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Payments in Hong Kong – The Way You Should Pay In Hong Kong

June 17, 2021

Name(English): Payments in Hong Kong
Name(Chinese): 香港的付款方式
Category:Practical Information

Hong Kong has the freest economy (or used to be) and a world financial center, the government pride itself on having no trade restriction: no sales tax, simple tax code, using contactless smart cards since 1997… By now, you should expect Hong Kong to have one of the most advanced E-payment technologies in the world… NOT!

The preferred payment – CASH is king!

Even though the city’s only charges 16.5% corporate tax and is very easy for businesses to “manage” their profit tax, many business owners still prefer to operate as a cash business to provide “flexibility” on tax reporting (if you know what I mean…). Furthermore, many fear the third-party platform may one day be required to report details to the government (e.g. WeChat). As a result, most Small-Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) always take cash over credit cards. For example, taxis will never take credit cards, non-mainstream electronic/computer stores who offer good deals ALWAYS charge extra for credit card payment, mom and pop restaurants will have a sign that says “cash only”. Therefore, you should get some Hong Kong Dollars at the money exchange while you are in Hong Kong. 

Regarding E-payment, Octopus Card has always been the major way of transaction for transportation, food and small-amount shopping. With more and more Chinese visitors, many businesses accept payment via WeChat, a social media-messenger popular in mainland China. Alipay and Apple Pay are also becoming more common. 

If you happen to have a HSBC account, it would be helpful to download PayMe, a payment app developed by the bank for its users. Not only can you pay at small shops with the app, you can also make a payment to another individual HSBC account holder to share a dinner bill or a taxi ride. 

Tipping Culture

One of the most common questions is whether to leave a tip at your dinner. To really answer the question, here is a quick reference base on scenarios:

Taxi or Private Car pick-up – Tips are not expected. However, HKD 20 would be plenty if you want to tip for the good service.

Hotel Attendant – Tips are sometimes expected: I would leave HKD 20 if your luggage is particularly heavy or your room is very messy.

Restaurant – 10% is already added to your bill unless you dine at a local eatery or street food stall. However, your 10% tip does not go to the employees. If you want to tip for the good service, please give HKD 20 – 50 SEPARATELY to the staff (NOT with the bill).

Tour Services – Tour guides are almost always under a self-employed contract and tip is very much appreciated for their service. Depending on the length and type of the tour, HKD 50 – 100 is not uncommon. 

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Gigi Chan

This is Gigi, an university student in Hong Kong. I love my home so much that I wish not only Hong Kong to be a better place, but also the others to know her authentic side.


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