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If you have a BOA account in america, you can use CCB atms and withdraw money at no charge.
Bank of America provides free account-to-account wire transfers from Bank of America to China Construction Bank (CCB) customers. Available for transfers between California consumer (personal) accounts only in Alameda, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Small Business accounts are not eligible.
– $45.00 wire transfer fee waived.
– Free transfers are subject to the following limits:
– Up to $1,500 per transfer
– Up to $3,000 can be sent in a 30 day period
– Up to 3 wires can be sent in a 30 day period
Also, note that transfers exceeding the above limits will be assessed the $45.00 fee.
Contact center associates speaking Mandarin and English will be available to accept wire transfer orders once the customer has been set up in the banking center.
To establish wire transfer or more information, please contact us directly at 1.800.729.9473. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
There is an utterly amazing perk many American expats or travellers in China can enjoy so long as they’re customers of Bank of America (whom are legion, despite the fact that Bank of America is somewhat widely despised amongst many in the States): BofA customers can use their BofA ATM card to withdraw the USD in their accounts back home as RMB cash via China Construction Bank ATMs throughout China…for free.
No ATM fees, no currency exchange fees, no credit card cash advance fees, and no need to set up a CCB bank account either. Just cold, hard, delicious cash converted at the day’s exchange rate.
I used this a year ago and, embarrassingly, I didn’t think to write about this useful tip until Dan over at China Law Blog just recently discovered and posted about it earlier today.
Now, the daily ATM withdrawal limit in China was raised from 5,000 RMB to 20,000 RMB in mid-2007. Accounting for the current exchange rate (6.94 RMB per 1 USD at the time of this posting), this means you can effectively move up to about 2,880 USD into China each day, barring any daily withdrawal limits you have on your BofA account. If your limit is lower than the converted amount you want to access in China, you’ll need to call Bank of America in advance to raise your limitsappropriately, lest you get confounded at the ATM. There’s also the current 2000 RMB per transaction limit at CCB’s ATMs, so you’ll need to repeat the withdrawal process 10 times to get the full 20,000 RMB daily limit. After making everyone behind you wait, however, you can walk smugly past them carrying your fat stacks of 100 RMB bills. Baller.
Now, 20,000 RMB is a decent sum of cash for the vast majority of transactions. That’s about 5000 street-cooked fried rice meals in China or 714 Starbucks cappucinos. Being able to freely access and convert your USD into RMB cash should be particularly useful for business travellers and other short-term visitors. You no longer need to hassle with carrying large amounts of cash, getting cashiers cheques, using wire transfers, or going through the hassle of setting up a Chinese bank account (which would require you to bring money in first anyway). Not only do you save money on fees and exchange rates, it is downright convenient.
The free ATM withdrawals perk has been available since April 2006 and you can thank BofA for opting to buy a stake in CCB and partnering with them instead of pursuing the retail banking market on their own. I, however, only learned about this service in mid-2007 when I needed to quickly move several thousand USD over to cover development costs for my startup without fussing with wire transfers. In fact, BofA required me to physically appear at a US banking center just to wire my own money to myself in China. Yeah, like I’m really going to buy a round-trip airplane ticket just so I can pay them an additional 45 USD fee for a wire transfer to myself. I ended up withdrawing over several days to accumulate the RMB bricks I needed.
So yes, you can certainly make withdrawals over several days (or weeks) should you need to move more than 20,000 RMB. Of course, going to the ATM each day isn’t the most graceful way of moving large chunks of money, but it may be less annoying than having to set up, pay for, and then wait for a wire transfer that can sometimes take longer than you prefer. As with my example, you often can’t actually initiate a wire transfer of your own money to yourself from abroad anyway, thereby necessitating that you have someone abroad who can wire funds to you. Moreover, for many expats and travellers, trying to communicate with Chinese tellers when their English is about as good as your Chinglish can be a hassle as well.
There may be more good news too, as it appears that BofA and CCB has had a free wire transfer pilot program in place since late 2006 also. This allows BofA account holders to wire transfer moneywithout the 45 USD fee or the 20,000 RMB daily limit to CCB account holders. But, before you think this is a better option than making 10 withdrawals a day over several days to move larger chunks of money, remember that you need a BofA account, a CCB account, and you’d still need to initiate the transfer at BofA in person in the United States. Therefore, as far as using this to wire your own money to yourself, it would only be useful if you’ve already set up your CCB account and you’re doing initiating the wire transfer right before you fly over from the States to China. The actual target market for this service are family members, friends, and businesses that need to move money between themselves and have the people to initiate and receive wire transfers on both sides. If you’re just one person in China trying to access your money in your US account, then the free ATM withdrawal service is still what you’re looking for…if you’re a BofA customer, that is.
18 days of free ATM withdrawals and you’ll be able to transfer the yearly maximum of 50,000 USD.Heh, how’s that for hedging against RMB appreciation and USD depreciation?
One final note: Despite the conveniences afforded by this partnership, don’t expect any service from CCB banks and representatives regarding your BofA account. The most they’ll know is that you can access your BofA account balance through their ATM. They are not there to help you with managing your account otherwise or answering any BofA questions.
A really good friend of mine who works at Bank of America is always touting its China solutions. He occasionally emails me beautiful brochures with beautiful graphics, presumably detailing how I can move my firm’s paltry earnings between the US and China, and vice versa. My reaction has always been to think that every big bank can do that. Appears I was wrong.
Transpacifica has a post today, entitled, “Bank of America and China Construction Bank, or No-Fee USD Withdrawals in China,” explaining how BofA’s ownership stake in CCB translates on the ground to allowing one to “move USD into RMB with no ATM fees, no exchange rate adjuncts, and generally few headaches:”
Many international travelers are familiar with the pain of double-barrel ATM fees — one from the machine that gives you money, and one from a U.S. bank penalizing you for using someone else’s terminal. Worse yet is the percentage of the withdrawal charged as an “exchange rate adjunct.” Before I discovered the BoA-CCB deal I was losing almost 7 percent on my USD withdrawals in China.
Now, I withdraw money from a BoA checking account with the debit card I received in the United States with no fees whatsoever: It transfers at market rate from USD to RMB and gives me cash.
My firm banks at Wells Fargo because it has a branch right in our building. We will be moving into a new (and bigger and better) office come July 1, one block from our present branch and one block from a Bank of America branch. I am going to see if Wells Fargo has anything comparable and if it does not….