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How to open a debit card in China

Author: Anel
How to open a Chinese bank account for a foreigner?
Key words: bank, debit card, credit card, Alipay, Taobao, China.
Many people go to China for work or to travel for a long period. In China, it is more convenient to use various services with a local bank card that connects to all paid applications. But this case has its own nuances. A Chinese bank card is needed for basic monetary transactions in China. Whether it’s transferring money to suppliers, buying goods from Chinese vendors , or paying for public transport and buying food in a store, you will definitely need a bank card issued in China.
For some people, it was a revelation that Visa and Mastercard cards are not accepted in most Chinese establishments. It means, you can withdraw money from ATMs, but pay – is no longer possible. The absence of these international payment systems in the Celestial Empire has its own Chinese answer – Unionpay cards.
We will tell you how foreigners can open a bank account in China and get a card, as well as what documents are required for this.
Difficulties that a foreigner may face when opening a bank account in China:
  • Language
If you have Chinese friends, you can take them with you to help with translation, but this is not necessary. It is better to learn how to do it yourself, since you will have to do banking operations more than once.
Apparently, bank branches have staff who know English, but not everyone can speak it well. Especially in provincial cities.
  • We would like to note that recently banks have been refusing to issue a card. Sometimes without giving any reason. Somehow they even showed an “important paper” in which a list of countries was listed that prohibits issuing bank cards. There are many banks, the human factor is not excluded. Not everyone follows the instructions 🙂 so try it.
  • And you can’t get a card remotely, a personal presence is required.
Options for opening an account in China.
  • Opening a bank account on the basis of a visa
  • Opening a bank cash account on the basis of a residence permit.
List of documents for opening a card in China
The list of documents is quite standard, almost the same as in other banks:
  • International passport;
  • Visa to China, at least for six months;
  • The registration form is issued at the Chinese police station at the place of residence in the territory of the PRC (the banks no longer require it recently, but take it just in case, it will not be superfluous);
  • Application ( issued by the bank)
  • If you came on a business trip, you will need a document translated into Chinese confirming that you were sent to China (required for ABC Bank, you need to check with other banks );
  • If you are a student, you will need an Admission letter (and 202 form , they may also ask)
  • A certain amount of money. The amount of the initial cash contribution depends on the chosen bank. Usually it varies from 0 to 100 yuan (it can be less if you do not open the Internet bank and the crypto key) , (the amount may differ at the time of opening the card).
  • To a Chinese SIM card that will be linked to your card.
When all this is – you can safely go to the bank.
Choosing a bank in China
There are a huge number of Chinese banks to choose from:
  • Bank of China
  • ICBC
  • ABC (Agricultural Bank of China)
  • China Construction Bank
  • China CITIC Bank International
  • China Minsheng Bank
  • And many others
Between these banks, we would recommend that you , based on personal comfort, choose the most suitable one . What bank branches and ATMs have you seen near your office, university or home? They are worth choosing.
If you are a student or came for work, then the welcomers in China will help you make your choice. Most often, they simply send you to the one where other foreigners have already opened accounts before you.
Registration process
Having these documents and a Chinese phone number with you, you go to the Bank.
The first place where you should stop is the information board, then ask the bank staff for the electronic queue number. Then tell them that you would like to open a bank account, they will help you fill out a special form.
Say: “我想开一个银行账户” – Wǒ xiǎng kāi yīgè yínháng zhànghù (“I want to open a bank account”)
The form to fill out will be in English, but unfortunately the address of your temporary residence will need to be written in Chinese characters. Ask the bank staff to complete the information in Chinese for you.
The application must indicate:
  • Full name in Latin, preferably in capital letters;
  • The place where you live. It’s best to write in hieroglyphs, if you can’t write, ask a bank employee or your friend a translator ;
  • Select a bank card. This is mainly a debit card, a credit card can only be issued if you have a Z visa and a certificate from your place of work on income;
  • Connection to Internet Banking;
  • SMS notification (in my opinion, a useless option, SMS comes when you make a purchase, there is a monthly payment);
  • Connect a mobile bank (recently they have refused to connect a mobile bank, but there is a way out – the UnionPay application ).
During the registration process, an employee from the window will ask you to come up with a pin code for the card consisting of 6 digits, such are the rules. To the left or right of you there will be a small terminal (like a tablet) with a stylus, in which you will enter the PINcode.
Connecting to Internet banking can make your life a lot easier . Especially if there is a need to pay for purchases via the Internet. As a rule, on the largest Chinese Internet resource Toabao (, you can pay for your purchase with cards from Chinese banks of the China UnionPay payment system. By the way, for some time now, you can pay with a VISA card, but you won’t be able to pay on
USB key
You can also connect a USB key.
Thanks to this device, you can make banking transactions no matter where you are.
Getting a card from a bank
If you are satisfied with the limit of 10,000 yuan per day, and you are not going to use online banking, then this is the end of your little journey in opening an account.
But, if you want to fully use the Chinese card for all the money, then we recommend that you issue a crypto key to remove the limit for transfers and online banking.
Well, at the end of the card issuance, the employee will ask you to sign on the electronic form, also with a stylus on the terminal screen.
After all this, the employee will solemnly issue you a debit card valid for 10 years.
Internet banking setup
You can contact the same manager who was at the reception and ask for help with online banking and a crypto key.
You go to an info-ATM, insert a card and a crypto key, you need to come up with a password for accessing Internet banking (and a crypto key) and enter it on the terminal. Next , you need to go through Alipay and WeChat Pay verification.
Having a Chinese bank card opens almost all doors for living and working in China.
For example, before it was not necessary to have a bank card, since WeChat Pay worked even after confirmation by cards from other countries and you could easily pay for everything up to 200,000 yuan per year. But, due to the tightening of rules for non-residents in China, and financial control in general, neither WeChat Pay nor ALipay no longer work without a working Chinese card.
Therefore, if you are going to work with China, live or study in China, and even if you arrive in China for just a couple of weeks, you will definitely need WeChat Pay / Alipay payment systems, and they cannot work without a bank card.
Trust us , it’s worth it to exert oneself once, make a card, and forget about money problems in China.
Already in 2017, China took the 1st place in the world in terms of % of online purchases and payments in general.
Well, now, in 202 2 , with cash in China, everything is even sadder, around everyone they pay Wechat pay or Alipay, now it’s really less and less possible to see that someone in China pays in cash.
Therefore, be in China on a common wave of progress, open a bank card, link it to payment services and use it freely !
A little about how to replenish a Chinese bank card
First way:
Through an ATM or an operator in a bank. No commission.
Second way:
By transferring from a Chinese card to a Chinese card. In some cases they take a commission, but as a rule there is no commission.
Third way:
International cashless transfer SWIFT. In this case, you need to get the SWIFT code of the bank and bank details in Chinese. According to these data, you can send a transfer from anywhere in the world. The receipt will be in dollars, there are limits, you will need to check with the bank of the sender and recipient. There is a commission. Suitable for transfers of large amounts.
IMPORTANT! Sometimes the payment takes a very long time, from 3-5 days.
Fourth way:
Use an exchanger. Cons – sometimes high commission, but usually acceptable. But there are many pluses. Very fast. Usually takes 10-15 minutes.
If they refuse to issue a Chinese card, what to do
As we mentioned earlier, some banks may refuse in issuing cards to foreigners. Sometimes employees just don’t want to “mess around” with laowies. But you can cheat a little.
We come to the bank, where there is a service for renting a bank cell. It is profitable for banks to have clients and most likely they will not refuse you. But, in order to receive this service, you need to make a payment and make a deposit. And without a bank card, there is no way to do this, they do not accept cash.
Here is your way out. Some expenses will be required, but if all banks have refused you, and the card is very, very necessary, you can try using this method.
Annual maintenance of the cell from 400 – 2000 yuan. Depends on the size of the cell, the access of persons (one person or two), bank branch and other factors.
The main thing is to be persistent, if the manager still does not want to “mess around” with you, ask another manager who is more competent in this matter.
We hope that we were able to help you with information about opening a bank card in China.
Good luck with using cards, Wechat pay and Alipay!
If you have any questions – call or write, we will be happy to tell you everything!
Question number 1. I’m new to this and have a lot of questions. I am a resident of China on the basis of a permanent residence permit and I need to open a Chinese bank account in order to transfer money in euros to another person’s account or to my Serbian bank account also in euros. So the question is: which card should I choose? – Multicurrency with UnionPay and Visa or MasterCard?
I have already chosen a bank – is it the Bank of China, as it is in the capital of this country, or does it not matter much and it is better to choose China Everbright Bank, as you advise?
Next question: You can transfer no more than 50,000 dollars a year from a Chinese card – right?
Answer: In your case, you should apply for a VISA and UnionPay card (one card) at any bank. The card will work both in China and in Europe. As far as I know the limit is $50,000 per year. To make a transfer from China to Europe, most likely, you will have to come to the bank. Personal presence is required, but it is worth clarifying the information at the time of opening, maybe something has already changed.
Question number 2. Please tell me the registration form that is issued at the police station in the place of residence – how will it be in Chinese?
“住宿登记” – right?
Answer: Yes, full spelling: 境外人员住宿登记凭证.
Question number 3. Is it possible to get a VISA/Master Card from the Bank of China so that I can make international payments on the Internet? e.g. Amazon, Ebay…
Answer: The Bank of China most likely will not be able to receive. They issue only Master Card and only credit cards for residents of China. But if you have an official job, then you can bring a certificate of income from work.
Question number 4. Require some kind of ID *证件号码 * Identification number what is it?
Answer: ID *证件号码* is the passport number.
Question number 4: 1) I have a permanent residence permit by marriage with a citizen of China – this means what kind of visa I have, can you tell me?
2) And with a permanent residence permit – am I a resident?
3) Can I open a bank account in China?
Answer: 1. You have a family visa
2. You are a resident (tax)
3. Yes
Question No. 5: Dollars were sent to the yuan card of China Bank. The cardholder is not in China. The money was not credited to the card due to the fact that the bank could not contact the cardholder. There is no opportunity to go to China in the near future. Is it possible to withdraw a payment back? Or what’s the best way to do it? When contacting the bank by phone, they say it is necessary for the cardholder to personally come to the branch. Maybe there is a period after which the money will be returned to the sender?
Answer: If there were no errors in the bank details, most likely the money will not be automatically returned. Probably the transaction “hung” in the Chinese bank, but the transfer to the account was received. Since foreign exchange controls have become stricter in China, you are asked to come to the bank. The money is in the account, but you will not be able to use it until you appear at the bank.

6 myśli na temat „How to open a debit card in China”

    1. Dziękuję za komentowanie! Twoja opinia motywuje nas do ciągłego doskonalenia naszej pracy! Jeśli masz jakiekolwiek problemy prawne lub handlowe w Chinach, nie wahaj się umówić z nami na spotkanie, a my z przyjemnością pomożemy!

    1. Dziękuję za komentowanie! Twoja opinia motywuje nas do ciągłego doskonalenia naszej pracy! Jeśli masz jakiekolwiek problemy prawne lub handlowe w Chinach, nie wahaj się umówić z nami na spotkanie, a my z przyjemnością pomożemy!

  1. I agree with your point of view, your article has given me a lot of help and benefited me a lot. Thanks. Hope you continue to write such excellent articles.

    1. Dziękuję za komentowanie! Twoja opinia motywuje nas do ciągłego doskonalenia naszej pracy! Jeśli masz jakiekolwiek problemy prawne lub handlowe w Chinach, nie wahaj się umówić z nami na spotkanie, a my z przyjemnością pomożemy!

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