Where to change money in Hong Kong

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If you are visiting Hong Kong you’ll probably need to exchange currency at some point. I've listed several options below, but in most cases simply withdrawing money from a local ATM is the easiest way to go.

Let’s assume you are visiting from the UK, and you have brought GBP300 in cash that you want to change to HK$ (I’ll just use ‘$’ from here on). You visit a currency converter site like http://www.xe.com and find they quote 1.00 GBP = 14.43 HKD. That’s what they call a ‘mid-market rate’, an average value but one you won’t get in practice. Still it gives us an idea that for GBP300 at most we can get is $4,329.

The easiest place to change money is probably your hotel. They will typically charge around 7% commission, so you could expect to get $4,026 in return for your GBP300. Hotel rates are generally on the low side though, so don’t change money there unless you absolutely have to – the same goes for Airport money changers.

If you stayed at one of the hotels on Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, the closest money changers are a little way along Haiphong Road. (Money changers are usually easy to find in Hong Kong with their big ‘CHANGE’ signs) There the quoted rate was $13.8 with no commissions, so you’d get $4,140, an immediate improvement on the Hotel rate.

What if you’d turned the other way when you came out of your hotel, and walked to the money changers in Peking Rd? The worst rate on offer there is $12.38, so you’d receive just $3,714. Ouch. (They are also a bit tricky when quoting the rate for USD at HK$7.078. HK$7.78 would be a very good rate – but they hope you don’t notice the extra ‘0’ they slipped in, shaving around 10% off the money you’ll receive!)

Walk a bit further and you’ll come to Hankow Road, which has a branch of the Hang Seng Bank. Their rate is a good $14.284, but they also charge a $50 commission if you aren’t a customer. The end result is you’d get $4,235.20, the best yet.

Over at 58 Nathan Road, the Mirador Mansion has several money changers. The ones facing Nathan Road offer poor rates, but if you step into the ground-floor shopping arcade, you’ll find Shere Punjab Exchange (HK) Ltd, tucked out of sight from the main road. They offered the best rate of $14.38, giving you $4,314. It’s hard to see how they make money, but it’s a great deal.

Another option is to use your debit card at a Hong Kong ATM to withdraw Hong Kong dollars directly from your home bank’s account. When I use my bank's card overseas, the effective commission on GBP300 is around 1%. Their rate is very close to the mid-market rate, but there is a $30 charge per withdrawal, so it's best to make a few large withdrawals instead of many small withdrawals.

Check with your home bank to make sure their rates are fair before using this approach. Also note that withdrawing money from an ATM using Visa or Mastercard will be more expensive, as they treat it as a ‘cash-advance’ and start charging you interest on it immediately.

Summary:

  • Don’t change money at the airport or the hotel unless you bsolutely have to.
  • For most people, using your debit card to withdraw money from an ATM gives the best combination of convenience and value.
  • Changing cash at a local bank is a good alternative, especially if your home bank has high charges for withdrawing cash from an overseas ATM.
  • If you prefer to use a money changer, make sure you know what the bank’s rates are so you can tell if the money changer’s rate is fair or not. Usually the changers on the main streets will offer the worst rates, so try in shopping arcades or side streets.
GBP 1 buys: GBP 300 buys:  Effective
commission
Mid-market Rate $14.43 $4,329
Haiphong Rd  $13.80 $4,140 4.40%
Ashley Road $12.38 $3,714 14.30%
Hang Seng Bank $14.28 * $4,284 1.10%
Withdraw from ATM $14.40 * $4,292 0.90%
Shere Punjab Exchange $14.38 $4,314 0.35%

* - Value after applying conversion rate and deducting bank charges.

Comments

hk dollar

this was good info. I got 7.1 at the airport TRAVELEX money changer. But the Indian money changers gave a good deal. And yes I noticed some of them tried the 7.08xx trick. Dyslexia can hit you in the pocket too.

HKD conversion

very good article. it helped me a lot. the directions are very clear and concise. summary and table also helps. thanks!

Bank Of American customers

Bank Of American customers can use China Construction Bank ATMs free of charge.

Currency Exchange

I am not aware of any major bank in Canada posts their exchange rates. Money exchange shops do post their rates buying and selling.
The teller at one bank told me because the rate changes continuously from minute to minute, she can not give me a firm quote. Within seconds after she has read off the quote shown on her monitor, I told her to proceed. Next, she re-entered the information and surprisingly, the rate came out about 50 cents more per $100 USD purchase.
A few weeks later, the scneario repeated itself and I was again disappointed.
On my third visit to this same bank, this time, the teller gave me a rough estimate without checking her monitor. She said she needed my Canadian dollars first before she could work on her computer. Like a silly fool, I gave her $300 CDN and next she worked on her computer, then told me the rate. This rate quoted was about 90 cents more than another bank I just visited for buying $300 USD. I told the teller her rate was higher and if I decided to proceed, I was afraid she would re-enter the enquiry and came back with a even higher rate. I was standing there one big unhappy and unsatisfied customer.
Another co-worker came over to give her a hand, they played with the computer screen for a minute of so, and returned to me saying they could give me a rate VERY CLOST TO the other bank I just visited minutes earlier.
The point I want to make is that if I am told one rate, I should be getting that rate within seconds after I am informed.
Secondly, why is it they can find a better rate why I protest?

You can try in Money Changer,

You can try in Money Changer, not in Airport. Dont do in Hotel. If u change in Banks, they charge u commison. Try Money Changer like Reliance Exchange in Wanchai. They offer better rate than others do around that place. Address: Room 2C 2/F King Tao Building, 94-100 Lockhart Rd, Wanchai. Tel No. 2527-2770. They do have Moneygram service too if incase u r receiving money from abroad. Hope this helps.

Bank of China, the best!

Bank of China gives you the best exchange rate AND they don't charge commission! The rate I got a couple of days ago was US$1 = HK$7.74 which I'm confident no one else will give you because I spent like 2 hours trying to get better rates. Try them yourself! This will definitely help.

HK$ to US$

Given the US peg, I would be much more impressed if they were still giving GBP15 to HK1 :-)

thanks for the infor.

thanks for the infor.