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China - Cash, Credit or Travelers Checks?

China - Cash, Credit or Travelers Checks?

Nov 17th, 2002, 03:00 PM
  #1  
gail
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China - Cash, Credit or Travelers Checks?

My husband will be traveling to Hangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai in two weeks with his University. Should he bring all Chinese money, or a mixture of American, Chinese, Chinese traveler checks perhaps and credit card use? We live in the US. Any suggestions?
Thanks
Gail
 
Nov 18th, 2002, 06:27 AM
  #2  
Josh98
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Ultimately he must spend Chinese money (Rmb or yuan)everywhere. He may bring US Dollars and change them in any Bank of China. Credit cards are mostly useless except in major hotels and for airlines. We've never seen Chinese travelers checks, and even US dollar ones are hard to exchange. He could also use an ATM and pay a high fee each time. Best way is to have cash, as this is a cash-based economy.
 
Nov 18th, 2002, 11:41 AM
  #3  
Anna
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I normally rely on my ATM card when I travel abroad, but in China plan on using cash and traveler's checks. They are easily changed at your hotel's front desk; we found it difficult to find an ATM machine that would accept our card, even in large cities like Beijing. The ATM fees weren't high, I think our bank charges us $1.50 but the bank that owned the machine did not charge a fee. The Chinese government regulates the exchange rate so no matter where you change your dollars or traveler's checks, the rate is the same.
 
Nov 18th, 2002, 04:41 PM
  #4  
gail
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Thanks all for the info. We were a little late in thnking about this, but American Express will exchange our American money for Chinese money in 2 days before he even leaves the US. He will also bring a bit of American cash. Thanks Again.
Gail
 
Nov 18th, 2002, 07:38 PM
  #5  
busybody
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Gail,

One of your questions was not answered and therefore you were still under the false impression that you had to buy Chinese yuan before entering China. Don't RMB yuan until you arrive in China because you'll have no need for Chinese money until you arrive. You can change money both at the airport or at your hotel and the rate should be the same. Since RMB is not freely convertible currency, whoever sells you RMB in the US would charge you a hefty premium. Trust this expert and wait till you arrive to buy RMB...

 
Nov 18th, 2002, 07:40 PM
  #6  
busybody
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Gail,

One of your questions was not answered and therefore you were still under the false impression that you had to buy Chinese yuan before entering China. Don't buy RMB yuan until you arrive in China because you'll have no need for it until you arrive. You can change money both at the airport or at your hotel and the rate should be the same. Since RMB is not freely convertible currency, whoever sells you RMB in the US would charge you a hefty premium. Trust this expert and wait till you arrive in China...

 
Nov 18th, 2002, 08:18 PM
  #7  
Peter N-H
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I must agree that the American Express route is unnecessary, and purchasing RMB overseas is always more expensive than in China (except in certain places in HK).

There are plenty of ATMs in Beijing and Shanghai accepting foreign cards--it's merely a question of looking up where they are on your card's Web site. I can think of 15 machines in central Beijing which take foreign cards just off the top of my head. Both cities have branches of HSBC and Citibank, to boot, with ATMs which will accept just about any kind of plastic card ever invented. My card issuer charges a flat US$3 for each use. That usually works out at less than 1%. The commission in China for exchanging travellers' cheques is 0.75% (although the rate is slightly better than for exchanging cash) and there's whatever you pay when you buy the cheques to consider as well.

No other city in Zhejiang Province I've visited has ATMs accepting foreign cards, but if any city there were going to then it would be Hangzhou. But this you had certainly better check with your card issuer's Web site.

I generally travel in China with just an ATM card these days, remembering to make a fresh withdrawal well before my existing stock of cash is used up. A few machines have a limit of Y2500, but usually there is no difficulty to make consecutive transactions for this amount. I carry a few US 100 dollar notes just in case of need as there's rarely any difficulty in exchanging these at larger branches of the Bank of China or in the lobby of your hotel. But be aware, however, that increasingly notes which are not absolutely fresh are being rejected, especially in places which do not receive many requests for foreign exchange services. These places may also sometimes cause difficulties if the signature on your travellers' cheque isn't absolutely identical to the first one, in a way that usually no one's is, and you may find yourself signing the back several times, too.

Incidentally, American Express has an emergency check cashing service which allows you to write a cheque on your personal account, guaranteed by your American Express card. Limits vary according to the country issuing your card, but I've found this service to be cheap and to work very well, at least in Beijing. If you don't have a personal cheque with you, a counter cheque can be used, although this is more expensive. Your cheque will be honoured in local currency or the currency in which you make it out, just as you please (and assuming that the currency in question is in stock). Amex will give you a list of participating banks around China, although it is such a grasping and arrogant organisation I'd just use this for emergencies, if at all.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
 
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