Posted by William Charles on November 20, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on November 20th, 2016 | by William Charles

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ICBC Credit Cards – Full Reviews Of All Four Cards (UnionPay & Visa) Up To 2% Cashback With No FTF

ICBC has finally released four credit cards that are available to those in the U.S. For those that don’t know ICBC is a Chinese bank and the largest bank in the world when sorting by total assets or market capitalization. They offer the four following credit cards:

  • ICBC Preferred UnionPay Gold Card
  • ICBC Premier UnionPay Platinum Card
  • ICBC Preferred Visa Card
  • ICBC Premier Visa Signature Card

icbc-credit-card-reviews

Let’s take a look at each of these four cards in more detail.

UnionPay Warning

According to this comment these UnionPay cards aren’t the same as the ones issued in China and acceptance isn’t the same. For example they cannot be added to Alipay or WeChat wallet.

ICBC Preferred UnionPay Gold Card Review

  • Runs on the UnionPay payment work (main payment network in mainland China, they also have a reciprocal relationship with Discover – you can read more about that here)
  • $50 sign up bonus when you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 3 months
  • No annual fee
  • Card earns 1% cash back on all purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary auto rental collision damage waiver

If this card didn’t run on UnionPay then it would be terrible, 1% cash back and a $50 sign up bonus isn’t very useful at all. I can see some limited use for people that travel to mainland China often and don’t want to deal with poor acceptance rates of the other main payment networks (e.g Visa, American Express, Mastercard and even Discover has issues despite the reciporcal arrangement)

ICBC Premier UnionPay Platinum Card

  • Runs on the UnionPay payment network (see above)
  • $100 sign up bonus when you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 3 months
  • Annual fee of $85 is waived first year
  • Earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Travel Accident Insurance, including trip delay reimbursement, accidental death and Dismemberment

Basically the same as above but comes with a higher sign up bonus, better cash back but a $85 annual fee. After the first year you’d need to be spending $17,000 on this card for it to be a better option than the Gold card above (and remember that is $17,000 that you couldn’t put on a Visa/Mastercard/American Express/Discover card that earns at a higher rate than 1.5%). I doubt many people would fall into that category.

ICBC Preferred Visa Card

  • Runs on the Visa payment network
  • $50 cash bonus after $1,000 in spend within 3 months
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary auto rental collison damage waiver

Not worth considering, lots of cards with a better cash sign up bonus or cards that earn at a much higher rate than 1%.

ICBC Premier Visa Signature Card

  • Runs on the Visa payment network
  • $100 cash bonus after $2,000 in spend within 3 months
  • 2% cash back on all purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary auto rental collison damage waiver
  • Travel Accident Insurance, including trip delay reimbursement, accidental death and Dismemberment
  • $85 annual fee waived first year

Card is kind of interesting due to the 2% cash back and no foreign transaction fees, but the $85 annual fee kills the deal for me. I guess it wouldn’t be the worst option just for the first year, but the $100 sign up bonus is kind of low.

Our Verdict

Union Pay card might be kind of interesting for those who spend a lot of time in mainland China, I’m not sure how big the lack of acceptance of other payment networks is there and if there is a culture of changing additional fees for using credit cards or not. Let me know your thoughts on these cards in the comments.

Hat tip to reader JR Smooth



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Jason
Jason

Unipay only charge 0.65% processing fee on average while Visa/MC charges 2.7% on average

Joshua H.
Joshua H.

Don’t count on this Unipay version card. It does NOT function the same as regular Unipay card!!!

Unipay actually has two types of channels. One is for the cards in China and the other is for the cards in Hongkong, Eurpoe and U.S. Most of the POS machines in China ONLY accept the first type of Unipay credit card!

Plus, we have enough DPs to prove that this Unipay card can’t not be added into Alipay nor WeChat Wallet! This makes it totally WORTHLESS. Remember, in China, Alipay and WeChat wallet are now the most widely acceptable payment methods. People even prefer it more than cash. Even beggar accepts them!

PotO (c/o illusemycreditcard)
PotO (c/o illusemycreditcard)

The following information may be of use. It appears that the issue is not China UnionPay segregating channels but rather the lack of EMV support in much of mainland China. This would create issues with several cards issued on the mainland, not just cards issued in Hong Kong, North America, and Europe.

“There is a lot of confusion and conjecture about UnionPay cards issued outside of mainland China. Burger hit the nail right on the head when he found it illogical UnionPay (actually Chinese banks) would issue a crippled product. The fact is they didn’t and it isn’t.

What is crippled is your average Mainland POS machine. We touched on this a while back as it relates to Discovery’s supposed acceptance everywhere in China. First a trip down memory lane …”

https://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=566460&p=5568417

The end result is the same – this card may not work in many areas of mainland China. However, as merchants gradually begin using EMV-compatible POS systems, the problem will disappear.

anyech
anyech

Wechat wallet and Alipay are essentially the same as Paypal here in the US.
For union pay in China, If you have a Discover card, keep this in mind. Discover is accepted in China where Union Pay is accepted. But whether the cashier would let you to swipe the Discover is another story. Because there is no Union Pay LOGO on Discover, and some Chinese cashier are trained to look for Union Pay logo before swipe the card, and some of them follow it literally.

J.C.
J.C.

WeChat and AliPay are enormously different than PayPal. Saying they are essentially the same is like saying a Mercedes is essentially the same as a Yugo. While both WeChat / AliPay and PayPal allow you to pay somebody, there are very real differences.

Fees. CC fees with PP can reach nearly 5%. WAP is far lower than .5%.

Acceptance: WAP has massive acceptance. PP not hardly.

Ease of use / versatility: WAP is far easier to use; almost like Apple Pay. PP, no way.
With PP you need to log in and use a password usually. WAP you scan a merchants code or they scan yours.

Robust: WAP can manage your bank accounts in real time as well as pay utility bills. PP, no way.

Stability: PP can shut you down at will and there are thousands of horror stories. WAP virtually never.

AliPay has its own bank where you can earn interest on your funds and transfer money to external bank accounts in real time. PP no.

PP should be ashamed of themselves when they are compared against WeChat or AliPay.

Jim
Jim

Doctor,

I am confused.
Do these cards work in the US?
Or just in China?
Can you pay a bill online like you can with a regular US credit card?

Jim

J.C.
J.C.

Discover in China sucks.

I seldom encounter reluctance to swipe the card, but when I do I just insist and they will swipe it. The problem is that 75% of the time when you have to use EMV it will fail. It’s because many merchants have old, cheap POS machines from before UnionPay was in the EMV Alliance. Even local chipped credit cards will fail in those POS machines. That’s why EMV is slow to take hold in China.

c
c

a

nigel
nigel

applied for this icbc unionpay gold card in the US a few months ago due to regular
visits to China for business. Rejected at at least half the places I tried to use it in Shanghai that indicated they accept Unionpay! no matter if they swiped, used the IC chip, or inserted into the POS machine. called customer service and they could not explain why. this card is useless. seems mostly accepted in places that also accept Visa, so what’s the point??

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