What is the best bank and credit card in Hong Kong?

Hi team

Looking for guidance on the best bank and credit card for an Australian moving to Hong Kong. Currently with Commonwealth Bank Private and just have their credit card (diamond rewards) plus an Amex. Don’t need anything for investment or other purposes, just transactional banking.

Would be very grateful for any insights on where I should be looking in HK.


Whilst we can’t give financial advice, I’d say this though. Hong Kong is quite a different market and the use of credit cards are less common compared to other alternatives such as the Octopus card.

Hong Kong’s credit cards are much less lucrative compared to Australia or the US. In fact, it is more like Europe where credit card rewards are more restrained and controlled.

If you are looking for a rewards credit card to earn frequent flyer points and the like, look for the big banks like Heung Seng, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citibank, Bank of China or AMEX. So far, the only credit cards that directly earn frequent flyer points are the AMEX Asia Miles cards or Bank of China cards for earning Hong Kong Airlines frequent flyer miles. Other big banks have a variety of flexible currencies that you can transfer to other partners.

Hope the above was helpful in helping you look at the options you have. I’ll remind you though that credit cards aren’t a big part of the culture there as people usually pay by Octopus card especially for small purchases like coffees.

What djtech said is totally wrong. It isn’t hard to find credit cards that earn at a far superior rate compared to Australian credit cards. How many cards in Australia earn 1.35 Asia Miles per AUD equivalent spend? On some cards you can earn close to 2 AM/BA/KF per AUD equivalent if you (excuse your pun) play your cards right. You will find credit cards accepted everywhere with the exception of very small mum & dad type eateries or stores which will tend to be Octopus or cash only.

I would recommend that you start with the following HK credit cards:

American Express Cathay Pacific Elite
Amex Cathay Elite - this card comes with a 78,000 AM sign-up bonus if you apply through this link: https://bit.ly/2kDBjxC

It earns 1 AM per HKD$6 local spend, 1 AM per HKD$4 spend on foreign currency transactions, and 1 AM per HKD$3 spend on cathaypacific.com. You also get complimentary Green tier membership of the Marco Polo Club.

DBS Black Mastercard
If you want a card with flexible points earn that allows you to transfer to Avios, Asia Miles or Krisflyer, consider the DBS Black Mastercard. It also earns 1 mile per HKD$6 local spend and 1 mile per HKD$4 foreign currency spend, and comes with an 80,000 miles sign-up offer through this link: https://bit.ly/2m3wq1c

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It’s been 3 - 4 years since I’ve visited and clearly things have changed a lot since I last lived there ~ 8 years ago. After some research as well, it seems that credit card chip and mobile payment technology really took off there. SO @Isochronous is quite correct in that credit cards are widely accepted. I will say though that all my Hong Kong friends prefer to use their Octopus card for basically everything and only whip out their credit card for large expenditures like a new iPhone or furniture. It’s just something I’ve personally noticed.

@Isochronous has some good card suggestions. The sign-up bonus system is less lucrative in Hong Kong and there isn’t really opportunities to churn since they don’t offer ‘bonus points’ after hitting a certain amount of spend but rather offer a boosted earn rate up to a certain amount of spend that lets you earn the bonus points based on however much you spend. The earn rate is 1 mile per HK 6 on most cards and given the low AUD at the moment, that can certainly be over the earn rate typical here. However, the AUD was just around 6 HKD a year or so ago, so it’s quite similar earning of 1 mile per AUD.

Also, I sometimes find it hard to justify the annual fees on the cards. In Australia, credit cards sometimes comes with a travel credit of some sorts that sometimes totally or partially offset the annual fee of the card. In Hong Kong, I found most would need you to pay some form of annual fee and there are little cards that have a credit or benefits that completely offset the fee.

Again just my 2 cents. @Isochronous certainly raises some good points.

@djtech it is certainly fair to comment on the popularity of Octopus although one can still earn points using Octopus if you have it tied to a card that pays points on Octopus top-up payments, e.g. BEA World Flyer, SCB AM Mastercard, Dah Sing Avios Visa, Dah Sing ANA Visa or Dah Sing United MileagePlus Visa.

Nobody in HK pays annual fees on credit cards - some have an auto-waiver if you spend over a certain amount, others will waive it if you call and ask. the only cards where the issuers will trenchantly refuse to waive the fee are the Amex Platinum and the Citibank Prestige.

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