Basics of banking in Shanghai



China is still predominantly a cash-based society, particularly outside the major cities. There are many ATM machines in larger cities, some of which accept foreign bank cards, but most expatriates open a local bank account to have a local ATM/Direct Debit card and avoid any foreign transaction fees. International banks in China still only offer a limited range of services, and branches in China are often not linked to branches in other countries. International banks currently cannot issue ATM cards. International credit cards will be accepted in some places in larger cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, but not elsewhere.

All major credit cards are widely accepted in the larger cities in China such as Shanghai and Beijing. You can also pay by local cash cards or direct debit cards in many cities in China. Smaller cities in China may have few places that will accept cards, and thus it’s best to have cash at hand. There are no personal cheques in China, and cash us used as the primary form of payment.

Opening a Bank Account

It is relatively simple to open an account in China. You need your passport and minimum deposit of RMB 10. Almost all documentation is in Chinese only, and online banking is very limited. Please note that in China, it is 1 card, 1 name, 1 account policy. There are no joint bank accounts here.

It is also important to open the account at a convenient branch as you are often required to enter the same branch the account was opened at to complete certain transactions, such as foreign remittance.

In China, the most popular local banks are: