China is a very cash-oriented society. Credit cards have no market penetration among Chinese citizens and are rarely accepted anywhere except hotels. Citizens are able to access their bank accounts through UnionPay cards, which are essentially debit cards used by Chinese banks. But few vendors accept them, and for nearly all purchasing, cash is king. It is not unusual for a landlord in China to expect payment of a full year’s rent in advance, in cash, when moving in.
With the need for cash, it is not surprising that ATMs are very easy to find. There are several “national” Chinese banks that are found in every neighborhood throughout Changchun, as well as smaller provincial and local banks as well. At the smaller banks, travelers may find that their ATM cards are not accepted. But there are no issues with acceptance at the larger banks.
ATM limits are all over the map. Some banks have a maximum of 1000 RMB (about $165). Others have limits of 2000 or 3000 RMB. And at some banks, there are limits of 3000 RMB per withdrawal with a total daily maximum of 20,000. ATM fees to the Chinese bank, and to your own back home, can add up. So The Bearded Giant strongly suggests making larger infrequent withdrawals rather than repeated smaller ones.
I’ll update this post with specifics as I find them, but policies are always subject to change, so if you are reading this post in 2018, things may have changed. 🙂