changing money in China questions

Old Apr 12th, 2006, 10:19 AM
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changing money in China questions

We are leaving on an 18 day tour next week and were wondering about how and where to exchange money. I've read some reports on this board that ATMs are not too dependable in China so we're planning on bringing cash and travelers checks with credit cards for hotels. Since we plan on eating casually and I tend to find inexpensive street shopping appealing I know we'll need cash. Can we exchange our American money in the hotels we'll be staying in? Will we get a better rate of exchange elsewhere? Will anyone take our dollars at a fair rate of exchange?
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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 11:49 AM
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Don't change money at hotels - that's the worst rate. Trying to pay for thinks with dollars will assure that you pay too much (the merchant has costs for exchanging you money as well). A bank is your best bet.
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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 02:32 PM
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We had no problems with ATMs in any of the cities we visited, which is not to say it doesn't happen, of course. We always used Bank of China machines. You'll definitely need cash for a host of small outlays - taxis, admissions, ordinary restaurants and street stalls, convenience stores and other small purchases. Just don't make my mistake and hand over a 5-jiao note (0.5 yuan) in place of the larger 5-yuan note. This exasperates some shopkeepers.

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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 06:04 PM
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what about at the airport at PVG on arrival? Are there some ATM's there to get money for the taxi to the hotel or do you suggest we exchange for a small amount in the states to at least have cab fare?
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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 06:48 PM
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There will be ATMs at the airport. There are also exchange windows there.
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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 07:08 PM
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nonstop, if you take a cab from PVG, make sure you have your hotel's name and address in Chinese characters to show the cabbie. It's probably on their website, but if not they can fax it to you (or email if your PC is set up to display Chinese font).
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Old Apr 13th, 2006, 04:40 AM
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I believe in China, unlike most other places, hotels give the official exchange rate. Quite a change from Europe!
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Old Apr 13th, 2006, 10:56 AM
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If you are trying to exchange cash, make sure your bills are flawless. They are very sensitive to counterfeit. Take a bunch of $1's for cheap street shopping (Lots of 3 for 1 American dollar stuff)

Travellers checks were easily cashed at hotels for the official exchange rate.

I had mixed results with ATM's. In large cities it was not a problem, but in some smaller places (Lijiang, Xishuanbana) I couldn't get even a Bank of China machine to dispense cash.

Have a great time.
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Old Apr 13th, 2006, 03:30 PM
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You didn't ask about personal checks but I thought readers might be interested to know that, if you have an American Express card, it is actually possible to cash a personal check from a foreign (US) bank in China.

In Beijing, I went to the American Express travel office (see AMEX website for global locations). They called the local Bank of China branch for me to let them know I was coming and arranged a taxi. When I arrived, a bank employee guided me to a teller window where they cashed my check into local currency (RMB). They used my passport and credit card as ID.

It takes about 10-14 days for the check to clear your local bank because it goes through a number of transaction processing steps.

While I wouldn't count on this for normal spending money, it sure comes in handy when you really need emergency cash.

By the way, no one at my hotel knew how to do this and it was obvious they didn't really even know what a personal check was.
Other credit cards may offer this service, so you might want to check with them if you don't have an American Express card.
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Old Apr 14th, 2006, 06:58 AM
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I was in Beijing last year. We exchanged some $ at the airport - we waited in line for at least an hour! I was afraid that was a sign of things to come, but for the rest of the trip I exchanged money at banks without incident. My husband tried unsucessfully to use his ATM card. The banks were open late, so it was very convenient and they're everywhere. You should have no problem!
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Old Apr 14th, 2006, 07:05 AM
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We were in Beijing, Ji'nan, Tai'an, Qufu, Suzhou and Shanghai 24 Mar - 4 Apr and readily got cash from the Bank of China and other bank ATMs.
We also used CCs without needing our PPs.
We seldom carry larger amounts of cash (never TCs) outside Mexico.
Buen viaje
M
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 10:00 AM
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You can exchange your money at the hotel! Marija is right in that the exchange is the SAME everywhere! So it doesn't matter where you exchange the money as far as the rate is concerned. That's different in H.K. though, where you have to shop around for the best rate.
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