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p0mmes_frites

which bank to use?

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p0mmes_frites

Hello everyone. I am coming to Beijing on the 26th of August and I am considering to use HSBC bank account and ATM there. But I am not sure if it will be easy to find HSBC ATM or bank. Which bank would you suggest to use?

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m000gle

HSBC debit cards will work fine at any HSBC branch/ATM in China, so its certainly an excellent option. When considering its convenience/practicality, it will really depend on which part of Beijing you're staying in. There's a list of all HSBC Branches/ATM's available here, though: http://www.hsbc.com.cn/1/2/misc/branches-and-atms

You may have similar luck with ATM's of the China Construction Bank if your home bank abroad is a part of the Global ATM Alliance (e.g. Scotiabank in Canada), with Bank of China if you have an account with one of their international branches back home or any other bank who has an ATM affiliation with a domestic Chinese one. However, my only personal experience is with using HSBC, so I can't be sure about these.

In any case, I would contact your bak to see what they recommend and, even more importantly if you're going abroad, to let them know it will be used in China so they don't freeze the card thinking its fraudulent activity.

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p0mmes_frites

Thanks for the reply, the list you provide was of much help. I will be in Haidian district, so there seems to be 3 branches and 2 ATMs. I will take care of my card in my homecountry before going. thanks for the advices :rolleyes:

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lordnikon

HSBC will work but it is not the best option financially because they charge 3% for converting your currency to RMB even though you are using their atm. A better option is the use bank of america which is part of the Global ATM alliance which means you can withdraw from china construction bank for free and the currency conversion fee is only 1%. It may not see like much but the conversion fees add up and are hidden because they just use a sub optimal exchange rate as the means of taking out the exchange fee. You can also just bring cash, you can bring $5000 USD or equivalent in other currency without having to declare it and just exchange it at the bank, all banks in china have to exchange money at the government mandated exchange rate this is the best rate you can possibly get, also you can open a chinese bank account at the same time, they will give you your atm card right there on the spot, they dont print your name on the cards and mail them to you like they do in western countries.

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SiMaKe

@lordnikon

I heartily agree with your assessment of BoA and CCB. My (limited) experience with this arrangement was as near perfect as I could expect. Not only was I able to find a CCB ATM in many smaller areas of Yunnan and Guizhou, as well as in the larger cities, but I found the exchange rate very attractive (basically the spot rate). (To give credit where due, it was from others on this forum, namely abcdefg and taylor04, that I learned of the BoA/CCB alliance - thanks folks!).

My only question to you is how do you know of the 1% conversion rate? Do you mean from an explicit charge or as an rate hair-cut? None of my transactions included an explicit conversion charge. As for the haircut, I did not look into disclosure material so if that is what you mean about a conversion charge, you are most likely correct (everyone has to get paid somehow). However, I took a pragmatic approach of comparing results to stated spot forex rates from various websites (e.g., Ozforex where the rates are for large interbank transactions, forex.com, etc). A sample transaction from the time period in question (month of May 2010) yielded cash from the machine of ¥146.83 on May 25 for a 1000RMB withdrawal. The spot rates that I see on various websites for the time in question range around $146.50+/-. And my recollection from the time is consistent with these. And again there was no explicit conversion charge as I have seen when using other bank ATM's.

My point is that while there is probably a haircut on the rate (that is "hidden"), I don't believe an individual in this situation could do much better. As a comparison, if I were to exchange USD for RMB at my local bank (even BoA), the fees are more in the 10% range. Egads!

But as you pointed out, when exchanging cash at the local Bank of China, the rate is quite attractive. From my experience on a previous trip, I was pleasantly surprised to find no conversion fee and a near "spot-on" spot rate.

So has the situation changed or did I get snookered somehow?

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jmhcali

I think you got snookered, to put it mildly. Bank of America told me last month that they charge 5% fees on currency conversions, although they do charge another $2 fee for non-BoA ATMs. I have no idea where lordnikon is getting this 1% figure.

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SiMaKe

jmhcali,

Thanks for the confirmation that I was snookered. That always make me feel "special".:rolleyes:

I see a problem with my last post! To clarify, for a ¥1000 withdrawal I was charged $146.83 USD (not ¥). :oops::oops:

Had I received only ¥146.83, that would be way beyond being snookered!! More like walking dead.

If this typo was not the source of your remark, then please give me a little more information so I can see how that was done, so next time, hopefully, I can avoid it.

Oh, BTW, I agree that BoA charges a conversion fee when you do the transaction locally (in the US in my case). But what I found interesting was that pulling RMB out of a CCB ATM in China did not trigger any apparent (explicit) conversion fee. However, I only base this on my experience of pulling ¥1000 out of a Kunming CCB ATM and having my US account debited $146.83. Neither my transaction slip nor my subsequent bank statements contained any other fees.

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jbradfor

@jmhcali

Bank of America told me last month that they charge 5% fees on currency conversions, although they do charge another $2 fee for non-BoA ATMs.

This 5%, are you 100% sure it is for ATM withdraw using an ATM system, and not just for credit/debit card purchases?

It is very common for US-based credit cards to have a fee for foreign purchases. [Capital One is the major exception.] I have not heard of ATM currency conversion fees, but that, of course, is not proof. [There are often non-using-the-home-bank fees, but that is often a flat rate.]

Also, when using an ATM card, you might want to check on your daily limit. By default, most US banks put it around 300 per day. You might want to have it increased.

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gato

The conversion fee is waived if you use China Construction Bank ATMs. I have a Bank of America account and have withdrawn funds using China Construction Bank ATM many times over the last five years.

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Ku An

yea you get to realize how awesome it is to have a BoA debit card when you get there

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