How To Open A Bank Account In China

One of your first priorities when you arrive in China should be to open a bank account. Wondering why? The answer is simple –  it can be hard to pay or purchase anything if you don’t have a local bank account in China.

Some universities will assist you through the process, but in most cases you have to do it yourself. If you have no prior knowledge on this, don’t worry because I’m going to walk you through the process. I will also include a list of frequently asked questions from international students.

Why Do I Need To Open A Bank Account In China?

Carrying cash is almost non-existent in China. But this isn’t the only reason you need to open a local bank account, here are other reasons to do so:

  • Pay your tuition fee easily. Your university will require you to pay in RMB which means your foreign currency is of no use in China. When you have a China bank account, your money is automatically converted to Chinese currency.
  • Save yourself from carrying loads of bills on your wallet. The highest bill in China is 100 Yuan, which is equal to US$14.5. Just  imagine when you start collecting smaller bills.
  • Obtain a Union Pay debit card. International cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are not widely accepted in China. Businesses in this side of the world only accept payments with cards from Union Pay (Chinese bank network).
  • Use WeChat Pay and Alipay for any type of purchases. To use these mobile-based apps, you need to have a Chinese bank card first.
  • Save on service fee when you withdraw.

How To Open A Bank Account In China In Three Steps!

Step 1) Choose a bank and prepare the required documents.

Bank of China is one of the largest banks in China. Applying for an account in this bank is free. However, there are other reputable banks such as the: the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank (CCB), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and China Merchants Bank (CMB).

Here are the requirements to open a basic bank account in China:

– Valid passport
– A Chinese phone number
– Proof of residence (some banks will require this, you can provide your temporary address or a receipt of where you are staying)
– An initial opening deposit (this usually costs 10-20 RMB and some banks might make you pay for the card they give you)
– Student pass/ID (required by some banks)

Note: Not all banks in China allow non-Chinese people to open an account. Make sure to do your research first.

Bank of China is one of the largest state-owned commercial banks in China.

Step 2) Open an account at your desired Chinese Bank.

Go to the bank and complete their application form. Wait for your number to be called and submit your documents. If you don’t speak Chinese, don’t worry because you will be given assistance. The bank will hand your new UnionPay Bank Card and create your bank passwords (6 digits).

Step 3) Use your China bank account!

You can withdraw in a Chinese ATM, pay purchases online and set up your bank card with WeChat or Alipay. It’s that easy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I open a China bank account in my home country?

No. Even if major Chinese banks have branches in your country, you are still required to visit China and open a bank account within China.

Can I use my UnionPay card outside China?

Yes, but only in selected places mostly in Asia. This goes the same with mobile payment applications tied to your card such as WeChat or Alipay.

Which banks in China are best for foreigners?

Some of the most foreigner-friendly banks that you can contact include: China Merchant Bank, ABC (Agricultural Bank of China), ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) and China Construction Bank.

How much can I withdraw from an ATM in China?

The maximum amount you can withdraw is 20,000 RMB per day. The ATM withdrawal fee in China using a Chinese bank card is only RMB, regardless of how much you withdraw (500 RMB or 10,000 RMB).

Can I use online or mobile banking?

There are Chinese banks who have internet banking available. However, the English interface is sometimes limited. You may also need to open a specific type of account because some are not eligible for online banking. It’s best to mention that you want an internet banking feature when you’re opening an account.

Study In China For 2021 Intake

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Content crafter at China Admissions with nine years of professional writing experience. Fil-Chinese who honors my heritage every day. On a fascinating journey exploring China and tracing my ancestry. See China through my lens.
Christine Chiu

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