China is the world’s largest exporter of goods and services. Despite the pandemic outbreak, they managed to reach record amounts in 2020. They even surpassed the United States, who is in second place, by over one trillion US dollars. China’s main exports are electronics and machinery. Clothing and textiles, optical gear, and medical equipment are also prominent. As an importer, it is very likely that you will end up liaising with Chinese suppliers at some point. And there is a big chance that your seller will offer T/T as a preferred payment method. This complete guide explains all you need to know to make a safe T/T payment to China.
What is T/T payment?
T/T stands for ‘Telegraphic Transfer’, also known as Telex transfer. It is an electronic method used to transfer money from one bank account to another. It can be domestic or international, but the most common use is for overseas transactions. The term comes from the telegraphs that were used in the past for the same purpose. While the mechanism now is a more secure cable network, the concept is the same. Today, people use T/T as a synonym of a bank transfer, wire transfer or SWIFT transfer.
What are the Benefits of T/T Payment to China?
The key benefits of using T/T as a payment method with a Chinese supplier are:
– It is a safe method to transfer large amounts of money. Plus banks charge fixed transfer fees which is good for big orders.
– The electronic nature of T/T makes it easy to track the payment.
– You can transfer funds from anywhere, at any time. T/T is available in any major currency for approved amounts.
– T/T provides high transaction limits, facilitating bulk purchases from Chinese suppliers.
– Telegraphic Transfers are rather quick, generally completed within two to five business days.
What are the Disadvantages of making a T/T Payment to China?
T/T is the most common way to pay suppliers in China. But with the advantages mentioned also come some drawbacks to consider:
– A confirmed payment is irreversible. No bank or institution will take responsibility if anything goes wrong.
– Because of the above, scammers and fraudsters love this method. Be careful with high deposit requests.
– A minor misspelling or incorrect information can void the payment. The banks do not refund any transaction fees, which are usually high.
– Telegraphic Transfers are subject to high charges. Depending on the case, there may be expensive landing fees and high exchange markups. And for safety reasons, a deposit and balance payment arrangement is advisable, which means doubling the transfer fees.
When should you use T/T Payment to China?
Many Chinese suppliers require T/T payment. You should use this method when you are able to confirm the legitimacy of the seller and set fair payment terms. Do background checks and due diligence on the supplier to avoid issues. For bulk purchases and large orders, the fees of T/T may be inexpensive in comparison. In this case, due to high transfer limits and safety, T/T payments are a good method.
Why do Chinese Suppliers use T/T Payment?
These are the reasons why Telegraphic Transfer is the method that better fits the needs of Chinese suppliers:
– It allows them to sell large bulk volumes with minimal risk.
– They can trade among several importers from different countries.
– Payments are simple to execute from both sides.
– It is a safe method to transfer high amounts of money, even over $200,000.
How does T/T compare to other Methods of Payment in China?
While most Chinese suppliers accept T/T payment, they may work with other payment methods such as:
– Letter of Credit (L/C): very formal and complex to set up. It involves a lot of paperwork and is not as widely accepted as T/T payments. Small suppliers cannot afford this method. They rely on upfront deposits to begin production.
– PayPal: it allows for credit card purchases. If anything goes wrong, you have two parties to reclaim your payment: PayPal and your credit card provider. PayPal incurs a percentage fee, thus fees are higher for large purchases. Recommended for samples or small orders.
– Escrow: online services that act as intermediaries. This incurs an extra fee but provides trust for buyers and sellers.
– Funds Transfer Services: Western Union and similar services. They imply a very high risk to the buyer, and no dispute resolution. These companies themselves do not recommend their own services for paying suppliers.
How do you make T/T Payments to China?
To make an international Telegraphic Transfer, you need to contact your banking institution. You can initiate the process through the bank’s online portal or by filling out a form. Ensure you get the beneficiary name, address and other account details right. You can find these details in the proforma invoice that the supplier should provide.
Make the payment of the quoted price, plus all bank transaction fees, including the beneficiary bank fees. Save a transaction record and send a copy to the supplier. This document is usually called ‘payment proof’ and must include the following information:
– Beneficiary’s name
– Beneficiary’s address
– Bank account number
– Transaction date
– Paid amount
What is the Cost of T/T Payment to China?
Most banks charge between 30 and 50 USD, yet rates vary depending on the T/T supplier and the transaction amount. In some cases, the funds might go through a network of intermediaries. This means extra fees. In general, you can expect to face the following fees:
– Sender’s bank fees: determined by the remitting bank.
– Recipient’s bank fees: determined by the supplier’s bank.
– Corresponding bank fees: intermediary banks.
– Exchange rate margin: the bank’s markup on the exchange rate
How long does T/T Payment to China take to complete?
A T/T payment generally takes between two to five business days. This can vary depending on the processing times of each bank, and the physical distance between buyer and seller. Other factors such as public holidays, time differences, and differing business days can delay the transfer.
How does T/T Payment to China and SWIFT Payment compare?
The origins of T/T and SWIFT payments are different. Yet today, the term Telegraphic Transfer encompasses SWIFT payments. Telegraphic Transfer is broadly used to describe various electronic methods to transfer funds. These payments may be local, but they mostly involve international transactions.
SWIFT payments, also known as international wire transfers, are those that use the SWIFT network. SWIFT is a member-owned cooperative. The acronym stands for Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. It allows banks to send and receive information such as money transfer instructions. Most T/T payments use this network.
What is the Safest Payment Method when Importing from China?
There are a few reliable payment options to use when transferring money to China. These include Escrow, PayPal, and L/C. If you know the supplier, T/T payments are the safest and simplest option.
For new purchases, Escrow may be the best method as the money is withheld by a third party. This gives leverage to the buyer and reassurance to the seller.
PayPal works in a similar way but it provides more protection to the buyer than the supplier. This, plus the high fees, is why many Chinese suppliers do not work with PayPal. But the buyer cannot reclaim the payment once the seller withdraws the money from their account.
A Letter of Credit is a payment method where a bank promises to pay the seller an agreed sum on behalf of the buyer. Both parties arrange pre-determined conditions as part of a contract. This includes deciding which documentation the bank will receive. L/C is the safest way to pay Chinese suppliers, but also the most complex and expensive one.
Which Terms do you use during T/T Payment to China?
The buyer and seller will agree on the terms that best suit both parties before doing the transfer. There are different options, some of which are:
– T/T in advance: importer pays 100% of the price upon placement of order. This is only recommended with reliable sellers. Production time is usually delayed with these terms.
– T/T net 30: the importer pays the full amount within 30 calendar days after receiving the bill.
– 30/70 T/T: the importer pays the first 30% upon placement of order. They pay the remaining 70% after delivery or inspection.
Other installment plans include 20/80, 50/50 or 0/100 (the last one is only accepted when dealing with reliable buyers)
How do you reduce the Risk of using T/T Payments to China?
The most important thing to do to reduce risks is to negotiate the right payment terms. Pay only a proportion of the money upfront so that you have leverage over the seller in case there are any issues with the product. Pay the remaining balance upon delivery or, even better, after performing a quality check.
Other things you can do to reduce risks are:
– Never pay the total amount upfront.
– Check the identity of the buyer and the business details before making a T/T payment.
– Request the proforma invoice in advance.
– Pay for the samples to verify the buyer’s account information.
How do you Negotiate Better Payment Terms when Importing from China?
As discussed, the proper payment terms are key to a positive transaction. Most Chinese suppliers will be open to negotiating these terms as it may lead to an ongoing business relationship. Some considerations are:
– Find the right supplier who is open to negotiate.
– Get to know your supplier and establish a good relationship.
– Ensure terms are fair for both parties.
– Try to understand your supplier’s business so that you know what to expect during a negotiation.
What are the Tips and Tricks about T/T Payment to China?
Here are some simple tips that can make a big difference in your experience with T/T payment to China.
– Avoid making any China T/T payments to individual accounts. View the provided banking details and make sure the payee is a company.
– Ensure you get the beneficiary name, address and other account details right. A minor misspelling or incorrect information can void the payment.
– Ask the supplier to send the proforma invoice early.
– Make sure you type the full company name when entering the business details for the T/T payment. If the company name is too long to fit in one line, type the rest of it on the address line.
– If you have any problems with online banking, consider going into the physical bank branch.
Can you use T/T Payment to China when importing from Alibaba?
Yes. Due to its convenience, T/T payment is the most common method in the Alibaba marketplace. It supports many currencies, has no transaction limit and takes 3 to 7 business days. As a mediator, Alibaba covers some buyer and seller’s risks as an Escrow service. It is advisable to use this platform only to pay pre-approved Alibaba suppliers. First, because Alibaba limits refunds to pre-approved suppliers. Second, to avoid liaising with fraudsters. Also, Alibaba works best to pay samples and small orders, as it charges a 5% fee.
Further info about Alibaba:
Is T/T Payment to China Safe and Secure?
Yes. With background checks and due diligence, T/T payment to China is rather safe and secure.
Can you Ask for Refund after T/T Payment to China?
Yes, depending on the T/T payment method you choose. If you are doing a bank transfer, you should inform your bank of any mistakes immediately. Once the funds are deposited into the recipient’s account, it may not be possible to undo the payment. PayPal, credit cards and Alibaba may offer refunds in certain circumstances.
Which Factors Affect the Speed of T/T Payment to China?
The processing times of a T/T payment depend on each bank, and the physical distance between buyer and seller. Other factors such as public holidays, time differences, and differing business days can delay the transfer. In some cases, banks may need additional information. This puts your payment on hold until they can verify the details. If you use PayPal or Alibaba, there may be other delays specific to the platform.
How do you Verify a Chinese Company before making a T/T Payment to China?
If you are dealing with a new supplier, it is crucial to verify the company before making a T/T payment to China. These are the things you should watch out for in your research:
– Make sure the payee name is consistent with the company you have been liaising with. Clarify any discrepancies.
Note 1: In China, only names in Chinese are official, but they use English names for international clients.
Note 2: If the payee company name ends in ‘Limited’ instead of ‘Ltd’, you may be liaising with a Hong Kong-registered entity. For Hong Kong offshore accounts, check that the beneficiary’s name matches that of the Chinese mainland entity.
– Make sure the location of the recipient bank is in the same Mainland China province where the company is registered.
– Watch out for offshore accounts held in Mainland China. To check this, look at the bank account number. It should contain only numbers and be 19 digits long. If the account has a 3 letter prefix, it is an offshore account. If there are any issues with your shipment, an offshore entity will take no responsibility.
Are there Scams when making T/T Payments to China?
Yes. Avoid scams by doing background checks when using bank transfers. In Alibaba, only liaise with pre-approved suppliers. Do not use Western Union to pay suppliers.
Which Details do you need to Make T/T Payment to China?
The most important information required for a T/T payment to China is:
– Your own details: name and bank account details.
– Recipient details: name, address and contact information.
– Account numbers and routing numbers of the parties and financial institutions involved.
– The total sum of money transferred.
– If applicable, the transfer provider details (Western Union, PayPal, etc).
– You may also need your supplier IBAN number or SWIFT code.
In case you Submit Wrong Details when making T/T Payment to China, What can you Do?
Contact your bank immediately. If the funds were not deposited in the recipient’s account, you might be able to make corrections. There may be extra costs involved depending on the mistake. Be extra careful when entering details to avoid errors.
If a Supplier Cancels Order after making T/T Payment to China, What can you Do?
Contact your bank immediately. If the funds were not deposited in the recipient’s account, you might be able to cancel the transaction. If the money went through, contact your supplier to discuss your order or arrange a refund. If you are working with a third party such as Alibaba or PayPal, you can ask them to mediate. The same applies if you did the payment with a credit card.
Can you make a T/T Payment to China in Chinese Yuan?
Yes. You can make a Telegraphic Transfer in your local currency or in Chinese Yuan. The latter means less fees and happier suppliers. Yet this is not possible with all banks, so check with yours before committing to these terms.