Taichung has a plethora of banks, both local and international. Cathay Bank, HSBC, Citibank, Bank of Taiwan, MegaBank, Taiwan Cooperative Bank, etc. All of these institutions are great places to do business and place your money, if you are Taiwanese. But what is a foreigner to do?
I won’t recommend a specific bank, but will tell you that your experience will largely depend on which branch and who you end up working with. I highly recommend you check with other expat friends and ask about their personal experience and for their recommendations. That being said, I can give you my experience here and tell you where I bank here in Taiwan.
I have three Taiwan bank accounts. Bank of Taiwan, Citibank and Cathay Bank. If you are a US Citizen, you may have heard that some banks no longer like to serve us, I have not found that to be true. There is extra paperwork required because of the US government, but most banks will happily help you. In my experience and anecdotally, most foreigners have trouble opening accounts because of a banks limited ability to communicate. So I highly recommend you take someone with you who can translate and put your banker at ease.
In my personal experience, I have really enjoyed my relationship with Cathay Bank the most. From the time I walked in the door, their service was the absolute best. They treated me like a regular customer and helped me open not only a regular account, but also apply for the Costco Credit Card which I was approved for with relatively little paperwork and received within a couple of weeks. The only downside at this point to Cathay Bank is that all of their online services (the mobile app and their web banking) is all in Chinese.
I have had my Citibank account for the longest amount of time. For people who come from countries or states that also have Citibank branches, Citibank provides one of the best international banking experience for most Taiwan Expats. Their website and app are both in English and Chinese and it’s very easy to use their ATM system and online system. You can transfer up to $1000USD per day back and forth with no international transfer fees between citibank accounts.
I also have a Bank of Taiwan account. My experience at BOT was less than stellar. The banking is standard and I have no complaints about the actual service, it was the initial experience. I felt like I was being run through a mill and not treated very well. I felt that even the other Taiwanese who were coming to apply for accounts were treated poorly – just like me. It took a week for them to produce my ATM card whereas Cathay Bank completed everything but my credit card app on the spot and I left the bank with everything including my online accounts all set up and ready to go.
For many expats, they have found Megabank to be another great option. Here is a link to their site with an English explanation of services. CLICK HERE.
HSBC is another great option, but their minimum deposit prices most regular people out of their services. Citibank offers accounts to anyone with $100NT deposit or greater. So why do I think Citibank is so great.
- You can move $1000 per day to or from Taiwan to the US fee free.
- All Banking can be done online.
- You receive a US Dollar account as well at a TWD account so you can decide when to convert money at the best exchange rate.
- If you need to withdraw money from your US based account, using a CITI branded ATM will only cost you the foreign exchange fee, which is less than other institutions.
Before going to any bank in Taiwan, make sure you have a Chinese name chop prepared with your Chinese name. This will simplify your banking life in Taiwan immensely. If you sign your name in English with slight variations, the counter personnel could request you to sign your name until it matches the original signature on file. (I had to sign my name 15 times in a row at one point to get one close to the original signature) Bank of Taiwan is the exception, for foreigners, they will no longer allow you to use your namechop.
Here are two more links to help you.
Chuck Heyde – Expatriate Tax Specialist
For anyone living abroad, I would recommend you speak with and avail yourself of Chuck’s valuable advice and expertise. He will save you money, time and energy making sure you file your taxes correctly and on time. Be sure to let Chuck know that I sent you.
If you need help, please ask. I would be happy to assist you in opening an account or getting your stuff in order.