Forums > Living in Kunming > Bank cards/accounts for abroad China
DOMESTIC VS INTERNATIONAL DEBIT (NOT CREDIT) CARD
Go to your bank and tell them (if possible) you'll be traveling internationally and would like to know if you need to "upgrade" to the foreign currency debit card. As you're married to a local, bring the wifey - should be less stressful if your wife chats with them.
When you initially opened your bank account - they asked you (maybe) if you'll be traveling internationally - as there's a domestic only debit card and an international FX (foreign exchange) friendly debit card - they're VERY different - so you need to verify which card you have.
We always opt for the most restrictive card (domestic use only) as credit fraud and identify theft is rampant globally - if you don't need it, don't get it and the bank told us we could upgrade to the international debit card anytime (although they neglected to mention the pain quotient).
You MAY need to change your local bank accounts to upgrade to this service depending on the bank's dynastic era. Bring your passport and your travel itinerary if you have it. You MAY also want to check/set your international daily withdrawal maximums also. Allegedly this can be done with your online bank account access - but I can never remember my internet password.
The upgrade process may take anywhere from a half a day slumming around the bank windows, to a month, depending on your bank and the current processes or changes currently in place or being upgraded.
If you have something like CNY 100k or CNY 1 million minimum deposit - you can also opt to open an account at HSBC China (different rules than HSBC ex-China) - but you must maintain the minimum monthly balance or they'll whack on some seriously usurious and abusive fees.
PAYPAL/Apple Pay/PRE-PAID DEBIT CARDS
You can also link your chinese bank account to PAYPAL - many merchants accept PAYPAL - not sure about restaurants though. While you're abroad - you may want to opt for a pre-paid debit card - just top it off a la WeChat Pay - whenever the balance drops. Great way to insulate your primary bank account from credit card fraud - just don't lose that pre-paid debit card...or forget your PIN.
I HIGHLY recommend you buy a pre-paid DEBIT card at the airport of the country you'll most probably be quarantining in...
You MIGHT also want to check out Apple Pay - not accepted everywhere - but. We're incredibly ticked off with Apple Pay China - it's linked to AliPay - which gives you credit-like purchases - which our pre-school daughter apparently abused to rack up a few hundred CNY in credit charges. We tried to get Apple China to reverse the charges - but they threatened to wreck our credit instead - so our daughter is now the proud owner of who knows what garbage game upgrades - if you have kids - be very very very wary of linking anything to Apple Pay.
Personally - HIGHLY recommend you avoid Apple Pay in China if you have little kids who have access to your electronic devices. I asked my older child to report this abusive practice to the Chinese Consumer Protection Hotline (yes, China has a national consumer protection department which actually works) and maybe try to report it to CCTV and other online consumer protection groups - apparently this is a widespread and well known abusive practice (yes...I'm ticked - using little kids to unknowingly fraudulently steal money from their parents - heinous corporate behavior).
MISCELLANEOUS FX UPGRADES
My currency exchanges used to consume a full half a day at XXX bank - but they've since upgraded and streamlined the FX (foreign exchange) and buying the CNY - so I get everything done at the same special service window - and only takes me about an hour or less - when it used to suck up an entire afternoon - most of it was spent waiting for the various windows. First time through the system - akin to non-anaesthetized dental work.