Credit Cards

ICBC Dual Currency Unionpay Credit Card (CAD and RMB, no Forex)

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  • Jun 6th, 2019 9:26 am
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[OP]
Newbie
Aug 20, 2007
93 posts
12 upvotes

ICBC Dual Currency Unionpay Credit Card (CAD and RMB, no Forex)

I came across a credit card that hasn't been widely discussed here on RFD and thought it might be useful to pool information from anyone who has used this card.

The Canadian division of the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) offers a Dual Currency Credit Card which looks like it may be of interest to some users who travel to Asia (especially Mainland China, but really anywhere that accepts Unionpay). Anyone who goes there knows that Visa and Mastercard are not widely used and that Unionpay is the mostly widely accepted form of payment. This is a dual RMB and CAD credit card. Some interesting things to note:

  • According to their website, all daily purchases in China will be settled in CNY, and the purchases outside China will be settled in CAD.
  • 2.5% currency conversion fee will be exempted when you use this Card in China.
  • ICBC branches are located in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary (corporate banking only) and Montreal so access to a branch is decent for those who live in large Canadian cities.

According to the disclosure statement it says that the foreign transaction fee is $0. I'm unsure if that truly means a no-forex, since Unionpay will be determining the rate rather than a Mastercard and Visa (and how Unionpay rates compare for other currencies is still unclear). The exact terms state:
Transactions in a foreign currency will be converted to Canadian dollars at the exchange rate in effect at the date we post the transaction to your Credit Card account. When the transaction is posted to your Credit Card account, there is no Foreign Currency Conversion Fee on your CUP Credit Card.
A further look into the cardholder agreement states that:
4.3 How we process transactions if you use the Card outside Canada

In Mainland China, transactions in the currency CNY shall be posted to the CNY Account is applicable. For card transactions denominated in a foreign currency other than CAD or CNY if applicable, we shall be entitled to convert the currency of the Card transaction into the CAD Account. All conversions shall be based on the wholesale foreign exchange rate on the day we receive the transaction, also known as the transaction posting date. We may agree with such card scheme association to settle with them in the CAD Account at a time and rate set by us. All transactions are listed in your monthly Statements in the currency of the transaction and the currency of the Account
Credit Card Annual Fees:
ICBK CUP Dual Currency Platinum Credit Card $ 99
ICBK CUP Dual Currency Gold Credit Card $ 49
ICBK CUP Dual Currency Select Credit Card $ 19

Effectively, using your Unionpay credit card would theoretically save you the hassle of converting money from CAD to RMB in cash (whether via currency exchange, ATM, bank etc) and would allow you to deal with the purchases in one go. There are however some questions to consider:

  • Can this credit card can be connected to apps such as Wechat and Alipay further increasing its usefulness while in China? This would be a major bonus to foreigners in China who can't normally access these apps.
  • As previously mentioned, does this card truly act as a no-forex card when dealing with currencies other than RMB and CAD?
  • To settle payments on the credit card statement in RMB, one can convert CAD to RMB at the spot exchange rate. How good is this exchange rate if you don't hold a lot of RMB to begin with and want to simply use the card to get a good forex on RMB when making purchases in China or other places that accept Unionpay?

Overall, like any card out there are pros and cons, but if anyone has actually used this card, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts!

Useful links:

ICBC Dual Credit Card Disclosure Statement:
http://www.icbk.ca/pdf/CUP_DisclosureStatement.pdf

ICBC Dual Credit Card Cardholder Agreement:
http://www.icbk.ca/pdf/icbk_credit_card ... eement.pdf

ICBC Exchange rates (looks like its about 1.5-4% for currency conversion):
https://www.icbc.com.cn/ICBC/EN/Financi ... SpotRates/
2 replies
Deal Expert
User avatar
May 8, 2009
15428 posts
13863 upvotes
Going to the Moon
Better than nothing? Few of us will even break-even with the AF if we have better cards. No idea how scarce VISA/MC acceptance may be over UnionPay, but I'd imagine Stack MC would work at ATM's in mainland China, right?

Any rewards on this card? I couldn't find any mention in OP (only saw the tiers for AF rates).
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Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 14, 2003
5204 posts
3544 upvotes
LaLaLand
Seems very complicated. One would be paying to use this card, annual fee plus converting CAD to RMB when bill is due.

If the RMB side of the account is connected with ICBC China (I have doubts) then one would be able to use it with WeChat Pay and with Alipay. A Chinese identity card is required to activate Alipay. A foreign passport can be used to activate WeChat Pay. A Chinese phone number is also required for both.

Here is an article that might shed more light on the topic,

https://www.travelchinacheaper.com/fore ... wechat-pay

In China, WeChat Pay should be the goal because it can used it almost everywhere in China (and Vancouver/Richmond). The issue most folks would have is funding the bank account and WeChat Pay wallet.

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