Tips of China: Money Exchange
Dollars & Yuan
The official name for the currency in China is Renminbi (abbreviated as RMB, the "people's money") with denominations of the yuan, jiao, and fen, which bear a relationship to each other somewhat like the U.S. dollar, dime, and penny.
RMB is not traded on international markets and can be officially purchased or exchanged only in China. Foreign currencies and traveler's checks may be converted to RMB at hotels. The rate of currency exchange is the same everywhere in China. The 2012 rate of currency exchange is 6.25 CNY = US$1. For example, if an item costs 625 yuan RMB, it will be equivalent to US$100. See conversion table.
Your first opportunity to exchange your money for Chinese yuan will be at your first hotel.
It is wise to carry some U.S. cash in $1, $5, $10, and $20 denominations as this can be a plus when buying from street vendors.
Most stores at tourist stops accept U.S. dollars.
ATM machines are not readily available in China.
It is recommended that you carry traveler's checks as a safety measure. Also, traveler's checks usually command a better exchange rate than cash. For convenience, carry some traveler's checks in $20 denominations. All traveler's checks drawn on American banks are accepted in China. Be sure to make a list of your check numbers and keep the list in a safe place separate from your wallet, purse, or passport.
Major credit cards (except Discover Card) are accepted at all hotels, tourist stores, and factory outlets in China. Be sure to record your account numbers (and customer service telephone numbers) in case you lose your credit cards.
Make major purchases by credit card. You will get a good exchange rate, the protection of the card's charge-back provisions, and often an extra guarantee on your purchase.