Travel money guide: Hong Kong, China

Nieh hau or hello? Here's the best way to take and spend money in Hong Kong, Macau and China.

Last updated:

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

Learn which types of travel money to take on a trip to China, Hong Kong and Macau so you can spend for less in the Pearl of the Orient and beyond. Renminbi is the official currency of mainland China, Hong Kong dollars (HKD) is the currency of Hong Kong and Macanese Patacas (MOP) is the currency of Macau — though you can also use HKD in Macau.

China is a huge country with an even bigger history, making it one of East Asia’s must-see travel destinations. Hong Kong is the financial hub of Asia and Macau is known as the Vegas of the East.

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options.

China is still largely a cash economy. You can use your card to make payments at major department stores, hotels and restaurants. Taxi drivers, guides, any merchant on the street and most shops outside big cities accept cash only.

Spread your travel money options across a number of products to ensure your vacation will go off without a hitch. Debit and credit cards are the best options for getting access to the money you need on your trip to Hong Kong, China and Macau. Save money by finding cards that waive fees for foreign transactions, withdrawals and maintenance.

Our pick for use in Hong Kong, China

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn 1.25x miles on all purchases; 10x miles on purchases made through hotels.com/venture until January 2020
  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 within your first 3 months when you open your account
  • Get 0% intro APR on purchases for your first 12 months, a variable APR of 13.74% – 23.74% applies thereafter
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
Read less
Read more
Promoted

Compare travel cards for Hong Kong, China

Updated November 14th, 2019
Name Product Foreign transaction fee Welcome offer Rewards Filter values
None
30,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
3x Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, 3x points at restaurants and 1x points on all other purchases
Earn 3x Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, 3x points at restaurants and 1x points on all other purchases. Rates & fees
None
75,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
None
20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
1.25x miles on all purchases and 10x miles at hotels.com/venture
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
None
30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a Delta purchase in the same timeframe
2x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
Earn 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a direct Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
None
50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on all purchases and 10x miles at hotels.com/venture
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

Promoted
Travelex Money Card

Why we like: Travelex Money Card

Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.

  • Not linked to your bank account for safety.
  • Convert currency with a 5.50% foreign exchange fee
  • Contactless payments
  • Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.

    Should I choose a travel card, debit card or credit card?

    How to use a credit card in China

    How much should I budget for my trip to China, Hong Kong and Macau?

    Hong Kong’s status as an international city puts prices on par with New York, Sydney or Paris. Although Hong Kong is about as expensive as New York, you can make your trip as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. If you do your research and know the right places to eat and are willing to share a room with other travelers, you could could get by on less than $60 a day, though if you’re not careful, you could spend up to $400 a day.

    Hong KongBudgetMid-rangeExpensive
    to-sleepHostel dorm
    $15–$80 per night
    2-star hotel
    $60–$200 per night
    5-star hotel
    $300–$1000 per night
    to-eatTsim Chai Kee Wanton Noodles from a street stall
    Less than $5
    SuperStar Seafood Restaurant
    $20–$40 per dish
    5-star dining at Island Tang
    $100 per person
    to-seeMuseum of Tea Ware, Railway Museum, Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum
    Free
    Hong Kong half day guided tour
    $50 per person
    Private full day tour to Macau from Hong Kong
    $300 per person

    *Prices are approximate and subject to change.

    Using a credit card in Hong Kong

    The official currency of China is called the renminbi and it is made up of yuan. When referring to the name of the Chinese currency we use the title renminbi, which means “the people’s currency” in Mandarin.

    Vacation prices in China little cheaper than other developed nations in the region like South Korea and Japan, although expenses can easily stack high if you’re on a 5-star vacation. Budget travelers can expect to pay around $30 a day, while travelers with a bigger budget can plan for $80 to $250.

    BeijingBudgetMid-rangeExpensive
    to-sleepHostel dorm
    $10–$20 per night
    2-star hotel
    $20–$150 per night
    5-star hotel
    $150–$600 per night
    to-eatYang rou chuan’r (street food lamb kebab)
    $1
    Mid-range restaurant
    $10–$20 per person
    High-end restaurant experience
    $60 per person
    to-seeVisit and hike on The Great Wall of China
    $6–$8
    1-day Forbidden City tour
    $50 per person
    Beijing photography tour
    $300 per person

    Exchange rate history

    The Hong Kong dollar is tied to the US Dollar — $1 gets you $7.75 Hong Kong dollars. Two travel products let you lock in a rate: prepaid travel cards and traveler’s checks. You can secure your travel budget using these products if you think the value of the dollar will fall during your trip to China.
    US Dollar to Hong Kong Dollar Exchange Rate

    How each travel money option works in China, Hong Kong and Macau

    Using a travel prepaid card

    • Using a debit card

      Using a credit card

      Debit and credit card exchange rates

      Withdrawing funds once you get to China is a popular way of getting your hands on some cash. The Visa and Mastercard foreign exchange rate applies when you use your credit card or debit card to make an over-the-counter purchase or to withdraw cash. The rate offered by Visa and Mastercard is similar to the interbank rate and may be better than what’s offered by Chinese banks and licensed exchange offices.

      Using a traveler’s checks

      • Tip: You will need photo identification to cash traveler’s checks.

      Paying with cash in Hong Kong, China

      Have cash waiting when you arrive

      Always consider using an international money transfer service – you can always send money to China or send money to Hong Kong beforehand.

      Using ATMs in China, Hong Kong and Macau

      Exchanging cash

      The best way to get foreign cash is to make an ATM withdrawal in the airport when you arrive at your destination. You’re subject to the Visa and Mastercard exchange rate, which is the best everyday consumers can get. And if you’re using a no currency conversion and no international ATM fee product to avoid the international ATM withdrawal charges, it’s the cheapest way to get foreign cash.

      Hong Kong

      US dollars can be changed at banks and exchange offices in Hong Kong and Macau. Hang Seng Bank, Wing Lung Bank and the Bank of China are popular for changing cash due to low commissions and better rates.

      hong-kong-dollar-banknotes

      • Tip: You’ll pay more to exchange cash at international hotels. Money changers in the tourist districts (Tsim Sha Tsui) are likely to provide a poor rate and charge a higher commission.

      China

      You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a bank or licensed exchange office that can exchange USD for CNY. The renminbi is regulated by the Chinese government. The rate you get at the airport is the same as the rate you get at banks and at official exchange offices.

      chinese-yuan-banknotes

      Back to top

      Shirley's Hong Kong & China holiday

      OurTeam_ShirleyBefore joining her family in mainland China, Guangzhou for Chinese New Year, Shirley traveled to Hong Kong with her friends.

      What cards did you take with you?

      Why did you take these cards?

      Shirley took the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. She liked this card because it waived the foreign transaction fee and let her earn rewards on her vacation spending. She had been saving for this trip for a while so she used her Bank of America debit card for most of her transactions.

      Where could you use your cards?

      Shirley says there were no issues with card acceptance when she tried to use her credit card. She used cash most of the time. She says in rural areas of China, card acceptance would have been a problem.

      What about ATM withdrawals?

      Shirley didn’t use ATMs when she was in Hong Kong. She withdrew most of her money when she arrived at the airport to avoid withdrawal fees.

      What’s your travel money recommendations?

      Shirley says the Chase Sapphire is the card to use in China or anywhere overseas. The foreign transaction fee is waived and she earned travel points for next vacation abroad.

      Do you have any travel money tips?

      Shirley says if you’re traveling during the Lunar New Year, expect all the banks to be closed for as long as two weeks straight — so have your money already exchanged beforehand. She also says the Octopus Card is a popular option; while she didn’t get one, a friend of hers did. It simplifies the payment process on public transport and many retailers take the Octopus card too.

      Bargaining in China

      If you’re shopping for tourist items, haggle for a price you think is fair. The point is to come to an agreement over what the item is worth. Remember that haggling is a friendly and social interaction and should always be approached with a smile. There are no hard or fast rules about haggling, but keep these tips in mind when you’re hunting for the best price:

      • Shop around. The same item is often sold at different shops and stalls. Visit a few places to find the best deal before you make a purchase.
      • Don’t be afraid to walk away. If you don’t like the price, smile and say thank you and move on to the next place.
      • Don’t feel bad. The vendor isn’t going to sell something for a loss. Don’t think the price you’re paying is too low if the vendor agrees to a sale.

      Compare travel insurance for your next trip to Hong Kong, China

      Name Product Trip Cancellation Emergency Medical Expenses Baggage Coverage Trip delay
      100%
      $15,000
      $500
      $500
      Essential travel coverage — with the option to customize — that can protect the cost of your trip.
      $10,000
      $1,000
      $100
      Protect the cost of your flight and choose the coverage amount that meets your needs — trip delay protection included.
      $50,000
      $2,000
      $1,000
      Budget-friendly policy designed for international and domestic travelers who want medical protection. Trip cancellation and trip interruption not included.
      $20,000
      $1,000
      $600
      Annual policy that offers affordable protection, but doesn't include trip cancellation or trip interruption.
      100%
      $15,000
      $750
      $500
      Basic policy with coverage that includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.

      Compare up to 4 providers

      Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

      Ask an Expert

      You are about to post a question on finder.com:

      • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
      • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
      • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
      • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

      Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

      By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

      Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
      Go to site