EF Education First Teachers



  1. China is a more cash-based society than you may be used to. You will get used to carrying around more cash than you would have back at home. 
  2. The biggest note is equivalent to $15 USD so your cash quickly becomes a stack.
  3. Major banks will take your international ATM card, but not all local banks. When you first get here, be prepared to go to a few banks before you can withdraw money from your home bank account.
  4. EF will help you open a local bank account. Then you can go to that bank with your local bank card and take out RMB. Your local ATM card also functions as a debit card so you can pay with that at restaurants and shopping centers. Keep in mind cash is still more common.



  • Your center will pay your RMB salary into a local bank account.
  • The Office Manager will help you to open an account.
  • To open an RMB account, you will need to bring your passport and a small deposit to the bank.
  • At the bank, you will fill out a short application form and deposit this small cash amount into your new bank account.
  • Your ATM card costs approximately RMB 15 and also acts as a debit card, allowing you to withdraw money and pay for goods when you do not have the cash in hand.



Banks in China do not issue checks.

  • It is very easy to deposit money into your account. Just go to the bank with your passport and your money and it can be done very quickly for you.
  • In some larger cities, you have to take a ticket when you enter the bank and wait for your number to be called.
  • If you are going to pay bills online from your home bank account, set it up before you leave home. Think about appointing a family member or “power of attorney” in case unexpected issues come up while you are



A foreigner, regardless of what kind of visa he/she holds, can go to the Bank of China and open a foreign currency account in his/her name (this service is free of charge). Of course he/she must have a valid passport in order to open the account.



If you do have RMB savings, you can convert it into foreign currency to send home. Keep in mind that there is a daily maximum amount that can be converted, about 500USD. 


If you want to exchange more than 500USD in one day, you will need to show your IIT tax paid receipt to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, who will then issue you with permission to convert your RMB into foreign currency.

Once you have received all the personal legal documents you can go to the Bank of China to convert your RMB salary income into foreign currency (over 500USD). The Bank of China needs to receive the following documentation:

  • Foreign Expert Certificate / Work Permit
  • Passport
  • Individual income tax receipt (Provided by your center)
  • Employment contract
  • Temporary Residence Permit
  • The board resolution (your center will be able to provide this document)
  • The basic company account opening certificate (the center will provide this document and the account must be opened with the Bank of China)

It is important to remember that at EF, we offer a full set of working documents so that you can go to a legitimate bank and exchange money. The black market does exist for people who are not in possession of official work permits and exchange rates are poor.



The Bank of China charges include 0.1% for the bank processing fee and approximately RMB 200-800 for a tele-wiring fee. Please note the bank can only wire the foreign currency to the overseas account designated by the teacher. The exchange rate will be the official selling rate published by the Central Bank.




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    Comment by Marie Bernadette Oarde Daite on June 21, 2015 at 5:38am


    Can I use the Chinese ATM card online? Like adding it to a Paypal account to transfer money or pay/buy something online? 

    Comment by william gahen on January 8, 2015 at 6:27am

    i found it really easy to convert us $ into rmb.  the first time you go it takes a bit of time maybe 5 min after that they have you on file so it is in and out  this works well at any bank of china branch.  i also had no problem getting money using my atm card from the us to get money.  when the screen asks you how much you want it is automatically converting your money into rmb.  i thought this was very convient.  i tried a few banks and found the bank of china to be the most organized, polite and helpful answering any question that i may have had.  oh by the way if this matters this was all done in zhuhai.

    Comment by Nicholas Li on October 20, 2014 at 6:38pm

    Paypal is the cheapest and the most efficient method for sending money home:


    Comment by LaShonia Graham on October 18, 2014 at 2:21am

    I, personally, am lamenting the end of Traveler's Checks.  According to the banks in my local area of Northeast Georgia, banks no longer issue or receive Traveler's Checks.  I don't have a credit card and I don't utilize any cards except debit cards.  I am trying to get an ATM card from my bank.  According to my research, as long as it is a  MasterCard or Visa Card I will be able to use the ATM card anywhere in the world (or almost anywhere).

    Comment by Derek Stephenson on April 19, 2014 at 10:33am

    Seems a bit much. They'd be charging $30-120 to send money home. So when I try to send money back for college loans I'd lose $30/month minimum. Anyone know a more efficient method? I'd rather set up something permanent and cheap as opposed to an expensive monthly chore.

    Comment by Nicholas Li on September 14, 2013 at 4:06pm

    You dont need to open a CCB or any account to withdraw money. You just need to use an ATM that takes in Visa, or a Master, which most do. So its the same as how you do it at home, only with the foreign transaction and the exchange fees added. 

    Comment by Elliot Hess on September 14, 2013 at 9:55am

    Let's say I have an emergency and need some cash transferred from my bank in the US to my account at CCB or wherever I end up starting an account...How easy is it to transfer money from the account in the US to my account in China?

    Comment by Nicholas Li on June 18, 2013 at 1:30pm

    Possible? Definitely. Easy? depends on how tech savvy you are. Most of the foreign staff usually ask their Chinese colleagues to buy stuff for them online. 

    Comment by Emily Dimet on June 16, 2013 at 5:44am

    Is it pretty easy and possible to buy things such as flights or books online with your debit card from your local bank in China? 

    Comment by Nicholas Li on March 25, 2013 at 3:53pm

    China Construction Bank and Bank of America have a partnership where if you use of your BoA debit card to withdraw money at any CCB ATM, you will not be charged any foreign transaction fees and the exchange rate is almost at par with the market rate.

    Comment by Dan Meyer on February 10, 2013 at 8:32pm

    I'm going to be paying Student Loans while I'm abroad...does anyone do that already from Shanghai? Is it better to use your Bank of China account to pay the bills or do you wire transfer money back to your stateside account? Any advice on that front would be great! Happy New Year!

    Comment by Stephen Jones on October 31, 2012 at 6:22am

    Hello Sharonda,

    It was difficult to transfer money from my Chinese account into my British account on mainland China, however, it was considerably easier to do so in Hong Kong, where banks are more liberal towards international transfers. Perhaps you could set up a PayPal account and wire the money across to that, as some of my friends did, or use Western Union...

    Comment by Sharonda Wells on October 15, 2012 at 2:04pm

    Will I be able to transfer my China account into my state side bank account.

    Comment by Nicholas Li on August 1, 2012 at 7:55am

    Find out which banks offer the best exchange rates:

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