China Travel and Money Matters
The Chinese currency is called Renminbi (people’s currency) and is often abbreviated to RMB. The basic unit is the Yuan. You can find the current exchange rate between Yuan and US Dollars on www.xe.com.
RMB cannot be used in Hong Kong however. Hong Kong’s currency is the Hong Kong Dollar, usually referred to as HKB. You can find the current exchange rate between HKD and US Dollars on www.xe.com.
We do not recommend that you take a large amount of cash with on your trip. You can exchange your U.S. currency for RMB at most large U.S. Banks before you go. Or you can take Travelers Checks with you and exchange in China (see below). Currency Exchangers found at airports generally offer a poor exchange rate. It is better to exchange in cities because there are more choices.
Most Important! Do not try and exchange currency on the street! The rate may appear to be better but the risk is very great. Not only is it illegal but dangerous. Always exchange at a bank or official currency exchange agency.
Credit Cards: Credit cards are gaining more acceptance in China in the major cities. Credit cards can be used in most mid-range to top-end hotels (three star and up), Friendship Stores and some department stores. Note that it is still impossible to use credit cards to finance your transportation costs; even airline flights have to be paid for in cash.
Credit card cash advances have become fairly common at the head branches of the Bank of China. Bear in mind however, that a commission is generally charged.
Travelers Checks: Besides the advantage of safety, Travelers Checks are useful to carry in China because the exchange rate is usually better than what you would get for cash. Travelers Checks from most of the world’s leading banks and issuing agencies are now accepted in China – but it is better to stick to the major companies such as American Express and Citibank. Please note however Travelers Checks are only accepted at banks and hotels. They are usually not accepted at stores or shopping centers.
You can find ATMs that will allow you to draw funds (in RMB currency) from your account. ATMs that work with U.S. bank ATM cards can be found in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai. Just make sure the ATM is in a good location with good lighting and visibility.