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Bank cards


Don_Horhe

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Hi everybody, I want to get a Chinese bank card (credit or debit, doesn't really matter, although I prefer the latter) with which I can buy online and be able to use it abroad - deposit RMB here in China and withdraw EUR/USD/whatever from ATMs abroad. My Chinese is not good enough to tackle a Wuhanese bank clerk yet, so I'm turning to those who've lived in China for a while for help. This is what I've got so far in terms of information, any advice would be appreciated.

BOC Great Wall International Credit Card

Peony EMV Standard Credit Card (ICBC)

Peony International Credit Card (ICBC)

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I don't know much about this either, but from my experience, the Bank of China card is pretty useless for online transactions. At Taobao, for instance, they have a list of like 30 bank cards that you can use, and Bank of China is not among them...

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Recently a Chinese friend of mine wanted to buy a book from an online bookstore (not Chinese). She looked into this and couldn't get herself any sort of debit or credit card which would let her do it. In the end, I did the purchase for her, using my card, and she gave me the cash.

If you're in China, is there a family member outside who'd help you out, or a very good friend? You need 100% trust for this not to end in tears.

I lived in China for several years and kept a VISA card pretty much just for online shopping.

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Hmm, that doesn't sound too nice. Well, forget about online shopping, I have my Maestro debit card which I brought from back home, which I didn't want to use here, but I guess I have no option. What about the second function I mentioned - depositing RMB here in China and withdrawing foreign currency from abroad? I'm quite sure most Chinese students who go abroad to study have one of those, I just don't know exactly which type it is and which bank offers the best service.

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I'm quite sure most Chinese students who go abroad to study have one of those
I'm not so sure. What happens instead is that they go overseas and open a bank account, and then they have money transferred to the overseas account directly.
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If you do end up changing currency via bank accounts, keep an eye on the exchange rates and charges. One year I did this in the same few weeks in China (in the Bank of China) and in the UK, and was surprised at how much better the exchange rate was at the UK bank, with low charges, too. You might do better to take the money home and then change it there.

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Go to the largest ICBC branch you can find and hope for an English-speaking representative. They can set you up for online shopping.

On debit cards, virtually all Chinese debit cards issued by the major banks are part of the UnionPay network. You can use these abroad at any Citibank ATM machines. UnionPay also has direct presence in many countries.

On credit cards, if they are MasterCard (Maestro) or Visa (Plus) branded then they can be used abroad on Maestro- or Plus- labeled ATM machines, respectively.

As mentioned above, watch out for the ATM fees however.

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Gougou or anyone else - how would this work as a method of exchanging currency? I've read in the past people have had trouble repaying foreign currency credit card spending in RMB, not sure if that's still the case though.

I think you'll find you need to jump through some hoops for a credit card - proof of stable income, guarantee from your employer, proof of long-term address, whatever . . .

As Peekay says, the largest branch, or the one nearest the 'foreign' parts of town, are likely to have English speaking staff.

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Mine isn't a credit card, it's a debit card (借记卡). It has the Unionpay and Maestro logos, and I was able to get cash with it from most ATM's I tried (ironically, except the Citibank ATM at Frankfurt Airport, and every single ATM in Paris - while other French cities were no problem).

My withdrawals have been directly deducted from the balance (although I didn't bother to check the exchange rate).

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  • 1 month later...

After going to both Bank of China and ICBC and being told that foreigners can only get a domestic RMB debit card (not Visa or Maestro) and nothing else, I ended up going to China Minsheng Bank where you can get an international double-currency (you can deposit both RMB and either Euro, USD or AUD) Visa debit card. The only thing they ask you for is your passport.

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I ended up going to China Minsheng Bank where you can get an international double-currency (you can deposit both RMB and either Euro, USD or AUD) Visa debit card. The only thing they ask you for is your passport.

That's good to know!

Re Unionpay, has anyone used one to take cash out of a Chinese bank account in Hong Kong? If so, a safe & easy way to get round the exchange restrictions would just be to put all your RMB savings in an account with a Unionpay card, take the card to HK, take all the cash out as HKD, & pay it into a foreign bank.

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Re Unionpay, has anyone used one to take cash out of a Chinese bank account in Hong Kong?
Done this a couple of times, also in Germany, France and the US. No forex restrictions, and the rates are reasonable.
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After going to both Bank of China and ICBC and being told that foreigners can only get a domestic RMB debit card (not Visa or Maestro) and nothing else, I ended up going to China Minsheng Bank where you can get an international double-currency (you can deposit both RMB and either Euro, USD or AUD) Visa debit card.

Ah - no Minsheng branch in Changsha. :cry:

Of course the English pages for ICBC & BOC don't mention that these aren't available to foreigners:

ICBC international debit card

BOC multifunctional debit card

It looks like there are some alternatives:

China Merchant Bank's all in one (if you have 50k RMB sitting around)

Huaxia's FX card

Agricultural Bank of China's oddly named Kins debit card (perhaps - it does seem to be a multi-currency card, but it's not clear if it's a visa/mastercard/maestro etc)

But even if they are internationally usable debit cards, who knows if they're available to foreigners... I'll go and ask when I get a chance.

Edited by onebir
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