Why use China UnionPay?
Many people outside Asia are surprised to hear that China UnionPay is the world’s largest credit card brand with nearly four billion cards in circulation, surpassing Visa, MasterCard, American Express and all the others. It was founded in China in 2002 but has been expanding aggressively internationally and China UnionPay cards now be used in more than 142 countries worldwide. That includes all major countries of the world, as well as some, such as Cuba, where other major card brands are not accepted.
ChinaDirectCard is leading the way in making China UnionPay cards available to clients outside China, whether for travellers to China, those with family or business partners in China, or simply for those who would like access to the range of services and facilities available to cardholders of the world’s biggest card brand.
In which countries can I use my ChinaDirectCard?
For precise and updated information on where you can use your ChinaDirectCard we recommend you refer to the following link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_UnionPay#Use_abroad
However, in our experience the above link is not complete. Many merchants worldwide are now enabled to accept China UnionPay cards. Some merchants do not even know that they have the facility, as banks are gradually rolling out and upgrading POS terminals via remote software upgrades. If in doubt, ask the merchant to swipe your card and see if it is accepted.
Are these cards anonymous?
No name is printed on the face of the card nor embossed on the magnetic strip. The face of the ChinaDirectCard shows only the 16-digit card number beginning with 62 and the expiry date. However, valid ID is required in order to activate the card and this will be stored in Hong Kong and subject to the laws of the Hong Kong SAR.
How confidential are these cards?
By keeping the base currency as Hong Kong Dollars and by keeping limits to HKD 50,000 per month we avoid any automatic reporting requirements, and accounts are managed according to stringent Hong Kong regulatory and confidentiality laws. These cards are not reportable under FATCA. There is no automatic reporting of the cards or transactions. Needless to say, in case of a criminal investigation we would co-operate fully with the Hong Kong authorities.
Can I apply for more than one card?
Yes, the limit is two ChinaDirectCards per individual cardholder.
How can I check my balance and transactions?
With your ChinaDirectCard number and 6-digit PIN code you have access to a web interface, and a convenient IVR (interactive voice response) customer service number. For the web interface it is best to use Internet Explorer as your browser.
Are Card-to-Card transfers available?
This service is currently not supported, but we hope to introduce it in the near future.
Do these cards use Chip-and-PIN technology?
The answer is no to the first part, but yes to the second. ChinaDirectCard does not use chip/EMV technology. However, each transaction is secured with a 6-digit PIN code that is verified online for every transaction.
How is the PIN delivered?
The PIN code is printed on the back of the card at the time it is delivered to you inactive. As soon as you receive the card we recommend you immediately change the PIN number for security reasons. The easiest way to do this is by calling the IVR system at the telephone number printed on the back of the card, which will allow you to change your PIN instantly at any time and free of charge.
Can ChinaDirectCards be used for contactless payments?
Currently, this facility is not available on our cards. We hope to introduce it in the future. At present the card must be swiped for every transaction.
Do you issue cards in currencies other than HKD?
Up until recently nearly all China UnionPay accounts were operated in Chinese currency. We have worked hard to make available for the first time on the international market pre-paid cards in Hong Kong Dollars (HKD). The HKD is a freely-convertible currency that is traditionally linked very closely to the US dollar so if your base currency in US dollar you need not worry about currency fluctuations. Also remember that China UnionPay is known for the great exchange rates it offers: the mark-up on foreign currency transactions on ChinaDirectCard is only 1.50% compared to a typical currency conversion mark-up of 3.00% for most cards issued in major markets on American-owned card brands.
That said we are launching HKD cards now but we expect to have UnionPay cards available in USD and EUR by early 2016, possibly sooner. Holders of our existing HKD cards will be offered preferential terms for USD and EUR cards when available.
An additional advantage of doing business in HKD is this currency is not subject to international reporting systems such as FATCA.
How secure are these cards? What if a card is lost/stolen?
Prepaid cards are designed to replace cash and should therefore be treated as cash equivalents. They do not offer the same protection as typical credit cards, where cardholders are typically charged for overpriced fraud protection insurance. However, each card has a unique PIN code associated with it. All payments are made through a secure channel. The China UnionPay network is one of the most secure in the world.
In the event that a card is lost or stolen it can be blocked, locking the funds on the card immediately, and replaced. Exposure to a loss is limited to the amount of funds that exist on the card at any point in time.
When will I receive my card?
For applicants in Hong Kong or Macau delivery of your card will be within 2-3 working days. For applicants in mainland China delivery of your card will be within 7-10 working days. For applicants in the rest of the world cards will be delivered by international express courier which takes from 2-7 days depending on your location. A tracking number will be supplied.
Is any interest earned on the prepaid account?
There is no interest accrued on the prepaid funds
Do the cards have an expiry date?
Yes, the ChinaDirectCard expires after approximately one year. If the cardholder is actively using the card, a replacement will be offered free of charge. The validity period is printed on the front of the card.
What is the minimum balance I have to keep on the card?
There is no minimum balance requirement on the ChinaDirectCard.
Can I use my card overseas?
You can use your ChinaDirectCard anywhere in the world where the China UnionPay logo is displayed. Please be aware that although China UnionPay has and is rapidly extending its network, there are still many countries and merchants where it is not accepted.
Who is the card issuer?
ChinaDirectCard is a brand of Global Prepaid Limited (GPL). GPL works with various China UnionPay licensees to issue ChinaDirectCards.