The Bank of China and CITIC Industrial Bank provide personal and corporate banking facilities for expatriates in China, as do the main foreign banks, HSBC (London), Standard Chartered Bank (London), and Citibank (New York). These banks offer multicurrency accounts, renminbi accounts, foreign exchange, credit cards, ATMs, loans, and even mortgages. The main branches of China’s other banks may also provide such services, but their banking facilities are likely to be more limited.
To open a current (checking) or savings account you usually just need to complete a signature card, show your passport as identification, and make the appropriate deposit (varies depending on bank and type of account). The Chinese economy still runs primarily on cash despite all of China’s strides toward modernization; checks and credit cards are not likely to be accepted in many places other than high-end tourist hotels and large shopping centers.
The banking system in China is slow and there are some restrictions on the services available. For example, 24 hours notice is needed to withdraw the equivalent of USD 5,000 or more (Bank of China) or USD 10,000 or more (CITIC). It takes several weeks to cash a bank draft drawn on a foreign bank.
There is a wide network of ATMs throughout China’s main cities. HSBC and the Commercial Bank of China’s networks are now linked in Guangzhou and Shanghai, so customers can use the ATM of either bank. ATM facilities include cash withdrawals, transfers, balance enquiries and checkbook or statement requests. Most ATMs have a per-transaction limit of 1,000-3,000 ($125-375), but some will allow multiple transactions.
Employment contracts specify what percentage of an expatriate’s salary can be changed to foreign currency.
Bank of China
200 Mid. Yincheng Rd.
Shanghai 200120, China
Standard Chartered Bank
Main Office-China Headquarters
35/F&38/F&26/F, China Merchants Tower
161 East Lujiazui Lu
Pudong District, Shanghai 200120
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited
36/F, HSBC Tower
1000 Lujiazui Ring Road
People’s Republic of China
Citibank, N.A., Shanghai Branch
No.33 Hua Yuan Shi Qiao Road
Lu Jia Zui Finance and Trade Area
Shanghai, P.R. China 200120