Hang Seng international transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time

26.10.17
6 minute read
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There are lots of reasons why you might need to send or receive money from abroad - maybe you live or work outside of Hong Kong, travel regularly, or do business in another part of the world. Whatever your reason, if you hold an account with Hang Seng, it’s important that you understand a little about how they’ll process your transactions and how international money transfers work in general.

Here’s all you need to know about making an international transfer with Hang Seng.

How do you make an international bank transfer with Hang Seng?

Hang Seng allows customers to make international money transfers online through the Hang Seng HSBCnet, or by visiting a branch.

What do I need in order to make an international money transfer?

To send money through an international bank transfer, you're going to need a few key details. These may vary a little depending on where your money is going, but you can expect to be asked for the following:

  • The transfer amount and reason for transfer, if you’re sending RMB
  • The full name of the person you’re sending the money to, as written on the account
  • Your recipient’s full personal address
  • Your recipient’s IBAN or international account details
  • The recipient bank’s SWIFT/BIC code, or routing code if you’re transferring to the USA
  • The reason for your transfer, should you be sending RMB

If you’re sending money in RMB, it’s a legal requirement imposed by the People’s Republic of China, that you specify why you’re doing so. You will usually be asked for the reason code which applies to your transaction when you place it with Hang Seng.

What do I need or what should I give to the sender in order to receive an international bank transfer?

You’ll need to give the sender the following to receive an international money transfer with Hang Seng:

  • Your full name as it appears on your bank account
  • Your full address
  • Your bank account number
  • Your bank’s SWIFT/BIC code
  • The amount and currency you’d like to receive. Make sure you don’t forget to take into account any charges involved.

You can use this helpful tool to find or check your SWIFT/BIC code.

How long does an international bank transfer with Hang Seng take?

How long it takes to process an international transfer depends on where your money is going. Hang Seng says that a transfer will take on average 1 to 4 business days. However, there may be delays on the receiving side if you’re transferring to a country that operates currency exchange control, or if there’s strict local regulations that require extra checks. It’s also important to keep the cut off times for transfers in mind. They can be quite complex and they will depend on the currency you’re transferring to and whether you’re setting up the transfer online or in a branch. Missing the cut off time for that day will mean that your transfer isn't dealt with until the following day.

Is there any way to make a faster transfer for an extra fee?

If you miss the cut off time for processing on that day, you might be able to pay an additional fee to still have the transfer completed on the same day. However, this will depend on where your money is headed and when exactly you’re trying to make the transfer. We suggest you contact your bank for more details..

What are the fees?

The pricing structure used by Hang Seng is fairly complicated with a number of variables. Costs are different depending on whether you’re setting up the transfer online or in a branch as well as where you’re sending money to. For example it’s cheaper to send money to Macau, Taiwan and Mainland China, than it is to send it elsewhere in the world. However, keep in mind that Hang Seng will charge additional fees of HK$150 when sending money to recipients whose names are written in Chinese characters on their bank account. On the other hand, you may get a portion of the fees reduced or waived if you have a premium ‘Prestige’ account.

You can get the full pricing structure online on the Hang Seng website, or you can call into a branch to check the costs of your transfer.

Hang Seng International transfer fees table

Here’s an overview of the fees involved when making an international transfer with Hang Seng.

Hang Seng Bank Transaction Fee
Incoming international transfer
  • HK$65
Outgoing international transfer
  • To another Hang Seng account in Mainland China or Macau - HK$80 online, HK$190 in branch
  • To other accounts in Taiwan, Mainland China or Macau - HK$110 online, HK$220 in branch
  • HKD transfers to the rest of world - HK$110 online, HK$220 in branch
  • Any other currency transfer to the rest of the world- HK$260
  • There’s usually an additional fee of HK$150 if the account you’re transferring to has chinese characters in the name

Hang Seng exchange rates

Apart from any flat fees applied, to know if you’re getting a good deal, you also need to be aware of the exchange rate you’re being offered.

This can get tricky because depending on the details of your transfer, you might find that it's not Hang Seng that chooses the exchange rate for your transaction. An intermediary or the recipient bank might actually be the ones to do it and unfortunately they generally don’t offer a great deal. That’s because intermediaries can only get their cut by marking up the exchange rate and keeping the difference. This means that the rate that you’ll get might actually not be anywhere near as good as the real mid-market rate that you can find on Google..

Additional fees from Hang Seng

If you need to cancel or amend your transfer once you have placed it, Hang Seng can charge you up to HK$300 for it. You’ll also be liable for any other charges incurred by the recipient bank for example.

It’s important to realise that there could be fees and charges applied by banks other than Hang Seng too. Most international transfers are processed using the SWIFT system. This method of transfer means that there are often several banks involved in the process, that can also add their own fees as your money passes through the system. Hang Seng listed some of the charges that may be applied to your transfer based on the currency you’re sending, should you as the sender choose to cover them. However, this information doesn’t cover all possible costs for every currency, as Hang Seng can’t always tell you what other fees might be applied by the other banks involved in the transaction. Hang Seng are also unable to disclose the charges that might be applied if you choose to have them be paid by the recipient, so it's unfortunately incredibly difficult to know in advance exactly how much the transfer will be worth when it’s received.

A cheap and transparent alternative: TransferWise

If you’re worried about complicated charges and hidden fees, then TransferWise might be just the thing for you. TransferWise uses the real exchange rate - the one you’d find on Google - and charges only a small transparent fee per transaction. So, you can move your money quickly and safely, for less.

And if you need to make international money transfers often you might also benefit from a TransferWise borderless account. It lets you hold your money in 28 different currencies as well as convert it using the real exchange rate whenever you need it the most. If you’re a freelancer or remote worker, and get paid in the EU, the UK or the US but live elsewhere, a borderless account will let you get paid locally using local bank details. That means you cut out international transfers and all the potential hidden fees entirely.

See for yourself if you can get a better deal with TransferWise.

Contact / Help - More questions around your transfer?

If you have specific questions about your transfer, there are several different ways you can talk to the advisors at Hang Seng:

  • Log in to online banking for frequently asked questions
  • Use the Hang Seng branch finder to get help in person
  • Call Hang Seng on 2822 0228

If you live or work abroad, or simply like to travel when you can, you might find yourself making frequent international money transfers. The charges can quickly mount up and make for a nasty surprise. So, whenever you’re transferring your money, it’s a smart idea to do your research in advance, to make sure you get the best deal for your situation.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more