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Which bank for American Citizen?

Which bank for American Citizen?

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Old Jan 23, 17, 11:02 pm
  #1  
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Which bank for American Citizen?

Decides to open a bank account in China as I'm there so much, and also get a local UnionPay Bank Card as China Uber doesn't take US credit card anymore.

Would you recommend ICBC or any other foreigner friendly banks?
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Old Jan 24, 17, 12:46 am
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A couple of points to keep in mind:

Most Chinese banks are organized locally, even if operating nationally. That means that if you need help -- change your mobile number, replace a lost debit card or such -- you'll have to visit a branch in or near the city where you opened the account. It can also be awkward to make an out-of-area ATM deposit at many banks, and fees often apply for out-of-area ATM withdrawals. So pick your initial location carefully.

Online banking can be frustrating, with dongles that don't seem to work, security controls that won't download, and browser requirements that you can't meet unless still running XP.

When paying -- or trying to pay -- online, you'll often see the half-dozen or so major banks listed for direct payment and payment through UnionPay for the rest. So it's probably a good idea to stick with one of the major national banks.

While I don't have an account there, I've always heard that China Merchants Bank is good and foreigner friendly. In any event, there's a lot of paperwork and back-and-forth involved in opening an account and getting all the settings right, so a Chinese friend would be very helpful unless you speak Chinese yourself. It can easily take an hour or more.

So far as I know, it's near-impossible for the average foreigner in China to get a Chinese credit card, so you'll be looking at a debit card. The debit card actually works great in supermarkets and other places and means you no longer accumulate lots of small change. And if you can manage online payment, you'll be able to buy train tickets, pay hotel deposits, re-charge your mobile, etc. A great convenience, so long as you can get it to work.

(Don't forget that once you open a Chinese bank account, it'll be with you for FBAR et al. purposes until you formally close it.)

Last edited by 889; Jan 24, 17 at 12:56 am
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Old Jan 25, 17, 12:32 am
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IMO, Cities where you opened your accounts doesn't care so much now except you got paid by corporate auto payroll, government pension payment or setting up bill autopay.

usually most banks change mobile number can be done in every branch nationwide
and, yes sometime you can't replace a lost card when out of town, you can move the fund to a new account with a new card and cancelled the account of the lost card.

furthermore, since now all major banks cancelled all out-of-town deposit & withdrawal fee, you won't be charged when you do deposit & withdrawal nationwide with ATMs which your card belong to (Interbank ATM withdrawal fee still apply).

About online banking, in my experience ICBC, BOC, CCB online banking can be use on both win10 and mac os, iphone and android. Ask for a password devices rather than a USB security dongle (UKey) as dongles can only be use on windows.
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Old Jan 25, 17, 8:05 am
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I have an account in China. My company helped me set up so they can do direct deposit. However, I cannot get a credit card (which they said requiring a Chinese ID). I can apply for a debit card but I don't bother. I only set up Alipay linked with this bank account so I can pay for taxis, grocery, tickets etc. Interbank transfers are quite limited.

In general, I think it may not be worthwhile setting up a Chinese bank account unless you live there. By the way, as you are a US citizen, don't forget to report FBAR every year if you have a foreign account. It is not a big deal, but just don't forget to report your banking information to the US Treasury.
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Old Jan 25, 17, 9:19 am
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Originally Posted by cxfan1960 View Post
I have an account in China. My company helped me set up so they can do direct deposit. However, I cannot get a credit card (which they said requiring a Chinese ID). I can apply for a debit card but I don't bother. I only set up Alipay linked with this bank account so I can pay for taxis, grocery, tickets etc. Interbank transfers are quite limited.

In general, I think it may not be worthwhile setting up a Chinese bank account unless you live there. By the way, as you are a US citizen, don't forget to report FBAR every year if you have a foreign account. It is not a big deal, but just don't forget to report your banking information to the US Treasury.
Not always correct. My girlfriend has a Chinese credit card and no Chinese id card (China Merchant Bank). I do not live in China and certainly find it worthwhile to have a Chinese bank card.
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Old Jan 25, 17, 12:53 pm
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Following are my two cents (as an expat):
-get one bank account that works nicely with Wechat and Alipay without a PRC ID card; Merchants and ICBC are definitely good
-Get a second bank account at a more costumer friendly bank that is convenient wrt where you live/work; I like citic and huaxia myself, but since they don't have a lot of branches, they aren't always practical
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Old Jan 26, 17, 2:17 am
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I thought if you are an expat, you cannot open a bank account unless you work in China (e.g. have a working visa).


If the OP goes to China often but doesn't work/live in China, it may be difficult to open an account in China.
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Old Jan 26, 17, 8:33 am
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Not an issue at all. I opened my first bank account on a short trip in Shanghai. In total I have opened 4 accounts and never had a work visa. Anybody can open an account.
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Old Jan 26, 17, 9:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Chromie25 View Post
I thought if you are an expat, you cannot open a bank account unless you work in China (e.g. have a working visa).


If the OP goes to China often but doesn't work/live in China, it may be difficult to open an account in China.
We spend enough time over there that we have an account there. No problems beyond the stupidity the IRS makes us deal with. (Note, however, that my wife is a native speaker.) Tourist visas only.
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Old Jan 27, 17, 1:25 pm
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Originally Posted by JPDM View Post
Not an issue at all. I opened my first bank account on a short trip in Shanghai. In total I have opened 4 accounts and never had a work visa. Anybody can open an account.
Some banks are pickier than others. Often it's the Chinese operations of foreign banks (Fubon, Dah Sing, UOB, KEB-Hana, etc) that won't let you open an account without some kind of proof of residence. A Chinese bank should be a non-issue.

Also, the one case it might be worth at least trying for- ICBC offers a Diners Club card that's free and gives you full access to all Diners lounges for yourself (and yes, I mean totally free- I checked my statements and was never separately charged for those lounge visits). Unfortunately, for foreigners they're quire strict when it comes to creditworthiness- one late payment (I paid my US$ balance owing but forgot about a couple purchases I made on the associated UnionPay card, billed in RMB) and my credit account was terminated. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.
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Old Jan 27, 17, 5:17 pm
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There's a rule with Chinese banks: you'll never bring all the right stuff with you the first time.

To open an account of course you'll need your passport, your mobile with a Chinese number, and a Chinese address (which can be a hotel). But some places may want more: perhaps your temporary lodging registration from the PSB, perhaps a second photo ID, perhaps even your official Chinese name declared before a notary.

Same after you open your account. You need to change your mobile number and take your passport, your mobile, and your debit card. Whoops. You forgot the dongle. Get a new passport and change the number on the account? Don't forget to take your old passport, or at least a photocopy.

As for Alipay, my understanding -- and I've never managed a successful registration myself -- is that in linking your bank account, your passport name must match the name on your bank account. The problem is that most banks, apparently, don't have space for longish Western names in the name field checked by Alipay. I've read that China Merchants Bank does work with longish names, so consider that if you're opening a bank account to use Alipay.
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Old Feb 9, 17, 1:18 am
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I definitely recommend China Merchant's bank. Easy to use and more innovative than BOC or ICBC. If you can read Chinese, mobile banking and internet banking with Merchant is very useful.
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Old Feb 9, 17, 8:35 am
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Is the CMB dongle easy to use? Windows 7 presents a real problem for some bank dongles.
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Old Feb 9, 17, 9:08 am
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I'm wondering is Win10 out of the question for Chinese internet banking?
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Old Feb 9, 17, 3:38 pm
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I have Win 10 on my old computer bought in US, and internet banking works only with IE 32-bit, not Chrome, not IE 64-bit.

I have my new computer now, also using Win 10 and bought in US. I haven't used internet banking yet.
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