Using USA-issued Amex in Hong Kong

Old Sep 4, 13, 9:28 am
  #1  
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Using USA-issued Amex in Hong Kong

Hey all. I am moving to Hong Kong, where I'll be traveling around China quite a bit for work. My plan is to upgrade from Amex Gold Rewards Plus to Amex Platinum in order to avoid the foreign transaction fees and to get travel benefits. I'm wondering if anybody has recommendations on the following:

--I have a personal Amex and a corporate Amex. Which one should I upgrade to Platinum? I'm leaning towards personal, because there's a 50k bonus and most of my local charges will be personal. However, will this be a problem when i travel for work? Even though my ticket will be charged to my corporate green card, can I show my personal platinum to use lounges? Would I be missing out on other important travel benefits?
--Amex claims to be usable at a lot of places in HK. Has anyone found this not to be true?
--Generally, does anyone think there is a better option for HK/China/Asia than the Amex Platinum Card?

Thanks in advance.
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Old Sep 4, 13, 9:38 am
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mia
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I have edited the thread title to clarify that the discussion pertains to using USA-issued American Express cards, rather than cards issued in Hong Kong.
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Old Sep 4, 13, 9:43 am
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AMEX is generally accepted in high end places and chain stores in Hong Kong.

Non-high end independence stores generally don't accept AMEX.

For mainland China usage, consider getting a Discover Card, it process thru the UnionPay network ( the domestic card network banks in Mainland use ), hence much wider accepted.
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Old Sep 4, 13, 10:18 am
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Originally Posted by southleft View Post
--Amex claims to be usable at a lot of places in HK. Has anyone found this not to be true?
One interesting thing about Amex in HK is that I could not find a single ATM at any bank that would accept it for cash withdrawals. This really surprised me, as I would expect with HK being an international banking hub, that at least some of the banks (such as HSBC) would accept just about any card. I've not had this problem in any other country I've visited.
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Old Sep 4, 13, 10:29 am
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mia
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
...could not find a single ATM at any bank
Website lists 189 ATM's in Hong Kong, but all, except one, seem to be operated by:

AEON CREDIT SERVICE (ASIA) CO LTD

http://www.aeon.com.hk/en/html/index.html
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Old Sep 4, 13, 12:43 pm
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Thanks everyone. Does anyone have experience using a US personal platinum card for travel benefits when you didn't use the platinum card to pay the ticket (as I would be doing for corporate travel)? Most important in my mind is use of international lounges with Priority Pass, but it would be helpful to hear about other aspects of the board's collective experience as well.
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Old Sep 4, 13, 12:51 pm
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mia
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There is no requirement to use the Platinum Card to purchase airline tickets in order to use the lounge access or PriorityPass benefits. Completely unrelated.
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Old Sep 4, 13, 5:21 pm
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
There is no requirement to use the Platinum Card to purchase airline tickets in order to use the lounge access or PriorityPass benefits. Completely unrelated.
That's right. What you may be confusing this with is the requirement that you be flying on a same-day ticket on the airline operating the club for some, but not all, airlines that accept the Platinum Card for admission. This requirement does not ever apply when the Priority Pass card is used for admission.
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Old Sep 4, 13, 5:23 pm
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
Website lists 189 ATM's in Hong Kong, but all, except one, seem to be operated by:

AEON CREDIT SERVICE (ASIA) CO LTD
That is good to know. There are so many banks and ATMs in Hong Kong that I didn't have the opportunity to try all of them . I tried HSBC, Bank of China, and the one that Bank of America Hong Kong became (I forget the name), and at least two branches of each before giving up.
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Old Sep 4, 13, 5:34 pm
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For lounge benefits, it doesn't matter how the tickets were paid, but for FHR benefits, the hotel must be paid via AmEx in one's own name but not necessarily the Plat card.

OP might want to consider whether it would make sense to have an AmEx card, possibly some affinity version, issued in Hong Kong. Some Asian AmEx cards carry interesting benefits.
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Old Sep 4, 13, 8:18 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
For lounge benefits, it doesn't matter how the tickets were paid, but for FHR benefits, the hotel must be paid via AmEx in one's own name but not necessarily the Plat card.

OP might want to consider whether it would make sense to have an AmEx card, possibly some affinity version, issued in Hong Kong. Some Asian AmEx cards carry interesting benefits.
Thanks, this is helpful. Do you have any experience with local Amex cards? Any recommendations?
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Old Sep 4, 13, 8:26 pm
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Originally Posted by southleft View Post
Thanks, this is helpful. Do you have any experience with local Amex cards? Any recommendations?
No personal experience, sorry, but I've seen lots of ads for their features in Asian countries, most notably in Singapore. There some cards give free or discounted VIP airport ground services, discounts on dining in some restaurants around town, access to a special airport lounge (although the latter IIRC isn't available for AmEx cards), etc. IIRC there was a deal last year for CX elite status from certain Asia-Pacific AmEx cards and one for QF lounge access, although that could have been based on the CX status.

If you'll be eligible for a local card, you might want to postpone a decision until you arrive and can compare the local offers and their qualification requirements.

OTOH, you may find it better to have the USA version of the Plat card, which tends to have lower fees and better benefits than the Plat cards offered in many other countries, including most of Europe for example. For many USA citizens, having the USA unaffiliated Plat card pay the $200 GE application fee is a major advantage. It can also be useful to be billed in US$ with no foreign transaction fees.
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Old Sep 5, 13, 7:13 am
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I have no problem using a US issued platinum card in HK and big cities in China. When they don't accept AMEX I just offer them a US visa card, you can get those with no exchange fees as well.

In China, outside of big stores, fancy restaurants and chain hotels it's always a good idea to have a Union Pay card or just plain cash.
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Old Sep 5, 13, 8:21 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
No personal experience, sorry, but I've seen lots of ads for their features in Asian countries, most notably in Singapore. There some cards give free or discounted VIP airport ground services, discounts on dining in some restaurants around town, access to a special airport lounge (although the latter IIRC isn't available for AmEx cards), etc. IIRC there was a deal last year for CX elite status from certain Asia-Pacific AmEx cards and one for QF lounge access, although that could have been based on the CX status.

If you'll be eligible for a local card, you might want to postpone a decision until you arrive and can compare the local offers and their qualification requirements.

OTOH, you may find it better to have the USA version of the Plat card, which tends to have lower fees and better benefits than the Plat cards offered in many other countries, including most of Europe for example. For many USA citizens, having the USA unaffiliated Plat card pay the $200 GE application fee is a major advantage. It can also be useful to be billed in US$ with no foreign transaction fees.
you mean the $ 100 GE fee and the $ 200 airline credit.
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Old Sep 5, 13, 8:30 am
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AMEX will work well; never had issues

Originally Posted by Ragnarok View Post
AMEX is generally accepted in high end places and chain stores in Hong Kong.

Non-high end independence stores generally don't accept AMEX.

For mainland China usage, consider getting a Discover Card, it process thru the UnionPay network ( the domestic card network banks in Mainland use ), hence much wider accepted.
I've never had a problem using my AMEX card anywhere in China or HKG, except at places that only take cash. That includes bank machines, "3-star" Chinese hotels in really small places (6 years ago!), shops (high-end or otherwise). I've encountered a few places in really small towns that ... actually took American Express but didn't take ... Visa! Couldn't believe it. I've never known anyone to use Discover.

One top tip I learned early on- at some bank machines, to withdraw cash from AMEX, you have to choose "Checking" or "savings" as the type of account from which you wish to withdraw. There was a time when if you chose "checking" and it didn't work, try again making the "savings" choice to get the cash. Withdrawing cash using an ATM card met with a similar circumstance- the translation for "Checking" and "Savings" were backwards. If you had only a checking account, the machine may fail to dispense cash, unless you tried again choosing "savings."

Enjoy HKG! Great place.
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