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Does the public transportation system in Hong Kong accept a foreign credit card or debit card, or US dollars?

The same question about the other transportation systems for cabs or Uber like services.

If I am correct, the company of my cards (Fidelity rewards credit card and Fidelity Cash management card, both of which carries Visa symbol) has no problem with it. Only 1% foreign transaction fee.

Are there ATMs conveniently available for me to withdraw cash in either US or HK dollars, and then purchase fares?

Specifically,

  1. I heard MTR (the underground railway system in Hong Kong) doesn’t accept credit cards. What would you recommend to do about it?

  2. my trips will include going from the airport to west Kowloon train station. Google map shows me the following suggestions. Which routes and ways of paying the fares do you recommend? is MTR involved? enter image description here.

Thanks.

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  • Do you want to go the West Kowloon Station to take a high speed train to mainland China there, or to the area close to West Kowloon Station? The Airport Express stops at Kowloon Station which is just next to West Kowloon Station.
    – jcaron
    Jan 29, 2023 at 14:45
  • To west Kowloon train station for taking a train to mainland
    – Tim
    Jan 29, 2023 at 15:06
  • Where in the mainland do you need to go? I mostly used Trans Island shuttle. It's a van from the airport to the border, you walk over by yourself, and they pick up on the other side with a bus or private car to your final destination. Cost effective and no need to trek into Hong Kong proper or Kowloon. I have no idea though, what the Covid rules for this are.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 29, 2023 at 16:47

2 Answers 2

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Here is what I remember from pre-pandemic times. All of this may be different now

  1. Airport Express does accept credit card. You can also buy tickets upfront online.
  2. There are a bunch of shuttle busses from the train stations to local hotels in Hong Kong and Kowloon. These are free. https://ifuntour.com/HongKong/complimentary-airport-express-shuttle-bus-service.
  3. Acceptance of credit cards is generally good.
  4. ATMs are available but will tack on a good chunk of fees. NEVER use a credit card to get cash, use a debit card instead. Not all cards work all the time, so it's a good idea to have 2 or 3 available.
  5. If you are planning to stay for a few days try getting an Octopus card. That's a contactless payment system for all public transportation (including the Star Ferry which is a lot of fun to ride) and also accepted in convenience stores like 7-11, etc.
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  • Thanks. Are the routes from the airport to west Kowloon train station suggested in the screenshot by Google map all buses? Which one is more convenient and which is less expensive?
    – Tim
    Jan 29, 2023 at 13:23
  • 1
    This routing makes no sense to me. The airport express stops directly at Kowloon Station and from there you can take the free shuttle bus which covers most relevant areas in Kowloon. Where exactly do you want to go ? If you REALLY need to be at West Kowloon Station you can just walk.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 29, 2023 at 13:42
  • I want to go to west Kowloon train station from the airport. "If you REALLY need to be at West Kowloon Station you can just walk." which route did you refer to? Does the airport express stop at West Kowloon Station?
    – Tim
    Jan 29, 2023 at 14:16
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    The Airport Express stops as Kowloon Station. From Kowloon Station (Airport Express) it is a ~10min walk to West Kowloon Station (High Speed Rail) via a shopping mall and covered footbridge. It is reasonably-well sign posted, and staff in Kowloon Station is well-versed in English to give you walking directions.
    – B.Liu
    Jan 29, 2023 at 14:31
  • I have a vague memory of not being able to use a card to buy/reload an Octopus, so it was always ATM to withdraw cash then kiosk to reload Octopus (but that was a while ago), not sure what the current situation in that respect is.
    – jcaron
    Jan 29, 2023 at 14:47
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You want to get from Hong Kong International Airport (HKG/VHHH) to West Kowloon High Speed Railway Station.

For the minimum number of transfers, your options are to:

  • Take the MTR Airport Express (towards Hong Kong) to Kowloon Station, then a ~10min walk via a shopping mall and covered footbridge. The rail journey time is 22 mins and a single fare is HK$100. All major cards (Visa, Mastercard, UnionPay) are accepted at the customer service centre or ticket machines in front of the station. You can also buy tickets online beforehand.
  • Take the bus A22 (towards Lam Tin Station) to Austin Station, Jordan Road, then a ~5min walk via a covered footbridge with elevators. The bus journey time is 35-50mins and a single fare is HK$39. Cards (contactless only) are accepted on buses. You can also pay at the customer service centre before boarding the bus.

Now back to your general questions:

Does the public transportation system in Hong Kong accept a foreign credit card or debit card, or US dollars?

Things have gotten complicated in the past few years as Hong Kong is currently in the middle of a generational change in payment methods. As a general rule of thumb, in 2023 US dollars are not (and unlikely ever) accepted and cards (contactless) are accepted in some but not all transport modes (mainly buses, see this page and this page).

Getting an Octopus card remains the simplest way in 2023 as it still has universal coverage in Hong Kong. The card is a stored-value card that is accepted in all public transport modes, convenience stores, supermarkets, and most food outlets. Of course, if you only intend to make a single journey in Hong Kong, the deposit (or the HK$39 charge for the tourist version) may not be worth it.

The same question about the other transportation systems for cabs or Uber like services.

Taxis still generally operate on a cash (Hong Kong Dollar) basis. Some (but not the majority of) taxis take Octopus and Visa cards.

If you use Uber, which has acquired HKTaxi and can actually get you a licensed Taxi in Hong Kong, you can pay in the app with your card.

Are there ATMs conveniently available for me to withdraw cash in either US or HK dollars, and then purchase fares?

Many ATMs in the airport give Hong Kong dollars (e.g. Bank of China (HK), citibank, HSBC, all unaffiliated). Some also give US dollars if I recall correctly (e.g. Travelex, unaffiliated), but as mentioned above, they are not accepted for public transport fares in Hong Kong.

This community generally recommends one use their ATM/debit card(s) to withdraw local currency. This is because credit cards generally attracts a cash advance fee in addition to the foreign transaction fee, and currency exchanges generally charges customers a large fee (outright or via a large currency spread).

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