Once you arrive in Hong Kong, you’ll want to open up a local bank account, especially if you plan to start working.

Here is all that you need to know about bank accounts and banking operations in Hong Kong.

Opening a bank account

There is a large selection of banks in Hong Kong. You can choose one that offers the lowest fees, best services, or simply one that is close to where you live. The preferred banks for foreigners and expats are certainly HSBC and Citibank. HSBC is the main banking name in Hong Kong, but there is also Standard Chartered, Hang Seng (sister bank to HSBC), and Bank of China (BOCHK).

The following standard documents are usually required of working holiday makers:

  • Passport
  • Work visa (ie your WHV)
  • Hong Kong ID (or application receipt, if you are waiting for your card to be issued)
  • Proof of address

HSBC lists its required documents here.

The first three items are relatively easy to provide, even the Hong Kong ID. The main difficulty will be the proof of address. Banks need it in order to send mail to a secure personal address.

If you have a lease agreement, your landlord can provide you with an official document or even receipt of rent payment (if your name and address are on it). But if you don’t have a fixed address yet, then keep reading.

If you are temporarily staying in a youth hostel, don’t hesitate to ask the management if they might be able to provide you with a paper evidencing your stay. The bank might be able to accept this form of proof.

A former WHV holder in Hong Kong shared with us that she was able to open an account at HSBC by explaining to her banker that she was in urgent need of a bank account, and that she would update her profile with a fixed local address later on once she had one. She provided her address in her home country in the meantime (because they still needed some sort of address) and then was able to be issued a bank card.

For another WHV holder, Citibank offered to send him a letter that he would be able to use as proof of address, since his lease agreements and various payment receipts were not in his name.

Opening an account abroad is sometimes not straightford, but it’s certainly not impossible. Communicate clearly and show that you are a trustworthy potential client to the bank. At the end of the day, even banking is a human to human business and the associates want to be able to help you.

Sign a few papers, deposit some money into your new account, and voila!

To help others in a similar situation, consider sharing your own experience in the comments below.

Types of bank accounts

In Hong Kong, there are two main types of accounts:

  • Savings account for daily expenses
  • Current account for when you pay with cheques

When you deposit money, it usually goes into your savings account, where money is always accessible.

Client services also come in different tiers, from basic to premium. This is determined by the amount of money in your account.

  • Basic – free at most banks and doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement. You have access to basic operations and there are no special benefits.
  • Advanced – lower or waived fees for certain operations (e.g. international wires), but requires a minimum balance of a few hundred thousand HKD.
  • Premium – priority access and concierge services, but requires a minimum balance of one million HKD.

Different types of bank cards

ATM cards

You will likely be issued an ATM card by default. You can use it to withdraw money at ATMs and pay at certain businesses (e.g. supermarkets, convenience stores, clothing stores etc). ATM cards are not accepted everywhere, and also cannot be used to be credited for returns of items. It is also not accepted for online purchases.
On the back of your ATM card there are little logos like Jetco, UnionPay, or EPS. When you use an ATM or enter a shop, make sure that they are compatible with at least one of the logos on your card. The EPS network is the most developed in Hong Kong; it belongs to HSBC and Hang Seng Bank.

Credit cards

Every time you use a credit card, the amount is not immediately deducted from your bank account balance. Instead, your bank will send you a bill for all your purchases for the month and you will have to pay off that bill. If you don’t pay off the full monthly balance, you might accrue interest.

To obtain a credit card, you need to provide your three latest paystubs. Naturally, credit cards are not something that you can get immediately upon arrival in Hong Kong.

Transfers between Hong Kong banks

Transferring money in Hong Kong is very simple. If you are making a transfer to another account belonging to the same bank, you just need to go to an ATM and initiate it using the recipient’s account number. The transfer is immediate and a receipt will be printed for you.

If you want to transfer money to an account belonging to a different bank, first withdraw the amount needed in cash. Then, deposit the money at an ATM using the recipient’s account number. You will receive a receipt as proof of transfer.

Cash withdrawals in convenience stores

If you have an EPS card (like those issued by HSBC), you have the option of withdrawing cash upon purchase of something at a convenience store, such as Circle K or 7 Eleven. You can ask for up to HK$500.


L'équipe de pvtistes.net vous informe depuis 2005 sur tous les aspects d'un PVT et vous accompagne dans vos projets de mobilité à l'international !

The pvtistes.net team has been around since 2005, guiding thousands of young adults through all aspects of their working holiday!

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