I will be travelling to Hong Kong next week and the Octopus card seems like a must for a hassle-free trip. However I discovered on the website that there are standard on-loan octopus and tourist octopus cards.

However, I cannot find the difference between them. They are both stored-value cards and the stored value is refundable. The tourist card cost 39$, non-refundable, while the standard card costs 50$, with a refundable deposit.

Is there any difference I am missing? Is there any benefit to buy a tourist card at all?

My trip will be for 3 days.

  • Maybe the refund process for standard card takes time? A week? Or refund processed only on certain days and/or offices? Only to bank accounts?
    – DavChana
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 11:15

2 Answers 2


Note: It's not a confusing title, because it's a question, so that means there has to be something to answer.

Some background to what the Octopus is

Octopus is a stored value card that was invented by an Australian company, but turned down by Australia for being too advanced, and subsequently sold to Hong Kong, where now "everyone has one."

The idea is it has so many tentacles connecting to everything you can pay everywhere. It's really useful.

You can purchase at 7-11, convenience stores, MTR (subway and railway), big buses, small buses, some taxis, some McDonald's, some other food stores, and so on, using the badatong.

In Cantonese you say Octopus like: "bada tong"

Note: In Taiwan there is a similar card called an "Easy Card", or "yoyo cut" in Mandarin

Answer to difference between Tourist Sold and Standard On Loan cards

Here's a link with all the information on the difference between the two types.

A summary is:

  • Sold means you purchased the card.
  • On loan means they lent you the card.

Return policy:

  • Sold means when you return it, they refund you all stored value greater than the cost of the card.
  • On loan means they refund you all value, including the HKD50 deposit you paid for the load.

More details on the on loan card:

  • On loan has a HKD50 deposit which you can "dip into" when you have 0 stored value on your card. Say you go through the MTR and the fare is 11.60, and you only have 5.30 on your card no problem if you have an on loan card, the balance will just go to -6.30 in that case.
  • Some shops let you pay into the negative balance for the on loan cards, and others will not.
  • On loan cards and sold cards cannot be refunded if they are lost.

Extra Notes: You can get refunds if you lose identity-linked octopus cards. These are AAVS cards and personalized cards. AAVS cards are linked to your bank account or card, and when the balance drops below a certain amount, automatically recharge from your account (awesome, right?). You can cancel these at MTR if you lose them, and transfer any balance to a replacement card. Personalized cards are linked to your identity, and you can get a refund for these and cancel them even if you lose the card, just by proving your identity.

Master Class

You can top up badatong at 7-11, or in MTR, and some other places.

If you want to top up the badatong in Cantonese say:

  • zun zek leung baak.

Which means "top up HKD 200"

  • zun zek - top up
  • leung - two
  • baak - hundred

So if you want to add 100 say:

  • zun zek yut baak.

If you want to add 300 say:

  • zun zek saam baak.

The aa pronounce like "a" in "are".

  • 3
    Good info, but you don't answer the question: "Is there any benefit to buy tourist card at all?"
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 20:04

Answering: "Is there any benefit to buy tourist card at all?"

The tourist Octopus card appears to be intended to be kept as a souvenir.

The Sold Tourist Octopus card has an iconic Hong Kong design, making it an ideal souvenir that can be used again when you come back.

Also from wikipedia:

In contrast to On-Loan cards, Sold cards are sponsored and branded cards. They are souvenir cards that are frequently released by Octopus Cards Limited. The designs for these cards usually come from fictional characters in popular culture, or they are inspired by Chinese cultural events such as Chinese New Year. These cards are sold at a premium, have limited or no initial stored value, and cannot be refunded, but they can otherwise be used as ordinary cards.

The effective cost of this souvenir is 30 HKD over that of the on-loan card given the 9 HKD cost of returning an on-loan card early. If you choose to keep the card, you can use any remaining value up to 3 years after the last top-up.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .