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How to send money to China
Secure, low-cost ways to transfer funds to the Middle Kingdom.
A specialized money transfer company will offer more competitive exchange rates than a traditional bank, but which company is best for you depends on how much you’re sending and how quickly you need it to arrive.
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Compare ways to send money to China
Use our comparison calculator to assess transfer fees, exchange rates and other details for sending funds with our money transfer partners.
What's in this guide?
- Compare ways to send money to China
- How to send money to China online
- What's the best way to send money to China?
- How to get the most out of your money transfer to China
- China's exchange rates explained
- Documents needed for sending to and receiving money in China
- Tips for sending money to China
- What to watch out for
- Bottom line
How to send money to China online
Sign up and send money with a digital money transfer specialist in four steps:
- Sign up for a free account. Pick a provider and sign up for a free online account using your contact information, proof of ID and your preferred payment method.
- Provide transfer details. Submit your recipient’s contact information and pick a delivery method. If you’re transferring to a bank, you’ll need your recipient’s Chinese bank account details.
- Confirm transfer details. Double-check your payment method, expected fees and destination.
- Save your receipt. Record your receipt’s confirmation number to track the progress of your transfer to China. Some money transfer providers send a text or email when your transfer is complete.
What’s the best way to send money to China?
Online money transfer providers typically offer the strongest exchange rates and lowest fees on money transfers to China. Some offer transfers straight to Chinese bank accounts, while others allow the money to be picked up in Chinese yuan in person. Banks, PayPal and other options are available but come with high fees, weak rates and longer turnaround times.
Digital money transfer services
Companies like XE and CurrencyTransfer specialize in foreign currencies, making them some of the most cost-effective transfers. Most offer transfers directly to your recipient’s Chinese bank account, often in as little as a day or two.
Services like MoneyGram allow you to transfer cash for pickup at a local branch in China— often in 15 minutes. While it’s a fast way to send money, you’ll pay for the convenience in weak exchange rates and high fees. If a cash pickup is necessary, look to digital services like WorldRemit or TransferWise when possible.
Chinese yuan may be carried by your bank, especially if you visit the main branches offering international service. Although your local bank can convert your US dollars into Chinese yuan, beware of high fees and wide margins on the exchange rate compared to digital and other options.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $5,000 to China
Let’s say you need to send $5,000 to family in China. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of April 24, 2020.
|Digital money transfer service||Cash transfer||Bank transfer|
|Fee||$0||$3.99||$25 + additional correspondent bank fees|
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 7.050 CNY||1 USD = 7.052 CNY||1 USD = 6.619 CNY|
|Transfer speed||1-2 day||Minutes||2-5 days|
The bank option ends up being both the slowest and gets the smallest amount of money to your recipient. If you go with the digital money transfer service, your recipient ends up with CNY¥2,320 more than the bank offers. If speed is crucial, a cash transfer can typically have your transfer to China in as little as 15 minutes for just a slightly higher fee.
How to get the most out of your money transfer to China
Weigh costs and fees against convenience, and learn how to compare money transfer providers that send to China to meet your needs:
- Exchange rates. The USD-CNY remains relatively stable, with occasional shifts on a larger scale. Exchanging currency ahead of time, or locking in prices, can help you prepare for these shifts.
- Transfer fees. Transferring money overseas nearly always requires fees, but they might be hidden in the exchange rate. When sending large amounts, it may be cheaper to pay a flat fee to secure a stronger exchange rate.
- Transfer limits. How much you can send varies by company, and different amounts can attract higher or lower fees. Shop around for the best deal on the amount of Chinese yuan you’re sending.
- Turnaround. Transferring money through a local bank can take a business week or longer. If you need the funds delivered quickly, seek out a digital specialist that offers instant transfers to China.
- Maximum limits. When exchange rates are favorable, sending more money can save you money in the future. If you plan to send large amounts of money to China, be sure to pick a provider that won’t limit you.
- Transfer methods. Whether you want money sent to a Chinese bank account or picked up as cash at a local agent, narrow down a company that matches your preferred delivery method.
Emergency cash transfer to China
When it’s more important to get your money to China quickly, look for money transfer companies that support cash pickup in minutes. You can pay with a credit or debit card for fast pickup, but fees are higher than other methods.
How to send money to China without a bank account
Cash transfer services can help you if you’re unbanked or marginally banked. If you don’t have a bank account, look for a local company that supports storefronts for cash payments. These services include agent locations in other countries that allow your recipient to pick up cash without a bank account.
Many companies that we use for money transfers in the States offer “reload” services for prepaid credit cards and mobile plans that make it easy to convert cash into communication — often within minutes.
If you need to send minutes to a prepaid phone in China — whether for you or a loved one — consider online providers WorldRemit and Xoom. To add or gift minutes from an agent location, standbys Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria are an option.
China’s exchange rates explained
The exchange rate determines how much one country’s currency is worth in another country’s currency. When a country’s currency is strong, it yields more money when exchanging it in a country with a weaker currency. China’s exchange rate doesn’t often fluctuate when compared to the US dollar, so expect relatively stable exchange rates between these two currencies. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.
Track how the Chinese yuan trades against the US dollar in our historical rate chart.
Documents needed for sending to and receiving money in China
To send money to China from the US, you’ll need government-issued ID and other documents, while documents needed to pick up money in China may be different by company.
Documents to send money from the US
To send money from the US to China, you’ll need documentation and details that include:
- Identification. Most services require a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued ID. Some services allow you to send transfers without ID, but they may require your SSN.
- Payment method. Your service may accept credit or debit cards, cash, bank accounts or personal checks.
- Recipient information. Submit your recipient’s name as it appears on their ID, along with their phone number, Chinese bank account and routing number if sending to their bank.
Documents to receive money in China
To pick up money in person, documentation can include:
- Transfer number. The person sending you money can forward the transfer’s confirmation details — called a PIN, a MTCN, a reference number or a tracking number, depending on the company.
- Government-issued ID. A China Identification Card, a Passport (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan passports), or a Mainland Travel Permit (for Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents only) will be accepted for identification for most money transfer cash pickups.
- Amount sent. You may need to know how much was sent, usually within 10% of the total.
- Sender’s information. Take along your sender’s full name, the sending country and their address, if known.
Tips for sending money to China
What to watch out for
Most money transfers between the United States and China shouldn’t have any specific tax obligations attached to them, so long as they are for personal use and kept under $10,000 USD. Some circumstances may trigger a need for filing specific forms, so read up on our Chinese remittance tax guidelines to learn more about when you may need to file with the IRS.
Sending your hard-earned money to China shouldn’t cost a fortune. Compare transfer companies that specialize in foreign for the strongest rates, lowest fees and flexible delivery. For transfers to other countries, rely on our country specific guides the next time you need to make a transfer.
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