"Rainbow" design Octopus Card is the standard On-loan Adult Octopus Card
The internationally acclaimed, pioneering Octopus Card has been an integral part of Hong Kong life since 1997. It makes using Hong Kong’s impressive public transport system simple and convenient and is a “must” for most visitors to Hong Kong. At the beginning of 2011 there were over 20 million Octopus Cards or products with Octopus functions in circulation. Originally conceived an electronic fare collection system for the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) it can now be used on virtually all forms of public transport, including MTR trains, Airport Express, buses, green minibus, outlying island ferries, Star Ferry and other ferries, Peak Tram and Hong Kong Island trams as well as convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food shops and many other retail outlets. Following a trial between December 2010 and May 2011, where 30 urban taxis were fitted with Octopus Card readers, a further 300 urban taxis belonging to one operator were equipped with Octopus Card readers and as at early 2013, a total of about 500 taxis were Octopus-enabled and Octopus Cards is to increase the rebate it offers taxi operators from three cents to five cents per fare to encourage more operators to offer Octopus payment. It is not yet known whether other operators will follow suit. A smart phone app "TaxiGo" by Motion Power is available for iPhone and Android mobile devices, which, using GPS lists Octopus-enabled taxis by distance and allows users to order by either calling the driver direct or contacting the call centre. A previous trial in 2006 involving 20 New Territories taxis failed, one reason being that taxi drivers had to return to their office at the end of each shift to enable accounting formalities to be completed). On the vast majority of journeys Octopus Card users benefit from lower MTR fares than single-journey ticket fares. However following MTR fare increases in June 2010, June 2011 and June 2012 there are a number of journeys, where the Octopus fare is slightly higher than the single-journey ticket fare. This situation has arisen as Octopus fares are rounded to the nearest ten cents whereas as single-journey fares are rounded to fifty cents which would have resulted in a disproportionate fare increase for some low-value fares (mainly child and elder concessionary fares) and some single-journey fares are unchanged. A list of those fares where the Octopus fare is higher than the single-journey ticket fare is here;
Other applications include vending machines, telephone kiosks, parking machines and access control for some private residential developments and school campuses. Octopus Card transaction records have also been used as evidence in obtaining convictions for crime.
In January 2010 Hong Kong Monetary Authority confirmed a new smart card incorporating chips for both Hong Kong's Octopus Cards and neighbouring Shenzhen's Shenzhen Tong Card would be introduced. It was initially expected to be launched in December 2010 but a limited edition commemorative version of the card, known as "HU TONG XING", was not launched until 3rd September 2012. The standard version was launched on 11th September 2012. Octopus Card company had formed a working party with Shenzhen Tong in 2008 to establish reciprocal arrangements to allow the Octopus Card to be used on the Shenzhen Metro and the Shenzhen Tong (Shenzhen's equivalent of the Octopus Card) to be used on public transport in Hong Kong. The new card, which can be used for both payment of public transport fares and for small-value purchases is targeted at the many frequent cross-border travellers. The card has two "e-purses" in Hong Kong dollars and yuan in a single chip and will be territory-based so that transactions made in Hong Kong will be charged in Hong Kong dollars and transactions made in Shenzhen will be charged in yuan. Similarly adding value to the Octopus account will only be possible in Hong Kong and adding value to the Shenzhen Tong will only be possible in Shenzhen. The Hong Kong version of the Sold Adult "HU TONG XING", costs HK$98 in Hong Kong or RMB80 in Shenzhen. The purchase price of the card includes no useable value and is not refundable. The Shenzhen version of the card will not be available until late 2012. Owing to technical issues, it was not possible to combine the card with the Octopus Card and Lingnan Pass (see below).
Also in January 2010 it was announced that the company had teamed up with mainland company Digital China Holdings to run a joint venture to develop and operate "Citizen Cards" in mainland China. Digital China Octopus Information Technology Systems will bid for provincial and municipal government contracts to supply and operate cards for services such as social security, medical and healthcare, cultural, educational and birth planning, as well as residential property management and utility bill payments.
In August 2011 Octopus Cards Limited signed an agreement with another smart card company Guandong Lingnan Pass Company to introduce a "two in one" smart card, the "OCTOPUS LINGNAN PASS" which enables travel and purchases in Hong Kong and sixteen Guangdong cities including Guangzhou, Foshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Shanwei, Huizhou, Maoming, Zhuhai, Jieyang, Heyuan, Yunfu, Shaoguan, Yangjiang, Zhanjiang, Zhongshan and Qingyuan. The card has separate "electronic purses" enabling yuan payments in Guangdong and Hong Kong dollar payments in Hong Kong and was launched on 3rd July 2012. By early September 2012, about 10,000 Octopus Lingnan Passes had been sold in Hong Kong.
In August 2012, Octopus Cards introduced an "OctoCheck" app for Android mobile devices which allows smartphone users to check their Octopus transaction records by holding their Octopus Cards close to the back of their mobile phone after registering the last five digits of the Octopus Card number. The app is available only for NFC-enabled smartphones and can be dowloaded from the Google Play Store, free of charge, for smartphones such as Google Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy, HTC One and Sony Ericsson Xperia.
In March 2013 announced that later in the year it plans to introduce a SIM card for near-field technology smartphones such as Sony Xperia and Samsung's S3 and S4, which would enable a phone to act as an Octopus Card and also enable settlement for online purchases by Octopus Card.
A list of retailers accepting Octopus can be found here;
TYPES OF OCTOPUS CARD;
ON-LOAN STANDARD OCTOPUS CARD
On- Loan Octopus Card is usually the type of Octopus Card most suitable for visitors and tourists. No form of registration or any personal information is required to purchase an On-Loan Octopus Card (except Personalised Octopus Cards which are not suitable for most visitors - see "Personalised Octopus Card" below). Octopus Cards can be bought "over the counter" at any of the locations detailed below under "Where to Purchase the Card". Payment must be made by cash (credit/debit cards not accepted).
The price of an on-loan Octopus Card includes a refundable deposit**;
ADULT (AGE 12+) - Price HK$150 representing a deposit* of HK$50 and an initial stored value of HK$100.
CHILD (CONCESSION ELIGIBILTY AGE 3-11) - Price HK$70 representing a deposit* of HK$50 and an initial stored value of HK$20
ELDER (AGE FOR CONCESSION ELIGIBILTY WITH ELDER OCTOPUS CARD IS 65) - Price HK$70 representing a deposit* of HK$50 and an initial stored value of HK$20.
Foreign elderly visitors are able to purchase the Elder Octopus Card which allows the same generous concessions as local senior citizens enjoy under the government's "Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme for the Elderly and Eligible Persons with Disabilities", which was introduced in three phases between June 2012 and March 2013. Under this scheme, elder fares for most MTR journeys, bus routes and domestic ferry services are a maximum of HK$2 journey when paid with Elder Octopus Card. Where the original fare is less than HK$2, the original fare applies. Payment must be made with Elder Octopus Card to benefit from the HK$2 government-sponsored concessionary fare, by which the government subsidises the difference between the transport operators own concessionary fare for elders and the HK$2 fare. The concessionary HK$2 fare does not apply to Airport Express journeys, MTR journeys which terminate at, or start from the border stations of Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau and travel in first-class compartments on MTR East Rail Line, "A"-prefix airport bus routes and de-luxe cabin on New World First Ferry services between Central/Cheung Chau and Central/Mui Wo.
Foreign disabled persons, under 65 are not able to enjoy the concessions of the "Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme for the Elderly and Eligible Persons with Disabilities".
Without Elder Octopus Card, foreign elderly visitors can still obtain concessionary fares either by purchasing single-journey tickets for MTR journeys or paying in cash, or where applicable, buying tickets for bus and ferry journeys. However, the transport operators own concessionary fare is usually limited to 50% of normal adult fare.
For more further regarding concessionary fares for elderly foreign visitors, and details of concessionary fares, by operator, see SENIOR VISITOR CONCESSIONS.
SOLD OCTOPUS CARD
Sold Octopus are mainly souvenir products and various different Sold Octopus products are issued from time to time. Unlike the On-Loan Octopus they usually have no stored value included in the purchase price. By adding value (topping up the card) these products function as a normal On-Loan Octopus Card except that, unlike the normal On-Loan Octopus Card, a Sold Octopus will not function if the balance goes below zero (as no deposit has been paid) and the card or product remains the property of the purchaser. The remaining value on the card is refundable and there is no administration fee for processing the refund. In addition to Sold Octopus Cards, Sold Octopus souvenir products such as include keyrings, neck straps and ornaments are available. For details of current Sold Octopus products see;
PERSONALISED OCTOPUS CARD
Personalised Octopus Cards which can, if desired, incorporate the users photograph are also available but are mainly intended for locals or frequent visitors to Hong Kong. In addition to incorporating the functions of the standard On-Loan Octopus Card, Personalised Octopus Card is often used for access control at residential buildings. Application form has to be completed and the card collected after ten days on production of ID, such as Hong Kong ID Card or passport, be produced at after ten days. Personalised Octopus Card allows holders to use the automatic add-value service whereby the card is automatically topped up when the balance reaches a certain level and the holders bank account is charged accordingly. Personalised cards also offer some protection against loss or theft as the card can invalidated to prevent unauthorised use. Application form for Personalised Octopus can be found here;
**REFUND OF DEPOSIT FOR ON-LOAN OCTOPUS CARD- the deposit (less any use of NEGATIVE VALUE**) plus any remaining unused value is refundable at any time by handing in the card at the Customer Service Centre at any MTR Station or ticket office. Visitors leaving Hong Kong by air can hand the card in and obtain a refund at the Airport Express Customer Service Counters in the Arrival Hall at Terminal 1 and on the Airport Express Arrival Platform at Terminal 2 of Hong Kong International Airport. There is a small administration charge of HK$9 which is deducted from the balance in respect of cards which are returned within three months of date of issue.
NEGATIVE VALUE – If the balance on the card is positive (HK$1 or above) but insufficient to cover the cost of the next transaction the card can incur a negative value of up to HK$35 which is recovered the next time the card is reloaded. The card cannot be used for any further transaction once a negative balance has accumulated until the card has been reloaded.
WHERE TO PURCHASE THE CARD
The card can be purchased on arrival at Hong Kong International Airport at several MTR Airport Express Customer Service Counters in the buffer halls (between customs and the arrival hall), in the arrival hall and on the airport station departure platform. Note - visitors intending to use Octopus Card to travel on the Airport Express from the airport to Tsing Yi, Kowloon or Hong Kong Station can board the Airport Express train without Octopus Card or ticket (there are no platform barriers at the airport station) and purchase Octopus Card or ticket at the Airport Express Customer Service Centre on the arrival platform, before the platform exit barriers, at the destination station.
and can be purchased at Customer Service Centres at;
All MTR Stations (except Racecourse Station) and Airport Express Stations
MTR Light Rail Stations at Ferry Pier Terminus, Leung King, Town Centre, Yuen Long Terminus, Tin Yat, Siu Hong and Tin Shui Wai
KMB Customer Service Centre at Sha Tin Central Bus Terminus
New World First Ferry Piers Octopus Service Centres for Cheung Chau (Central Pier 5) and Mui Wo (Central Pier 6)
New World First Bus Customer Service Centre at Admiralty (East) Bus Terminus
Payment must be made in cash. Credit cards are not accepted for purchase of Octopus Cards or other MTR tickets (Credit card payment is accepted for purchase of Airport Express tickets or Airport Express Travel Pass only).
On-Loan and Sold Octopus Card can be purchased by anybody, since sale is unrestricted. No identification is required for purchase, records of purchasers are not kept and cards can be transferred from person to person. However, whilst there is no restriction on purchase, in respect of Child and Elder Octopus Cards which offer concessionary fares, transport operators rely on their own conditions of use which make it an offence to use Octopus Card to obtain a concessionary fare to which the user is not entitled. Child and Elder Octopus Cards have features built-in which enable transport operators to identify when a concessionary Octopus Card is being used and can request ID and proof of age if it is suspected a person is using an Octopus Card to illegally obtain a concessionary fare. In the event of misuse, offenders face a financial penalty and confiscation of the card.
Octopus Cards cannot be shared by more than one person travelling together on public transport. For example a card cannot be used to open entry barriers and then immediately be passed back for another person to open the barriers with the same card since a time delay programmed into the card prevents the card being used at the same entry barriers within a period of time which varies between transport operator. At MTR station entry barriers the same Octopus Card cannot be used at the same entry barriers within a period of ten minutes. This is a precautionary measure to prevent accidental multiple charging for the same transaction as Octopus is a contactless card which only needs to be "waved" over the card reader. A separate card should therefore be purchased for each person wishing to use Octopus Card method of payment.
USING THE CARD
The plastic card is credit card size and has a Sony FeliCa Radio Frequency Identification Chip (RFID) embedded into it. The technology is “contactless” so the card simply needs to be “waved” over the card reading machine. The card can be read by the machine from a distance of between 3cm and 10cm and it is common for users to leave the card in their bag and pass the bag over the reader. At rail stations and ferry piers the card reader is located at the entrance/exit barriers and on buses just inside the entrance next to the driver. At retail outlets such as convenience stores the machine will be on the counter or at the checkout. Each time the card is used the remaining balance is shown on the card reading machine.
To operate the turnstile "wave" or touch the Octopus Card on the Octopus pad on the right (the red slot is for single-journey tickets). On exit from the destination station there are exit barriers and the Octopus Card is "waved" or touched on the pad at the barriers in a similar way and appropriate fare deducted.
On buses the Octopus Card reader is situated next to the drivers cab opposite the entry doors on buses. Passengers "wave" or touch the Octopus Card on the Octopus pad at the bottom of the machine. The machine displays the full fare and concessionary fare and Octopus Card automatically deducts the appropriate fare on entry (fares are based on point of boarding the bus, not point of disembarking from the bus)
Octopus Cards cannot be shared for the purposes of travel and a separate card needs to be purchased for each person travelling. The card is programmed so that once it has been read by an entry reader at MTR station barriers there is a ten minute delay before the card will function again at another entry reader without having first passed through an exit barrier. This protection is built in to prevent accidental multiple charging for the same journey as the card is read without necessity for physical contact with the card reader and it would otherwise impose a high level of risk of the card being read more than once during the action of "waving" it in the vicinity of the reader.
In the event of a malfunctioning card it can be taken to any Customer Service Centre or ticket office for investigation. In the meantime a replacement card is issued with a “get you home” value of HK$20. In order to obtain a refund of any outstanding balance on the original card the user should visit at any Customer Service Centre or ticket office after 5 working days from date the original card was handed over for investigation and refund will be issued in cash less the HK$20 value of the replacement card.
PERIOD OF VALIDITY
The Octopus Card is deactivated if it has not had value added to it (ie "top-up") for a period of 1000 days or more. It can be reactivated at any MTR station Customer Service Centre.
ADDING VALUE (TOPPING UP THE CARD)
The value on the card can be topped up in units of HK$50 and HK$100 to a maximum of HK$1000 at:
Ticket offices/Customer Service Centres of MTR/Airport Express/Light Rail Stations, New World First Bus, Citybus, KMB, Central Ferry Piers, Ferry Piers at Peng Chau, Cheung Chau, Mui Wo, Discovery Bay, Lamma.
Add-value machines at all MTR/Airport Express stations and some Light Rail Stations (machines accept HK$50 and HK$100 notes)
Numerous retailers including MacDonalds, KFC, 7-Eleven, Circle K convenience stores, Watsons Personal Stores, Wellcome and ParknShop Supermarkets.
Octopus Card Add Value machines are located on the concourse of every MTR station
AIRPORT EXPRESS FREE MTR CONNECTION WITH OCTOPUS CARD
Passengers using Octopus Card to travel on the Airport Express can enjoy free travel to or from an Airport Express station to or from anywhere else on the MTR network (including the border stations Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau) provided all connections are made within one hour of each other.
MTR FARE SAVER
MTR Fare Saver machines are intended to reward people who choose to walk to certain designated MTR stations rather than take buses or taxis. They are strategically located a few hundred metres from the nearest MTR station and allow Adult Octopus Card holders a discount of HK$2 or HK$1 on their next journey from the designated station provided the journey is made on the same day. Simply "swipe" the Octopus Card over the reader to take advantage of this discount. Current list of locations of machines, designated MTR Stations and amount of discount is available here;
MTR Octopus Fare Saver machine at Central-Mid Levels Escalator link above Hollywood Road
AIRPORT EXPRESS TRAVEL PASS
This is a tourist version of the Octopus Card, only available for visitors spending 14 days or less in Hong Kong, pre-programmmed to provide either one or two Airport Express journeys and three days** of unlimited MTR rides.
It is available in two denominations;
HK$220 AIRPORT EXPRESS TRAVEL PASS
Includes a HK$50 deposit and provides one trip on the Airport Express* and three days** unlimited travel on all MTR lines but not to the border stations Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau. The pass also includes three days unlimited travel on MTR Light Rail and MTR bus. The pass is valid for a period of 180 days from date of purchase.
HK$300 AIRPORT EXPRESS TRAVEL PASS
Provides two trips on the Airport Express*and three days** unlimited travel on MTR all lines but not to the border stations of Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau. The pass also includes three days unlimited travel on MTR Light Rail and MTR Bus.
* The Airport Express journeys can be taken at any time during the 180 day validity period of the pass.
** The three days of unlimited MTR travel commences at the time of the first MTR (not Airport Express) journey and lasts for a period of 72 hours plus any additional hours to close of service on the final day. Unlimited travel includes all MTR lines but excludes the mainland border stations of Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau. The pass also includes travel on MTR Light Rail and MTR bus.
The initial purchase price of the card provides for travel on Airport Express and MTR only and not other forms of public transport such as bus, tram, Peak Tram and ferry. However, at any time after purchase the card can be “topped up” in the same way as the standard Octopus Card and will then function as a "normal" Octopus Card. Once "topped -up" the card can be used on all other forms of public transport which accept Octopus Card in addition to MTR and Airport Express.
A refund of the deposit can be obtained by the same method as for the standard “On-loan” Octopus Card (see above).
For full details of the Airport Express Travel Pass see;
TOURIST DAY PASS
A one day pass is available which may be useful to some visitors. It is valid for one day in a 30 day period from date of purchase and can be used on all lines except Airport Express and cannot be used for travel to the mainland border stations of Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau. Since 1st October 2009 the pass also includes travel on MTR Light Rail. The pass costs HK$55 and is available to tourists staying in Hong Kong for less than one month. A Child Tourist Day Pass is also available for children age 3-11 for HK$25. The Tourist Day Pass (but not the Child Tourist Pass) is available online. Details here;
Other passes available, although less likely to be of interest to visitors are;
DISNEYLAND RESORT LINE DAY PASS
TOURIST CROSS-BOUNDARY TRAVEL PASS
and details can also be found at;
CROSS BORDER PASS (OCTOPUS LINGNAN PASS)
Octopus Cards Limited and Guangdong Lingnan Pass Company Limited have jointly announced the launch of their first joint cross-border cards.
Since 18th July 2012, the Sold Adult "Octopus ‧Lingnan Pass" cards has been available for sale at all MTR and Light Rail Customer Service Centres (except Airport Express, Racecourse and Disneyland Resort stations) throughout Hong Kong The Sold Adult "Octopus ‧Lingnan Pass" and the "Lingnan Pass ‧Octopus" cost HK$98 and RMB80 each respectively. The "Octopus ‧Lingnan Pass" will run on a dual electronic purse model, being the Octopus Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) e-purse and the other Lingnan Pass Renminbi (RMB) e-purse. Cardholders can use the HKD e-purse in Hong Kong and the RMB e-purse in Guangdong Province. The two-in-one cards are anonymous sold cards, and cardholders can add value to the respective purses at authorised add value service points in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province respectively.
From 3rd July 2012, 3,000 sets of commemorative Limited Edition "Octopus ‧Lingnan Pass" cards were distributed for public sale through the Customer Service Centres at 26 designated MTR stations. Each person can purchase up to two sets of the Limited Edition cards on a first-come, first-served basis and while stocks last. The "Octopus ‧Lingnan Pass" Limited Edition cards will be sold at HK$298 per set in Hong Kong, while the "Lingnan Pass ‧Octopus" Limited Edition cards will be sold at RMB238 at Lingnan Pass sales outlets in Guangdong Province.
The two-in-one cards can be used on public transport and at all retail outlets that accept Octopus or Lingnan Pass. Currently, Lingnan Pass can be used in sixteen cities in Mainland China including Guangzhou, Foshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Shanwei, Huizhou, Maoming, Zhuhai, Jieyang, Heyuan, Yunfu, Shaoguan, Yangjiang, Zhanjiang, Zhongshan and Qingyuan. The pass is expected to be expanded to include other cities and retail outlets but does not include Shenzhen. The new card excludes the Octopus concessions currently enjoyed by students, children and the elderly in Hong Kong as well as discounts available to Octopus cardholders such as the MTR's 10-rides-for-one-free-ticket scheme.
HU TONG XING (HONG KONG & SHENZHEN JOINT PASS)
Octopus Cards Limited and Shenzhentong Limited launched a joint Hong Kong and Shenzhen cross-border card on 11th September 2012. The card facilitates travel on public transport and small value purchases at many retail outlets in both cities. The Hong Kong version Hu Tong Xing is available in Sold Adult version for HK$98 in Hong Kong and RMB80 in Shenzhen. The card combines two "electronic purses" in one chip and must be loaded separately with HKD for use in Hong Kong and with RMB for use in Shenzhen. Similarly, adding value to the card can only be made in HKD in Hong Kong and RMB in Shenzhen. The purchase price of the pass includes no useable value and is non-refundable. In Hong Kong the pass can be purchased at all MTR and Light Rail Customer Service Centres (excluding Airport Express, Racecourse and Disneyland stations) and MTR Travel (excluding Admiralty Station). In Shenzhen the pass can be purchased at Shenzhentong Customer Service Centres and sales outlets.
A limited edition of 3,800 sets of a commemorative versions of the pass was made available from 4th September 2012, priced at HK$298 in Hong Kong or RMB238 in Shenzhen but had sold out by 6th September.