Travel money guide: Hong Kong, China

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

China is a huge country with an even bigger history, emerging as one of East Asia’s must-see travel destinations. On the tips of Southern China lay Hong Kong and Macau, two special administrative regions of China. Hong Kong is the financial hub of Asia and Macau is known as the Vegas of the East. Whereas the 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.

This travel money guide for China and Hong Kong will give you the information you need to make an informed decision about which types of travel money you should take on your trip. Read about which cards 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.

Looking for the travel money guide to South Korea?

See the full travel money guide for South Korea here

Which option is right for your next trip?

Qantas Cash

Qantas Cash

  • Earn up to 1.5 Qantas Points per eligible $1 spent
  • 11 currencies on one card
  • Lock in exchange rates

Qantas Cash

The Qantas Cash allows you to earn Qantas Points on all transactions including local and foreign transactions.

  • Choose from 11 currencies on the one card: USD, GBP, EUR, THB, NZD, SGD, HKD, CAD, JPY, AED and AUD
  • Ability to load money and convert currencies 24/7 on the secure customer portal.
  • Locked-in exchange rates for multiple currencies and low and transparent fees.
  • Accepted electronically – at over 35 million locations in over 210 countries worldwide.

Go to site
Promoted

Compare travel cards for Hong Kong, China

Rates last updated January 19th, 2018
Name Product Description Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
Hold up to 11 currencies on the card and get a locked-in exchange rate. Use at home and overseas to rack up Qantas Points on eligible purchases.
AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD
AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50

$0
$0
Hold up to 10 different currencies and lock in your exchange rate. No transaction fees on purchases with a backup card in case one is lost or stolen.
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD
AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260

1.1%
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated January 19th, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Offers a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary international travel insurance and access to a 24/7 concierge service.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$99 p.a.
Receive a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for 24 months, complimentary travel insurance and 0% foreign transaction fees.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Designed for travel, benefit from 0% foreign transaction fees on purchases, a $0 annual fee for life and a personal concierge service.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$0
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points, 2 yearly Virgin Australia lounge passes, plus enjoy $0 overseas purchase transaction fees.

Westpac Lite Card
0% of transaction value
2%
$108 p.a.
Keep credit card costs low with a maximum credit limit of $4,000, a 9.9% p.a. purchase interest rate and no foreign transaction fees.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$160 p.a.
Earn 2 More Rewards Points per $1 spent, 75,000 bonus points when you meet the spend requirement and save with 0% foreign transaction fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated January 19th, 2018
$
Name Product Product Description Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Eftpos Fee
Westpac Choice
Take advantage of Westpac's Global Alliance and save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.
Mastercard
$0
$5
3%
St.George Complete Freedom Account
Part of the Westpac Global Alliance, save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.
Visa
$0
$5
3%

Compare up to 4 providers

Which should I choose: a travel card, debit card or credit card?

How much currency do I need for my trip to China/ Hong Kong/ Macau?

Hong Kong’s status as an international city puts prices on par with Sydney, London, Paris, New York and so on. Although Hong Kong is expensive compared to other Asian cities, like Sydney, a trip to Hong Kong can be as expensive as you want it to be as well as offering prices to suit travellers on a shoestring — if you know the right places to eat and you’re willing to share a room with other travellers in a hostel.

Hong KongBudgetMidrangeExpensive
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
$5 (or less)
SuperStar Seafood Restaurant
$20 - $40 per dish
5 Star Dining at Island Tang
$100 + a head
to-seeMuseum of Tea Ware, Railway Museum, Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum
Free entry
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.

The official currency of China is called the renminbi. The renminbi 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. Holiday prices in China are a little cheaper than other developed nations in the region such as South Korea and Japan; however, expenses can easily balloon if you’re on a 5 star holiday.

BeijingBudgetMidrangeExpensive
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
Midrange restaurant
$10 - $20 per person
High class 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 US dollar gets you $7.80 Hong Kong dollars. The Aussie dollar has been steadily losing ground since peaking after the economic mess of the Global Financial Crisis. Two travel products let you lock in a rate: prepaid travel cards and traveller’s cheques. You can secure your travel budget using these products if you think the value of the Australian dollar will fall during your trip to China.

YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Hong Kong dollars (HKD)
20128.034810
20137.507867
20147.000952
20155.830889
20165.772422
20175.936382

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 4 September 2017

The Australian dollar has been losing ground against the renminbi since the Global Financial Crisis. In the last couple of years 1 Aussie dollar will get you about 4 - 5 yuan.

YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY)
20126.535978
20135.957283
20145.560284
20154.723889
20164.940377
20175.209661

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 4 September 2017

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 traveller's cheques

  • Tip: You will need photo identification to cash traveller’s cheques.

Paying with cash in Hong Kong, China

Using ATMs in China, Hong Kong and Macau

Click here to learn about Citibank ATMs

Find an ATM in China, Hong Kong and Macau

Exchanging cash

Hong Kong

Australian dollars can be changed at banks and exchange offices in Hong Kong and Macau. Banks give the best rates of exchange, it will pay to shop around till you find a rate you’re happy with. 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: convenience comes at a price. Money changers in the tourist districts (Tsim Sha Tsui) are likely to provide a poor rate of exchange and charge a higher commission.

China

You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a bank or licensed exchange office that can exchange AUD 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 was keen to travel to Hong Kong with her friends.

What cards did you take with you?

  • Commonwealth Bank Debit Mastercard
  • Cash

Why did you take these cards?

Shirley took the Commonwealth Bank Debit Mastercard. At the time she says the currency conversion fee was about 2.5%. She didn’t worry about this because she took a large amount of cash with her.

Where could you use your cards?

Shirley says there were no issues with card acceptance when she tried to use her debit 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.

What’s your travel money recommendations?

Shirley says the Citibank Plus Transaction Account is the card to use in China, or anywhere overseas. She says she wasn’t aware of the large number of Citibank ATMs that were in Hong Kong.

Do you have any travel money tips?

Shirley says if you're travelling 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.

Buying currency in Australia

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 / 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 like the Citibank Plus to avoid the lion’s share of international ATM withdrawal charges, it’s the cheapest way to get foreign cash. If you do want to purchase foreign currency in Australia, consider these financial institutions.

BankCurrency
CNYHKD
American ExpressYesYes
ANZYesYes
Australia PostNoYes
Commonwealth BankYesYes
NABYesYes
TravelexYesYes
WestpacYesYes
  • Tip: Travelex and Australia Post have outlets at Australian international airports. You can pick up foreign cash while you wait for your flight.

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

Made a search before? Retrieve your search results

At least one destination is required
Both dates are required
Add more travellers
Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

Enter a valid email address

At least one destination is required
Starting date is required
Add more travellers
Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

Enter a valid email address

Type or select your destination

Popular Destinations

Americas
Asia
Europe
Pacific
Africa
Can't find your destination? Just type it in the box above.

We compare products from

By submitting this form, you agree to finder.com.au privacy policy

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 across a number of products (including cash) to ensure your holiday to the South of China will go off without a (financial) hitch. A select few prepaid travel cards are suited for this part of the world, whereas the Citibank Plus Transaction Account is good to use worldwide. As always, a line of credit for emergencies can be essential for a trip overseas, so look out for a credit card that doesn’t charge for currency conversion to save on fees.

If you have any questions about travel money options for China, Hong Kong or Macau get in touch with us using the form at the bottom of the page.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Ask an Expert

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

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au 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 only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, read the PDS or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

18 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    EmmaAugust 20, 2016

    Hello, I’m traveling to China soon. Is the Aus.Post Load&Go China card the only option available to me where I can load chinese and aussie dollars?

    • Staff
      SallyAugust 22, 2016Staff

      Hi Emma,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately, not many Australian prepaid travel cards let you load both Australian dollars (AUD) and Chinese Renminbi (CNY) on the card.

      As well as the Australia Post Load&Go China card, the Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card supports both AUD and CNY.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  2. Default Gravatar
    AmakaJune 12, 2016

    I am in Guangzhou for business but i can’t use my MasterCard debit card on my supplier’s POS because it will only accept 6 digit PIN. Are there any shops in Guangzhou with POS that accept 4 digit PINs? I really feel frustrated because i can’t make any POS payments with my card.

    I have tried adding zeroes to my PIN but it ain’t still working. Plz help!

    • Staff
      SallyJune 14, 2016Staff

      Hi Amaka,

      Thanks for your question.

      Did you try adding the zeroes before or after your PIN?

      You’re more likely to find places that accept four-digit PINs in touristy areas such as hotels. Some ATMs also let you just enter your four digit PIN, even if there is an option to enter 6.

      If you’re still having trouble accessing your funds, you might need to contact your card provider to confirm the best way to access your account in China.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  3. Default Gravatar
    June 1, 2016

    Hello,
    I am travelling to Hong Kong, when I have been researching travel cards I noticed on a MasterCard website that gives you atm locations I noticed some banks have no access fees, can you explain what it means, are these banks better to use to withdraw money when using a commonwealth travel card.
    Thanks.

    • Staff
      LouJune 1, 2016Staff

      Hi Robyn,

      Thanks for your question.

      I’ve checked MasterCard website and the “no access fee” ATMs refer to ATMs that do not charge domestic access fee to cards issued in the same country. A fee may apply if you withdraw money in that ATM using a card issued in other countries.

      As for Commonwealth Travel Card, you’ll be charged every time you use your card to withdraw from an ATM as Commonwealth Bank doesn’t have an international ATM alliance.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  4. Default Gravatar
    RobynMay 3, 2016

    Do you pay any atm fees in Hong Kong when withdrawing hkd with a cba travel money card

    • Staff
      SallyMay 4, 2016Staff

      Hi Robyn,

      Thanks for your question.

      You’ll be charged HKD$17.00 each time you use your CBA Travel Money card for an ATM withdrawal in Hong Kong. Please note that local ATM operator fees may also apply.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  5. Default Gravatar
    NovaFebruary 15, 2016

    Could I use the Qantas Cash card in South Korea?

    • Staff
      SallyFebruary 16, 2016Staff

      Hi Nova,

      Thanks for your question.

      You can use the Qantas Cash card anywhere MasterCard is accepted except Crimea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. So you should be able to use it in South Korea.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  6. Default Gravatar
    GlendaSeptember 2, 2015

    If I use a Westpac Travel Card in China and make withdrawals, is the cash in Chinese currency? Are the ATMs using this card found all over China, or very few? What can you tell me about Bank of Nanjing? Are they found in most places?

    • Staff
      SallySeptember 3, 2015Staff

      Hi Glenda,

      Thank you for your question.

      Yes, if you make a cash withdrawal from an ATM in China, you will withdraw Chinese Yuan.

      However, as the Chinese Yuan isn’t a supported currency on the Westpac Travel Money card, you’ll be charged a currency conversion fee of 3% each time you make a transaction or withdrawal.

      There are just under 140 Bank of Nanjing branches and sub-branches spread throughout China. I’ve emailed you a link with some of the locations.

      Although you’ll still incur a currency conversion fee when withdrawing from Bank of Nanjing ATMs, you won’t be charged any additional ATM fees.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  7. Default Gravatar
    GlendaAugust 29, 2015

    I will be in China soon for 2 weeks. What is the best way for me to transact my money? Should I load my card with money before I leave? Do I organise before I leave that when I make withdrawals from an ATM in China it will be in Chinese currency? How does this work?

    • Staff
      SallyAugust 31, 2015Staff

      Hi Glenda,

      Thank you for your comments.

      As a financial comparison service, we can’t actually recommend any one specific product, strategy or service to our users as the ‘best’ option will always depend on the user’s individual financial situation and needs.

      Unfortunately, not many prepaid travel money cards allow you to load Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY or RMB) on the card. Instead, you would load AUD and then incur a currency conversion fee when the funds were converted into CNY when making ATM withdrawals or completing purchase transactions.

      So instead, you may wish to consider a travel-friendly credit card to take. If you’re looking to save on fees, look for one with no currency conversion, foreign transaction or ATM withdrawal fees. You can compare some of your options under the “Travel credit cards” heading on our China travel money guide.

      If you do this, the Australian funds that have been loaded onto your card will be converted into CNY when making withdrawals or paying transactions when in China.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  8. Default Gravatar
    BarryMarch 29, 2015

    What is the best currency to load into my Qantas card in Australia for travel to China

    • Staff
      ShirleyMarch 30, 2015Staff

      Hi Barry,

      Thanks for your question.

      For China, the Ren Min Bi would be the appropriate currency but this isn’t offered on the Qantas Cash. If you have to use the Qantas Cash, it may be best to use AUD, but you’ll be charged a currency conversion fee every time you transact in China.

      Please note that if you’re travelling to Hong Kong, the situation is different.

      Other options may be suitable for you.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

  9. Default Gravatar
    LeonieNovember 24, 2014

    Can you use Qantas cash card in China

    • Staff
      ShirleyNovember 24, 2014Staff

      Hi Leonie,

      Thanks for your question.

      You can use this card wherever MasterCard is accepted. However, please keep in mind that you can’t load RMB into this card, so you’ll be charged a currency conversion fee every time you transact in RMB.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

Ask a question