Industrial Commercial Bank of China (Canada) and China UnionPay

union pay

China UnionPay (CUP) is the world’s largest card payment organization – ahead of Visa and MasterCard combined. CUP is the preferred payment brand for Chinese travellers, and is increasingly being used by non-Chinese travellers going to China. Some CUP products offer exceptional travel related value akin to the Amex Platinum Card. It is the primary network of the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBK), which the world’s most valuable bank. Over the last few years, the ICBK has been making inroads in a number of major Canadian cities (e.g., Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver). Currently it is the only way for Canadians to access CUP cards.

For Canadians who make purchases in Mainland China and other destinations served by CUP, the ICBK Global Debit Card and the CUP Dual Currency Credit Card may be worth serious consideration. One great feature of these cards is that they both appear to have a no foreign exchange fees.

CUP Dual Currency Credit Card

There are three levels of the ICBK CUP Dual Currency cards: Platinum, Gold and Select.
Welcome Bonus: Not much – no Annual Fee for new cardholders (Primary Cardholder and each Authorized User) in the first year. After the first year, there is still no annual fee, if:

  • Platinum: Annual cumulative transaction amount from all of your accounts reaches $20,000.
  • Gold: Annual cumulative transaction amount from all of your accounts reaches $5,000.
  • Select: Annual cumulative transaction amount from all of your accounts reaches $1,000.

Otherwise, the annual fee is charged on the first statement after the first year your Card is activated, and annually thereafter in the same month.
Annual Fees: Platinum $99; Gold $49; Select $19

  • Accepted across Mainland China and worldwide at CUP network which covers >10 million merchants in >92 countries/cities. In Canada the number of merchants who accept CUP is rapidly growing as China is now it’s third largest source of tourists.
  • Credit limits are a combined credit limit. All your daily purchases in China are settled in CNY; purchases outside China are settled in CAD. No need to worry about foreign exchange.
  • Currency conversion fee will be exempted when you use this Card in the CUP global acceptance network all around the world.
  • With the Platinum card, access exclusive VIP lounges in specified airports and high speed railway in Mainland China.

Global Debit Card


  • Supported by Interac, THE EXCHANGE and CUP networks.
  • Link Chequing and Saving Accounts.
  • Can withdraw cash globally.
  • Free online and telephone banking services.
  • PIN Change Service is available on THE EXCHANGE network in Canada and Balance Inquiry service is available on THE EXCHANGE network and CUP network.
  • All the transactions in Mainland China will be settled in CNY and others will be settled in Canadian Dollars.
  • No ATM convenience fee/surcharge when you access your money on THE EXCHANGE Network (There may still have a small amount surcharges according to some US states regulations).
  • No foreign exchange when you travel/shop in Mainland China through your CNY account linked to the Card.
  • No 2.5% currency conversion fee on CUP acceptance network all around the world.

Has anyone tried these products? Please share share your experiences using ICBK and UnionPay products!

1 Comment

  1. Let me sum it up. What ICBC keeps touting about is that you don’t need to worry about the FX fee if you pay RMB via UnionPay or if pay CAD via Interac. Sure how can pay it foreign exchange doesn’t even exist? LMAO.

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