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TIP: BE ADVISED WHEN YOU ARE IN CHINA PURCHASE AN INTERNATIONAL SIM CARD for occasions such as contacting your bank and contacts for emergencies. SIM cards are sold when you exit customs at the Beijing airport. We didn't purchase there. We needed to find out what a fair price was and who the good companies were - Chinese banking systems are not what a westerner would be accustomed to. At the Bank of China convenience is not a part of the equation.


Sunday January 29, 2012


In our 24 years traveling throughout Asia we never had a problem in transferring money. Most of our transactions were in Thailand or Cambodia where we experienced professionalism and courtesy. In those countries their systems works well since they give travelers and all customers RESPECT in having a PRIVATE AREA to fill out the forms, give them their passport and they give you the money and you're on your way with a few minutes. It's not brain surgery it's simply doing good respectful business which equates to NO PAIN ALL GAIN. It took 24 years of doing business in Asia before we ran into a problem…. CHINA

Our previous warning not to do business with the Bank of China is warranted for the following reasons. When a tourist travels time can't be replaced. At the Bank of China they inform you if they speak English and you ask that to receive service is a two hour wait. If you're not informed you will eventually find that something is amiss as you are being ignored and others comes and go as we experienced in Beijing University area branch. The problem is there would be more bad experiences with tat bank and China's banking system in general.

On three occasions in the cities of Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai we spent almost a half day dealing with their way of doing business simply trying to withdraw money from our US bank account. That resulted in frustration time wasted and eventually led to the cancellation of our intended trip to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors. The experience manifested a fear factor and questions about the security of their banking system and ability to avoid theft.

Given that we never had to enter a PIN number for our services in Asia in the past but conducted over the counter transactions we had NEVER experienced what we encountered in China. It took three trips to the Bank of China's before finding out the problem of why we couldn't connect with out bank using our credit card in their ATM machines. What needed to be done was to contact our bank in the USA.

After trying to call our bank we first found that the SIM card we purchased in Nanjing was not capable of calling outside of China. To upgrade the number we were informed that we needed to upgrade the SIM in Nanjing where it was purchased.

They said although tat you can use the SIM throughout China the SIM being a China Mobile (company) SIM belongs to the office in the city in which it was purchased. Since that would involve a train ticket of about $30 X two ($60) for the return trip to Shanghai and a stay for a night in a hotel that was not a viable option. We then decided to do their thinking for them.

We asked if e could purchase a SIM in Shanghai and what would be the cost. They result was we could and the cost was 200 Yuan (US $ 31.24). Out local China only SIM cost 50 Yuan (US $7.81). THIS WAS a KEY necessity to contact our bank and find out why our card didn't work in China's ATM's.

Our bank informed us that what we thought was a PIN was an access code to our account to find our balance and transactions. They added that they couldn't help us with a PIN over the phone and it would be sent to our address in America which would take over a week. Basically they were saying that we were SOL.

That resulted in our having to call associates to wire money. Basically we were PINNED (IN) CHINA.

Having a tool for communicating to America it was back to the Bank of China and other Chinese Banks where we were informed that to wire money to a Chinese Bank that we need to have an account with that bank. We tried the Citicorp Bank in Shanghai since we had three credit cards with them and they said they didn't do transactions with their affiliations in America.

A friend in the US asked if there was a Western Union in China. There was and this was in the China Bank of Post. This turned into a GOOD experience but had a bump in the road.

Money was sent by an actress friend of ours. When we went to the bank to pick it up we were informed that it was returned because she was on a US government list. She travels a lot and she has a common name. She figured out how to send the money BUT we won't reveal how for security purposes. The problem is THERE WERE TOO MANY BANKING PROBLEMS in CHINA.

Another business associate sent money via one of his business associates who owns a business in Shanghai. The Chinese man wanted to wait until the transfer was made before giving us the money resulting in our having to stay an additional two days thus CANCELING OUT THE TIME ALLOTTED for our trip the XIAN.

When he gave us the money it was in US dollars and needed Yuan. He said go downstairs to the Bank of China if his building and change it. We informed him of our previous problems of having to wait two hours to be served. He then went with us. Upon arrival they greeted him and gave him a VIP number which he gave to us. We were the next called before a number of Chinese that were waiting and received our money in less than three minutes.

A friend of ours in America said that we should be happy that they did that for us. Our position was we were not and did not approve of discrimination of any kind noting that it was the wrong way to do business.

The good news was at the Postal Savings Bank of China they were very cordial and helpful. On three occasions our wait time never exceeded 10 minutes. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BANK. They do Western Union transactions.

When we were experiencing the ATM refuse our card at the Bank of Communications in Nanjing we then did an over the counter change of US dollars to Yuan. Our wait time was about 15 minutes. A bank manager came to our assistance. He tried to help us out but to no avail. He gave us his business card for further assistance. WE RECOMMEND THIS BANK.

In retrospect we received the money but the time wasted and problems were too much. Overall we spent about three day's total time in transaction to deal with this problem.

TIP: Know your PIN number.

NOTE: An American using the ATM at the Bank of China in Shanghai said that they charge $10 per withdraw thus he withdraws at least $300 to avoid excessive charges. He also had top pay charges to his bank.


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