Navigating the Chinese Money Exchange.

Regardless of where you are traveling internationally, I feel it is wise to familiarize yourself with the exchange rates and, of course, the currency. Among the many options for determining the exchange rates, websites or banks will work well for you.

Some banks in the states will exchange the money for you, but may charge you a high fee. Be very cautious about using the small booths or the small booths on wheels at the airport because they do charge a high fee. I suggest using a bank. And if you are going to China, I suggest using the Bank of China. They are reputable and have many locations. There is no transaction fee if you exchange more than $500. Transactions of less than $500 will require a small fee.

To exchange money you will need your passport, and keep your receipt of the exchange. Your receipt will help you exchange your Chinese currency back into US dollars when you exit the country.

Money By Any Other Name…

The official name of mainland China’s currency is Renminbi (RMB), but most people call it Yuan. The official abbreviation for the Chinese Yuan is CNY and here is its symbol 元. You’ll see CNY often on paperwork.

To me, the currency is beautiful and interesting in many ways.

• Each bill denomination gets physically smaller as the value decreases.

• A picture of Chairman Mao is imprinted on the larger bills, but pictures of ethnic people are on the bills of little value (of the smaller bills only the Jiao is shown).

• The largest bill is 100 Yuan, and it is red. If you look on the back of the bill, you’ll see a beautiful pattern on it. The pattern, I’m told, makes the bill difficult for a counterfeiter to replicate.

• Some of the bills, like the 20 Yuan, are imprinted with beautiful scenery.

You can see for yourself from these pictures.

The dark red bottom bill is called a Jiao, and it takes 2 of them to equal 1 Yuan. There are actually other bills of lesser value, but I didn’t show them, because their value is so small. It also should be noted that China uses many coins, and I am displaying the two main ones. The larger one is made of nickel and steel and is worth 1 Yuan. The smaller coin is made of brass, and it takes 2 of them to make 1 Yuan. The various other coins are made of aluminum and are very light weight.

Learn more by reading my book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education.