Foreign Exchange Guide to Hong Kong
In this guide we review :
- Hong Kong dollar info - general info about the Hong Kong dollar
- Hong Kong dollar in the markets - recent HKD moves and predictions from the FX markets
- Travelling in Hong Kong - currency & money saving tips
- Buying Hong Kong dollar cash online - travel money for Hong Kong
- Sending money to Hong Kong - save on Hong Kong dollar bank transfers to Hong Kong
- Hong Kong dollar exchange rates - latest info & charts.
Hong Kong dollar (HKD) general currency information
Representing a little less than 2% of the foreign exchange market’s daily turnover, the Hong Kong dollar is the world’s thirteenth most traded currency. It is subdivided into 100 cents.
The Hong Kong dollar has been pegged to the US dollar since 1983 and the USD/HKD exchange rate has been limited to a range of 7.75 to 7.85 since 2005. The Hong Kong dollar’s peg is backed by one of the world's largest foreign exchange reserves (Hong Kong’s official reserves in 2016 were worth US$360 billion).
Hong Kong dollars are issued by the country’s government, but also by three local banks – HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of China – providing those banks have on deposit the US dollar equivalent of what they print.
The Hong Kong dollar reached an all-time low against the US dollar in September 1983 when USD/HKD reached 9.6 (HKD/USD 0.104), and its all-time high came in March 1978 when USD/HKD traded at just 4.6 (HKD/USD 0.217).
Hong Kong dollar (HKD) in the markets
The Hong Kong dollar fell in early August to a nineteen-month low of 7.828 against the US dollar but recovered slightly by mid-September to 7.813. At the time of this report, Hong Kong’s currency had fallen in every month of 2017 against USD and in all but one month against the euro. It remained Asia’s second worst performer of the year, ahead of only the Philippine peso.
By its own standards, HKD experienced a tumultuous time on September 7th and 8th, on which the currency made back three months’ worth of losses against the US dollar over an eighteen-hour period. It was stated afterwards by a Mizuho analyst that the move was driven by “a sizeable amount of capital being moved into HKD, which triggered stop-loss [orders].” Gains were short lived however, with the currency giving back two-thirds of those gains in the days that followed.
Rates paid on HKD have remained depressed in 2017 even as the HKMA has raised borrowing costs in step with the US Federal Reserve. The US-over-Hong Kong rate premium (around 55 basis points in August) is the principal reason for the Hong Kong dollar’s decline this year.
In September, Hong Kong’s Finance Secretary, Paul Chan, issued a warning on the country’s housing market for the second time since June.
“One has to be very careful if one really wants to buy a property in Hong Kong…I would not be surprised if there will be a certain adjustment in the market,” said Secretary Chan.
In June, Secretary Chan had described Hong Kong’s housing market as a potentially “dangerous situation.”
Hong Kong currency and money saving tips
From the airport the Airport Express is probably the quickest and most direct way to the city, making three total stops at Tsing Yi, Kowloon and Hong Kong Stations. Visitors using the Airport Express will most likely be interested in the Kowloon and Hong Kong Stations, which are located in the main parts of the city. Sometimes the taxi queue at Hong Kong station can be quite long, so if your hotel is near to the station in Lan Kwai Fong or Sheung Wan and you're are travelling light it might be a good idea to walk through the air-conditioned IFC.
While in Hong Kong consider using the Octopus Card. It is a stored-value smart card, similar to London’s Oyster card or Sydney's Opal card, that can be used for quick access and payment for public transportation as well as basic purchases at a many retail shops throughout Hong Kong such as 7-Eleven. It can be topped up any a large range of outlets, even McDonalds.
Public transport in Hong Kong is excellent. There are bus routes covering most of the island, frequent ferries between the islands making up the region, The Star Ferry connecting Kowloon to Hong Kong island is a considered a must see for its views. There are trains into mainland China and the superb MTR underground railway. The city is well connected by trains and great double decker buses. The drivers usually don't speak English and be prepared to sacrifice the small change because they don't return the change for the bus tickets. The cabs in Hong Kong can be expensive. There are a few bus routes that are worth seeing too. Route 973 travels from Tsim Sha Tsui, around Kowloon, crosses the harbour and winds around the coast of Hong Kong Island to Aberdeen, Repulse Bay and terminates at Stanley Market. Up top the double decker bus this is a spectacular trip.
In general, Hong Kong is a very safe city by day and night. The drinking water is often not considered drinkable depending on who you talk to so bottled water is a good idea. Many free tourist maps will also show great walks through the central city that will lead you through many popular areas and help give you a good insight to the city for first time visitors.
Hong Kong Trip Checklist
Travel money for Hong Kong
Save money and time by Ordering your Hong Kong dollar online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the HKD cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.
Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.
For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in Hong Kong dollar otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.
Sending money to Hong Kong
When sending money to Hong Kong it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 3 simple steps :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Hong Kong dollar amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted HKD amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in Hong Kong.
By comparing the rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more Hong Kong dollar deposited into the recipient bank account in Hong Kong and less margins and fees kept by the banks!