How to use the Hong Kong Octopus Card?

Octopus Card
••• Octopus Card.

Where can I use the Hong Kong Octopus Card? 

Unless you have more change than a church on Sunday, you shouldn’t even attempt to tackle Hong Kong’s myriad of transport without a Hong Kong Octopus Card. You'll need exact change to buy a ticket and you'll rarely have it. 

Pioneered in HK, and now mirrored in London and New York, the Hong Kong Octopus card is a contactless travel card which will win you access to all of Hong Kong’s public transport.

Local ferries, trams, subway, buses and minibuses all accept the cards, you can even use it on MTR regional rail, and travel to China with an Octopus. All taxis in Hong Kong now accept the Octopus Card.  The card is ubiquitous around Hong Kong, with almost all residents using it and it’s an excellent way to save time.

How does the Octopus Card work?

The first card costs HK$150, which is inclusive of a HK$50 refundable deposit and HK$100 credit. You can pick up a card at MTR subway stations and at the Airport Express Counter, which also has cards that include Airport Express fares. The card can be returned to the same locations at the end of you trip, and the HK$50 and any remaining credit will be refunded. 

There are also what are called 'sold' Octopus Cards which offer no deposit for the card, but is instead sold to you. These are usually feature limited edition designs, cartoons and other collectible styles.

You'll find these sold cards displayed at MTR stations. Some tourist sold cards may offer cut price entry to local attractions or discounts at shops in the city. 

The card couldn’t be simpler to use. You wave the card over readers as you walk on and off transport, aside from trams (where it is only off).

The machines on the MTR subway will calculate your fare and deduct the correct amount. You are allowed to go overdrawn by a maximum of HK$35. The outstanding debit will be calculated and deducted the next time you top up. To check how much credit you have remaining use the signed machines inside MTR stations, where you can also recharge with cash or credit card. You can also top up at most convenience stores or through most NFC enabled Android device. 

Can Octopus be used for anything else?

Octopus can also be used for a host of other things in Hong Kong, such as paying at many convenience stores. Major stores who accept the card include 7-Elevens, Park n Shop Supermarket, Circle K, Watson’s Chemists, McDonalds, Cafe de Coral, Delifrance, KFC and the Hong Kong Jockey Club. This is to name just a few, and the list is ever expanding, check in at the Octopus official website for a fuller and printable list.The card can also be used to pay for street side parking meters

Is Octopus only valid in Hong Kong?

No, several retailers in both Macau and Shenzhen have been accepting the card. However, especially in Macau, the number of participating outlets is limited, and you should check ahead of time.

Neither city is anywhere near as universally covered as Hong Kong. 7-Eleven's in Shenzhen and two KFC’s in Macau are now accepting the card.