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Banking, Money & Costs

Hong Kong (City) - Banking, Money & Costs

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Hong Kong has one of the highest concentrations of banking institutions in the world. 68 of the largest 100 international banks operate in Hong Kong, and as of 2007, 21 foreign banks have gained incorporation status. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) regulates the banking and financial services industry.

The Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) is a separate currency from the Chinese RMB. Since 2004, banks are allowed to conduct RMB business for individuals in Hong Kong.

Banks in Hong Kong provide a range of account services. Savings accounts can be opened in US dollars, RMB or in Hong Kong dollars. You can also request your savings account to be linked to a current (check) account. Credit card and debit card services can also be linked to a savings/current account.

The requirements for opening a bank account in Hong Kong will vary from bank to bank. You do not need to be a Hong Kong resident to open a bank account in Hong Kong, but most banks will ask for your Hong Kong Identification Card or international passport (whichever is applicable), and proof of Hong Kong residential address, or address in your home country. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank is one of the easiest banks to open an account. The staff speak English, and all they require is your passport, employment contract and an initial deposit of HK$1,000.

Most banks are open Monday to Friday: 9am to 4pm and Saturday: 9am to 11am. Banks are closed on Sunday. ATM services are available 24 hours throughout the city.

Click here for a useful website with downloadable information (in pdf format) – on banking in Hong Kong. There is useful advice on what to do if you have a complaint about banking services, and an electronic investor resources centre eIRC that is maintained by the Securities and Futures Commission to help retail investors learn about investments.

When dealing with large amount of cash, do note that counterfeit notes are a problem, so examine large denomination notes when given to you as change from street vendors.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are readily accepted in Hong Kong, with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and JCB, in order of usage and acceptance throughout Hong Kong. When signing your credit card receipts, it is a good habit to write "HK" in front of the dollar sign, if it is not specified in the receipt.

Some shops, in a bid to circumvent the commission charged by credit card companies, may offer you a small discount to entice you to pay cash rather than use your credit card facility. In some cases, some shops try to add a small surcharge (ranging from 2% to 7%) for the use of credit cards.

If you intend to stay in Hong Kong for a long time, it is a good idea to have a local credit facility. With the wide range of banks operating in Hong Kong, there is usually a good range of credit cards to choose from, each offering special discounts, gifts and promotions. Do ask and shop around before getting one. Sometimes, when you are opening a bank account, the officer may ask if you require a credit card facility. To apply for a credit card account, you will need to show proof of your salary (salary statements), Hong Kong address and Hong Kong ID. Banks in Hong Kong issue a range of credit cards, depending on your credentials.

Paying your bills

To pay for your household bills, most Hong Kong residents arrange for the bills to be paid through the banks via online transfers or telephone banking. For this purpose, the utility companies and the Hong Kong government have bank accounts that you can transfer money into. It is not difficult to set up online transfers and telephone banking for bill payment. Contact your bank for more details. The process usually takes a week.

Another popular way to pay bills is via PPS. PPS is a 24-hour, free-of-charge bill payment service that allows customers to conveniently pay bills via telephone or the internet. To open a PPS account, you will need an ATM or credit card, and a Hong Kong registered mobile phone number. You can register at any PPS registration terminal. To locate a PPS registration point, you can refer to this link. PPS accounts that are not active for more than 18 months are terminated. For more information about PPS, visit the website at www.ppshk.com. The PPS hotline is 2311 9876.

Another cashless way of payment is by the local Octopus card. The Octopus card is a stored-value card that is widely used for public transport, but can also be used for small purchases at convenience stores and some cafes. Octopus cards do not require any identification at the point of purchase. Some people like the anonymity the Octopus card offers, but this also means that there is little or no way of recovering back any credit you might have in the card, should you decide to leave Hong Kong, or lose the card. A maximum credit balance of HKD$1,000 is possible, and a HKD$50 deposit is required.

Costs of Living

Hong Kong consistently ranks in the top 10 as one of the most expensive cities to live in. Rent is by far, the largest expense, followed closely by education for expatriate families. See this guide's section on Education for more details.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

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