Basics of banking in Hong Kong



To open any kind of account in the country, you require a valid Hong Kong identity card. In case you are opening a joint bank account then both parties must be present with identity cards. Additional document requirements depend on the individual bank's policies but usually include a passport and sponsor's letter of employment and proof of your Hong Kong address, such as a utility bill. If you are an American opening an account with an American bank, your social security number is additionally required to report income interest to the US Internal Revenue Service. The initial deposit amount also varies from bank to bank but is usually around $1,000.

Bank accounts

Banks in Hong Kong offer customers the ability to open current (checking), savings and multi-currency accounts. Bank charges differ so do shop around before opening an account with a particular bank. Banks usually charge customers for closing an account within three months of opening it, inactivity for a year with less than $2,000 in it (charged every six months) and telegraphic transfer (outward remittances). Watch out, there are credit card plans that are free to join but later begin charging you (without notice) after the first year as well as ‘relationship banking' plans that impose hefty charges should your balance drop below a fixed level.

There is a popular service called PPS, which allows automatic payments from your bank account to more than 150 merchants through phone or internet.

Online banking and telephone banking are quite popular in Hong Kong. Normal banking hours are from 9:00 am and 4:30 pm (Monday to Friday) and from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm (Saturdays); ATMs are available at all times. Avoid going to the bank at lunchtime unless you have a lot of time to queue.

Currency Exchange

Money changers in Hong Kong charge hefty commissions, so shop around for competitive rates. The Hong Kong Tourism Board recommends First International Resources and Shop 12 as money changers. However, banks offer their account holders commission-free exchange. 


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Cash Withdrawals

Except for HSBC, all banks offer ATM service through the Jetco system which American Express cardholders can also use to withdraw cash and travellers’ cheques at Express Cash ATMs. MasterCard and Visa holders can withdraw money from HSBC ATMs. It is not possible to withdraw foreign currency from ATMs.

Credit & Debit Cards

When you go shopping in Hong Kong, an EPS card works like a debit card; chain stores, supermarkets and department stores accept EPS cards, but restaurants, small shops and travel companies often do not.

Most large retailers and restaurants accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards. To obtain a credit card in Hong Kong all you need is a good credit record and a regular salary. Credit cards offered by major banks usually attract a very low rate of interest, annual fee waivers and free gifts. Many credit cards are linked with other bonus point schemes such as ‘Asia Miles' or offer discounts on major Hong Kong brands.



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Banking Guide