Maybe this is somehow off topic but I will give it a try.


Guess most of you folks have banking accounts in your home country and maybe a simple savings account here in China to be able to transfer some money to Xi'An.


So I did ... in my first days in Xi'An I went to the Bank of China, opened a savings account, got a bank card (valid in China only) and so I was able to transfer money to China.


Basically, I need much more than that.


What I am looking for is a banking account, where I can transfer in and out internationally at low costs, a credit - or at least a debit card which can be used in and outside China (related to the bank account) and a full featured online banking.


A plus would be to have access to the Chinese stock markets as I am working on stockmarkets around the world since many years but havent had any chance at Chinese stock exchanges (beside Hong Kong).


Maybe I am wrong but Bank of China seems to me far away from what I need. I have tried their online banking (in Chinese only, of course) and failed. Not because of the language but they need a webbrowser plugin and this plugin doesnt work with Windows 7.


So my next try was HSBC.


I know HSBC from Europe. They have a nice office, they speak English ... but they just have nothing to offer. The clerk explained to me that they dont offer any savings account, so they dont pay any interests rate, they are not allowed to access stock markets, they just can offer a current account and a debit card.

BUT: For a standard account they wanted me to bring 100.000 RMB in, for an advanced account 500.000 RMB


For what reason? I asked them.


I wont be able to work with my money, it will just "stored" here.




So my next try is ICBC


They have a current account to transfer money in and out with almost no limits, these accounts have two currencies (RMB and USD), they have an international debit card  (VISA), double currency as well, and they have a full featured online banling in Englisch with USB-Stick security.


So far I understood they provide access to stock markets as well.


What is your recommendation?

Any hints or experience?


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Comment by Tom Reinhardt on September 30, 2011 at 2:56pm



Yes ... I opened an account in ICBC a while ago and so far I am satisfied.

At least my branch manager helped me a lot (with his broken English) und in the end I got this VISA debit card.

Guess they don't deal that often with this kind of debit card so it took a while until my branch new how to apply for it. In the end it was easy

Comment by Tom Reinhardt on August 28, 2011 at 11:58pm

Hi Ed,

the link contains good basic information, but are outdated- in my view.

I agree with the author that the Bank of China is not the first choice when it comes to online banking and another goes.


In fact, I would even say that the Bank of China provides the worst service of all major banks in China.

An English-language website have now all banks.

So far, I think that the ICBC offers the most professional service, a comprehensive online banking including the transfer money to international bank accounts. And this in different currencies at competitive prices.

Peony International Debit Card and the (double-currency) is probably the first and only credit card on a credit basis, which anyone can get fast and is also a VISA card.

And ICBC has offices around the world.

Comment by Tom Reinhardt on August 25, 2011 at 7:43pm



Thanks for your info.

The point with Unionpay is, that Unionpay is hardly accepted outside China.

I am a German, travelling a lot in Great Britain, Germany, US (California) and around Asia.

E.g. in Europe there are only a handful partners of Unionpay .. and limits.

I was told at BoC and ICBC that a daily limit of RMB 1,000 apply if you wanna get some cash at ATMs (and a monthly limit of RMB 5,000).

RMB 1,000 is not THAT much ... :-)

Unionpay itself says there is a global daily limit of RMB 10,000.

Anyway, I just saw that China Mercants Bank offers an 'All-in-one-card' and if your balances at CMB exceeds RMB 50,000 then you are qualified to apply for an "All-in-one-card" Gold Card.

This 'Gold Card' seems to be a real credit card (Visa or Mastercard at your choice).


I think this could be a great alternative!


Comment by lomoni on August 25, 2011 at 6:50pm
Most banks now have the unionpay visa cards. its a universal debit card. I use cmb ( china merchant bank)because they told me that if i were to go back home I can use it like a regular debit card. There are no fees involved when paying for something but there is a monthly fee of 10 yuan a month. Now if you were to take it out of the atm there is a 1% transaction fee. As for HSBC, now that is hard because of the 50,000 rmb you have to put it. CCB is good because you can get money out of the atm if you went back home but you cant put money in if you are the in the states so you would have to use BofA for that.
So the best bet is try private banks like China Everbright Bank, China Merchant, and China Citic. I use China Merchant and with the excellent cs I love it. The only bad thing is if you cant read chinese. you cant read your paperless account. on the iphone app its easier to maneuver

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