How Does Chinese Currency Work?

May 16, 2024

It's important for a visitor to any place to familiarise themselves with the local money and learn where to get it and how to use it sensibly. China is no different. It does indeed provide some particular difficulties. You can better get ready for your trip with the aid of our useful guide regarding money in China.

An Overview of Chinese Cash

The China yuan (CNY) or renminbi is the official currency of China (RMB). This means "the People's Money" in English. The yuan, which is the base unit, is most frequently denoted in stores by the Chinese character. For rough estimates, use a ratio of six RMB to one USD. The word kuai may also be used to denote yuan in speech and commerce. San kuai or san kuai Qian would therefore translate to "three yuan."

Ten jiao are divided into one yuan (or mao colloquially). Jiao is divided into ten fen, but fen, despite the fact that notes are still printed, are currently too devalued to be of any use, so you hardly ever see the bank notes that go along with them. In paper form, the yuan is available in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, and 1. Although rarely spotted, 2 yuan notes are becoming less common. In addition, there are 1 and 5 jiao notes. One yuan, five jiao, and one jiao coins are available.

Due to the comparatively low value of the biggest denomination banknote in China (the 100 yuan note), as compared to other currencies, you'd need a larger wallet to make cash payments. Fortunately, carrying huge quantities of cash is rarely essential in China because of (international) banking and apps.

Credit Cards

Major credit/debit cards like Master Card, Visa, JCB, and American Express are often accepted at department shops and hotels with stars, but there are still plenty of locations in China where Western credit cards are not accepted.

Credit cards and bank cards from one of China's banks, which are linked to the country's own Union Pay system, are becoming common.

If you don't have a Chinese bank account or payment app, you should be prepared to pay in cash the majority of the time. Small towns and rural areas generally don't have many businesses that take international credit cards. Therefore, you must have enough yuan on hand to pay for all non-prepaid activities, including dining, shopping, and transportation.

Exchanging Money You can exchange large amounts of the most common foreign currencies (USD, EUR, GBP, etc.) in China's airports, Bank of China branches, and opulent hotels.

The majority of five-star hotels provide foreign exchange services that accept both cash and traveler's checks. The banks are still your best option because the rates could not be competitive with theirs.

Most banks are able to convert money, but documents must be filled out, and questions that may appear intrusive must be answered, such as why you are changing the money. Given that it is unlikely that there will be any follow-up inquiries unless your response seems like it may cause difficulty.

It is preferable to respond to any such queries with the most innocent response possible. Additionally, you'll need to present your passport. Only undamaged foreign currency will be accepted by banks. Notes with even minor tears will not be accepted.

Traveler's checks can be a safe option for long-term trips, but we no longer advise them because ATMs and currency exchange are simpler and more accessible options. Please be aware that these might not be accepted in many locations. Therefore, it is better to change them beforehand at a bank or other establishment before vanishing off into the remote hinterlands.

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