RMB

Chinese currency is called Renminbi (people's money), often abbreviated as RMB or CNY. It is issued by The Bank of China and is the sole legal tender within the People's Republic of China. The symbol for RMB is "¥".

The unit of Renminbi is "yuan" and with smaller denominations called jiao and fen. The conversion among the three is:

1 yuan = 10 jiao =100 fen

RMB is issued both in notes and coins. The denominations of paper notes include 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 yuan; 5, 2 and 1 jiao; and 5, 2 and 1 fen. The denominations of coins are 1 yuan; 5, 2 and 1 jiao; and 5, 2 and 1 fen.

Note: in spoken Chinese, "yuan" is often called as "kuai" and the "jiao"as "mao".

Traveler's Cheques

Traveller's cheques provide a fairly secure way of carrying your money. Always remember to keep the record of cheque numbers separate from the cheques for reference in the event of loss.

For the convenience of tourists, the Bank of China can cash travelers' cheques sold by international commercial banks and travelers' cheque companies in the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Britain, France, Switzerland, Germany as well as many other countries. Also the Bank of China sells travelers' cheques for other banking institutions such as American Express, Citibank, Tongjilong Travelers' Cheque Co., the Sumitomo Bank of Japan, the Swiss Banking Corporation, to name a few.

Currency Converter

Money exchange facilities for both currency and travelers' cheques are available at major airports, hotels, and department stores. Please note that hotels may only exchange money for their guests.

The US dollar, British pound, French franc, German mark, Japanese yen, Australian dollar, Austrian schilling, Belgian franc, Canadian dollar, HK dollar, Swiss franc, Danish Krone, Singapore dollar, Malaysian ringgit, Italian lira, Macao dollar, Finnish markka, and Taiwan dollar are all exchangeable. Exchange rates fluctuate in line with international financial market condition and are published daily by the State Exchange Control Administration.

>> Online Currency Converter

Keep your currency exchange receipts because you will need to show them when you change RMB back to your own currency at the end of visit to the Republic. Cash rather than credit cards is essential in remote areas and you should ensure that you carry sufficient RMB and travelers' cheques to cover your requirements.

Credit Card and ATMs

At present, the following credit cards are accepted in China: Master Card, Federal Card, Visa, American Express, JCB, and Diners Card. Cardholders can withdraw cash from the Bank of China and pay for purchases at exchange centers of the Bank of China, appointed shops, hotels, and restaurants.

However, this applies only in major cities and they are not always accepted in remote areas. Credit cards are not always accepted for the purchase of rail and air tickets.

ATMs that accept foreign cards are few and far between. Do not rely on them as a way of obtaining cash in Mainland China.

At the present, ATMs that work with foreign currency are hardly found out of Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai.

Consult with your bank before departing to make sure that your brand of cheque or credit card will be accepted.

Currency Regulations

There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency and foreign exchange bills that can be brought into China by tourists, but it must be declared to the customs.
RMB should be converted back into foreign currency with the personal valid "foreign exchange certificate" before leaving China. Unused foreign exchange and RMB traveler's cheques can be taken out of the country. Each tourist is permitted to take with them less than 6000 RMB.

Bank Accounts

Foreigners can indeed open bank accounts in China, Both RMB and US dollar accounts (the latter only at special foreign exchange banks). You do not need to have resident status, a tourist visa is sufficient.

Carrying Money

A money belt or pocket sewn inside your clothes is the safest way to carry money. Velcro tabs sewn to seal your pockets shut will also help thwart roving hands. Keeping all your eggs in one basket is not advised - guard against possible loss by leaving a small stash of money (say US$100) in your hotel room or buried in your backpack, with record of the travellers cheque serial numbers and your passport numbers.

Chinese currency

The Chinese currency is called renminbi (people's currency) and is often abbreviated to RMB. The basic unit is Yuan. Ten Jiao make one Yuan; ten Fen make one Jiao. Thus 100 Fen make one Yuan. Hongkong's currency is the Hongkong dollar and Macau's is the Pataca.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are gaining more acceptance in China for use by foreign visitors in major tourist cities. Useful cards include Visa, Maaster Card, American Express, JCB and Diners Club. They 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 flights have to be paid for in cash.

Credit card cash advances have become fairly routine at head branches of the Bank of China, even in places as remote as Lhasa. Bear in mind, however a 4% commission is generally deducted and usually the minimum advance is RMB1200.

International Transfers

Except in Hong Kong and Macau, having money sent to you in China is a time-consuming and frustrating task that is best avoided.

China Courier Service Corporation (a joint-venture with Western Union Financial Services in the USA) is very fast and efficient. In Beijing, there is a branch at 173, Yong'an St.Tel: 86-10-63184285.

Travellers Cheques

Besides the advantage of safety, travellers cheques are useful to carry in China because the exchange rate is actually more favourable than what you get for cash. Cheques from most of the world's leading banks and issuing agencies are now acceptable in China - stick to the major companies such as Thomas Cook, American Express and Citibank and you'll be OK. However it is only acceptable in the bank instead of shopping centers.

Cash

Stock up some RMB10 bills in case of the vendors and taxi drivers cannot make change for big note.

Counterfeit bills are a problem in China. Very few Chinese will accept a RMB50 or RMB100 bill without first checking to see whether or not it is a fake. Notes that are old and tattered are also sometimes hard to spend. If you are having problems with a note, exchange it for a new one or small change at the Bank of China -counterfeits, however, will be confiscated.