How to transfer money to bank accounts outside of China?

Posted in: Forums > Living in Chengdu • 25 posts • NewestRSS

  • aurelia
    September 24, 2009
    4 posts

    Hi hi,

    Does anyone have any experience with transfering relatively small amounts of money from Chinese bank accounts to, lets say, Canada?

    How about in the form of bill payments to Canadian companies? Is there a way of getting company bank account information and having a Chinese bank account pay it? (for example, Mastercard).. Or, can I pay a Canadian Mastercard account here in Chengdu?

    Thanks!

  • Jonason
    September 25, 2009
    3 posts

    If you have a Chinese credit card, visa or mastercard, you can pay them online by online bank.
    I know American Express didn't work in China.

    But I think visa and mastercard can work in China.

  • cnbiz850
    October 5, 2009
    1 post

    I believe the easiest (maybe the only) thing is to go to a branch of you Chinese bank (in the same city where you opened you account), or go to any Chinese bank if you have foreign currency cash with you, and tell them to do a bank wire. You need to provide the receiving bank's account # and name and the routging #.

    If you are thinking about re-paying your recurring Canadian bills, I would investigate with your Canadian company and find out if it is possible for them to charge the monthly balance to your Chinese credit card every month. Then you only need to manage your Chinese bank account here every month. That would be the best.

  • Heather S
    October 12, 2009
    2 posts

    Does anyone have tips for getting a Chinese credit card? Do you go through your local bank?
    Cheers

  • lpm100
    October 17, 2009
    5 posts

    Chinese credit cards are something like out of the question.

    I have tried to get one MANY times. What happens is: You go to the bank (alone or with a friend, the result is the same). The bank has you fill out some paperwork (they do it in a very half assed way, perhaps because they know you aren't going to get the credit card anyway). Weeks go by, and you don't get the credit card and you don't get any explanation as to why-- or any way to bring the matter to a conclusion. Also, I found that the words for getting a credit card were so techincal that I could not follow what was being said-- nor could my friend find ways to explain them to me in English.

    I've tried this at: The Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and China Merchants' Bank. China Merchants' bank was really cute. They told me that I had to own a house in China (like the VAST MAJORITY of even Chinese people don't have) and have lived at the address for 5 years before they could even consider an application for me. In that event, my parents could cosign for the credit card-- but if and only if they were Chinese people.

    I also have a friend who runs a book business here, and he has tried to get credit cards MANY times in the Mainland and failed.

    You can not even get prepaid credit cards in Hong Kong. I tried to explain the idea of a prepaid credit card to a Chinese bank teller, and she kept reinterpreting the word as "debit card." (Also keep in mind that Chinese bank cards have no visa logo and can't be used outside of China/ Hong Kong/ Macau.)

    The purpose of making credit cards so difficult to obtain is to stop people from skirting the capital controls. (You can get a suitcase full of cash and WALK out of China with it, but you can't electronically transfer anything.)

    For paying credit cards down (in response to the other post), here is what I have found works:

    1. Go to the illegal money changer in front of the Bank of China near TianFu Square and get the money in $20 or $50 bills. Then you can put them in envelopes IN THE PRIVACY OF YOUR HOUSE and with A4 paper wrapped around each bill so that you can't see what is in the envelope if it is held up to the light. Each envelope is $1 to send to Canada/ USA. So, for $300, that works out to 15 envelopes of $20 each. Or 6 envelopes of $50. (Or whatever. Sometimes I even put odd amounts in the envelopes.)

    2. Have a check drawn up on the bank of China. I have not done this in several years, but at that time, the fee for a check drawn up on Bank of China New York was about 80RMB. But I sent that check regular mail and it took a month to get there. When I went to the bank to ask if the payment could be stopped (after about 3 weeks, I thought the check had been lost in the mail), they told me that if the check was lost that it could not be stopped and that was just my ass. So, it was really the logical equivalent of sending cash in the mail.

    3. It also works to send the money EMS (and I have sent thousands of dollars back this way), with the caveat that you have to get the blue EMS envelope at one post office and fill out the address label and SEAL IT before sending it to the post office. The last time I tried to send cash in an EMS envelope, I didn't think to seal it and the bitch at the post office looked in the envelope and told me that she could not accept it because it was cash. So, I took exact same envelope and walked it to the next post office (500 feet away) and had the good sense to seal it. I asked for another label to make it look like I was writing something there in the post office and put the other label on the envelope. I registered it and sent $375 in the mail. It arrived in the United States 6 days later, intact. (Usually for amounts over $300, I just use the EMS.)

    I can't remember how much it is to wire money to a bank, but I do remember that the expense was such that it made better sense to pay the 180RMB to just send it EMS.

    Also: If you want to wire money, it cannot be done in Chinese RMB. So, you will have to buy from the black market (where you will lose money on the exchange rate) and then lose money again wiring. The US$ exchange rate is 6.85RMB:$1, but on the black market the best I have been able to get was 7.1RMB to the dollar.

  • lpm100
    October 17, 2009
    5 posts

    Getting a credit card is SO MUCH shit, that if you have a friend at home who can send you a prepaid credit card, it is just easier to do it that way. (I am assuming that you want to use this card to purchase things off the internet.)

  • Aireline
    March 29, 2013
    106 posts

    I sent money home today and I didn't even leave my apartment.

    You need a chinese bank account that can do online transactions.
    A chinese paypal account and a UK/US paypal account.

    First connect your bank account (I used ICBC) to your chinese paypal account.

    Then send money to your UK/US bank account.

    Login to your UK/US paypal and select 'withdraw' (which is free of charge.)

    My money was in my Lloyds TSB 5 minutes later and ready to spend.

    Transfers are 3%.

    Easy!

  • chengduJeff
    April 2, 2013
    5 posts

    Quick note on Credit Cards

    If you work for a Fortune 500 company, or own a house in China (use ICBC or B of China) you can get a credit card with very little trouble.

    Another option, which takes some forward thinking but may be your best option is to use a bank that operates both inside and outside China. I know you can do this with HSBC, without issues and I assume Standard Chartered and Citi would be similar if not the same.

    1. Open a local HSBC at one of the branches in Chengdu.

    I think they have 5 now. Also open another HSBC 'multi currency' account either in HK or in your home country. You can open a free "HSBC advance" account, which has few charges and less customer service or a "HSBC Premier" which might be the most flexible bank account in the world with relatively good customer service.

    2. Transfer your money via online banking from your RMB account, to your other account. This can be done for free, with almost no currency spread, instantly online.

    That's it! Either apply for a credit card using the account outside of China or pay directly from that account to wherever you need to send the money.

    BIG ISSUE - You need to be in HK or your home country to open the local HSBC account there. If you take a trip to HK, all you need is your passport and a few thousand RMB to open the account, You can immediately go to the ATM and withdraw that money once its open. (about 5 mins later)

    Need other financial advice? send me a PM and I'll set you up with a financial advisor in Chengdu.

  • chengduJeff
    April 2, 2013
    5 posts

    one further note,

    foreigners are allowed to legally remit 100% of their earnings in China, so long as they pay local income tax. Meaning, you are not subject to capital controls as long as you, or your employer, are paying the proper taxes!

  • Brittney
    April 27, 2013
    18 posts

    What is the website to set up a Chinese Pay Pal account? I tried setting it up on the normal international Pay Pal account, but it said that my email is already set up with Pay Pal. Is there a separate website for the Chinese Pay Pal (hopefully in English)? Thanks!

  • Marky
    April 27, 2013
    90 posts

    @Brittney - You will need to use another email address to sign up. The PayPal website just redirects you based on your location, so make sure your VPN is turned off when you join.

  • Brittney
    April 28, 2013
    18 posts

    Thanks Marky. So, I'm trying to connect my bank account (ICBC) to my chinese paypal account. Do I need to fill out the "China - Bank Verification" tab and/or "China - Wire Transfer tab?" Then, when that is completed, I can just send money to my US bank account and withdraw? Wow, sounds easy. It's just the setting up part that is confusing me a bit. It's my first time doing anything online with my China account and my first time using Pay Pal. So, any additional info would be much appreciated. Thank you!

  • Aireline
    April 28, 2013
    106 posts

    I did 'China - Bank Verification'

  • ggggg
    April 29, 2013
    19 posts

    To do this on Paypal you will need a USB provided by the bank for authentication of transactions.

    I sent some money twice to my spanish account in this way, I paid about 5% as transfer fee. For me seemed to be an expensive way of money transfer. A simple bank transfer should be cheaper.

  • Marky
    April 29, 2013
    90 posts

    @Brittney - You need to either have a USB "shield" device provided by your bank or have SMS confirmation turned on. Whenever you complete a transaction online you will have to insert the USB shield to confirm your purchase or type in the dynamic password they send to your mobile phone.

    I'd recommend you ask the bank to turn on the SMS notifications... You can msgs every time money goes in or out of your account and if you make a transaction online they message you the password to enter on the website rather than always having to carry a USB device around with you.

    You can transfer up to 1000$ before you need to verify your PayPal account - so just try to transfer a small amount to start off with and then you can verify your account later.

  • Gosunkugi
    April 30, 2013
    12 posts

    what about MoneyGram or WesternUnion, from far that's the easiest way to send money

  • Brittney
    May 25, 2013
    18 posts

    I'm so frustrated. I'm trying to transfer money from my ICBC account to my US bank account via Pay Pal. Aireline, I've tried following the simple steps you said to do. I've got it set up on the US side, but I can't seem to connect my ICBC account to my Chinese Pay Pal account. It says I need to verify the small amounts they deposited into my bank account, but I've checked my account and there are NO deposits from pay pal. I'm not in China to do anything in person, so do you have any tips about how to make this transfer online?? Thank you for your help!

  • Aireline
    May 25, 2013
    106 posts

    Do you have your icbc online backing clicker thing? It looks like a small calculator.

  • Aireline
    May 25, 2013
    106 posts

    Do you have your icbc online banking clicker thing? It looks like a small calculator.

  • WhiskyDill
    May 26, 2013
    7 posts

    For smaller ammounts the paypal option is fantastic! Thanks for the tip!

    For larger sums chinese people are allowed to send 20,000/year abroad tax free. If you want to send a large sum, give it to your friend (who you trust) and ask them to TT it to your bank account abroad. There is a transfer fee of a couple of hundred RMB rather than 3%.

  • WhiskyDill
    May 26, 2013
    7 posts

    For smaller ammounts the paypal option is fantastic! Thanks for the tip!

    For larger sums chinese people are allowed to send 20,000/year abroad tax free. If you want to send a large sum, give it to your friend (who you trust) and ask them to TT it to your bank account abroad. There is a transfer fee of a couple of hundred RMB rather than 3%.

  • Brittney
    May 29, 2013
    18 posts

    Airline, yes I have that calculator looking thing :-) It would be for around 65,000 rmb, so maybe a wire transfer is better? So, if I had a friend, they could go inside the bank & make the wire transfer without me being there? I am no longer in China, so I'm trying to figure out how to transfer my money to my USA account without having to be in person. Thanks for the help guys!!

  • Aireline
    May 29, 2013
    106 posts

    If it were me, I would get your friend to withdraw all the money and pay it into a China Construction Bank account. I would then get them to mail the card to your home in america and then withdraw the cash from your nearest bank of america ATM.

    Wikipedia says: "China Construction Bank is a member of the Global ATM Alliance, a joint venture of several major international banks that allows customers of the banks to use their ATM card or check card at another bank within the Global ATM Alliance with no transaction fees when traveling internationally. However, handling costs and VISA processing fees may be applied." I've heard this fee is just 1%.

    Yeah, withdrawals are limited to 1000 rmb per transaction but you can make unlimited withdrawals in a day. Seems like the most cost effective way to go.

  • invisible
    June 22, 2015
    1534 posts

    Has anybody tried bitreserve.org in China?

  • WildKid
    June 26, 2015
    20 posts

    I've run into this problem throughout my stay here. There are 3 ways to go:

    1. You can go to the bank with specific evidence of your employment (contract etc), hours worked, earnings, and tax paid (the last on official forms). All of these have to agree to the letter. You'll almost certainly need a good deal of cooperation from your school, or whatever organization is paying you. Also, the Tax Bureau is very late to supply tax receipt forms to employers, and even when they do, they very really agree with the employers' records - and won't be changed. So, you could fight your way through all that, as I have done several times. Reserve an entire afternoon even if all goes well.

    2. Any Chinese national can wire money abroad so long as it is for 'shenghuofei' (living expenses). So if you have a Chinese national you know well, they can do this for you. They fill out the Chinese part of the form, you fill out the English (SWIFT code, routing number etc). Last time I and my wife did this it took us 25 minutes, and the money was in my bank the same afternoon. Fees are modest (100 yuan) and the exchange rate is almost the international middle rate. In my experience ABC has been a good and friendly bank for international transfers.

    3. There is a separate form for transfers of $500 or less, which can be done with no problem.

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