Managing Money in HK

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    10

    Managing Money in HK

    So, I will be working in HK for 4 months this summer at an internship. I was just wondering about the logistics of banking/credit cards/money management for a temporary stay.

    1. Which bank(s) would you recommend for someone who needs an account without any minimum deposit? Especially upon opening the account, because I don't get paid until the end of the month, so I won't have much cash on me.

    2. How feasible is it to operate purely on cash in HK? I don't think I will qualify for a credit card. If I'm going this route, which bank has the most ATMs that are most easily accessed? I'd also be looking for banks with no ATM fees if possible in this case.

    3. Extremely dumb question - but what are some reasonable denominations to carry when shopping, let's say buying a relatively cheap meal or two? Obviously, if I'm in the US, I wouldn't go into a McDonald's and pay for a meal with $100USD. What about in HK? Should I be mostly carrying $100HKD bills? $500HKD bills?

    4. If I'm buying bigger ticket items, what are the HK policies for accepting personal checks? I know in the US they require two forms of ID when writing a check. (And while I'm on this topic, most banks issue a personal checkbook, right?)

    5. Would I need to pay HK taxes if I'm only here on a temporary work visa and am considered a resident of the US?

    6. Final Question! I plan to transfer all the money in my account to my US bank account when I leave. Should I close my account too when I do that? Should I wait for the transfer to be completed before closing it? Or can I leave an empty account open in case I come back in the future?

    Sorry for the huge array of questions. I've never even visited Hong Kong before, let alone worked there, so I have no idea what to expect or how things are done there. Thanks in advance for any help or advice offered here!


  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2005
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    See answers in PURPLE

    1. Which bank(s) would you recommend for someone who needs an account without any minimum deposit? Especially upon opening the account, because I don't get paid until the end of the month, so I won't have much cash on me.

    Suggest Nanyang Bank or Bank of China using a basic passbook with EPS card account (EPS = ATM) The last time I checked you will only be charged a fee at the ATM (money machine) if you use a HSBC bank money machine

    2. How feasible is it to operate purely on cash in HK? I don't think I will qualify for a credit card. If I'm going this route, which bank has the most ATMs that are most easily accessed? I'd also be looking for banks with no ATM fees if possible in this case.

    Yes you are correct in thinking that you will not qualify for a CC. Operating on Cash is relatively simple the option would be to use your EPS card. Nanyang and Bank of China use the same networks as other banks - as far as I know. Don't worry if I am wrong a fellow GEO expater will correct me.

    3. Extremely dumb question - but what are some reasonable denominations to carry when shopping, let's say buying a relatively cheap meal or two? Obviously, if I'm in the US, I wouldn't go into a McDonald's and pay for a meal with $100USD. What about in HK? Should I be mostly carrying $100HKD bills? $500HKD bills?

    HKD500 broken down in 100's, 50's and 20's is good.

    4. If I'm buying bigger ticket items, what are the HK policies for accepting personal checks? I know in the US they require two forms of ID when writing a check. (And while I'm on this topic, most banks issue a personal checkbook, right?)

    Ummmm most likely you will use your EPS card. I have never had a store accept a check. Most transactions are done in CASH, EPS card or CC. If you need a check for a fee the bank will issue you a bank check. I know people who were given a checkbook and have never used. As everything seems to be electronic.

    5. Would I need to pay HK taxes if I'm only here on a temporary work visa and am considered a resident of the US?

    That depends on your visa as an intern you will most likely be given a stipend not a salary thus, the organization should and most likely are applying for a training visa for you. If that is the case then as of the last time I checked no you will not have to pay taxes in HK.

    6. Final Question! I plan to transfer all the money in my account to my US bank account when I leave. Should I close my account too when I do that? Should I wait for the transfer to be completed before closing it? Or can I leave an empty account open in case I come back in the future?

    Unless you are planning on making bank while in HK I suggest that you carry on your person the few hundred or thousand that you maybe left with after your internship when you return home. Most interns tend to spend their stipend then some on socializing and traveling while they are here and do not have high amounts of cash left to make it worth their while to pay the bank transfer fees when they return home.

    To directly answer your question transfer the cash then close the account on the same day.

    CONGRATS on YOUR INTERNSHIP & BEST of LUCK to you!


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    10

    Thanks a lot for your very helpful response! I actually completely forgot the option of using my debit card (the EPS) for making purchases, since I typically use credit cards here in the US.

    That depends on your visa as an intern you will most likely be given a stipend not a salary thus, the organization should and most likely are applying for a training visa for you. If that is the case then as of the last time I checked no you will not have to pay taxes in HK.
    Hmm. My visa currently says "EMPLOYMENT" on it, though. Does that mean I'll have to pay my taxes before I leave? I checked the IRS website and I already have to pay US taxes on this foreign income. It'd be a real pain to have to pay HK taxes as well. I tried to check the double taxation section on the HK IRD website, but it seems to only cover employees from mainland China.

    Does anyone know how to handle this situation?

    And a bit unrelated, but now that I'm taking a closer look at my visa - it says that it's a single-entry work visa. Does that mean if I want to visit mainland China for a bit, that I would not be able to return? I really had my heart set on taking a week off to explore & do touristy things and this seems to be a bit of an obstacle for that.

  4. #4

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    Hmm. My visa currently says "EMPLOYMENT" on it, though. Does that mean I'll have to pay my taxes before I leave? I checked the IRS website and I already have to pay US taxes on this foreign income. It'd be a real pain to have to pay HK taxes as well. I tried to check the double taxation section on the HK IRD website, but it seems to only cover employees from mainland China.

    Does anyone know how to handle this situation?

    Just because the US government makes its citizens pay tax on all income wherever you are on the planet doesn't exempt you from paying taxes in the country you are working. You would pay HK taxes first and then US taxes on the remainder - but remember there are personal allowances in HK so you might not have to pay any taxes here anyway. And there is an allowance before US taxes are paid on overseas income too - perhaps a US citizen here will give the details.

    The double taxation info on the IRD website is for China because there is a special arrangement for Mainlanders working here. Everyone else with double taxation, which I think it really just US citizens, is on their own... or with an accountant.


    And a bit unrelated, but now that I'm taking a closer look at my visa - it says that it's a single-entry work visa. Does that mean if I want to visit mainland China for a bit, that I would not be able to return? I really had my heart set on taking a week off to explore & do touristy things and this seems to be a bit of an obstacle for that.

    Why not take your trip after you have finished working? You can then re-enter Hong Kong as a tourist if you want to, but you won't be able to work then. You probably have a one-entry visa because of the circumstances of your work.

  5. #5

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    Single-entry does not mean you can not leave HK for a holiday and come back. See the other threads on Geoexpat regarding this topic, for example:
    http://www.geoexpat.com/forum/thread20645.html


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    soon to be Hong Kong
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    tax free

    you mentioned you were for 4 months only ... the taxable free limit in HK in 108,000 HKD. Seeing as your intern i'd be surprised if you exceed this amount ...

    end result = no taxation for you ... oh Hong Kong what a great place


  7. #7

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    I doubt you will need to pay taxes for a 4 month intership, even if you have to do it on your type of visa. The threshold of personal income tax is HK$100,000 annual income, plus other deductions.


  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Thanks for all the helpful replies! I'm especially glad to learn that single journey doesn't mean I can't leave HK at all during my stay.

    You mentioned you were for 4 months only ... the taxable free limit in HK in 108,000 HKD. Seeing as your intern i'd be surprised if you exceed this amount ...
    Yeah, I'm definitely not earning over that limit. That's good news!

    Thanks so much for the help, everyone!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Hong Kong
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    Quote Originally Posted by HKLP
    1. Which bank(s) would you recommend for someone who needs an account without any minimum deposit? Especially upon opening the account, because I don't get paid until the end of the month, so I won't have much cash on me.
    Also check out the "ATM Savings" account from Hang Seng bank.

    No fees, no minimums and ATM machines everywhere.

    Only thing is you cannot go to the bank counter to deposit/withdraw cash. Everything has to be done via ATMs or their Cash/Cheque depositing machines.