So this week after Seth got his first paycheck, we decided to go and buy him a new bike. The traffic isn’t as bad in the city as we feared and it really just makes life easier. And I know that Seth really needs the liberation of being able to come and go as he pleases (not that he ever actually goes anywhere with out me knowing or without my approval or disapproval to spend money hahaha).
So, we went to a bike shop, picked out a pretty little red number, and I went to the bank just next door to withdraw the cash (because seriously no one takes cards around here). I always keep my China Construction bank card in the front of my debit cards, with my two Bank of America cards safely behind it. Well, somehow one of my BOA cards ended up in front. So I smoothly wipped out what I thought was my CCB card, withdrew 2000 RMB, then tried to withdraw 1500 more for spending money and it said “insufficent funds.” My heart jumped since I knew there was well over 10,000 RMBs in there. I looked down to see my CCB card safely in my wallet. I had used my BOA account card 🙁 Talk about feeling stupid. This left about 17 USD in my American account. I did have just enough in there to cover our bills until I finally get paid from Phoenix on October 15th, but now, only 17 dollars! Unfortunately, while it is just that simple to withdraw money (with no fees) from an American BOA account in China, it isn’t so simple to put the money back. There wasn’t anything I could do at the time.
However, now that we actually live in Changsha, sending money isn’t supposed to be too difficult to send back. You just have to go to a branch of CCB that has an international department and they can do it for you (or so I was told). When we lived in LiXian, this was a huge problem, because taking a 4 hour bus trip to send money home wasn’t worth the time or cost. So today I went down to CCB to try and send the 2000RMB back to the BOA. After they found someone who spoke English, they explained that since I had opened my CCB account with a passport, I needed to find a Chinese friend to come back with me because they had to purchase the US dollars to transefer over (they can’t direcctly trasfer RMBs) and they needed a person with a Chinese ID to do it, not a passport number. So I got out my angry eyes and told them that was a stupid rule because as an American sending money to America I obviously don’t have a Chinese ID number. So they got nervous and fidgeted. I then told them “well, you are my friend now, you do it.” And they did! I was kind of surprised it worked haha. What they had to do was I had to transfer the funds to the Chinese girl’s account (the girl doing the transaction) and the funds had to be transfered to BOA from her account. THere was a 100 RMB (15 USD) transfer fee to her account, and they said there would be a 2.50 USD transfer fee from BOA. The money should be there within 48 hours. If those are the only fees, I will be very happy. In the past, when not using CCB/BOA it was about 50 USD transfer fees. I know that some people in the building pay even more than that to send money home. If those end up being the only fees, I might end up using my accounts to send money home for the others in the building. Once the money is in my account in the states, I can send the money online to any other bank in America with no (or at least extremely low) fees. It might be a nice way for me to help some of the other forgeiners out. I know that sending money home can be a huge stresser. I’ll definately follow up this post if anything goes wrong, but for now it is an unfortuante fact that having a BOA account is actually a good thing if you are going to be living in China.
So, long story short, Seth got a cute sporty new bike and he is happy.