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Many ask on the Tripadvisor Macau forum if they should exchange for Macanese Patacas (MOP) of just use Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) when making their trip to Macau. This article seeks to provide insight into this question.
Generally speaking, it is not critical, in most cases, to acquire MOP for a trip to Macau as HKD is widely accepted by pretty much all businesses here. However, there are still a few helpful tips and other things to be aware of.
A.) What is the usual exchange rate between HKD and MOP?
The exchange rate between the two currencies is more or less fixed at MOP 1.03 to HKD 1.00. This means that HKD 1 is more valuable than MOP 1 by approximately 3%.
B.) What exchange rates are used when making purchases in HKD?
If purchases are priced in MOP and you choose to pay with HKD, it is important to note that you will be charged a 1:1 rate, meaning you will pay that extra 3% more by using HKD. See the following example if this is confusing.
If you want to buy a local souvenir priced at MOP 100, you can pay MOP 100 or HKD 100 (1:1 exchange rate). If you pay HKD100, don't expect any form of change, even if the currency is slightly more valuable.
C.) When can you use HKD?
Ferries, Casino operators and many (if not most) accommodations are priced in HKD to start with. Restaurants, most forms of entertainment and other general expenses are usually priced in MOP. However, HKD is widely accepted in Macau with the following exceptions
D.) When can you not use HKD?
In the past, government services like the Post Office and museums would only accept MOP but those days seem to be over now. Over the past couple of years, the Post Office has been known to accept HKD and the local museums have been openly accepting HKD for the past three years. Further, taxi drivers have been widely accepting HKD for the many years. Keeping in mind that HKD is slightly more valuable than MOP due to the difference in exchange rate, the local taxi-drivers, like everyone else, are happy to take your HKD at the specified 1:1 payment rate.
E.) What change will be given if a larger HKD note is used to make purchases?
This is a good question and the answer can vary, depending on what type of change the vendor, shopkeeper or service provider has at the time. Everyone excepts HKD but not everyone will have adequate HKD change on them if you decide to use a large HKD note to make a purchase of something priced in MOP. This means you might receive HKD in change, you might receive MOP only or you might even receive a combination of both. If this is confusion, lets look at that previous example one more time.
If you want to buy a local souvenir priced at MOP 75 and you pay HKD 100 (1:1 exchange rate), then you might receive HKD 25 in change. You might also receive MOP 25 or you might receive a combination of HKD and MOP totaling up to a sum of 25.
Side Note: In the not to distant past it was expected to receive your change in MOP. However, these days it is just as likely that you will be given HKD in change when making purchases. Just be prepared to receive some or all MOP in change if they don’t have adequate HKD on hand.
Side Note: If you use larger HKD notes to make low priced MOP purchases (ie. using HKD 500 to pay for a MOP 10 bottle of water) you are much more likely to be given MOP in change.
F.) What to do with leftover MOP before returning to Hong Kong?
In short, it is probably best to spend whatever MOP you have before returning to Hong Kong! While HKD is widely accepted in Macau, the same isn’t true when it comes to the MOP in Hong Kong. It is not accepted anywhere. As such, if you end up with some MOP, perhaps some change from a purchase made during your daytrip to Macau then try to spend it before returning to HK or back to your home country.
Side Note: for those traveling back to your home country and is already at the airport be sure to convert your money back to your countrys currency or at least HKD. Money Exchangers wont accept MOP, learned it the hard way.