Visa Card on ATM in China

I received my Bank of America Platinum Check Card before I came to Chengdu. There is a Visa logo on it. It means, I can access my money I deposited in U.S. at all ATM machines here. To check whether it works, I checked the balance with China Construction Bank ATM. It shows the money in currency of Renminbi (RMB). Also, I successfully withdraw 100 RMB from the ATM. I checked the balance again. Only 100 RMB was deducted from the account. It seemed to me that there are no service charge for withdraw cash here, even though I used it on ATM of another bank (and another country).

I was able to check the balance of the card in ATM in Chengdu also. I didn’t try to withdraw money this time.

31 thoughts on “Visa Card on ATM in China

  1. Thanks JS for this information. I also found pictures of some ATM’s from your old blogs. My friend who went to Beijing 2 months ago received a fake 100RMB bill from the ATM machine, this was a little discouraging.

    You probably know this already, but in case you didn’t, looks like your page has been defaced.


  2. I don’t know where to leave these words, so I reply to this one.

    Here is the link to one article on my blog

    It’s about one graduate student of SJTU. He is seriously sick now and needs help.

    As your blog is of much impact on the internet, could you help to write something on your blog and call for the donation for him?

    Much Thanks!

  3. Jianshuo, if you use the card to withdraw cash in foreign countries, it will deduct from the VISA part of the card, and then you will be charged.

    If you just take out money, remember to take plenty, so you don’t have to pay the fee too many times.

    But if you buy in a shop, then usually no fee will be charged.

    The best is to read the terms in the leaflet that usually comes with a VISA card, even it is a little “dry” to read. Check which phone number you have to call, if your card is lost.

    Have a nice time in Chengdu !

  4. actually this is not a comment,i just want to ask for help..I am now curretly working at China,shuijizhang,and i want to get a visa card..Can somoene please help me where to apply??

  5. I will visist China this summer. My concern about this trip is money. I do not want to carry too much cash on the trip with since it is not safe. From your message, travelers are able to withdraw money from U.S.A bank account without any problem, right?

  6. Hi. Friends,

    I can help you to get a Visa card. Should you need any assistance, just drop me your info & I’ll get back to you asap.

  7. I’m in Shanghai. Using an ATM in the bigger cities of China has always worked well for me. I even got money in Urumqi. There is generally a 1% international exchange fee that won’t appear until the end of the month. Also my bank in California charges $3 to get a balance from an ATM at end the month. IP card phone call to US 800 number is much cheaper. Great and informative blog. This is my first post but I read it regularly.

  8. I am helping an elderly friend prepare for a 3 week trip to China in June and just got him an ATM card from Bank of America. What are the specifics of use at the machine? Is there an English option and what is the currency and approximate exchange rate? He is totally unfamiliar with ATM usage and I have only used one in Europe.

  9. BoA should not charge a fee for using CCB ATMs because the two have a partnership. Have you tried other ATMs, like Bank of China? Do you know how common BoA or CCB ATMs are in Shanghai?

    Also, I heard BoA shut down their one retail branch in Shanghai due to a non-competition agreement with CCB. Do you know if this is true? Have you ever seen any BoA branches anywhere in China?


  10. hi,

    i’m a foreigner living in Guangzhou/China.

    i need to order stuff online but can’t,due to the fact that i dont have a visa or master card.

    i’d love to have one to facilitate my life here,so please help direct me where to begin.


  11. This msg is in regards to the first post on this page, I have bank of america and there is a $5 charge on every foreign ATM transaction, i even called my bank to make sure they have this policy on every member, I used my bank card in Europe in 2004, and it ended up being a lot at the end cos it all adds up.

    anyways, i’m just wondering if anyone know whats the best way for foreigners to bring money into China,Ideally it would be convenient to have a check card that allows you to withdraw money from any atm w/o service fees but i’m not sure if that’s possible, and i don’t want to carry lots of cash on me so if there a better way to do this?

  12. Here is the info that I will try to help everyone with…The banking system is different in China. Even the foriegn banks there is different than in the US. When you want money in the bank, you will need to open a bank account. To exchange money at the bank will cost you alot. and don’t exchnage at the airport terminal either, it is worse. If you are going to take money out from the Atm, do as much as you can because you will pay a fee and more than what you pay in the US. ( it doesn’t show until the next day)

    You will also come across the money exchanger who hangs around the bank, they will give you a better rate than the bank. They work on buy low, and sell high. These normally are people who have partners from a different country where the US dollar is worth more. They act as a money broker and legal and the banks know them. They have accounts at the bank, ready to do the transaction. They take out Rmb and exchange them for your US dollars. They make money and you make money because the bank rate is normally lower.

    Now here is the best way, open a bank account and have your bank in the US transfer your money to your account in China. Have the bank transfer the US currency to rmb to your atm account. Now do not have them transfer to you bank account, you want them to transfer it to your atm account. You get a better rate this way. Then go to the banks Atm and withdraw money. No fee this way at any of your China banks Atm.

    I have traveled numerous times to China and been too 42 cities and never had a problem. The best bank I dealt with and is normally US friendly is ICBC. More locations and easier to find Atm machines.

    Hope this helps everyone. If your plan are visit China, I have alot of info that I can help with.

    email to

  13. Exchange rate in China has been crazy lately. When I was there in April 2007, it was 7.84 rmb to every 1 usd. Now it is like 7.106 currently.

  14. When you open a bank account in China, you will need to bring your passport and another form of ID

  15. Another tid bit of advise. Chinese like to barter so when quoted a price at the beginning is normally 25% to 35% higher than what you can get it for as a foreigner. There are two prices in China….a local price and a tourist price (foriegner). If you should be lucky to make a friend there that’s speaks english, this is the best way because you will get a local price. Now when you have your chinese friend bargain for you, do not go near him because then the market owner will not give them local price.

    Now if you are going to bargain yourself, the best you are going to get is 25%. You will never get the local pricing because they will lose face with the other market owners there. When you bargain with them (take a calculator with you), take the price and reduce it by 35%, they will either say OK or say no can do. you simply just walk away and say too much. trust me people, they will normally call you back and say OK and give you a sad story like, I lose money. Pity with them but tell them that is all you are going to pay and you will buy from someone else who is selling it cheaper. 90% of the time, you will get it at that price.

    If I had the time, I could write a book on the best locations, best restuarants (safe), best economical hotels (clean), hangout area, tourist attraction, food, common words you should know, places to stay away from, etc…..

    Be careful with taxi drivers too, they will take you in a run about way. You will have a hard time getting a taxi if you are going short distance otherwise they will practically take you the long distance way..better to take the bus on short distance. When you are on the bus, transfer your wallet to the front pocket.

    Don’t buy the fake rolex watches unless you know what you are doing. there are different grades of these watches too. also the fake Louis Vuitton, gucchi, etc… plus if you get caught by customs, it will be confiscated and/or fined. When you buy the Dvd, bring along a portable Dvd player and test them prior to buying them. Most are poor quality unless you don’t mind it because they are costing you around $1.00 – $1.50 each.

    When you take a tourist group tour, be prepared to go on a shopping tour. The tour guide makes money when you buy products from the factory. The stuff is over priced but seem to be a great bargain for you.

    You can buy it outside. Most seem to take you to some medical priest who can predict your health by reading your hands and feeling the blood pressure. They recommend that you take these pills they want to sell you and you will miraculously be cured. Don’t fall for this. I had a doctor of medicine with me on one of these trip and she just laughed, One gentlemen actually spent $2500 on these pills and the doctor that was with me said to him…you were just ripped of. I can prescribe this for you for about $50. So she took him back and demanded a refund otherwise she was going to report them. Right away, they refunded it back to him. The doctor then told the tour guide that if she persist on taking the tourist on these tours, she wanted to go back to the hotel and ask for the money back. All the other tourist on the bus agreed.

    I will be back for more info, so stay tuned.

  16. when you go to the large shopping places with little stalls inside (i’m not sure what it’s called), be sure to slash prices down to 1/4. Actually, that was the rule in beijing but i’m sure it’s probably the same in shanghai? does anyone know?

    I’m gg to shanghai next next week, so I guess I’ll try it out then. Although sometimes are the chinese (in china) are too loud for my liking although i’m chinese too. So I gotta remind myself not to be intimidated by them. haha.

    I read somewhere about withdrawing cash? when I went to china, I put my money in my wallet in my bag, and also stuff a few 100RMB notes in almost all my pockets.

  17. very good blog, it is one great thing your event thing in shanghai affect others, i also my event in china will affect peoples in USA.

  18. I have been withdrawing from chongqing ATM and the amount taken from my account in Gabon is 1.25% higher than the withdrawn amount. I still don’t understand why is it that costy. Could you assist me.

  19. im working in shanghai and the company give us citic bank card to witdraw our salary (with the word visa on the card.).my question is: what is the differencer bet visa card and credit card? my understanding about visa card is also a credit card…am i correct?

  20. I am travelling to china shortly . I want to use my visa debit card . will i have any problems on that. atms and fake notes.



  21. Sorry for asking a question on an old post, but what banks besides ICBC issue Visa debit cards? I’m going to college in Shanghai and want to shop online on US sites (I didn’t get a bank account before I left because I was originally going to go back to the US for college). I can’t seem to find banks that issue debit cards other than UnionPay. The problem with the ICBC Visa card is that it doesn’t seem to work online (They told me that it may not work online to begin with, though, and that if it doesn’t my only other choice is to put down 50000RMB security deposit to apply for a Visa credit card).

  22. Almost every bank in China issue debit cards, and most of them are Visa (or give you the choice of visa or master). Just go to any bank to open an account, and you have the card.

  23. Thanks for your help. But it took a long time. Most banks I went to before I was usually told that they didn’t issue debit cards with Visa anymore (I was told this at branches of 交通银行,中国银行,and 建设银行, was told at 工商银行 that their card didn’t work online, and finally found one at 民生银行). I also now have accounts at six banks, but that’s another issue.

    If most banks are supposed to have them, I wonder if the staff at the smaller branches just don’t know. For 工商银行 I had to go to the branch on the Bund to get it, and I went to a larger branch of 民生银行 to find it.

    I’m not complaining about your advice at all, just wondering if I was missing something.

  24. There are few individuals that are supporters of bank fees for instance out of network ATM fees, unless it’s the bankers that reel in the profits. An increasing number of lawsuits have been initiated nationwide based on an obscure law regarding ATM fee disclosure. I read this here: Hundreds of banks slapped with lawsuittes for ATM fees

  25. Please friends I want to have a Visa Card Or master card in china so is there any way to open such account in china?

  26. I have been trying to get a proper visa card for nearly a month…..result was the China Merchants Bank gave me a fake Visa card. It looks real but you need a special Usb plug and it also has a Union Pay logo on it. Yes, it also has the Visa logo with hologram and embossed numbers but it cannot be used on foreign websites like Ebay, Amazon, etc. Therefore, it is completely useless. I think the reason the banks wont issue real Visas is because they want you to purchase fake goods from their copy websites thus keeping the money in their country. I wouldnt doubt that the Visa company has no record of my name or any details. I believe the bank just made the card themselves. Most Chinese don’t know what a Visa card is and they think the crappy UnionPay card is a credit card/they think its normal that hey are not allowed to buy real products from real websites….who knows?

    The point is that you wont get a Visa card in China unless you want China Merchant Bank’s fake Visa card. You must go back to your home country for a real one.

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