Banks of China

Wherever you will go, you will always need to find a bank or an ATM machine, especially while travelling to China. Exploring a foreign country with another currency is always complicated, better be well advised before taking your flight to China.


First of all, to avoid being fooled with counterfeit bank notes don’t change your money anywhere else than in a bank or get some in ATM machines. Major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro, Plus and American Express (AmEx) are accepted on ATM machines, in major hotels, department stores, most restaurants or small convenience stores. Check on the acceptance of your credit card before you purchase. For your nearest ATM, consult the ATM locator on or on; both have comprehensive listings. Moreover, all the Chinese banks are owned by the central government or the local government, there’s no private banks, so all the rates for money exchange would be nearly the same.


Here are the main banks in China (mainland) :

 - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China(ICBC)

 - Bank of Chin

 - Agricultural Bank of China

 - China Merchants Bank                      

 - Bank of Communications

 - China CITIC Bank

 - China Construction Bank

 - Postal Savings Bank of China

 - China Development Bank


You can exchange your foreign currency in every bank, they usually have a special counter for international money exchange. Banks are opened 7 days a week, from 9am to 6pm in general, some are not open during lunch time, but most of them are in service. But, after few experiences at the bank, if you can’t avoid going there during that span of time it would be better since the waiting time could be between 30 minutes to 1 hour and more in some banks. If you need to use banking services it’s safest to go on a weekday before or after lunchtime. And please note that for the rest of the year 2012, on September 30 (Mid-Autumn Festival) and on October 1-7 (Chinese National Day) the banks will be closed because of the public holidays.


Of course, in Chinese banks you can find all the banking services that you will normally find anywhere else in the world, but there are few additional different services too. To avoid lining up for to get in front the counter, clients who holds the Gold Card can access to a VIP area for their personal transactions. Moreover, the use of checks is not common for private individuals, almost everything is paid by cash (even big amounts) or by credit card, so don’t be surprised if someone on the counter next to you is making a big deposit of thousands and thousands of yuans. Chinese banks are a place to pay the bills too, Chinese people go to the bank to pay the gas, water, electricity or mobile recharges. One more thing, you won’t see any company of money transfer like Western Union, Money Gram and so on in the street, in fact banks offers these services and have partnerships with these companies.


And it goes without saying that foreign banks are present in China too. So, if there’s anything wrong with your account you could solve it here, but sometimes, different banks from the same group don’t work together if they are not in the same country. So, the best thing to do if you plan to stay in China for a while, would be open an account in a Chinese Bank. Opening a bank account in China – especially an RMB-only account – is a very straightforward process. You only need your passport with a valid visa (tourist visas are acceptable).


Foreign banks incorporated locally in China :

 - ABN AMRO (now RBS China due to de-merging), Netherlands

 - Australia and New-Zealand Banking group

 - Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ / Mizuho Corporate Bank, Japan

 - Citibank / JPMorgan Chase Bank, USA

 - HSBC, Hong Kong

 - Standard Chartered Bank, UK

 - Société Générale, France

 - Bank of Montreal, Canada

 - Woori Bank / Shinhan Bank / Hana Bank, South Korea


I hope that banking problem won’t happen during your China tours after reading this article.


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