Travel money guide: Hong Kong and China

Find out the best way to take and spend money in Hong Kong, Macau and China.

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Renminbi, or the Chinese Yuan, 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.

You can compare travel money options for China and Hong Kong in this guide, as well as learn some general tips for how much money you might need to take with you.

Compare travel cards for Hong Kong, China

Name Product Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Initial Load Fee Reload fee
Cash Passport Platinum Mastercard
USD $2.50, EUR €2.50, GBP £2.00, NZD $3.50, THB ฿80.00, CAD $3.50, HKD $18.00, JPY ¥260.00, SGD $3.50, AUD $3.50, AED 10.00
Up to 11 currencies on 1 card locked in exchange rates and no load fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Foreign currency conversion fee Interest-free period Purchase rate Annual fee
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
Up to 55 days on purchases
14.99% p.a.
Get 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 34 months (with a 2% BT fee), ​an ongoing $0 annual fee and 0% foreign transaction fees.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
Up to 55 days on purchases
0% p.a. for 15 months, reverts to 9.9% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($69 p.a. thereafter)
Get 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, a $0 first-year annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
NAB StraightUp Card
0% p.a.
Save with 0% interest charges and 0% foreign transaction fees. Plus, $0 monthly fees when you don't use the card or carry a balance.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Card access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Internatonal ATM Fee Foreign transaction fee
HSBC Everyday Global Account
Special offer: $100 cash bonus for new HSBC customers.
Earn 2% cashback on tap and pay purchases, and transfer money overseas online to family or friends and pay $0 International Transfer Fee (save $8). T&Cs apply on all offers.
Enjoy no minimum ongoing balance or transaction requirements and the flexibility to hold up to 10 currencies. Apple Pay and Google Pay available.

Great Southern Bank Everyday Edge Account
Refund of international ATM withdrawal fees and international card transaction fees (conditions apply).
$0 monthly account fee. Unlimited fee-free everyday transactions.
Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay available. Savings Top Up tool automatically transfers to linked savings account.
Citi Global Currency Account
Earn up to 0.45% p.a. interest on your AUD balance.
$0 monthly account fee.
Enjoy one linked debit card to hold up to 10 currencies and receive foreign currencies for free.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Minimum Order Amount Maximum Order Amount Delivery/Pickup Method Commission Fee
Foreign Xchange Travel Money
In Store,Home Delivery
Order multiple currencies in one transaction and have it delivered directly to your door anywhere in Australia. No delivery fee for orders over $1,000. A $10 flat fee applies to orders less than $1,000.

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 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
$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 estimates only.

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.

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)
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 Aussie dollar has been steadily losing ground since peaking after the economic mess of the Global Financial Crisis. A prepaid travel card lets you lock in a rate ahead of your trip. This way, you can secure your travel budget if you think the value of the Australian dollar will fall during your trip to China.

YearAustralian Dollar (AUD) to Hong Kong dollars (HKD)*

*Average annual exchange rate. 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.

YearAustralian Dollar (AUD) to Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY)*

*Average annual exchange rate. Exchange rates are accurate as of 4 September 2017

Today's exchange rate AUD to CNY

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.


  • 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.


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.


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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.

American ExpressYes Yes
ANZYes Yes
Australia PostNo Yes
Commonwealth BankYes Yes
NABYes Yes
TravelexYes Yes
WestpacYes Yes
  • Tip: Travelex and Australia Post have outlets at Australian international airports. You can pick up foreign cash while you wait for your flight.

More tips on buying CNY before you travel

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.

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24 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    RamAugust 24, 2018

    Hi There,
    my 12 yr old will be travelling to china soon with friends. what is the best travel/credit card I can give so I can see and manage the money upload easily?


      Default Gravatar
      JoelAugust 24, 2018

      Hi Ram,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      That’s awesome! When travelling to China, your child has to use a combination of cash and travel money cards. The table above will show you a comparison of cards suited for travel to China specifically. 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.


    Default Gravatar
    AngieMarch 15, 2018

    We are traveling to Hong Kong and Malaysia in may. Was wondering where the best place to get currency from UK or in Hong Kong and Malaysia when we get there.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMarch 15, 2018Staff

      Hi Angie,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. While we are not allowed to provide specific recommendations, let me give you general information to help you make a better choice. You may also consider using travel cards, credit cards and debit cards while in Hong Kong or Malaysia. To exchange currency either from the UK, Hong Kong or Malaysia I suggest that you do them in high street branches for secured transaction and higher exchange rates. In addition, you may also withdraw money from the local ATM using your travel debit card. Please refer to this link to compare which travel debit card would suit you most and with low international transaction fees and foreign ATM fees.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


      Default Gravatar
      AngieMarch 15, 2018

      What I really wanted to know is whether the exchange rate would be higher in the UK or Hong Kong/Malaysia.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayMarch 16, 2018Staff

      Hi Angie,

      Thanks for getting back.

      Usually, the exchange rates vary and change frequently, so I’m afraid we can’t really tell whether the exchange rate would be higher in the UK or Hong Kong/Malaysia. Basically the exchange rate would be determined on the day you convert the currency.


    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?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      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.

      For your reference, the Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card supports both AUD and CNY.

      I hope this has helped.



    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!

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      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.



    Default Gravatar
    RobynJune 1, 2016

    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.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      DeeJune 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.


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