Chinese Banks are known to have different monetary systems than western ones, but with a little help transferring your funds can be made easy.  The first step to transferring your money is recognizing which type of bank your Chinese account is. 

The different types of banks are:

State Banks:  State Banks such as Bank of China, ICBC, Bank of Communications, and Agricultural Bank of China already have systems in place to help transfer your funds.  These systems will allow you to exchange currency while also moving money internationally to a different account.

Commercial Banks:  Some Commercial banks also offer services to transfer to help your funds, like Merchants Bank of China, China Citic Bank, and China Everbright Bank.

 

If your Bank doesn’t offer services to help transfer money then you can use a host of private options. 

Here’s a list of private services:

 

Bank Transfer:

If you have a bank account in a foreign country then a Bank Transfer is the easiest way to transfer your money.  This type of transaction usually takes about 1-5 business days.  Here is a list of the information needed for a successful Bank transfer.

·         The receiver’s name

·         The receiver’s account number

·         The receiver’s address.  (This can sometimes be skipped by some banks if you don’t have a permanent address yet)

·         Name and address of the receiver’s bank

·         Your foreign bank’s International Bank Account Number (IBAN)

·         Your foreign bank’s Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) number or the bank’s Bank Identifier Code (BIC)

·         The name and account number of any bank used as a third party

 

Fees include the bank commission, the telegraph fee, and any fee charged by the foreign banks.  Additionally, there is a fee for the currency exchange if you want a different currency.  The sender usually pays commission and telegraph fees.

 

Demand Draft:

If you don’t have a bank account in a foreign country and want to send a voucher that is redeemable for cash, then a demand draft will be your best option.  A demand draft is considered to be one of the cheapest ways to send money abroad.  The sender of the money will give the money to a bank in China, and the bank will issue a demand draft that can be redeemable for cash (like a check).  It’s important to note that the draft must be physically sent abroad, as it can’t be faxed or digitally transmitted.  Demand drafts usually take around 1-2 days to validate, however once issued, the receiver will only have a limited amount of time to convert the draft into cash.  Usually this expiration date is around a year.  Big banks in China can issue the draft in different currencies, however exchange rate fees will apply.  The information that you will need for a demand draft is:

·         The receiver’s name

·         Their ID type (such as a passport)

·         Their ID number

A Demand Draft ( 汇票 - huìpiào)in the USD amount you want to send to the US. The Demand Draft costs about 50 RMB. Once you get the Demand Draft ( it’s basically a check ) you open your US bank’s mobile app and you deposit the Draft using mobile deposit, the money should be in your account in about 24 hours. There are two downsides to doing it this way, the first is that you must exchange the RMB to USD first, but a foreigner can only exchange up to 500 USD per day, so if you want to send more than that, you just go to the bank more than once. The second downside is that the head manager of the bank must sign the Draft before it is given to you, and half of the time he/she is not there...what I did is, I got the phone number for my Chinese local branch, and I call them ahead of time and make sure the manager is there.
— Al Bedoya, current EA

Fees include the commission when issuing the draft, currency exchange is applicable, expense when redeeming the voucher.

 

Companies that Offer International Monetary Transactions:

Some third-party companies offer services for overseas transactions.  Here is a list of a few of them:

 

Money Gram:

Money Gram, similar to Western Union, is an international transaction system that only uses American Dollars.  For more information about Money Gram and the names of Banks that accept Money Gram, click the link here.

 

Alipay:

Alipay is an online service that is similar to the US-based PayPal.  It allows for people to buy products online; however, it also offers customers the option to send money to a foreign bank.  Foreigners can only set up an Alipay account if they have a Chinese bank account and provide their visa information.  Additionally, you need to have a “Chinese green card” which are not given out very frequently.  Because of this most people use a trusted Chinese friend to transfer the money to a foreign account.  For more information about Alipay click the link here.

My school coordinator used her Alipay app on her phone. I gave her cash, and she transferred money from her account to my US account. It was my first time sending it last week, and it only took 1 business day to reach my account.  I had all of my information on a piece of paper for my school coordinator, and it made the transaction run smoothly!
— Anais Alvarado, current EA

For this method, be sure you provide:

1. BANK name

2. BANKS corporate address

3. BANKS swift code

4. BANKS routing number (varies per state. At least for Chase it did)

5. YOUR bank account number

6. how much you’re sending in US dollars (not yuan)

If you an individual has a small local bank I would highly encourage calling the actual bank and getting that information. Sadly, not everything can be provided online.

 

PayPal:

PayPal is an online company that offers customers the option to transfer fund to different PayPal accounts.  Subsequently when the receiver gets the funds on their PayPal account they will need to transfer it to their Chinese Bank.  Other information about fees and transfer times can be found here.

I know it’s not the cheapest way, but Paypal worked well for me. As long as you have your American bank linked and setup beforehand, you can get the money from your Chinese to American account in about 48 hours. Fees are a bit high, but it’s the most simple method for me: you can do it from your phone with two clicks!
— Trevor Radzewicz, current EA
The non-Chinese PayPal you link to your bank account. The Chinese PayPal you link to you union pay bank card… They require two separate email accounts to make the two different PayPal accounts. To make the Chinese PayPal you have to go to the Chinese version of the site which you can do when you get into China.
— Josh Carroll, current EA

Other Specific Western Bank Options:

Some larger banks have their own system in place; here’s 3.

Wells Fargo:

               “I have one teacher that whoever I need to send money home. I go straight to her and use her Alipay app. I have Wells Fargo, and it's the cheapest option for me. Also: make sure that the newbies opt out of the ¥200 fee. Wells Fargo will charge $16 wiring fee on the state-side.” – Kia Matos, current EA

 

USAA:

                “This is the way to go for any future AYC teachers that bank with USAA: open an account with Bank of China, convert the RMB you'd like to transfer to USD, then purchase something called huipiao/汇票, or Demand Draft (which is essentially a check that you will write to yourself). Then use the USAA app DepisitMobile to transfer the money!” – Samantha Hubner, current EA

 

Western Union:

Western Union offers services that claim to be one of the fastest ways to transfer money internationally.  Note that they only accept transfers in US dollars, however they cooperate with a majority of banks in China.  You can take a look at Western Union here.


Do you use another method to get money home? Let us know in the comments below!

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