Date registered: September 2, 2011
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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!
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.
you can buy a cheap phone almost anywhere. Carrefour and Wal-Mart are good options. Expect to pay about RMB 250 for a cheap phone with SIM card and minutes for a few weeks. Just know that cell phones are still regional in China. So if you buy a phone in Beijing you will be charged more to use it here in Sichuan. Also, some plans do not allow you to buy minutes from carriers in other provinces. So if your going to travel, make sure you buy enough credit from the start!