I recently had some issues at ChinaTrust bank, finding information that would be relevant to foreigners in Taiwan. Hopefully, conveying what I learned can save you some time.
My situation is a common one: I wanted to know how much money I could withdraw from my Bank of America account using one of ChinaTrust’s ATMs. It took a half hour to get the answer, “It’s not about ChinaTrust: it’s about Bank of America.” So, I went home and made a Skype call to my bank – you can make 800-number calls from Skype for free, just like in the USA. Big props to Skype, on that one. Bank of America told me they could increase my foreign withdrawal limit to $2,500US ($72,000NT) per withdrawal.
The reason this is important is simple. Bank of America charges $45US ($1,300NT) to transfer funds internationally; they charge $5US ($150NT) per international ATM withdrawal. So, wanting to take out $3,900US ($120,000NT) from a Taiwanese bank would cost less than a wire transfer, according to the information I got from ChinaTrust. But ChinaTrust was wrong. Here are ChinaTrust’s actual policies:
ChinaTrust Account ATM Withdrawal Maximum: $30,000NT ($1,000US) per withdrawal ($60,000NT ($2,000US) per day)
Foreign Bank Account ATM Withdrawal Maximum: $20,000NT ($600US) per withdrawal ($120,000NT ($4,000US) per day)
ChinaTrust Account ATM Fee: $0NT ($0US)
Foreign Bank Account ATM Fee: $70NT ($2.50US) plus 1% of the amount withdrawn
In other words, to withdraw $20,000NT ($600US) from a ChinaTrust ATM, my out-of-pocket is actually $20,420NT ($615US). Add that up to the $120,000NT ($4,000US) that I need to take out, and it means my out-of-pocket is $122,520NT ($87US). Which is double the cost of an international transfer fee, and it’s all done in one shot.
Final note: if you walk into ChinaTrust and want to open an account, they will tell you that you need an ARC. You don’t. All you need to do is go to the Bureau of Foreign Affairs and tell them that you are visiting Taiwan and want a safe place to keep your money while you’re here. They will print off a government-issued number in lieu of an ARC number that will allow you to get an account just like anyone else. It costs you nothing to do this and, if you are planning on pulling out more than $60,000NT over the course of your stay in Taiwan, it’s a good idea, to allow you to have a place to send money through an international transfer.
Bank of America: 1-800-622-8731
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