After months of turmoil and disruption, Hong Kong businesses need a boost. Luckily for the city’s permanent residents, that’s resulted in a government-run HK$5,000 voucher scheme to spend on anything from sneakers and smartphones to bus fares, coffee and cosmetics.
This free money, which will come in instalments, can only be spent, not saved, and you cannot collect it all in one go. You can, though, save up the whole HK$5,000 and spend it at all once – depending on how you choose to receive the vouchers – so if you’re eyeing that purple Apple iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 5G, the HK$5,000 will cover a decent chunk.
You need to be either a Hong Kong permanent resident or recent migrant from mainland China. Dependents sponsored by a permanent resident of Hong Kong will also benefit. There are some exemptions: see here for more details.
There are four ways permanent residents can choose to receive the vouchers: AlipayHK, WeChat Pay HK, Tap & Go, and Octopus (including both physical Octopus cards and the mobile app). (AlipayHK is owned by Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post).
All payment providers have offered rewards to encourage registration with their own particular voucher system. For example, the first 2 million people who redeem their consumption vouchers via the Octopus mobile app can earn an additional HK$18. Early-bird rewards are also offered for registrations with AlipayHK and WeChat Pay HK.
AlipayHK, WeChat Pay HK and Tap & Go users will receive the HK$5,000 in two instalments, while Octopus users can collect it in three.
For Tap & Go, AlipayHK and WeChat Pay HK:
Two vouchers will be made available on two dates, depending on when you apply for them.
If you register for the programme online on or before July 17, you’ll receive a first instalment of HK$2,000 on August 1 and a second instalment of HK$3,000 on October 1. You have until December 31 to spend it all.
If you register between July 18 and August 14, you will receive HK$2,000 on September 1 and HK$3,000 on November 1, to be spent by January 31, 2022.
The deadline for paper registrations is August 14. Terms and conditions for this category are the same as for those who register for the scheme online between July 18 and August 14.
For Octopus (both the card and the app):
Octopus users can collect the HK$5,000 in three instalments. Physical card users can redeem the vouchers from designated collection points, including MTR stations and convenience stores, while app users can redeem them in the app.
If you register online on or before July 17, you can collect the first instalment of HK$2,000 from August 1 and a second one of the same amount from October 1. You will be able to collect a third instalment of HK$1,000 only if you have spent the first two instalments. If that requirement is fulfilled, you can collect the third instalment on the 16th day of the month that follows full spending of the first two vouchers, starting from December 16 (so the exception is if you spend it all by the end of October – you’ll still have to wait until December 16). You have to spend the first two instalments by February 28, 2022 to be eligible for the third instalment.
If you register between July 18 and August 14, you can collect the first instalment of HK$2,000 from September 1, and the second from November 1. The conditions for collecting the final HK$1,000 are the same as if you registered on or before July 17 except that you have until March 31, 2022 to spend the first two instalments.
It is worth noting that while it is impossible to “save up” the entire HK$5,000 and spend it in one go via the Octopus option, you can do that with Tap & Go, AlipayHK and WeChat Pay HK. Those users can pool their two instalments together and have three months after the second instalment to decide what to spend it on.
What can I spend my $5,000 on?
The vouchers can be used for public transport, at restaurants and service outlets, in local retail stores or their online shops, and for interest classes. You can spend the money on something basic and practical or you can splurge on something bigger. Here are some suggestions as well as where you can find special offers.
You can use your Octopus or AlipayHK vouchers on the MTR (though using AlipayHK is slightly more costly for senior citizens). With HK$5,000 you can make 1,063 trips from Central to Admiralty (HK$4.7 for adults) with an Octopus; and 2,500 trips for an elderly with a concessionary card (HK$2) anywhere on the network.
Ferry enthusiasts can travel 1,851 times between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central/Wan Chai on weekdays (HK$2.7), or 1,351 times on weekends and public holidays (HK$3.7).
Those who enjoy the view of the Hong Kong skyline at night can join the Star Ferry’s “Harbour Tour” 25 times with an adult fare (HK$200).
With vouchers redeemed via Octopus, you can travel by tram between the east (Shau Kei Wan) and west (Kennedy Town) of Hong Kong Island 1,923 times with an adult fare, or 4,166 times for senior citizens.
Octopus users can download eCoupons from the Octopus app to get rewards from fast food chains or restaurants such as McDonald’s and Pepper Lunch.
For those who redeem their vouchers on AlipayHK, special offers will be available at chains including KFC.
Feeling hungry? A number of restaurants have special offers spread across the different payment options, including Japanese ramen restaurant Ippudo, Chinese noodle restaurant Mixian Sense, Pizza Hut, TamJai SamGor and TamJai Yunnan Mixian.
Fashion and beauty retailers with special offers include Sasa, Watsons, Mannings, Bonjour and Bossini.
Those who registered via WeChat Pay HK will be eligible for special offers at a number of chain restaurants including Toast Box, Shake Shake and The Spaghetti House, while people who receive vouchers on Tap & Go are eligible for offers from cafes and coffee shops including Cotton Lane Cafe, Meanwhile Coffee and Mood Coffee.
Both Fortress and Broadway, the city’s two main electronics retail chains, will accept payments via AlipayHK, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay HK. So you can use the full HK$5,000 to buy – or at least contribute to – the latest phone or gadget you’ve had your eye on.
Or if you’re into luxury, you can spend your vouchers at brands such as Chanel, Dior, Gucci and Céline.