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Using a credit card in Hong Kong
Credit cards are widely accepted in Hong Kong. Here's how you can avoid the fees that come with using plastic overseas.
When you travel in Hong Kong, you can use your credit and debit cards easily. While Mastercard and Visa are more popular than American Express, some merchants and ATMs will accept Amex cards.
ATMs in Hong Kong won’t charge you fees for cash withdrawals, so if you need some cash once you land, you can get it at the airport ATMs free of charge by using your debit card – just watch out for any fees charged by your Canadian bank.
- Foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards in Canada have foreign transaction fees of 2.5% to 3% of the transaction cost. This is charged whenever you swipe your card overseas. This means you’ll pay around $25 to $30 for every $1,000 spent. Fortunately, you can avoid this fee by choosing a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees.
- Currency conversion fees. When you pay with a credit card, the merchant may ask you if you want to pay in Canadian dollars or the local currency. Paying in Canadian dollars will result in a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) and has higher fees than if you pay in a local currency. You will also likely face a poor exchange rate as well as the currency conversion fee.
- Cash advance fees. Using your credit card to withdraw cash is expensive and should be avoided at all costs. Aside from paying a cash advance fee, you’ll also incur an immediate interest rate on the withdrawn amount – there is usually no grace period offered with cash advance transactions.
- ATM fees. ATMs in Hong Kong and China do not charge fees for withdrawing cash. However, you’ll want to watch out for any fees charged by your Canadian bank. Contact your bank before you leave to find out if they will charge you any fees for using your debit card to withdraw cash in Hong Kong.
Can I incur both currency conversion and foreign transaction fees on a single transaction?
Yes, you can – but you can easily avoid them both. You’ll need to get a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees and, when offered, decline paying in Canadian dollars and instead always pay in the local currency to avoid currency conversion fees.
You can also avoid cash advance fees by using your debit card to withdraw money from an ATM.
Avoid using your credit card in Hong Kong to access cash. You will likely incur both a cash advance fee and the cash advance interest rate, which is usually charged from the day you withdraw the funds – there is no grace period.
That said, exchanging Canadian or US dollars will also likely not get you the best exchange rate.
So, how should I access cash?
It’s best to use your debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs in Hong Kong. ATMs in Hong Kong don’t charge fees, however you’ll need to watch out for your bank in Canada charging a fee.
Do taxis in Hong Kong accept credit cards?
No, however you can use a rideshare such as Uber or Lyft and pay with your credit card through the app.
Chip-and-PIN credit cards
In Hong Kong, most credit cards are chip without a PIN cards. In some cases, if your PIN has four digits, you may need to add two zeros at the end for it to work.
American Express cards aren’t as widely accepted in Hong Kong as Mastercard and Visa, but some Amex cards, such as the Platinum Card, will get you access to the Centurion Lounge in Terminal 1 at Hong Kong International Airport. If you’re looking to withdraw cash with an Amex card, look for AEON Credit Service ATMs.
Yes, it’s safe to use your card in Hong Kong. For added security, always try to:
- Use an ATM inside a bank. In the unfortunate case that the ATM eats your card, you can quickly retrieve it. Also, the chances of someone tampering with the machine or snatching your funds are much lower.
- Take two credit cards. You never know what can happen, and a second card can give you peace of mind. If you lose your card, you’ll have a backup that you can use for the rest of your trip.
- Keep your card in sight. Card cloning is rare in Hong Kong, but you’ll still want to make sure you can always see your card when paying at restaurants or shops.
- Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. You can save yourself a lot of money by cutting out this per-transaction fee.
- Opt for a Mastercard or Visa. These brands are universally accepted in Hong Kong. American Express isn’t as popular, but you can still use Amex at some locations to pay or withdraw cash from an ATM.
- Get a backup card. If you lose your primary card, you won’t be left without money.
- Take out cash. Use an ATM at the airport to get cash. If you take a cab to your hotel, you’ll need to pay in cash, unless you use a rideshare service like Uber. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have some cash on hand in case of emergencies.
- Inform your bank you’ll be in Hong Kong. This way your bank won’t block your card if they suspect fraudulent activity.
- Know your bank’s phone number. If you have any questions regarding your PIN or if you lose your card, it’s always good to know who to call.
Both credit and debit cards are commonly used in Hong Kong and you shouldn’t have any issues using your plastic to pay in most places. Taxis are the only service that usually won’t accept credit cards, but if that’s the case, you can always use a rideshare service and pay with plastic through the app.
If you’re looking for a new credit card, consider getting a card with no foreign transaction fees or take a look at our most popular travel rewards credit cards.
How to use a credit card in…
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