Exchange Money in Beijing

01/06/2010 Travel Expert
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Planning to go to Beijing China, no matter for sightseeing or business, a vital thing should be considered about is the money exchange.

  • Where is the best place to exchange the money in Beijing?
  • How much is the commission fee charged?
  • Credit Card? Traveler Check? Or Cash?

 

Chinese Money

Chinese Money

The best place to exchange foreign currency in Beijing is once you arrive at the Beijing Airport’s arrivals area. This is just before you exit the arrivals gate and enter the terminal. On the side there is a Bank of China. Once you leave the arrivals gate you can’t reenter.

This Bank of China booth does not charge for travelers’ check and does not charge other fees for the transaction. It is also open 7-24, 7 days a week. Once you step out of the arrivals gate there are extra charges for exchange at all banks, including the Bank of China. Banks in China will exchange foreign currency Monday to Friday only, not on the weekends. All banks are open 7 days/week but will not do a foreign exchange transaction. We were caught on the weekend twice, and almost ran out of cash.

Logo of Bank of China

Logo of Bank of China

If you do not want to line up and schedule for money exchange in the Bank of China, the ATMs and your hotels are good options. ATM machines are everywhere and you can choose to operate in English. There are some banks at the airport, if you exchange not more than 500$, will charge 30RMB for service fee there, except for the Bank of Agriculture. Exchange rates and fees are controlled and the same everywhere within China, so usually it is the easiest way to change money at the airport or in your hotel. There are several major Chinese Banks and they are open 24 hours a day. Save receipts as these are needed to change Renminbi (yuan) back into foreign currency. Without the receipt WHERE and HOW you got the Yuan, they will not exchange your country’s currency for you.

ATM Machine in China

ATM Machine in China

ATMs are also widely available, although only some will work with international cards. Look for machines with your card system’s logo. Bank of China machines accept most international cards and seem to be reliable and easy to use.

To sum up, money exchange in the business halls of banks in China charges no commission fees, but they only work for you from Monday to Friday, 09:00- 16:00. A commission is charged by the ATMs and hotels for money exchange, but they work for you 24 hours any day.

PS:

  1. ATM scams do happen in China although not a big problem. So do cover the keyboard when you enter your password and choose a machine you deem safer. An ATM inside a bank or at an airport is safer than a hole in the wall.
  2. I have to say that you really need to be careful because counterfeit money is little bit rampant in China right now. I hate to say that I received a counterfeit 50 RMB at a five-star hotel, and a fake 100 RMB from a Bank of China ATM. They would not take any responsibility for the money they gave, so it would be a struggle.
  3. The best way to tell if the money is real is to feel the collar on Mao’s shirt to see if it is grainy. If it is, the money should be real. Any bills with unusual thickness are not real either. Just be careful. Certainly, this kind of bad thing does not happen often.
  4. Note that many areas of China and smaller cities do not accept credit cards nor travelers checks and will only accept RMB. You need cash.
  5. Small dealers offer wads of RMB on the back streets of Chinatowns throughout the world, but if you go to them you risk being scammed and are breaking the law. People often hang around outside banks and in tourist centers offering to exchange currency. You would be breaking the law, and will be ripped off in one way or another, whether it is by being given fake notes, a poor exchange rate, or no money at all.