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Hong Kong Travel Saving Tips

Hong Kong travel saving tips....little do you know that you have everything on hand already.  You have your credit cards, debit/ATM card and phone with you.  Follow these steps and you will save a lot in Hong Kong travel.

Hong Kong Bills (a.k.a. Banknote)Hong Kong Bills (a.k.a. Banknote), i.e. 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000. The smaller the amount, the smaller the size which is very convenient for those are handicapped.

"What's In Your Wallet?"

(Image source: "What's in your walet?"  Use them wisely for your money saving tips"What's in your walet?" Use them wisely for your money saving tips
(Image source:

There is a credit card commercial with this slogan, "What's in your wallet?"  That is the exact same question that I want to ask you.  Here is my experience to share with you to save your travel expenses.  This saving tip can apply to hotels, flights, car rental and other related traveling expenses all around the world, not only for traveling to Hong Kong.  I can tell you that my family saves a lot of money if you use this wisely.

For over 5 years, we had been using this credit card issued by an airline.  At first, everything worked out great.  Every dollar we spent, we earned a point for every dollar we spent. We could redeem these points in all travel expenses.

When we first made the purchase of the tickets with the points, we saved a lot of money.  However, you could only use the points during particular times where the airline set for you.  Otherwise, you may be prohibited from redeeming the rewards or get charged more.  In the traveling industry, they call this as "black out day". 

In other words, if you stick with a credit card like this, you do save a lot of money as long as your time is flexible.  However, it is not the case for most people.

A few years after having that credit card, there was a new one in the market.  What made us switching over was because of monthly spending pattern.  It rewards you 1.25 points for every dollar spent.  For instance, you charge $1,000 a month on your credit card.  At the end of the year, you will get 15,000 points which is 3,000 points more than using the other card.  Can you imagine your monthly expense is more than $1,000/month?

Other than the rewards, this credit card doesn't have the "black out day".  In other words, you can redeem the points at any time when you need to travel.  Yes, if it's a peak season, you will get charged more reward points.  But if you think it in this way, you earn more throughout the year.  So, it is not bad.  We have been saving a lot in buying air tickets with this credit card.

So, here are some Hong Kong travel saving tips for you which you can apply this same method on flights, hotels, rental car, tour package and so forth:

Do The Research

1) Of course, you need to do the research before applying a credit card.  Sometimes, it does take to use one before really knowing the benefits offered to you really work for you.  If that's the case, use one credit card at a time.  And use it for at least 6 months before switching over to another credit card and use it for 6 months, too.  This will allow you to compare apple to apple.  Once you find out THE one works for you, stick to that one.

Keep Your Ears and Eyes Open

2) Always keep your ears and eyes open.  Credit card terms and rewards change all the time.  You don't need to be loyal to any one of them.  If the terms change and you don't get the advantages as you used to get, look for another credit card that works the best for you.

Annual Fee?

3) Does the credit card charge you an annual fee?  If so, does the benefit you get will offset it?  Here is a perfect example.  Capital One has several credit cards.  One of the kind is the one that I have been talking about here.  Out of that same category, there are 2 cards.  The one charged an annual fee where you will earn 2 times rewards. 

Foreign Transaction Fee?

4) How much does the credit card charge you when you use it overseas?  It is called the "foreign transaction fee".  This is the lesson I learned it in a hard way. 

First of all, you need to know that the credit card company makes the money at the time of converting the currency to your current currency by absorbing the exchange rate different.

However, there are credit card companies will charge another transaction fee on top of that.  Make sure to check with your credit card company, this small transaction fee can add up to a pretty big amount.

Earn More Rewards

5) Can you earn more points or mileage by using points to make the purchase?  Did I confuse you?  If you understand this concept, you will love it.  But it depends on how the purchase is processed.

Remember the credit cards I mentioned earlier.  One was through the airline which was linked to the mileage account (card A).  The other one gives me more rewards (card B).

So, you earned a lot of points by using card B.  Now, you are going to make some tour packages by redeeming the rewards of this credit card.  The purchase includes air tickets through a traveling website that credit card B owned. 

At the time of checking in with the airline in the airport (of course, you can call them.  But it takes longer for the wait usually.), you can show the tickets to the airline and ask them to add the miles into your mileage account.  Most airlines will tell you that you won't see the rewards until you complete your trip.  But you should see additional rewards.

However, if credit card B leads you to the airline account for making the purchase, you may not get this bonus.

Hong Kong Dollar Exchange Rate

Hong Kong dollar coinsHong Kong dollar coins (from left to right; top to bottom) 10,5,1,2,2,50¢,20¢ and 10¢

While we are on the exchange rate topic, I want to share this tip with you.  When I went back to Hong Kong last time, the cashier can easily tell that my credit card is issued in US.  So, I was asked several times, "Would you like to pay in US or HK dollar?" 

If you come across this, your answer is always, always, "Hong Kong dollar".  Why?  Because the company that you just made the purchase from will use a relatively low exchange rate to convert the dollar amount.  In essence, you pay more.

I didn't know that when I checked out at the hotel.  Not until I received the credit card statement, I ended up paying USD100 more for my entire stay.

So, let me repeat one more time.  If the cashier asked you to pay in US dollar (or your country's currency) or Hong Kong dollar?"  Your answer is always, "Hong Kong dollar".

Hong Kong Travel Saving Tips of Debit/ATM Card

In most countries, it is difficult to do foreign exchange of Hong Kong dollars.  You may need to convert to EURO, USD or Pound.  Then, after your arrival, you will go to any Hong Kong banks to do the foreign exchange. 

Hong Kong dollar exchange rate is 1 USD: 7.8 HKD.  This is an official rate.  Usually, you will get 1: 7.73 or above.

Yes, you do need some cash in Hong Kong because some places still like to have cash transaction, especially the mom and pop stores.  However, over 95% stores and restaurants in Hong Kong accept credit cards. 

So, here is what we have been doing:

1) Check how much your bank will charge you for foreign exchange.  Is there any fee?

2) Alert your bank that you will withdraw money through ATM with your debit card.

3) When you arrive at Hong Kong, go to any ATM machines and withdraw HKD1,000-2,000 out of your bank with the debit card.

The advantage of it is that you don't need to pay for the difference of the foreign exchange rate twice.  You don't need to line up in a bank either.  Some Hong Kong banks will have a minimum amount of withdrawal.  Some will charge you for a small fee because you are not their customers. 

At the end of your trip, you may have some few coins left.  They will be your souvenirs for your Hong Kong vacation.

The back of Hong Kong dollar coinsThe back of Hong Kong dollar coins. The left bottom one was from the British colonist era. $5-coin is 2 times thicker than $1 one.

Travel Saving Tips on Hong Kong Hotels

One of my favorite cheap Hong Kong hotels, the City Garden Hotel in North PointOne of my favorite cheap Hong Kong hotels, the City Garden Hotel in North Point

You and I know very well that hotel accommodation most likely is the biggest portion of your travel expense other than air tickets.  If you have been to Hong Kong before or several times in the past, you may start to nail down to 1-2 favorite hotels.  If that's the case, congratulations! 

Every business loves repeating customers, including Hong Kong hotels.  Instead of reserving your room online or through other channels, pick up your phone and talk to the representative of your favorite hotel directly.  They are willing to throw in upgrades, breakfasts and many other things to get you to stay at their place again.  That was exactly what my uncle did and he got a great steal.

Tour Package?  Let's Think About It First

Before the internet era, tour package through the travel agent was the most ideal way to save money and travel.  It still does if you join the travel agent and travel with a big group.

However, if you are planning a trip just for your family, tour package online could be a BAD idea.  My experience turned out that tour package offered online charged more.  The extra money you would pay is between the range from USD200 - 2,000 per trip.  You are better off purchasing your trip of hotel, air tickets and rental car separately.

I understand that doing research takes a lot of time.  But if you are willing to spend 10-15 minutes more to search on the internet, you would be amazed how much money you can save for your travel.

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