Bank opening hours vary but on the whole banking hours are 9 am-5 pm with some branches open on the weekend as well. The banking system is safe in China although not very efficient because most banking must be done in person. Visitors to banks must take a number, wait their turn, and speak to a teller to do their banking. There is very little phone or internet banking available and most services will require that customers show up in person for any type of transaction.
ATMs are easy to find throughout the city, especially ones for Bank of China and other major domestic banks. You’ll find them in shopping complexes, large grocery stores, tourist areas, and entertainment districts. ATMs will also accept foreign credit cards connected to Cirrus, Plus, AmEx, Visa, and Mastercard networks, but be wary of fees imposed by your issuing bank. Some local banks will charge transaction fees, but some will not.
Most purchases are either made in cash or with ATM bank cards (debit cards). Because the largest bill denomination in China is 100 RMB (about $15 USD) it is most convenient to carry a debit card tied to an RMB bank account.
There are several international banks that have set up a special branch in Beijing, but their services are very limited under current government regulations and they do not offer ATM services. Much of the business at these branches service corporate accounts. You will be able to find English-speaking employees at all locations of the more popular international banks listed below.
- Citibank: Seven branches in Beijing and limited ATM locations throughout the city. Check their website for more information. (6510 2458) http://citibank.com.
- HSBC: Eight branches in the city, including at China World Trade Center. 22 ATM locations throughout the city, including at most Carrefours. (5999 8888) http://www.hsbc.com.cn
Other Major Banks
Most people (including ex-pats) use one of the major Chinese banks in Beijing. Employers can usually direct deposit paychecks most easily into domestic banks, and ATM locations for domestic banks are abundant throughout the city.
The best place to find an English-speaking employee at one of the major banks is to visit a branch in the central business or financial district. However, there is likely at least one person at any branch who will be able to help you if your teller’s English is not sufficient.