How to open Bank account in China
As a new foreigner in China one wants to live as conveniently as possible, should be able to buy tickets online, occasionally (or frequently) order take-out, and shop on Taobao, for all these things one need a local bank account.
How to open a bank account? It’s not a very difficult process.
Which Bank should I choose?
For foreigners there’s not a big difference between all the banks so choose your bank based on convenience. Which branches and ATM’s do you see most often in your city or near your neighborhood? Also, your account is tied to the specific branch in which you open it. So if you need to change your PIN, report a stolen card or something of this sort you’ll need to go back to that exact branch. Another reason to pick one near you.
There are plenty of good banks in China but the five below are the most reputed.
Agricultural Bank of China (ABC)
Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) has by far the largest number of branches and ATMs, especially in Rural ares.
Bank of China (BOC)
Bank of China is the most internationalized and diversified bank in China and it provides full range of financial services in China’s mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and other 31 countries, therefore, this bank helps you wire money overseas and might be your preferred bank.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is known for having good English-speaking services
China Construction Bank
China Construction Bank is a very popular bank with good service.
China Merchants Bank
China Merchants Bank(CMB): Smaller bank known for its excellent service
What do I need to prepare before going?
The only thing you need to do is take your passport, however in some areas you will need a residence permit and maybe a cellphone number. Also as the bank will require you make initial deposit and maybe pay for the opening of the new account you may need about 50 RMB.
After finishing this process you will be given a debit card for your new account and have to set a 6-digit pin.
You can use your new debit card to withdraw cash at ATMs or pay at stores and most restaurants (Note: Withdrawals from ATMs not owned by your bank will involve charges).
What to do now?
Now you have your account and activated debit card. Your new debit card will be issued by UnionPay. Currently, UnionPay is accepted everywhere in China as well as at banks in over 120 countries overseas. Note that even though UnionPay is popular for daily purchases, it is very troublesome as some places will only accept Alipay or WeChat. So after opening your account you should connect your bank account to Alipay and transfer some money to your WeChat wallet.