Securing a job and finding an apartment are key priorities when setting up a new life in Hong Kong. However, completing both of these tasks will first require a bank account from which to send and receive payments. Ideally, this account would be local to your new home region. Therefore, it can be a good idea to investigate opening a bank account in Hong Kong before migrating.
Financial Services in Hong Kong
Given that Hong Kong is an epicentre for financial industries, there are plenty of different banking options available to choose from. The region’s expat-dense population also means that banks are well used to catering to foreigners. As a result, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find an accommodating, straight-forward bank when setting up an account. In fact, expat community site InterNations also claim that opening a bank account in Hong Kong can often be easier to do than in Europe or the United States.
How to Open a Bank Account in Hong Kong
Those who are looking to be as prepared as possible before flying the nest will be happy to know that several Hong Kong-based banks allow non-residents to open an account. What’s more, some have the option of applying for an account online. This means that Hongkongers-to-be may be able to get their finances in order before the chaos of moving overseas really kicks in.
The process of opening a bank account in Hong Kong will vary greatly depending on the bank and type of account you choose to open. When submitting an application to obtain an account, the following documents are commonly required:
A valid passport
A Hong Kong identity card
Proof of address in Hong Kong or in your home country
The application process usually takes about two weeks, so applying for an account in advance of migrating can help save precious time and unneeded stress.
Popular Banks for Expats in Hong Kong
As stated above, most banks in Hong Kong are used to serving an international base of clientele. Most branches will have English speaking staff to help with the process of opening a bank account. With over 200 banks from 30 countries operating in the region, there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to opening an account in Hong Kong. The following banks are among the most popular with expats:
Things to Keep in Mind when Opening a Bank Account in Hong Kong
Although the banking system in Hong Kong is one of the most efficient in the world, it has its own nuances which may need some consideration before deciding on the kind of bank account you would like to open.
Bank Account Fees
It is common for Hong Kong banks to charge for ‘account maintenance’. This is usually no more than HK$150 (the equivalent of €17) per month, although the amount charged will depend on your chosen bank, type of account, as well as your average balance. Some banks may drop the fee on the condition that a certain amount of money is maintained in your account.
The bank may request that you deposit a minimum amount with them as part of the criteria for opening the account. The amount can be as little as HK$10, or as much as HK$200,000. This requirement could be a big deciding factor in what bank or type of account you decide to open.
According to Reuters, Hong Kong’s banking system is beginning to technologically evolve with the rest of the world by riding on fintech’s coattails. In the meantime, it offers excellent, flexible telephone and online banking services at a minimum. However, its one major set-back is that bank transfers are rarely free, unless both the sender and beneficiary have the same bank account. InterNations say that the average transfer in Hong Kong is a hefty HK$200. As a result, many Hongkongers rely on old-fashioned cheques when looking to transfer money.
Hong Kong has plenty of bank machine access, and facilities are usually multi-functional. Rather than just allowing you to withdraw cash or check your balance, you’ll have the option of paying bills or lodging money and cheques.
Hong Kong’s ATMs operate under different networks, instead of each bank having their own set of machines. While having an account will give you access to all machines in Hong Kong, it is best to stick with your bank’s ATM network to avoid additional charges. There are two main cash machine networks in Hong Kong:
Building a life in Hong Kong from the ground up is a huge undertaking. By completing the initial step of opening an account before setting off, some of that added pressure can be eliminated. From there, expats who are new to Hong Kong can start scheduling bills, receiving wages and paying rent from the word ‘go’.
What’s more, expats-to-be can move savings to their new Hong Kong account with minimal fees and hidden charges by using a secure, five-star transfer platform like CurrencyFair.
The fee to transfer money into a Hong Kong bank account is just HK$25 – regardless of the transfer amount. Banks can hide their fees in poor exchange rates, often charging as much as 3%-6% in excessive margins. CurrencyFair is typically around 0.45% away from the interbank rate meaning better value when sending money to Hong Kong. CurrencyFair is ideal for expats who need to:
- Send money to their Hong Kong account
- Purchase a house in Hong Kong
- Pay tuition fees
The information contained in this article should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional advice in individual cases. Future changes in legislation, tax level, and practice could affect the information in this site. The information shown is based on date or information obtained from sources believed to be reliable but CurrencyFair makes no representation and accepts no responsibility as to its accuracy or completeness and will not be held liable for damages arising out of any person’s reliance upon this information.