malaysia ahead so that our stuff can be processed prior to moving.

We opened our Power Vantage account in HSBC Damansara Heights branch. It was a breeze. All our documents were already there at the branch, simply because we chose that as our branch (you can specify that online). After opening that checking account, we wired some money through our Citibank Singapore to HSBC. Now you have cash in Malaysia!

Overall, it was a good experience with HSBC. Though our credit card came 1 month after (that means when we moved in Dec 18 '06, we got our credit card around Jan 20 '07). So you better plan ahead. We had to purchase some stuff using check (like new sofa set which was around RM3,800-) and also bought a new 37" TV using our Singapore credit card which was more than RM4,000++.

Well, what prompted me to write about this today is because I went to Citibank this morning. I planned to open a simple savings account, because I need a Citibank account for my coming payroll. That's right!!!! My payroll !!! I finally found a job and I will reveal more in the coming days ... because actually they are still processing my employment pass. Would you believe it will take at least (meaning it can be more than) 2 months!!! That means I start working around JUNE 2007. Oh well, time to take that vacation before I start working again. So for the spouse out there who are on dependent pass -- it is NOT impossible to find a job ... you just gotta know where to look.

Anyway, back to my account opening at Citibank, which didn't happen. For those on a dependent pass : IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO OPEN AN ACCOUNT without the principal (which is my hubby). And to top it off, for savings account, the locals only need to deposit RM20.00 as maintaining balance. Guess how much is my required maintaining balance (or else you will get penalty charges). Guess?????????

RM 5,000.00 needed to just open a simple savings account in Citibank! Wow... That was nowhere mentioned on their Citibank online Malaysia.

We really need to live with these rules around here. But honestly, despite all that downside and complaints I've had (or if you heard some from others), Malaysia is a nice place to stay. I am loving it everyday ... as I gain new friends, drive to new places and most especially with the anticipation of my new job.
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