Hong Kong’s international banking system is one of the best in the world. With a wide range of choices, from traditional banks to money transfer companies, sending money to and out of Hong Kong is a breeze. The bilingual environment also makes it very easy to transfer money. If you’re planning to send your hard-earned cash out of Hong Kong—even large sums or your entire savings—there are a variety of ways to do so.
Here, we take a quick look at the options for sending money from Hong Kong, beginning with banks, and then running through some of the money transfer services, like Wise and OFX.
If you have a bank account in Hong Kong, then using a bank transfer is a straightforward process. You should, however, always contact the bank you plan to send money to, and find out if they have a limit on the amount you can send. You will also typically need information such as a SWIFT code for the international transfer.
HSBC is Hong Kong’s most popular bank, and if you have an HSBC Premier account, then Global View is the easiest way to transfer your cash abroad. This allows for global transfers without any service fees. Global View is available in more than 30 countries and this is probably one of the best options if you are leaving Hong Kong and need to transfer large amounts of money. Simply go into the bank and talk to a relationship manager about how to set up Global View. They help you every step of the way.
However, if you need to transfer between two different banks via a wire transfer, there will be a service fee. These fees range from bank to bank, so you may want to inquire at the bank how much you will end up paying for the transfer. If it seems high, then it’s a good idea to explore other options and make a comparison.
Money transfer services in Hong Kong
There are loads of worldwide money transfer services available, thanks to Hong Kong’s large number of expat workers from around the globe. Some transfer companies don’t charge fees, but may make money off of the exchange rate. Others charge fees that make it impractical to send large amounts of money because you end up losing too much every time you send cash. To help you compare, we’ve rounded up some of what we reckon are the best international money transfer services based on affordability, reliability, and rates.
Wise (formerly TransferWise)
With Wise, you pay a small fixed fee, plus a percentage of the total amount. What you pay depends on which currencies you’re using, but Wise uses a guaranteed rate which is pegged to the mid-market rates.
Sending the money is quite simple. You’ll need to provide the recipient bank details, and verify your identification using an official form of ID, such as a driver’s license or your Hong Kong ID card. You then pay for the transfer (you can use a bank transfer, debit or credit card, or other methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay, though there are some limitations depending on the country), and track the movement. Typically the funds arrive in 1-2 days.
Wise is available in 60+ countries (including Japan, where it seems to be a popular choice among expats), and you can use the Wise app to track your money and send transfers at the touch of a button. If you need to transfer to multiple countries, you can set up a multi-currency account online.
OFX is a little different, in that they only accept bank transfers from your account, which means you cannot use other forms of payment, such as credit cards, cash, or cheques. But sending money from your bank account through OFX is easy.
To get started, you register for an account, send OFX the funds, and OFX delivers to your recipient. It typically takes 1-2 business days and you can track the transfer online through the OFX app. For transfers under 50 000 HKD, there’s a fee of 60 HKD, but if you’re transferring bigger bucks the fee is waived. This makes OFX a strong choice for large transfers.
Special cheapo deal: We reached out to OFX and negotiated a special deal for Hong Kong Cheapo readers, so if you sign up here and mention Hong Kong Cheapo, they will waive the transfer fees on all your transfers! Forever. Yes. Forever.
InstaReM‘s website makes it easy to see exactly what your transaction will cost. On the plus side, the recipient doesn’t pay any fee to receive the cash. But the only way to send money is from your bank account or debit card, with the debit card option being faster but quite a bit more expensive.
There is a minimum transfer amount of 1000 HKD or 50 USD for both individual and business transfers, but no maximum limits. The website says that transfers typically go through the same day, or even instantly. Fees vary between 0-1%, depending on the country pairing.
Western Union is ubiquitous in Hong Kong, and money can be sent either online or in-person if you’ve got physical cash in hand. A lot of people choose Western Union when they need to send money in a hurry, as the transfer can be completed within minutes. However, this fast movement of money can sometimes come with a price, in terms of the fees.
Depending on where you’re sending the money, there are also different limits on the maximum amount you’re allowed to send. Western Union’s website lets you see exactly how much you can send, and what the transfer fee is.
The fees have actually gotten a lot better in recent years, making it an affordable and convenient option for many expats. Note that making a transfer for pick-up in cash is typically more expensive than sending money to a bank account, from a bank account, though.
How to decide which money transfer service to use in Hong Kong
When it comes to deciding which route to take to transfer your money into or out of Hong Kong, if it’s a large amount, look at OFX and also ask your bank about how much a wire transfer would cost. Then do your homework and compare how much the other money transfer services will charge. A lot will depend on how much money you actually plan to transfer.
To help you decide, you can check out the following comparison chart, which breaks down how much each money transfer service would charge for a particular transaction. As an example, let’s pretend we’re sending HKD 15,000 from Hong Kong to the US. This chart shows how much you could end up with after the transfer, in both HKD and USD.
The following was calculated using the transfer calculator on the sites in the afternoon of April 17, 2021. Of course, market rates fluctuate all the time, so this table is not at all indicative of current market rates.
|Amount Converted (HKD)
|1-2 Business Days
|1-2 Business Days
|InstaReM (bank transfer)
|1-2 Business Days
|Western Union (bank transfer)
|1-2 Business Days
*Base rate without special Hong Kong Cheapo reader discount.
It is important to note that while this table was accurate at the time of writing, the actual market rates at the time of your transfer will determine how much the recipient receives. We recommend that you carefully compare your options at current market rates before deciding how to transfer your hard-earned dollars.
Post first published in March, 2020. Last updated in April, 2021.