Guide to buying foreign currency

If you need to buy currency in the form of cash, there are several options to explore.

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There are many providers that allow you to buy and sell foreign currency electronically; however, sometimes you need foreign currency in the form of cash. You may simply prefer to have cash for an upcoming holiday, or you may need to make an international purchase with a merchant that only accepts cash. Whatever the reason, here’s what you need to know about buying foreign currency as cash.

How does buying currency work?

You can buy foreign currency through your local bank, though you may not receive the most competitive exchange rate. Specialist currency exchange providers with storefronts allow you to go in and physically buy cash in the same way that you would make any other purchase. You tell them how much of a particular foreign currency you need and they will tell you how much it will cost you in Hong Kong dollars.

The price in Hong Kong dollars will be dependent on the exchange rate offered by the provider, so it is important to shop around to ensure you’re getting the best deal. These exchange rates change daily, so be sure to do a comparison on the day that you’re planning to buy the currency. It’s also important to check what, if any, transaction fees the provider charges since this will greatly impact the price you pay.

As these providers are selling physical cash, they do not have an endless supply and can run out of a particular currency towards the end of the day. If you’re buying a large amount of a particular currency, for example US$10,000, it’s best to call the provider a few days in advance to ensure that they will have the cash available for you to purchase. The same applies for currencies that are less commonly purchased.

How do I buy currency online?

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 10 1 - 2 days HKD 140.00 0.128 USD
1,265
Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts. Go to site Show details
USD 1,000 1 day HKD 25.00 0.128 USD
1,280
Quick and simple international money transfers with a flat 0.5% transfer fee for most transfers. Zero-margin rates on some currencies. Go to site Show details
USD 10,000 1 day HKD 0.00 0.128 USD
1,280
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers.
Send money in more than 130 currencies.
Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour HKD 20.00 0.128 USD
1,276
An online money transfer service with cash pickup, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available. Go to site Show details
USD 100 1 day HKD 15.00 0.128 USD
1,276
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers.
Send money in 45 currencies.
Go to site Show details
USD 2,000 1 day HKD 0.00 0.128 USD
1,279
TorFX保證提供最佳的匯率。需受條款約束。
以45種貨幣匯款到全球。登記後,將會有一個客戶經理提供支持和引導。
Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 - 2 days HKD 0.00 0.127 USD
1,269
Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

If you’re unable to get to a provider’s physical store to buy the currency, or if you live in a regional location with no currency exchange providers, you can purchase the cash online and have it delivered to you. You may find that there are better exchange rates if you purchase online, although you will usually have to pay a delivery or courier fee. Alternatively, you can order and pay for the currency online and pick it up in store or at an airport at your convenience.

To buy currency online, head to the provider’s website and create an account with your personal details. You will need to select the currency that you wish to buy and the amount that you need to see the price in Hong Kong dollars. Again, this will be dependent on the exchange rate for that day as well as any transaction fees or commissions charged by the provider. Once this is set up, and if you’re happy with the price, you will be able to purchase the currency using your credit or debit card. Be aware that you may be charged an additional fee for credit card payments.

The currency should be available to be picked up or it will be delivered to you after a couple of business days. You may be able to opt for same-day delivery if you need the currency urgently; however, like anything that is express posted, it will cost you more.

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What ID do I need to provide to purchase foreign currency?

Currency providers will need to confirm your identity before you can buy any currency, meaning you will need to provide photo ID to purchase cash either online or in store. A valid form of ID should be government issued, for example, your HKID or your passport. Your ID will need to include your photo, your full name, your date of birth, your residential address and the issue and expiry date. You will also need to provide your address and telephone number which along with your identification details be recorded and kept on record by the currency providers.

Tips for buying currency

  • Compare providers on the day that you wish to purchase the currency as exchange rates change daily.
  • Call ahead if you’re planning to buy a large amount of cash or a less commonly purchased currency to check that they have the cash available.
  • Consider your own bank for less common currencies, such as the South African rand, since these may not be available at many currency exchange providers.
  • Check what transaction fees and commissions the provider changes, or look for a provider that doesn’t charge any fees.
  • Steer clear of buying cash at the airport as the exchange rates are often poor and the transactions fees are high.
  • If you’re travelling with over HKD$120,000, you are required by law to declare it.

How do I compare my options?

Compare your foreign currency buying options with the help of finder.com.au’s comparison tables, product reviews and information guides. Remember, when comparing your options, the most important factors to look out for are the exchange rates offered, the transaction fees and the commissions charged by the provider.

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