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|wils0nm 23 posts||
I’ve been researching exchange rates lately and more importantly the most economical way to exchange U.S. dollars to RMB. It seems converting money before the trip (in our home countries) seems like a bad decision for several reasons. First, the rates are far less than what we would receive in China. I’ve calculated that I would lose approximately 1000RMB if I exchanged $1000. According to several websites, the exchange rates are fixed in China, which means we won’t have to “shop” for the best deal if we wait until we get there. Second, I’ve seen some mention of it not being “legal” to obtain Chinese currency outside of China. I can’t confirm this though. It seems very strange to me. I’m having difficulty deciding on the below options so I’m looking for some feedback.
Option one: Withdrawing funds from the Beijing airport ATM machines
I’ve managed to find out that there are four ATMs in the Beijing airport that offer desirable rates. However, the ATM Machines mentioned impose a fee of $5 in addition to whatever your bank charges. In the U.S., most banks charge an added 1% whereas some (very few) charge nothing. Besides the charges, I’m afraid of the machines capturing my card especially since Chinese ATMs utilize six digit pin numbers as opposed to the U.S. four. That would be very confusing. Would I put in 001234 or 123400? Also, the machines limit you to 2500RMB per day. That would cover my Visa and that’s it.
Option two: Exchanging Traveler’s Checks at the Airport
In addition to the ATM machines in the Beijing Airport, there are manned currency exchange counters. From what I understand, they too charge a fee but allow for a slightly higher rate than converting cash. I can get traveler’s checks for free at my bank and they offer an added protection if they are lost, however I’m told some places in China will not accept them.
Option three: Bring my own currency and exchange at will
I could always bring cash and exchange it when I get there, but then I run the risk of losing it, getting mugged, etc.
What is everyone else doing? Am I thinking too hard about this?
|vaish 30 posts||
Hey for those that are thinking of buying currency beforehand, this is a really good site for comparing providers http://travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com/
|JaneLloyd 27 posts||
I got myself a money passport for coming to Vietnam. Not sure about the exchange rate etc, but my colleague here bought travellers cheques and has problems finding an open bank that will exchange them. With my money passport, I can use it in ATMs and also in shops/restaurants that take Mastercards (they also have Visa money passports). Its a bit more secure if you lose it because it isn't linked to your bank account, the provider will also get you a replacement within 48 hours.
I picked mine up from my local Co-op Travel Agent but I think you can get them from any Travelex provider. Oh, and you can get a second card as well - good if two of you are travelling or good to have a spare if one gets lost. Although don't do what my friend did - hide the spare in your walking boots and then forget until you've finished the 20km hike through the mountains. How did she not feel it in her boot?! Its now beyond use!
|jenldaniels 9 posts||
Thanks, Wilson, for adding yet another worry to my list..... :)
|Jordon101 6 posts||
Whenever I've gone to asia I've exchanged a little money before coming for taxis/buses away from the airport and first nights hostel and then used my credit/debit card from then on as its always offered the best exchange rate over changing cash. I was with some people who used travellers cheques and found it hard to exchange in banks in Japan/Korea etc and nearly impossible in south east asia.
Am I right in thinking the exchange rate if you come from the US will be the same in China or the US because they Chinese and US currency will always be locked at the same rate of 1 to 1?
|Dougdale 10 posts||
hey guys! ok so i read this discussion then got worried then i got SORTED! :D
According to the Chinese government you're allowed to take up to 6000 Yuan in cash into China (and not declare it), which works out at pretty much exactly £600 ($930).
I then went on the link put up by vaish (thankyou vaish :) and it tells you the best rates of exchange on Chinese Yuan. I chose ICE (delivery) and for £501.29 I'm getting 5000 Yuan delivered tomorrow... enough to cover the visa extension and the initial days in China. Then I'll just use my visa debit card in ATM machines while I'm out there (Nationwide only have a 1% charge on withdrawals abroad).
Hope that helps a bit for anyone stressing out! Now I need to work out what clothes I'm going to take :-/
|vaish 30 posts||
I think I read somewhere that we need about £400 in RMB to cover the first month we're there as we'll get paid at the end of September.
|wils0nm 23 posts||
Sorry to add another worry to your lists:)
Jordon101: No, the exchange rate is different in the States and not locked by any means. If I were to exchange $1000 US Dollars right now at my bank (or the ten others I checked) I'd get approx 6000RMB more or less depending on the source. If I exchange currency in China I'd get approx 7000RMB.
Dougdale: Thanks for checking in to that. I thought the sites claiming it was illegal were incorrect. Glad to know exactly what I can bring. with me.
Vaish: The site you posted doesn't seem to work for US dollars. I tried a few other sites that offer the same services, however the exchange rates were bad. I'd get less than 6000RMB for $1000 USD. which is worse than my bank.
Here's what I've decided to do: I'm going to take advatnage of all the advice here and do a little of everything. I'm bringing U.S dollars, Traveler's Checks, Chinese Currency, ATM card, credit card (with no foreign transaction fees) and maybe a money passport card. This way I can't be wrong. ha ha.
|Jordon101 6 posts||
My mistake wils0nm, I meant to say that they're locked as in the dollar goes up and the yuan goes up, if the dollar goes down then the yuan goes down, not that they're worth the same. he he
Just rememeber that if you bring your card with you to tell Visa or mastercard or whoever that you're going to be using it in china for the next few months or you might find that its been temporarily blocked!! :(
|jamesreid 7 posts||
My last trip to South East Asia I brought my usual Australian debit card and got money out during '7/11 runs' :P
Will I be able to do that again for China?
|Citore 20 posts||
I am doing things like I did last time - Brining my living and expense money in American Traveler's Cheques (around or above 400CDN). I am bringing my Visa and Debit for last minute money needs in case something happens and I need to withdraw more - I have a pin # on my Visa for that purpose - it isn't one of those chip cards either. I also converted money into nearly 500RMB which, knowing my spending and food types and prices in China, should last me for a good couple of weeks. For instance instead of taking the taxi cab for 120RMB I am going to take the subway for 27RMB full ride from the Airport. I am also eating local food or street food since I am saving money by doing that - and it is delicious - as long as you are smart about it - you can usually get a good meal for 3RMB in some areas. Just know that when you change Traveler's Cheques it takes a process to do it with ID and everything so if you are wanting to skip that for awhile I would either order in money from your local bank or exchange it at the airport or other exchange places.
|KMADAN 5 posts||
A friend of mine who tends to research everything recommended a Caxton FX card. You basically top it up online and you can withdraw from any ATM with the Mastercard symbol (which are generally the same ones in which you can use Visa). I don't know the the specifics of it, but apparently you pay less fees that you would your normal card. I tried it last time in China, seemed pretty good, not sure whether anyone else has come across it?
|mwalexander 15 posts||
For those of you in Manchester- you can currently get money exchanged at the Bank of China, on Moseley Street, for free until the 16th of August. Its an offer they have had running to promote the 2010 World Expo.
I am going to take enough cash with me to pay for my hostel (I am arriving early), VISA and then enough to see me through the 2 weeks. Rest of my money will be on a prepaid plastic.
|Mark101 10 posts||
I just ordered £300 of Chinese money (got it now since your getting over 10 to the £1). That will cover my visa and my first few days! After that i'm just using ATM's!
|hpyle1 14 posts||
i'm going to order RMB from my bank so I have it on hand for taxis, visa extension, etc... I just wanted to double check with you all how much we need for the visa extension? I feel like every where I look it's different.
|NTYY9443 6 posts||
Im looking at ordering a few hundred pounds worth of RMB from a site, ICE does look the best at the moment but any ideas how trustworthy it is? Looks like a few people have ordered from it - how quickly did it come?
Not sure how much we need for the visa actually, the info that I-to-I has given so far in emails etc seems to suggest they think we should change money in the airport, or get it from cash machines there? I think they said 5000 for the first month exc. visa extension...but currently I'm just very confused!
|hpyle1 14 posts||
So I ordered my money... it all came in 100's. I'm worried when I hit the airport with my one way ticket to China and RMB 4,400, things might get a bit iffy. But to sell some back the exchange rate was terrible and I would have lost too much money. I have more money then I know what to do with, going to try and get some change for the 100's in the airport. But as cheap as things are in China, and how much money I feel like I have, I may never see the looks of an ATM!
|natan358 8 posts||
While I was in China, I got stuck as there were no ATMs that were currently working, all 4 in the village were out of order, I hadnt anticipated this and I fretted big time lol, luckily I had enough money on me to get a taxi to the nearby banks, I can't remember which one I ended up in but basically if you take your debit card with your ID driving licence and passport you can withdraw more money than what you will be able to each time at an ATM. I would recommend taking as much as you can in your own currency, China prob doesnt like you taking in more than £500 then exchanging at a chinese bank. Just make sure you are not walking about in overcrowded streets with all your money on you before you get it exchanged. Travellers Cheques are good, but if you are in a rural area, you may find it a problem using them. Using your debit card out there will cost you more money overall but guaranteed its a safer option plus it keeps you to a budget more effectively. Always make sure you have enough money on you for food and transport, and a nights stay somewhere if you ever need to. You'll all be fine sorting out your money in Beijing, its the rural areas that are tricky.
|natan358 8 posts||
On the other hand, if you are able to open a chinese bank account then that would be the best option. You bypass the ATM fees and you can still access your money whenever.
|Jessica145 27 posts||
Really need to know, is ICE reliable??? It's the best rate but I want to make sure I get it in time. Anyone ordered from there? Did it come the next day?? Cheers :)
|natan358 8 posts||
wow, higher than i thought it would be. although saying that, foreign currency is much higher plus if you bring more, you just need to declare it, so it's not really an issue. those sites are more than likely correct, and we were wrong lol
|madlee 4 posts||
For those from the UK, using a Nationwide credit card might be cheaper than other methods at the ATM as they don't charge commission.