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Accessing Money in China

When you first arrive, it is a good idea to take some cash that you can exchange upon arrival at the airport. You can also change money at a bank (you’ll have to present your passport). It is possible to exchange money into RMB before you arrive in China, but not all banks or money exchangers will be able to and the exchange rate will be unfavorable. Only go through official channels to exchange money or you will almost certainly be cheated.

During past times, the best and most reliable way to get money in China is to use a bank card linked to an international network like Visa or MasterCard. ATMs in major cities accept international bank cards and more and more ATMs in other cities do as well. However, many banks/ATMs have restrictions on how much money you can withdraw at one time or in one day. Therefore, if you need a large amount of cash (e.g. to pay for tuition or accommodation), you must plan ahead. Besides, you should be aware that foreign bank cards usually incur some fee each time money is withdrawn. Otherwise, you can choose to use Western Union or Moneygram, their service providers could be found in cities and are useful in case of an emergency. Traveller’s Cheques are accepted at major hotels and some stores and restaurants that cater to tourists. But generally they can’t be used in daily life so it’s best not to rely too heavily on them.


During our experience in past years, students would encounter many unexpected problems regarding bringing money to China and also have difficulties in making payments such as tuition fee or accommodation fee. Thus, CUCAS has fully developed a system to help international students solve this kind of situations.

Now, CUCAS is ready to introduce our users a new service, which is the money transfer service. This is an online platform for students to transfer money to their own CUCAS account. After students arriving in China, they can transfer money again to their Chinese bank account or directly pay the tuition fee or accommodation fee to the university's account.

Compared to official bank service, CUCAS transfer platform only charges a much lower service fee, which is 3% of the total amount of money that would be transferred. Additionally, CUCAS transfer service also does not have limit on the amount of money, which is superior to bringing cash in person because Chinese custom has several strictly term about the maximum of cash that can be brought in person when entering China.

>> Learn more about CUCAS Money Transfer Service



Where and how you get your money are important aspects of a stay in China. Outside of shopping malls and hotels, many places only accept payment in cash so make sure you bring some cash with you in case of an emergency. For withdrawing money, debit cards are the easiest option. Traveller's Cheques and credit cards have limited uses for students in China.

Chinese Currency
The currency in China is the RMB, the abbreviation of the full Chinese name rénmínbì (pronounced rún mín bì), also known as the yuán (pronounced yuen). However, locals almost always use the term kuài (pronounced kwàai) or kuài qián (qián means money), in the same way that Americans refer to dollars as bucks or a Brit might say quid instead of pounds.

Opening a Chinese Bank Account
If you’ll be staying in China for a long period of time, it’s convenient to set up a Chinese bank account. Chinese bank cards are accepted throughout the country and cash can be withdrawn without a fee. Also if you lose your card or there is a problem with your account you can fix the issue in person rather than having to make an international phone call to a different time zone.

Getting a bank account is simple. Go to the bank you’d like to get an account with (banks like Bank of China, China Construction Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China have branches all over the country). Bring your passport and ask to fill out an application. The entire process takes about 30 minutes and is completely painless.
Not all banks have English service. Consider bringing a friend that can speak Chinese if you don’t feel confident to do it yourself.

Counterfeit Money
Counterfeit money is relatively common in China so it’s important that you can distinguish it from real money. There are certain telltale signs that a bill is fake, and the government has come out with detailed instructions how to identify counterfeit bills.

If someone gives you fake bills when giving change, you must refuse to accept the money on the spot. If you take the money and then return later, any hope of getting real money is lost. If you attempt to spend counterfeit money and someone notices, they are legally able to confiscate the bills and hand them over to a bank.

If you notice an ATM gives you fake bills, it is essential that you do not leave the front of the ATM. Call the service number on the front of the ATM. If you leave the view of the ATM’s security camera, you will have no hope of getting the bank to replace your fake bills because they will assume that you exchange the notes you took from the machines with real ones.

When someone hands you money for any purpose, don't feel shy about checking for counterfeits. You’ll find that many Chinese will do this when you hand them money as well. It’s also a good idea to refuse to take money that is torn or in very bad shape, as some shops and restaurants may refuse to take it and it will be difficult to spend.

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