Hang Seng international transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time

26.10.17
8 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. In fact, it’s quite likely that you may be able to save money, and even time, if you choose an alternative provider like TransferWise. But more on that later.


A quick example before we get started.

A theoretical online transfer sending HK$10,000 from Hong Kong to a pound sterling bank account in the UK.

At first glance, it looks like sending money through Hang Seng is slightly cheaper, but that’s before you take into consideration a likely exchange rate markup. On average, banks often markup an exchange rate by 4-6% to make money on converting your currency. Which means it’s a good idea to compare the exchange rate you’re offered with an online currency converter to find out how much your international transfer is really costing you.

In addition, nearly all transfers sent internationally are sent via SWIFT. Which means there are likely 1-3 intermediary banks as well as the recipient bank that may levy fees of their own. Costing you even more.

Provider Fee Exchange Rate Total Cost
Hang Seng (Hong Kong) $260 Exchange rate + markup $260 + exchange rate markup + likely fees from intermediary and recipient banks
TransferWise $68.68 + $196.08 debit/credit card fee The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google $264.76

(Source 23 January 2018)


Now that you can see for yourself what a transfer may cost you, here’s all you need to know about making an international transfer, or outward remittance, with Hang Seng.

What are the fees for an international money transfer (outward remittance) with Hang Seng?

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. 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 Regular 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 branchTo other accounts in Taiwan, Mainland China or Macau - HK$110 online, HK$220 in branchHKD transfers to the rest of world - HK$110 online, HK$220 in branchAny other currency transfer to the rest of the world- HK$260
Additional fees may apply See additional fees section

(Source 23 January 2018)

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. Hang Seng publishes indicative exchange rates online, but the site notes that these are for guidance only. You should check the rate when you place your transfer. Quoting Hang Seng bank:

RMB is currently not freely convertible and conversion of RMB may be subject to certain policy, regulatory requirements and/or restrictions (which are subject to changes from time to time without notice). The actual conversion arrangement will depend on the policy, regulatory requirements and/or restrictions prevailing at the relevant time.

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.

(Source 1, Source 2 23 January 2018)

Additional fees from Hang Seng

There are a few extra fees you should know about to make sure there are no surprises. If you need to cancel or amend your transfer once you have placed it, Hang Seng can charge you for it. You’ll also be liable for any other charges incurred by the recipient bank for. Also, when looking at the tables below, CNY and RMB refer to the same local currency in China.

International transfers with Hang Seng Additional fees
Intermediary/recipient bank charges 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.
Correspondent bank charges For remittance to Australia, UK, Canada, USA in domicile currency: Min HK$160 For remittance in USD to countries outside USA: US$35 For remittance in EUR to most of the major European countries: HK$200 for €12,500; HK$250 for >€12,500 For remittance in RMB to mainland China: HK$20 or HK$100, as appropriate For remittance in RMB to countries outside mainland China: HK$250 For remittance in JPY to Japan HK$200 if remit to beneficiary accounts with JPY Designated Banks(10) and remit amount JPY2.5 million. Min HK$350 if remit to beneficiary accounts with other banks or remit amount > JPY2.5 million For others: subject to correspondent bank policy
International transfers to accounts held in names which use Chinese characters There’s usually an additional fee of HK$150 if the account you’re transferring to has Chinese characters in the name
Amendment or cancellation of an international transfer HK$200, plus cable charges of HK$100 and any fee charged by the overseas bank
Inquiry about international transfers Minimum of HK$250

(Source 1, Source 2, 23 January 2018)

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 multi-currency 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.

How do you make an international bank transfer (outward remittance) with Hang Seng?

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

(Source 23 January 2018)

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

To send money as 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
  • 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 number 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’ll usually be asked for the reason code which applies to your transaction when you place it with Hang Seng.

(Source 23 January 2018)

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

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
  • Hang Seng 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.

(Source 23 January 2018)

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 1-4 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 are 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’ll 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.

(Source 23 January 2018)

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.

Contact / Help - More questions about 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