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What is the best bank account for domestic helpers?

Many domestic helpers do not have bank accounts. But it’s a really good idea to set one up because having a bank account is a good way to make sure money can be set aside for saving and emergencies. It’s also a good way to keep a record of salary payments for both employers and domestic helpers. 

Banks

Opening a bank account in Hong Kong can be expensive, but there are some banks that offer no-frills, low-cost savings accounts. Employers are not required to accompany domestic helpers to the bank to open a bank account, but it may be helpful.

Below are some banks that offer these types of accounts, and some information about account features and documentation requirements. They don’t charge the account-holder any fees if their balance falls too low, and ATM transactions and ATM queries about the balance are free of charge. However, there is a fee of $20 for any over-the-counter transaction. Note: The following information has been verified through conversations with bank managers. However, your experience may vary.

Accounts can be opened during normal bank hours: Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm; Sat 9 am to 1 pm.

Hang Seng Bank

  • The account type is the ATM Statement Savings Account (ATM 結單儲蓄戶口).
  • To open an account, a domestic helper needs to take into the local branch the following:
    • Passport
    • Hong Kong ID card
    • FDH employment contract
    • $500 or more as initial deposit
    • OEC number (for Filipino domestic helpers)
  • The domestic helper will receive an ATM card immediately. She will also receive instructions for the use of internet banking.
  • Based on feedback from domestic helpers, the account opening process takes around 45 minutes.

Bank of China

  • The account type is the HKD Savings Account (港元儲蓄戶口).
  • To open an account, a domestic helper needs to take into the local branch the following:
      • Passport
      • Hong Kong ID card
      • FDH employment contract
  • The domestic helper will receive an ATM card in the post within 3-5 working days. The ATM card can be used free-of-charge at all ATM machines with a JETCO symbol. She will also receive instructions for the use of internet banking.
  • Based on information from a Bank of China manager, the account opening process takes 20-30 minutes.

The Asian Migrants Credit Union

Low-cost savings accounts are available through the Asian Migrants Credit Union, a savings-and-credit cooperative that was founded to serve migrants in HK. Since 2008, AMCU has opened more than 600 accounts for migrant workers, and is registered as a credit union with the Registrar of Credit Unions (Registration Number 76) under the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR.

At AMCU domestic helpers also have the opportunity to interact with other savings-conscious members and volunteers. After saving for six months, members also have access to low-interest loans, effectively more than doubling their safety net.

  • Minimum share balance required: $5
  • One-time membership fee: $10
  • Savings earn dividends
  • Low-interest loans available for provident or productive purposes
  • Loans must be guaranteed: by savings of borrower and another AMCU member
  • Each member is a share-holder; 1 member = 1 vote
  • Regular Networking and educational events
  • Contact: Tel/WhatsApp: 9208 3227; Facebook: AMCU HK; Email:amcu.hongkong@gmail.com

TOP TIPS

  • Make sure you ask when you open your account if there are any fees and charges for different services. Every bank is different and it’s important you understand what you might be charged for.
  • Make sure to always keep your ATM card in a safe place. Never, ever share your pin code with anyone, not even if your employer or agency asks you to.
  • For advice on managing money, domestic helpers can attend financial literacy training with Enrich. Enrich is a Hong Kong based charity that provides training courses for domestic helpers on saving, investing and setting up a business.

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The Asian Migrants Credit Union (AMCU) is a contributor to this article. AMCU is a savings and credit cooperative of and for the migrants. It is the first and only credit union of migrant workers of various nationalities in Hong Kong. Since 2008, AMCU has opened more than 600 accounts for migrant workers. AMCU is registered as a credit union with the Registrar of Credit Unions (Registration Number 76) under the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR Contact: Phone/Whatsapp: +852 9208 3227;  Email: amcu.hongkong@gmail.com



Last updated on September 11th, 2018
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