Transferring Money Out of China in 2021: Best Methods
With nearly 1.4 billion people living in China currently, it’s pretty much a given that at least a few hundred thousand or even millions of people will need to transfer money out of China at some point. However, due to country limitations, it can be somewhat hard to find money transfer options without high fees, especially if you’re sending money to a country far away like the United States or somewhere in Europe.
On top of sending money out of China and the fees that go along with that, you’ll have to also consider the exchange rate. When transferring money out of China into another currency, you have to think about the exchange rate. With a regular bank, they’ll likely charge an additional markup on that rate.
That’s why it’s helpful to rely on digital payment or money transfer apps such as Wise or Swapsy. However, those have their limitations in China, too. Here is what to know about the fees involved in the various methods you can rely on for transferring money out of China in 2021.
How to Transfer Money Out of China
While there are certainly a variety of ways to transfer money from a bank account in China to an account in another country, let’s walk you through three of the most popular options first.
First, we’ve got the standard bank transfer option! For this, you’ll obviously need to have a Chinese bank already set up. These types of wire transfers can take up to five days when sending from China to an international account. And, there will most certainly be fees.
We suggest checking with your Chinese bank regarding their outgoing international wire fees. In the US, for example, each time you send money to an international account, you’re charged between about $25-40 USD, regardless of the amount you’re sending. Make sure that you’re aware of those fees before you send any money.
Then, you’ll likely need your account and routing information along with your personal information and that of the recipient. This includes a SWIFT code and, in most cases if you’re not a Chinese national, your passport and a valid residence visa.
Payment Apps: Swapsy, Alipay & PayPal
Next, we’ve got the ever popular payment apps method. While this works better when transferring money to China than it does when transferring money out of China, it’s still possible!
Alipay is one of the most popular payment platforms in China and will allow you to send money from China to international accounts in currencies such as Euros and US Dollars. That doesn’t come without a fee, though. Alipay does charge the same kind of transfer fee and exchange rate as your bank might, but it tends to be less than what most major banks charge.
Similarly, you can also use Swapsy, another digital payment app popular in the country, to transfer money out of China. Currently, Swapsy is ranked as one of the easiest payment transfer apps to use in China as it allows you to exchange currencies via digital wallets. This includes Zelle, PayPal, the aforementioned Alipay and, of course, Wechat Pay.
Do note that you might also hear about the most popular payment apps such as Google Pay and Samsung Pay. While Samsung Pay is a great option for those within China looking to pay digitally for in-store products, for example, it won’t allow you to send payments from China to other countries (at least not yet!).
Does Wise Work in China?
This is a great question! Wise technically works in China, yes. However, it doesn’t work when transferring money out of China. Currently, you are only allowed to initiate a transfer from an account that’s in 25 currencies and the Chinese Yuan is not one of those.
However, if you’re in China as an expat and have a bank account in your home country, such as the US, Canada, or most countries in Europe, you can technically create an account, link your native bank account, and then easily transfer money to friends, family, or business contacts within China.
Wise does allow you to transfer money from USD and 24 other currencies to someone with an account that’s in Chinese Yuan. You simply can’t initiate the transfer if you’re the one with the account in Yuan.
Other Options for Sending Money from China
If none of the above options work for you then we’d suggest one of the following:
- If you have friends or family in China, ask them to bring the money with them the next time they visit.
- Likewise, if you’re an international student in China, an expat, or an English teacher, you can speak to your Chinese bank about emptying your account and closing it when you’ll be leaving the country. You’ll then have cash that you can exchange for another currency whenever you reach your home country.
- PayPal does work in some cases, but it’s quite confusing and comes with a few fees that would be nice not to pay. Instead, we suggest checking out one of the options mentioned above, namely Swapsy, if you can.
How to Set Up Banking in the US
Now that you know how to transfer money out of China (and how to transfer money to China as well!), it’s time to think about what you’ll do once you’re back in the US (in the case that you’re an international student, for example) or once you’ve arrived in the US (in the case that you’re immigrating to the country).
If that’s the situation you’re in then we suggest taking a look at the Cheese Debit Card. It’s a great way for non-US citizens to easily create a bank account in the US, all with just an established US address, passport, and valid visa.
On top of that, it’s a great way for immigrants, students, and practically anybody to enjoy the perks that come with the card, including great cashback offers and more:
❌ No Monthly Fee 🧀️ $5 cash bonus
❌ No ATM Fee 🧀️ Up to 10% cashback with every purchase/transaction
❌ No Overdraft Fee 🧀️ No SSN Required
❌ No Insufficient Fund Fee 🧀️ Up to 3% Saving Bonus
❌ No Minimum Balance Requirement 🧀️ Early Paycheck
❌ No Int. Incoming Wire Transfer Fee 🔐 FDIC Insured