Basics of banking in China



The Chinese currency is called Renminbi (RMB); it consists of yuan, jiao and fen. 1 yuan is made up of 10 jiao, and 1 jiao is made up of 10 fens. The currency in circulation is notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and coins of 100 yuan, and 1 yuan. Besides that, there are also notes for 1, 2, 5 jiao, and 5 and 1 jiao coins. Fen is issued as coins.

China has some very stringent regulations on foreign currency exchange. To exchange yuans back to foreign currencies one usually requires a copy of the original exchange memo. Despite the fact that there is a thriving black market for currency exchange transacting in it is ridden with the risk of counterfeit currencies which is why you should do your currency exchange at an official institution.


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Opening a Bank Account in China

To open a bank account in the local currency, all you need is your passport with a valid visa and proof of address. Corporate banking facilities for expatriates are provided by the Bank of China, CITIC Industrial Bank and two main foreign banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered and additionally by main branches of other Chinese banks.

Normal banking hours are from 9 am to 4 pm or 5 pm on Mondays to Fridays, in some cases banks close from 12 noon to 1 pm. In case you need to visit the bank, allow plenty of time, as the queues can be long and slow moving.

Money Transfers in China

Transferring money to and from China through services like Western Union is quick but expensive and should be used only in emergency situations. Depositing money into a foreign account and then withdrawing it from an ATM is a better alternative.

Debit and Credit Cards 

On opening an account most, banks generally provide customers with a debit card. Credit cards and cheques are not very popular in China so be prepared to carry substantial amounts of cash with you.

ATM's in China

There is a wide network of Automated Teller Machines (ATM's) across China. If you have a foreign card that is compatible with the maestro system, it is most likely to work here as well. Remember that most ATMs have limits of US$ 100-500 per transaction and that fees can be quite high, especially if you use ATMs from banks other than your own.



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Banking Guide