Hong Kong Currency Exchg

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Feb 9th, 2006, 04:11 PM
  #1
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Hong Kong Currency Exchg

Does anyone know if US Dollars are accepted in Hong Kong? Just wondering if I need to either bring or immediately convert some currency when I get to Hong Kong. Also -- any guidance on where to convert in Hong Kong. Do the exchange rates vary much within Hong Kong?
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Feb 9th, 2006, 04:20 PM
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You cannot use USD in HK. Except at some merchants that target tourists and which give you horrible rates.

The best way to get HKD is to use a bank card at a ATM. They are everywhere in the city.

If you MUST exchange USD to HKD, then try do it at a major bank in the city. They'll give you better rates than the exchange bureau. The rate between HKD/USD is extremely stable, pegged at 1 USD = 7.78 HKD. You can easily tell how "bad" the rate at a particular bank/bureau is by comparing that with this official rate.
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Feb 9th, 2006, 06:38 PM
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Pamo, the only place in Asia where US dollars are used as currency is Cambodia. Otherwise, no matter where you go, you need to change into the local money.

In Hong Kong, it is really true that ATMs are the way to go. The exchange booths give terrible exchange rates. There are ATMs at the airport after the arrivals area.
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Feb 10th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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In my experience over many trips over many years, is that one only needs HK$ for public transportation (taxis, buses, Metro, Star Ferry, etc.); for meals in small restaurants or foreign chains like Mc Donald's small shops like 7-11; and for admissions to some museums. For the rest, depend on credit cards or US cash/travelers checks.

If you change money at a bank, you will get a better rate than at a hotel (generally hotels give 7.3 or 7.4 to the dollar when the official rate is over 7.7 as rkkwan said) but banks have a fixed service fee that unless you are changing a LOT, will negate any rate savings. I don't know what exchange rate sources at the airport charge, but you can find out in advance what the public transportation or taxi is likely to cost and just change that much to start with. Or, better, use an ATM there.

You don't need much HK$ because virtually everywhere, except the exceptions above, accepts credit cards. And I've found that shops, from Stanley Market to the department stores, will take US currency and calculate the exchange at 7.7 or 7.6 HK to the US dollar. That makes it foolish to convert at lower rates at the hotel to spend HK$ at stores. Use either credit cards or ask about US$ -- or even Chinese RMB if you have some left over from having visited China. I bought clothing at Marks & Spencer with RMB, although I don't know how the conversion rate stacked up. My guess is that it was more favorable than converting RMB to US$ on leaving China and then US$ to HK$ in Hong Kong.

A couple of things to consider, though. Now most VISA and MC cards charge up to 3% just for converting charges in HK$ (or other currency) into US$ on your bill. There's one exception, according to a newspaper account that I've seen recently (I think it originally came form the Wall Street Journal) that shows Capital One as the only card that doesn't pass this along -- yet. (It said some HSBCS and Washington Mutual cards charge 1%. So, if you were planning on buying a major item, I'd suggest taking a bunch of "cash" in traveler's checks, especially if you can get them for free or at a low percentage from your bank or AAA.

So, trying to make a long story short, you will need some HK cash immediately if you need to get from the airport to the hotel on your own (use airport ATM), but after that, convert just a minimum at the hotel for convenience and use cash/travelers checks and ATM's for more cash as you need it.

At least, that's my strategy!
K
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Feb 10th, 2006, 09:37 AM
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There are plenty of ATMs around, and they will give you a MUCH better rate than a hotel or exchange booth. I use Hong Kong dollars for all small purchases as well as purchases in the markets (like the jade market) where credit cards are not accepted. Even with the added service charge on credit cards, you'll often do better to use a credit card to make a major purchase than using travelers checks. The exchange rate at most places for travelers checks isn't very good. Remember that the credit card service charge is on the wholesale (bank) rate of exchange, so I've found that the credit card conversation rate, even after the service charge is better than the exchange booth or hotel rate, and sometimes even better than the bank rate.
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Feb 10th, 2006, 07:44 PM
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Kathie,

Cambodia is not the only place in Asia where $US are used as currency. They are definitely the preferred currency in Myanmar (everything there is priced in $US) and although I have not been to Laos yet, I'm told the only way to purchase the local currency there is with $US.
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Feb 11th, 2006, 08:44 AM
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Lindsey, in Laos, you use US dollars to purchase local currency, which is different from the situation in Cambodia, where US dollars are the preferred currency to use on a day to day basis.

Likewise, In Burma, you need to exchange US dollars for kyat, though there are some things you'll pay for in dollars.

Pamo seems to be asking in this and her post about currency in Thailand, whether she can just use dollars, without making any exchange of currency. Only in Cambodia can one do that. Otherwise, one will be using US dollars to buy local currency, as in Burma and Laos.
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