china

The easiest way to transfer money from China to the US



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Update: I don't know if I have discovered an easier way to transfer money, but recently I discovered a way to transfer money using Bitcoin. This method is not too difficult (quite geeky though) but it can be very financially beneficial. Worth checking out here: Use Bitcoin to transfer money from China to the US.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ever since being in China, I have found that doing anything that involves a bank is frustrating at best. I have been trying to find a way to transfer my money here from China back home to the US. The methods I have heard about to transfer money are:
  1. Go to the bank and have them do some sort of wire transfer. (Not every bank does this)
  2. Do a Western Union wire transfer.
  3. Carry a wad of cash over the border and convert the money once you are outside of China.
I recently discovered a fourth and perhaps simplest method for transferring money. Here is how:
  1. Step 1. Sign up for a US Paypal account.
  2. Step 2. Sign up for a Worldwide Paypal account.
  3. Step 3. Make sure you have internet banking with your bank (probably need a native Chinese person to help you out with this one unless your Chinese is quite good).
  4. Step 4. Transfer money from your UnionPay card to your Worldwide Paypal account.
  5. Step 5. Transfer money from your Worldwide Paypal account, to your US Paypal account.
  6. Step 6. Transfer money from your US Paypal account to your US bank.
Details and pictures below.
Before I get started on all the details, I should note that this may not be the cheapest way to transfer money. There appears to be a 3.9% transfer rate. I don't know how this compares to other transfer rates, but for me the convenience of it might just make it worth it. I can transfer money using this method in 5 minutes or less if I know what I am doing. I don't think there is any other way of doing the transfer nearly as quick. 

Another thing of note... I used a VPN (Astrill) while doing this. The first time I did it, I used a Hong Kong server when I did the Worldwide Paypal and used a US server for the US Paypal. Second time I did it, I just used Hong Kong and it was OK. I have heard of Paypal doing things to your account depending on where you sign in from.... I don't know what specifically to say, this is just a heads up.
Ok.... Onto my experience doing the transfer.
First I had to go to paypal.com/worldwide to sign up for an account. I made sure to use a different email address from what I use for my US Paypal account. I didn't try using the same, but I doubt it lets you.

The process was straightforward and easy.
If you have not already, you also need to sign up for a US Paypal account.






When you are ready to make the transfer, log in to your worldwide Paypal account. 
When you are in your Worldwide Paypal account, go to the send money tab. Enter the amount of money you wish to transfer, and also enter the email address linked to your US paypal account. I decided to transfer 500 US dollars.

 Just out of curiosity I went to Google to see how much I should be transferring in RMB. About 3118 RMB.

The process will ask you to confirm.


Then click on the "Go to Online Banking" link.


I should mention that sadly, depending on your bank, you will probably need to use Internet Explorer for this whole process. I have ICBC and had to go through the run around just to get things working for that bank. Yikes! That is exactly why I don't want to go to the bank for the wire transfer.

You should get a pop up window from your bank that takes care of the process from here. Each bank will be different. Again, I have ICBC (not my bank of choice... but it is the one my company is making me use).

ICBC wants to exchange 3124 RMB (close to what Google says). I type in my card number now.



It shows me my phone number I suppose to ensure me that things are secure? I click the red button because it is pretty.


I click the red button again. Red for Go right?


My bank requires an annoying USB key for authenticity. This is what I had been doing for the previous week trying to get working. Once this thing actually works though, the process is smooth and easy.


The guy at the bank helped me setup the USB Key and had me type in a PIN. I do the same here.



Hooray! A red man with a green check mark! Guess that means everything worked out!


Paypal also tells me that it worked.

Now sign into US Paypal.



Woot! My money is there.



You can see that the actual amount is $480.20. That means I gave someone (probably Paypal) about $20 to make the transfer for me.  3.96%


Now you need to go to "My Account," "Withdraw," and "Transfer to Bank Account."


Transfer all the money you have into your US bank account and you are done! (Obviously you will need to set up your bank account if you have not already done so).
Conclusion:

Getting my bank setup was the only hurdle I had to go through this process. It was not that the bank process was actually difficult, it was mostly that the people at the bank didn't really know what they were doing, nor did they tell me how to do things. I have been in China long enough to be used to this though.

Was my bank was up and working, this whole process was very simple. I can honestly make the transfer in less than 5 minutes every time.

4% is a bit steep though. I really don't know how that compares to other things, but I would probably rather transfer 96% of my money to the US to invest it in something rather than have 100% of my money sit here in China and do nothing.

If you know of a cheaper way to transfer money, please leave a comment!

About McKay Christensen

After having lived in Oregon, Alaska, and China for the past 10 years doing landscape design and English teaching, I have returned to my home state of Utah and currently work for a growing tech company.

In my free time I enjoy working on my TutorialGeek.net website where I post tutorials and reviews (and anything else I think is geeky) and I also like to write songs for my Super English Kid Youtube channel.

My favorite things to do include anything with my wife and son. Hiking, camping, and photography (or anything else outdoors). Playing Ultimate Frisbee or Ping Pong. Listening to 60s, 70s, or 80s, music. 

Feel free to contact me using my contact page. I would love to hear from any of you!

45 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. once you transfer your union pay to a global paypal account....why need a US one also....can't you set up a US bank to a global Paypal
    ????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would not let me do a direct transfer from my global Paypal account to my bank. That is why I had to use my US paypal account.

      Delete
  3. Bank CDs is china is way high right now, should try that if you don't need the money urgently in the US

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey... I will have to look into that! Good to know! Do you recommend any bank?

      Delete
    2. Just FYI... I actually did end up getting a CD here. About 4% at ICBC. Great way to do nothing with money if you intend on staying in China for more than a year. Thanks for the great tip!

      Delete
  4. I'm debating doing this as well, quick question: How long does it take for the transfers to all go through?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you look at the last screenshot I have on this post, PayPal says to expect 3-4 days for the money to show up in your bank account. I think that is pretty accurate; I don't remember the specifics, but when I did it, it was about 3 days (not any earlier).

      Delete
    2. I transferred £100 as a test from my Worldwide (China) Paypal (via Minsheng Union Pay account) to my UK Paypal (through to a LLoyds TSB account)....total fee was £5.10 (5.1%) but on the plus side, it cleared within a few minutes rather than the expected 3-4 days (the actual estimate on my Paypal was 2 hours).

      Delete
  5. The service fee is pretty high, you have to pay about $20 for a transfer of $500, and you still have to wait 3 days. If you use WesternUnion, you just need to pay $25 for $2000, and you can also choose the way of direct depositing to your bank account in US, it is also about 3 days.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like your blog post. Keep on writing this type of great stuff. I'll make sure to follow up on your blog in the future.

    Wire Transfer Services

    ReplyDelete
  7. I work and live in china now.Been here 3 months. And I have been worrying myself silly about how I was going to transfer money from my china account to my us account. Hell setting up my Chinese bank account with ICBC...felt like it took FOREVER AND A DAY. Trying to reign in my irritation when we kept getting lost in translation.lol. So all I need to do is set up online banking.Alright. cool.That can be done. YOU HAVE GIVEN ME HOPE!!! YAY.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck! Hope it works for you! I think the next thing I might try is sending my bank card home to the US and having a family member withdraw. I will see if that is less than 4%.

      Delete
    2. Hi, I do this and my sister withdraws it for me and then puts it into her account and transfers to me. It's pretty simple and there are no fees other than the international withdrawal fees.
      Union Pay has done a pretty good job in the past 5 years of setting up partner banks where you can access their network.
      Check out here for your country -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_UnionPay

      When I travel now I don't even exchange money before I go, just make sure I can get it out from a national ATM. It's been great! And the exchange rate is pretty much the same as www.xe.com.

      So far the banks here don't try to rip people off with excessive "translation" fees.
      I'm sure it's only a matter of time though...

      Delete
    3. This is fantastic! Thanks for the comment. I already have my card and will send it home in a couple weeks. I will report on any problems or fees.

      Delete
  8. Did you have to verify your ICBC account with Paypal?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am really sorry I never answered your question. I didn't realize that anyone asked this until someone made a comment today referring to this question. I will just paste what I wrote:

      I am not completely sure what you mean when you ask if you have to "verify" the account, but I think the answer is no. I didn't have to go to the bank or anything like that to set up my Worldwide Paypal account.

      Paypal worldwide asks you to add a card. You add your card number and the name that is on the card (make sure it is EXACTLY the same as what you have on your bank account). Once you have added the card, when you send money will Paypal Worldwide, it will take you to the bank portal page (which is different for every bank). In my case, I had to use a USB device to checkout. For ICBC they use a USB device to do the check out process. Only the person with the USB device can actually checkout, so I would suppose this would negate any additional reason for needing to verify your account.

      I don't know anyone with Bank of China so I can't answer in regard to that, but I imagine it is probably somewhat similar.

      Just as a side note: These past two months I have been researching Bitcoin as a way to transfer money. Just yesterday, I made transfers of thousands of dollars and was able to actually make money in the process rather than losing anything to fees. I intend to do a write up on that this weekend.

      Delete
  9. Also I just found this -
    Send Western Union direct to a Bank Account. Never tried it, could be simple also.

    http://www.westernunion.com/us/send-money/send-money-in-person.page?

    ReplyDelete
  10. very nice, i have tried and never guess that it would be so simple; webmaster

    ReplyDelete
  11. Just did it. But I didn't verified my China Construction Bank account with paypal and now my money and account are temporarily on hold. The requested passport photo and bank account statement. I sent it, but now I don't know what to do, cause I've sent like 500 dollars and I am afraid I might lose them.

    Did anybody deal with that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never had the same problem. I am sure your money is not lost. I would just focus on verifying your China Construction Bank account and get your account off hold.

      Delete
  12. WOW! I wish I could jump through the net and give you a big hug!!! I did it!!! I have been trying to figure this out for a very long time - You're the very best! Millions of thanks!!! :)))))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment! I would love to hug you back. Glad that this helped in some way.

      Recently I have been exploring a new option that can be better than what I posted here. I will try it out for another few weeks, then probably write up a post (teaser: it is super geeky and uses the buying and selling of bitcoin to transfer money from China to America).

      Delete
  13. To reiterate a comment before that was never answered,

    Did you have to verify your paypal global account with ICBC?

    Has anyone had success doing this with Bank of China and PayPal?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right. Sorry I never addressed your question when it was asked before.

      I am not completely sure what you mean when you ask if you have to "verify" the account, but I think the answer is no. I didn't have to go to the bank or anything like that to set up my Worldwide Paypal account.

      Paypal worldwide asks you to add a card. You add your card number and the name that is on the card (make sure it is EXACTLY the same as what you have on your bank account). Once you have added the card, when you send money will Paypal Worldwide, it will take you to the bank portal page (which is different for every bank). In my case, I had to use a USB device to checkout. For ICBC they use a USB device to do the check out process. Only the person with the USB device can actually checkout, so I would suppose this would negate any additional reason for needing to verify your account.

      I don't know anyone with Bank of China so I can't answer in regard to that, but I imagine it is probably somewhat similar.

      Just as a side note: These past two months I have been researching Bitcoin as a way to transfer money. Just yesterday, I made transfers of thousands of dollars and was able to actually make money in the process rather than losing anything to fees. I intend to do a write up on that this weekend.

      Delete
  14. Thanks for this post...sometimes China is a real hassle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen to that! Thanks for your comment. Hope life for you in China can get more smooth as time goes on!

      Delete
  15. Nice detailed walkthrough. Many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Good stuff. Just tried it out, no hitches. I got a decent exchange rate (6.25 when the current listed is 6.24) and the fee was about 4%. One thing to note, I can only withdraw $500 per month from my US Paypal into my US bank. Looks like I just have to link one more item to lift that though.

    I've setup the bitcoin transfer accounts as well, but BTCChina has been higher than Coinbase since I did; I suppose it makes sense that more money is going that direction? However, even if it is a few dollars higher, that's still less than the 4% penalty by going through Paypal. I'll try it soon, either way and I started a spreadsheet to track what I'm losing or making in each transaction.

    Thanks again for the posts!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm having trouble setting up a second account. Should I wait till I get to China to set up the account on that end? Please help

    ReplyDelete
  18. Going from US to China is so much easier. I have a US Charles Schwab checking account, and can pull money out of almost any ATM in China using my bank card. What's great is that Charles Schwab also reimburses you for ATM fees!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I just went through the process of this all and I will try to make this as simple as possible.
    For me, I didn't sign up for a world wide account (just signed up for a chinese paypal account). I already had an american paypal account and had it verified a long time ago so I didn't need to do that.

    Now the tricky part is verifying your CHINESE bank card to the chinese paypal account SO YOU DO NOT HAVE WITHDRAWAL/SENDING LIMITS. It asks for your name, address, etc... MAKE SURE YOUR NAME IS EXACTLY AS IT IS ON THE CARD when you type it in for paypal for verification. In China, for some reason, they like to put your first, last, and middle name together when you sign up for bank cards. So make sure you have mobile banking (and can see your name as it is written on the card). I have a CCB card. You wait 5-7 to see if they make the small deposits in your chinese bank account. After entering the deposits accurately, your account should be verified.

    Now if you don't get the deposits within 5-7 days, that means it didn't work. You can manually verify your account. Click on support or 'contact us' on your CHINESE paypal website and they'll give you a number to call and also with a code to identify you with your account.
    They will ask you for:
    -Upgrade your account to premier (don't worry it's free).
    -A pic of your passport or some ID
    -A copy of your chinese bank statements (within the last 6 months). I got an official one stamped by the bank with my name and account number on it. I think that just screen shooting your online banking should be fine though.
    -Something with your name and the card together so they know it's indeed your account.
    -They also say to show your address on the statement (I couldn't do this, because when I signed up for the card they didn't put that info in and also they don't put your address on your bank statements in China because it's irrelevant. For this I screenshot the page where it shows my name and passport (in online banking with CCB) and just entered some information manually and matched it with my address on paypal. (I also explained to them there was no card statement with my address on it).

    After I screen shot all that, I sent it to the email provided and they manually verified my account.

    Now after that's done. You can withdraw FUNDS directly from your card (through paypal) to your US bank account. TO DO THIS THE US ACCOUNT YOU'RE SENDING IT TO CAN'T BE THE SAME AS THE ACCOUNT ON YOUR US PAYPAL ACCOUNT.

    So if it is... all you have to do is send as much as you want (because you're verified baby) to your CHINESE PAYPAL TO YOUR US PAYPAL... and then withdraw the funds from your US PAYPAL to american account.

    AND YOU ARE DONE!!!! YAY! Lol.

    This process took me like 9 days (because I was waiting for the deposits that never came).

    Before starting all this too, I made sure that I knew how to send money to myself from my chinese paypal to my us paypal. I recommend you do this too, I sent myself like 5 US dollars to check the rates and see how it worked. And if you're in China don't use a VPN while you're on your Chinese Paypal. If you have any questions email me at teachingenglishabroad1@gmail.com

    :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi!

      Very helpful info. Can I ask if there's a daily or annual limit as to how much money you can transfer through this method?

      Delete
    2. After verifying there should be no limits, I think the limit before verifying is 2000USD. Once you hit that, I don't think you can send money.

      Delete
  20. Hi, This is an open secret to make money from online. Just a few minutes for away here and make money with an easy way. This can be a short study on a number of your particular perceptions along with preferences and may take only 5 minuets to try and do. So enjoy this for making money.
    make money

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks for the help, this is straightforward and easy. A few notes: I used a Merchants Bank account (招商银行), which now offers a safari/chrome interface (thank you!). Also, after verifying my account on the Paypal worldwide account (via text message), I didn't even have to login to my Merchants Bank site to transfer the money.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and I used a VPN the whole time (out of Japan) for both Paypal accounts with no problem.

      Delete
  22. Nice topics & article posted on blog. I like these tips. This is great and important elements in the modern world that mean how to make money . Tips and tricks to how to make money from online. Let's we know learn how to make money and earn money. An easy way to
    earn money. thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is a good method. I just recently got a USA verified PayPal from Auction Essistance to help receive money. So far this method is working great!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Does anybody knows if this method is still workihg? I'll move to China on December

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have lived in China for the last 2 years. Now I'm trying to transfer my money from China to Europe. So this is what I did regarding paypal: I opened Chinese Paypal account. Once you have UnionPay card (from Chinese Bank) you can bind it to your chinese paypal account. Then you send money to your non-chinese paypal account through option "pay for goods or services". There are some limits I think. e.g. don't know why I could send only 240$ during one day to my non-chinese paypal account and it was 2x100$ and 1x40$. The system did not allow me to do 1 payment more than 100$. Maybe there is a limit on chinese unionpay card or something like that.

    ReplyDelete

Powered by Blogger.