Practical Life in Taipei


Bank services in Taipei


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Banks are normally open from 10:00 until 16:00, Monday through Friday. Taiwanian banks offer current accounts, savings and investment accounts, credit and debit card services, personal loans and overdrafts, and in some cases, foreign exchange services. Local banks will also set up standing orders, accept payment of utility bills and local, state and federal taxes. Checks are not used in Taiwan and will not be issued by banks here. ATM cards are issued with a bank account, although only a "Cirrus" or "Plus" card will allow you to withdraw money from ATM machines outside of Taiwan.

Some of the largest banks include:
Chang Hwa Bank - dates back to October 25, 1945.
Bank of Taiwan- Also known as BOT, this bank was established on May 20, 1946 as the first government-owned bank following the island's restoration to the Republic of China in 1945.
Mega International Commercial Bank- product of the merger of the International Commercial Bank of China and Chiao Tung Bank.
Banc SinoPac- One of the first newly incorporated banks in Taiwan after the Banking Law was revised in 1989 to allow the entry of new private banks.
Taishin International Bank - The Bank's main items of business include deposits, loans, bills discounting, remittances, guarantees, short-term bills brokerage and proprietary trading, import and export negotiation, foreign-currency deposits, trust, agency, custodianship, credit cards, cash cards, trading in derivative products, factoring, and offshore banking.

For a listing of more banks, click here.

Opening an Account

Anyone holding a valid passport with more than NT$ 100 dollars can open a bank account in Taiwan. Almost all banks in Taiwan allow foreigners to open savings accounts with little to no issue. Note: Information will be written in Chinese. If you are not very familiar with the language, have someone you trust look at the contract before signing. Worst case, at least one employee of each bank will speak English and they can help explain the terms.

An ATM card should come with the account for you to draw money out of ATMs. A credit card is more difficult, and may require a Taiwanese friend to co-sign. Most banks also allow for direct deposit.

ATM

Cash is still king in Taiwan. Most restaurants and small stores do not accept cards. Luckily, ATMS are located all around the city and most accept Visa or Mastercard (look out for their logos on the machine). Few ATMs provide cash from American Express cards. International banks like HSBC and Citibank will almost always accept foreign cards.

Most banks allow their customers to withdrawal between NT$ 90,000 dollars to NT$ 150,000 dollars per day from their own ATM machines for free. If you were to withdrawal from a competitors machine you will be able to withdrawal up to 60,000NT dollars. There is usually a fee of NT$ 5-7 per withdrawal if you use a competitor's bank.

Travelers should contact their home bank about partnerships they may have with Taiwanian banks and which ATMs have the lowest fees. It is also wise to let them know when and where you will be traveling so foreign activity does not arouse suspicion. In an attempt to protect you, your bank could lock the account if they think the card may have been stolen.

Currency

The New Taiwan dollar (新臺幣 or 新台幣) (currency code TWD and common abbreviation NT$), or simply Taiwan dollar, is the official currency of the Republic of China.

One unit is known locally as NT, or yuan, or colloquially in Mandarin as the kuai, or in Taiwanese as kho. Banknotes come in many different colors with different animal featured on each. There's a green one-real note (hummingbird), a blue two (hawksbill turtle), a violet five (egret), a scarlet 10 (macaw), a yellow twenty (lion-faced monkey), a golden-brown 50 (jaguar) and a blue 100 (grouper fish).

Exchange

Taiwanese currency is fully convertible and there are no restrictions on taking currency into or out of the island. Currency exchange is possible internationally, although the best rates are with banks within Taiwan. Bills which are torn or damaged will probably not be changed, and old-style small-bust bills are not accepted. Taiwan National Bank will take older bank notes and bank notes that are wrinkled or torn for exchange. Department stores will not exchange bills older than 1997. Usually, you must show your passport.

    To move all of your money from abroad, there are several different ways:
  • Wire Transfer : This is a simple and quick method to send funds either online or through a local agent, but does have higher fees.
  • Rechargeable Prepaid Debit Card : This method takes a few days if ordering within Taiwan, but there are usually no credit checks and the fees are low.
  • Bank Transfers: The most straightforward way to transfer money, this requires the banks to work together and may take up to 5 business days.

Update 10/12/2010


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