Three fastest ways for businesses to transfer money from the US to Hong Kong

Kirstie Lau4 min
Three fastest ways for businesses to transfer money from the US to Hong Kong
In this article

There are three main ways for businesses to transfer money from the United States to Hong Kong – bank telegraphic transfer, electronic transfer and transferring through third-party remittance platforms. This article compares the exchange rates, processing lead time, and potential handling fees of different remittance methods and points out the things to consider before starting a remittance to help you choose the most secure, efficient and cost-effective method for money transfers.

The common types of remittance from the United States to Hong Kong

Apart from personal remittances, such as sending housekeeping money to family members living in Hong Kong and transferring money to Hong Kong for investment activities, commercial transactions are also common types of remittances from the United States to Hong Kong. As Hong Kong’s trade relations with the United States remain strong, the most common remittance on the market is businesses in the United States transferring money to Hong Kong suppliers. Larger companies, meanwhile, may have to deposit funds into the bank accounts of subsidiaries located in Hong Kong, make salary payments to employees, or engage in other transactions to scale up their businesses.

Three main ways of transferring money from the United States to Hong Kong

  • Online banking/ electronic transfer services: Many banks and financial institutions in the United States provide online banking and electronic transfer services, including remittances to Hong Kong. Taking the commonly used remittance platform in Hong Kong, Paypal, as an example, after creating an account, a user can simply link his/her US bank account to the platform by providing his/her personal information and bank account details. To transfer money to Hong Kong, he/she only has to input the recipient’s information, such as name and bank account numbers, fill in the transfer amount, and then confirm the remittance details.

  • Bank telegraphic transfers: The remitter can simply send money to Hong Kong through telegraphic transfers by visiting US bank branches or conducting online wire transfers. Telegraphic transfer is a traditional transfer service where US banks can directly send funds to Hong Kong bank accounts through the commonly used SWIFT network between banks. The remitter has to provide detailed bank information of the recipient, such as bank name, branch address, SWIFT code, the recipient’s name, and his/her bank account number. Note that banks usually charge handling fees and offer exchange rates at a higher markup.

  • Third-party remittance platforms: Another way to transfer money safely, conveniently and efficiently is by using third-party remittance platforms, such as Airwallex – an expense management tool that provides one-stop services on finance and remittances. Businesses can open a virtual USD global account with Airwallex at any time in only a few minutes without having to pay any account opening fees. They can directly collect payments in the USD and over 23 other currencies. The platform provides competitive exchange rates and guarantees zero hidden fee, and about 70% of remittances can arrive at the recipient’s bank account in full as quickly as within the same day.  

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Five things to consider before transferring money from the United States to Hong Kong

  • Convenience and ease of operation: Compare the security level, convenience, processing times and handling fees of different remittance methods, such as electronic transfers, bank telegraphic transfers and remittance services provided by third-party transfer platforms, to choose one that is most suitable for transferring money to Hong Kong.

  • Processing time: International transfers may take several business days to complete due to transfer cutoff times of different banks and banking holidays. Some banks even require remitters to provide extra supporting documents depending on the value of the transfer amount, which could affect the processing time. Therefore, if your remittance is urgent or time-sensitive, you should carefully choose a remittance method that doesn’t impose transfer time restrictions and can offer same-day crediting, such as Airwallex.

  • Remittance costs, handling fees and hidden charges: Banks and remittance service providers usually charge several handling fees based on the remittance amount. Remitters should ensure they are aware of the handling fees before confirming a remittance to avoid incurring additional and unexpected fees.

  • USD/HKD exchange rates: Learn and compare the exchange rates provided by different banks and remittance service providers on the market to ensure you get the most favourable rate.

  • Security: Choose banks, third-party remittance platforms or electronic remittance service providers that are safe, trustworthy and reputable. Ensure that they are regulated by authorities so that your remittance funds are well-protected. For example, Airwallex is regulated by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department and holds a Money Service Operator License (MSO License No. 16-09-01929).

Comparing three major methods of transferring money from the United States to Hong Kong

Method Through third-party remittance platforms Traditional bank telegraphic transfer Through electronic remittance service providers
Processing time As quickly as within the same day 1 to 5 working days 3 to 6 working days
Cost, handling fees and hidden charges No account opening, maintenance or any hidden charges Several types of handling fees Basic exchange rate plus handling fees
Security level High The highest High
Exchange rate Comes with a markup as low as 0.2% above the interbank exchange rate Comes with a markup of around 4 to 5% above the interbank exchange rate Customized

In summary, third-party remittance platforms are the most suitable options for people who require same-day crediting. They also offer favorable exchange rates with no or only a small amount of handling fees. Although traditional bank telegraphic transfers are the most secure compared to the other two, they have high exchange rates and may not provide same-day crediting, hence, they might result in higher remittance costs for people who need to make frequent remittances to Hong Kong.

Comparing Airwallex with traditional banks 

Airwallex is a third-party international payment and remittance platform, designed for small-and-medium-sized corporates and business users. It provides one-stop services for finance and remittances, including cross-border transfer solutions, making it suitable for businesses that require frequent commercial remittances.

After opening a Business Account, a user can directly open a virtual USD account in the company’s name, and collect USD payments at any time, anywhere. Collecting remittances directly in the currency used by the sender can help eliminate currency exchange fees. Users can also track and review all transaction records online.

In terms of transfer speed, Airwallex offers faster processing compared to traditional banks with nearly 70% of remittances arriving at the recipient’s account on the same day. Traditional banks are comparatively slower as their processing time depends on multiple factors, such as the remittance amount, and the location of the sender and the recipient. International transfers may take 1 to 5 working days or even longer to be completed. If the remittance involves a large commercial amount, banks may require extra time for inspection and charge fees for high-value transfers.

Are there restrictions on transferring money from the United States to Hong Kong?

There are no specific regulations imposed by regulatory bodies in the United States on transferring funds from the US to Hong Kong. Remitters only have to take note of the transfer limits, such as the maximum daily/monthly transfer amount, imposed by different banks and remittance service providers.

Open a global multi-currency account for free in Hong Kong

Frequently asked questions

1. Do I need a local bank account in the United States to receive funds in Hong Kong?

No, you don’t need to. Through an Airwallex Global Account, you may open a virtual USD account with local bank details for free, and collect funds from the US directly without forced FX conversions.

2. What information is required for transferring funds from the United States to Hong Kong?

Usually, the remitter in the US has to provide his/her name, address and contact details, as well as the name, bank account number and bank name of the recipient in Hong Kong. He/she should also specify the remittance amount, currency and the purpose of the transfer (if required), such as for personal use, business use or real estate transaction. These can ensure the remittance complies with relevant laws and requirements.

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Kirstie Lau
Senior Associate, Growth Marketing

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