Wire, travelers cheques, atm, or None of the above?

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    10

    Wire, travelers cheques, atm, or None of the above?

    Hi all,

    I'm hoping for some guidance as far as currency exchange is concerned. I'm in the US and will be moving to HK very shortly and have been doing some research into the most economical way to move my cash. However, I have yet to come up with a definitive answer. Here's what I've come up with so far:

    Travelers Cheques:
    no fee to purchase these in USD, but subject to a 1.5% fee when exchanging for HKD in HK. The currency rate seems to be decent although not quite as good as a credit card. (This is for Amex, don't know about Visa yet, but they use Travelex so I think it's comparitively expensive.)

    Wire transfer:
    $40 fee from my bank. Also, I don't yet have a HK bank account set up, so doing that and setting up my paperwork with my US bank will take some time. It may be a while before I see these funds.

    Debit card:
    subject to a 3% fee on each withdrawal as well as a daily max limit. Also, what is the exchange rate for this? Does it depend on the atm/atm network I use? Or is the rate inclusive of the 3%

    Opening up a HSBC US account:
    don't know what the fees would be to transfer to a HK HSBC account, but I read in a past post that they were minimal. This will be kind of a pain as it would be set up solely for transferring funds.

    Any suggestions? Nothing seems to be really jumping at me, and I'd like to save a buck where I can. Any help would be most appreciated!

    Thanks


  2. #2

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    It really depends on the sums involved. Once you have an account here wire transfer to a US$ account in HK then exchange locally to your HK$ account is generally the best, but in the interim your home ATM card is normally the best. But both of these depend on the fees charged by your bank, which vary quite significantly case by case. Obviously if your ATM use is subject to a per transaction fee then you would tend to withdraw larger sums less often than if not.


  3. #3

    Join Date
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    Definitely agree it depends on which amount you will bring. PDLM is offering sound advice that I agree with.

    Using debit cards is ok for the interium but you can rack up heaps of additional costs if you solely relay on it.

    Traveler Checks is a pain in the bottom.


  4. #4

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    Jun 2007
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    Thanks for your replies - Ok, let's say that the sum is 5 figures USD. Are USD accounts in HK common? I wasn't aware of that option - how do they work? Are they generally offered by the larger banks?


    Also, Alby, why are travlers cheques a pain?


  5. #5

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    Traveler Checks are a pain because whether going to HSBC (or any other bank) or direct to AMEX office the personnel either take forever and/or do not know how to process them. The same holds true when used at most business establishments too. Have had too many friends come with these from the USA and we spend more than an hour plus everytime processing (cashing) them in. Using them to purchase something is the same - the personnel don't know how to process or even what they are sometimes.

    In HK I have a USA dollar - savings and checking account as well as a Hong Kong dollar savings and checking. They are common with a large majority of the banks actually, off the top of my head I cannot think of which does not offer such accounts.

    I also have kept my accounts in the USA. I made a personal decision when I moved here not to move all my money but, instead only brought what I needed. This for me was a few months salary.

    Personally, I find doing a wire transfer between HK and USA or vice versa easier to track and to do.

    Last edited by Alby; 19-06-2007 at 07:34 PM.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweep
    Are USD accounts in HK common? I wasn't aware of that option - how do they work? Are they generally offered by the larger banks?
    Yes, absolutely. I would expect pretty much every expat to have a multicurrency account - HSBC would call this "Powervantage" (if you don't have HK$1M - then you would be Premier). You run an account here which has different "pots" for as many currencies as you want (I currently have HK$, US$, NZ$, GBP, RMB, Euro) and you can exchange freely between them as you wish. The spread on US$-HK$ with HSBC is less than 0.5% since the HK$ is fixed in a very narrow band.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Thank you both for your help. This makes things a lot easier. I called both HSBC and BEA and got the info I needed regarding tranferring my funds. With HSBC I can either open up seperate deposit/savings accts for each currency or go with the Powervantage/Smartvantage account. Strangely enough, BEA actually has a slightly better rate for currency conversions.

    Thanks again!