About a month ago I saw the headlines: Bank of China now offering Chinese Renminbi (RMB), also known as the Yuan, savings accounts right here in the USA. Given that only a handful of branches in the US offers those accounts, the Chinatown New York branch was open yesterday, and I happen to live in Manhattan, I had to go and check it out.
When I arrived on Sunday afternoon, I found a branch packed with 6 Bank of China employees racing to open RMB accounts for a waiting crowd of almost entirely Chinese customers. Opening these accounts is definitely the hot thing!
I recap my experience in the following video:
The details are as follows (I know the list is long, but I had alot of questions!):
- You must open two accounts, one USD account and one RMB account
- Each account must have a $500 minimum balance
- You must deposit USD funds into your USD bank account, then request a RMB conversion
- To request the conversion, you must either visit the branch or physically mail in an exchange request form
- It takes 1-2 business days to convert the money to RMB
- The RMB savings account currently pays .17% interest (in China they are currently paying ~2.75%!)
- To exchange the RMB back to USD, you must also submit a request personally or through the mail
- You cannot bring physical Yuan notes to the bank and deposit them nor may you withdraw Yuan notes
- To make a USD deposit, you must visit the branch and see the teller
- You do not get an ATM card with the account
- Online banking is available for both the USD and RMB accounts to view your funds
To open the account you need:
- Drivers license
- A second form of ID. They suggested either a credit card or your passport
- Social Security card
Those are the basic details of the account. There are two branches currently in Manhattan, one in Midtown and one in Chinatown. I went to the branch in Chinatown and dealt with Miss Sylvia Chan. Give her a call at 212-925-2355 x821 if you have questions
Given you have to physically submit a form to convert from USD -> RMB and back, plus it only pays .17% interest, its defiintely an interesting option, but not quite ready for prime time yet.
If you have any other experiences with opening RMB accounts, please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!