There is a growing tendency that many expats and foreign workers choose to work in China with attractive salaries and more work opportunities for foreigners. Expecially in recent years, many foreigners work as ESL teachers, which is a highly demanding job in China. However, being unfamiliar with China sometimes causes foreigners have some hard times at the beginning. For example, many foreingers may have questions about opeing a China bank account. Unless you are a traverller, it is hard to live in China without China bank account since it is wildly accpted and has more advantages compared to a foreign bank account. Below there are some steps of how to open a China bank account.
1.Choose a bank
There are many banks in China. Here some of the preferred banks for foreigners:
- Bank of China
- ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China)
- ABC (Agricultural Bank of China)
- China Construction Bank
- China Merchant’s Bank
For day to day usage by foreigners, these banks do not differ hugely and most of them are easily found in China. I recommend opening a Bank of China account if you are looking to transfer money overseas as this is the only bank permitted to perform foreign currency transactions for foreigners in RMB. It is recommanded that you should find out which branch is the nearest to you and open your account there for convenience. You can also look for the reviews of them since some of them may be crowed at times and affect your effiency of banking, and some may provide more international banking service which may benefit you.
The only documentation you need to bring to open your bank account in China is your passport. Normally, a payment of 20 RMB to 30 RMB is needed to open the account and you cannot pay it by card. So bring 50 RMB cash along with you.
After choosing the right bank and bringing your passport and enough cash, you can go to the bank directly. It is suggested that you should arrive at the bank a little bit earlier since there may be a lot of people dealing with banking and queue times in most banks are long, I recommend going to the bank around 11am-12pm or 1pm-2pm in order to avoid queues. When you get there, go directly to the information desk and ask the staff there for help. He/She will assist you to complete the required forms to take to the counter and open the account. They will give you a form to fill (which is usually in English), and make a copy of your passport for later use. Nearly all banks will give you a ticket with a number, then you should wait until your number is called. If you are not confident on how to fill the form out yourself, you should ask the staff for help immedialy.
Fortunately, the whole process of opening acount will not take you too long. During the process, you are required to sign a few documents and asked to input a password. The pin number for bank accounts in China are 6 digits and you will be asked to input a few times for reconfirmation. Then you will get a new union card. Remember, if you need extra service like internet banking or other services, ask at the counter. Moreover, it is recommanded to link your phone number with your bank account. This service is free of charge and you can observe all your trasactions of your account.
4.Using your bank account
It is the most common way to use your bank account and bank card. Find the ATM nearby and do the banking as normal. You can withdraw money from all the machines across different banks and in any location in China. If you want to deposit money, you can also use the ATM for this, you should look for the right machine since some machines do not provide this service though.
If you want to purchase things from online mechants like TMall, JD or Amazon China, you have to ask the staff in the bank to open the internet banking service. They will offer a USB or small device to use with your computer.
Each bank or each branch has its own instruction of how to wire money, you should ask them about it and they will help you with warm welcome. If you're wiring RMB you must use Bank of China and are limited to $500USD of RMB currency transaction for each entry into China. If you are on a working visa you must take along records of your income tax payments (obtain these from your employer).
-Use of card
The unionpay (China's Visa or Mastercard equivalent) card is wildly accepted in all of the places in China and acts exactly like a Debit card back home. Normally you will have to swipe the card (the staff will do this for you) and input your password and sign at the receipt.
I recommend avoide using your card in some small stores since they may use a card copier to copy your card or steal your password. If this happens, advise the bank immediately (although is quite rare).
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