Raoul's China Saloon (V4.0 Beta)

Da Woiks: Links, Library, News and Other Stuff More Useful Than You Are => Le Laowai Liberation League Labor & Lifestyle Lending Library (ON-TOPIC) => Topic started by: Raoul F. Duke on April 22, 2007, 08:15:05 PM

Title: Changing Money
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on April 22, 2007, 08:15:05 PM
One of the most common questions we get here regards exchanging money. Chinese money (the yuan renminbi or RMB) isn't freely exchangeable....it isn't always readily available outside of China (although this is changing), and it certainly can't be used to pay bills or add to your savings back home. On the other hand, most Chinese businesses and government offices aren't set up to take foreign money.

So how does one change money here?

The OFFICIAL route is to exchange money at a bank, usually the dreaded Bank of China. All too often, the process gets turned into a long and horrendous bureaucratic ordeal. You'll need to bring your passport, visa/residence permit, work permit, etc. with you. You'll get a so-so rate at the bank. You'll also pay a pretty stiff tax unless you have a Work Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate explicitly stating that you can convert a certain amount of money tax-free. This permission comes from your employer and must bear their official seal.

The BEST RATE comes from exchanging money through the black market by using what we call a "currency exchange consultant". It's recommended that you get at least an introduction through a local friend; don't wade into this one on your own. Most of these guys are pros, but there is always a tiny chance of being burned or busted. Be discreet. Get a money-checking light (a small black light), widely available at very low cost, and learn the ways to manually check Chinese money, posted in English in many banks. In the overwhelming majority of cases you'll get your money changed in about 2 minutes, no ID required, with no problems and at a better rate. In many cases someone at your employer can handle money exchanges for you; by all means check it out.

If I were not a responsible webmaster person, I would add that only newbies and terminal pinheads (and perhaps the chronically lucky) ever change money at a bank the nice safe legal way. But I am, and so I won't.

You will often see shadowy figures lurking outside of banks, offering to exchange money. It is recommended that you NOT use them; if you must then try to get a Chinese friend to do it for you. When you work with someone you don't know, or have a mutual friend with, you run a greater chance of getting counterfeit bills or being assessed a punitive exchange rate because you are foreign.

You can also buy RMB at many hotels with a passport and visa. This is fairly quick and convenient, but it's expensive...you'll usually get a pretty lousy rate this way. You also can't turn your RMB back in for your foreign currency. They'll send you to the bank for that.

Similarly. international airports will also generally have areas where you can exchange money. Rates here can be the worst, but this varies from place to place.

If you have an internationally-accepted credit card or debit card, such as Visa, Mastercard, or JCB, you can withdraw RMB from an international-enabled ATM. God knows what kind of rate you will get. Most ATMs are NOT international-enabled, but most cities have at least a few that are. If you get stuck, try the ATMs in 5-star hotels and upscale shopping areas. To my knowledge it is not possible to draw foreign currency from an ATM anywhere in China.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Pashley on April 24, 2007, 11:27:03 AM
The OFFICIAL route is to exchange money at a bank, usually the dreaded Bank of China. All too often, the process gets turned into a long and horrendous bureaucratic ordeal. You'll need to bring your passport, visa/residence permit, work permit, etc. with you. You'll get a so-so rate at the bank. You'll also pay a pretty stiff tax unless you have a Work Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate explicitly stating that you can convert a certain amount of money tax-free. This permission comes from your employer and must bear their official seal.

I only need to sometimes change RMB to foreign currency; generally I have no foreign money to convert into RMB. In a previous job and city, with the foreign expert card "money changing" section duly filled out and stamped, that was no problem. Go to Bank of China and they do it.

I tried here (Quanzhou) last week. To BoC with passport and expert's card, but without the money section filled out or stamped. They asked for a copy of my contract and a receipt showing I'd paid my taxes.

So back to my uni. They say they can get me the receipt, but it may take time. The right person isn't in the office today, etc. They do not want to get me the stamp in my FEC; they say the rules have changed and that is no longer useful.

The uni offered to just get me the small amount I want. I refused. I want the problem solved, so I can change when I need to. Doing this one deal is not the issue.

Preferably, I want the damned stamp. For me and everyone else on staff. They should not give out the FEC without them; getting that is part of their job.

Am I crazy? (yes, I know, sometimes, but is this particular behaviour crazy?). Do others have the stamps? Can you still change money with those?
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on April 24, 2007, 11:49:28 AM
I understand your point here. I like things right, too.

That said, if I had a chance to let me school handle these transactions for me, and they'd do it pretty much anytime I needed it, and the rate was good, personally I'd LEAP at the opportunity.

Changing money yourself, either legally or not, is an iffy proposition and can be a real hassle. I would happily let the school do the legwork for me. And you may get an even better rate...I can pretty much assure you your school is NOT going to the Bank of Mei-You to handle this.  uuuuuuuuuu
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: contemporarydog on April 24, 2007, 01:05:54 PM
Surely this is much easier with the recent changes?  You just need a chinese friend.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on April 25, 2007, 04:39:03 AM
I haven't tried it with the recent changes. I haven't used a bank for exchanging money in years now...after the first few rounds, I decided I didn't want a rematch.

I have learned to never underestimate Bank of China's prowess at screwing things up and turning simple tasks into 3-day ordeals.  ssssssssss
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: contemporarydog on April 25, 2007, 09:53:20 AM
OK I will be changing money in the reasonably near future just using the wife's ID card.  I'll let everyone know how it goes...
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: non-dave on April 26, 2007, 01:35:51 AM
Set up an account at Bank of China, or any other bank that issues cards that have Maestro access.

Send the card home and tell them the pin number via e-mail, phone or something (i.e. don't send it with the card).

Put money into the account whenever you eed to. Others can withdraw cash from ATM's at home, in local currency.

The money is changed. Hey Presto!
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Mr Nobody on April 26, 2007, 01:43:19 AM
This is what I do, only the other way around, to get money into China from my wealth machine at home.

I wish it was a wealth machine, but it does have a surplus that I can use here. Strangely enough, this is also the best exchange rate, better than any other method. Best way to get money sent anywhere, if you can get it set up.

Funny, ND seems to think it is easy his end. It didn't used to be. Plus, I just checked, still hard to do down here in the deep south.

Times they are a changin.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: contemporarydog on April 26, 2007, 04:24:53 AM
Set up an account at Bank of China, or any other bank that issues cards that have Maestro access.

Send the card home and tell them the pin number via e-mail, phone or something (i.e. don't send it with the card).

Put money into the account whenever you eed to. Others can withdraw cash from ATM's at home, in local currency.

The money is changed. Hey Presto!

You probably lose a fortune doing it this way though.  Withdrawing money on a foreign account in the UK costs about 1.50 a go (in pounds)
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Mr Nobody on April 26, 2007, 06:25:08 AM
CD, you gotta withdraw enough money for the improvement in the exchange rate to wipe out the fee. I just always take the maximum amount per transaction. Then the $5AUD is a small thing compared to commissions or poor exchange rates, indeed. Anyway, you are going to pay one way or another. Credit cards are good for this. I am pretty sure mine doesn't have a foreign exchange fee at all. Just gotta transfer the money via net-banking immediatorily, if I can coin a word.

If you use it for day to day withdrawals, you will lose a bundle, though. I made that mistake one trip around the Pacific, in the eighties, and got burned. Make the same stupid mistake once, about 1999 or 2000, on a trip to HK too. Don't do it again!! I say. Still, I didn't lose as much as using traveller's cheques.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: dragonsaver on May 13, 2007, 03:58:23 AM
Every 2 months I go to the Bank of China.  I take the required passport and Foreign Experts Book and tax receipts from Uni.  I get permission to change the money from one teller then get a number and go to second teller to transfer money directly to my bank account in Canada.  Total time is 1 hour (or less). Bank fee is 200RMB for the process. The girl that does the second part likes me, so as soon as she sees me she calls me over next (I don't have to wait for my number to come up).  Friday her superior saw me and called her from her break so she could help me.  In 2-3 days the money is in my bank and my son can pay the bills.  The exchange rate was lower this time so I got CAD80.00 less than 2 months ago. Changing money is other ways is maybe ok, but I would still have to pay to have it transferred to my bank.  If I wanted cash the money changer would be good but for a transfer, the BOC is the easiest.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on May 13, 2007, 05:49:20 AM
Yeah, for transfers you gotta go somewhere official-like. Only way.
When possible to use it, I've found Western Union a lot faster, cheaper, safer, and more reliable than The Bank of Mei-You. However, it does send the money to a person, not a bank account...
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: contemporarydog on June 27, 2007, 08:48:27 AM
Went to the bonk today to ask about changing money for our forthcoming trip.  They indeed confirmed that my wife could obtain USD on the spot just with her ID card.  Piece of piss.  However, we want pounds as otherwise we'd have to change twice.  That counter said they couldn't get pounds without some faffery, but they directed us to a posh office at the back where there was another woman who could indeed get pounds.  Most odd.  Anyway she's going to ring us when she reckons the exchange rate is most favourable.  It is pretty cruddy at the moment - 9000 RMB only gets 589 squid.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: contemporarydog on July 12, 2007, 01:45:06 PM
Set up an account at Bank of China, or any other bank that issues cards that have Maestro access.

Send the card home and tell them the pin number via e-mail, phone or something (i.e. don't send it with the card).

Put money into the account whenever you eed to. Others can withdraw cash from ATM's at home, in local currency.

The money is changed. Hey Presto!

But the pin code for a chinese account has six numbers.  UK ones only allow for 4.  So how does this work?
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: darrick on August 26, 2007, 08:13:49 PM
Non-Dave,

what about the six digit Vs. four digit thing?
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Glasgow Kiss on August 26, 2007, 08:37:15 PM
I just changed mine at the airport in shanghai....


It's not convenient at all (as far as location) but the rates when I did it were the same as standard Market, and the exchange part was cake, just passport.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: ybielsalohcin on August 27, 2007, 08:09:09 AM
USD to RMB-

I happen to be lucky enough to be a member of a credit union back in the US.  I use my ATM card here in China (so far at HSBC, Agricultural, Industrial, and Bank of China) with absolutely zero fee and near ideal exchange rates.  This has worked to varying degrees in different countries.  The exchange rate is always good, but in Greece there was a $2 fee and in Venezuela $1.  It definitely beats Bank of America and the like, which hit my girlfriend for $5 per withdrawal in Greece. So if you happen to have the credit union option open to you I highly recommend it, at least for here. 

RMB to USD-

I haven't tried this, but can you set up online payment using Chinese bank accounts?  It's a slower process, but if you can pay foreign credit card bills with your Chinese bank then that's another back door route.   

Credit Card-

On a tangential note, credit cards tend to get ideal rates, but then they charge you 1-3% on top.  Some credit card plans are better for this than others.  In the US at least, Capital One doesn't charge this exchange fee at all, so I have a nice shiny Capital One card sitting around waiting for me to figure out a way to use it in China.  The fee is always listed in the fine print of your agreement under 'foreign currency transaction' or something along those lines.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: NOYB on September 16, 2007, 03:13:16 AM
Set up an account at Bank of China, or any other bank that issues cards that have Maestro access.

Send the card home and tell them the pin number via e-mail, phone or something (i.e. don't send it with the card).

Put money into the account whenever you eed to. Others can withdraw cash from ATM's at home, in local currency.

The money is changed. Hey Presto!

But the pin code for a chinese account has six numbers.  UK ones only allow for 4.  So how does this work?

In China, most ATMs will facilitate using only 4-digit PIN codes for those with foreign credit / debit cards.

I'd imagine that in the UK you can also get cash on a foreign card with a 6-digit PIN.  I remember getting cash from ATMs in the UK with my US cards and they all have 6-digit PINs.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: James the Brit on February 02, 2009, 12:15:01 AM
Does the cash have to be in USD to send it via western union?

I know this was the case pre-olympics. Is it still the case?
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: AMonk on February 02, 2009, 10:07:59 AM
YES.  Even here, where our currency is on par, a BD$ cheque will be subject to a fee (10-20% extra, if memory serves me). 
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: ericthered on February 03, 2009, 04:58:55 AM
James, it is indeed. I was travelling with a friend who had to send money home through WU. It had to be in USD.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: paddyfields on March 13, 2009, 09:55:19 AM
Be careful when dealing with the "currency exchange consultants". A recent post on a Wuxi "expats" forum was as follows.

Quote
Men Exchange money outside Bank of China ROBBED ME I was robbed of RMB 1,400. I needed $200 and going to Bank of China, the men asking to exchange money, I told them no thanks because it will be fake, they told me, we can go to Construction Bank they can test to make sure. The teller inside Construction Bank told me it is real dollars. That means we should be careful who we trust. Needless to say Bank of China took the money because it is fake money.

Having said that an ex colleague of mine used these consultants all the time. But what she would do when wanting to buy Euro was ... Having agreed a rate she would take the Euro into Bank of China and lodge the money into her account. Thus having verified that the money was not fake she would then pay the "currency exchange consultants"
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Nolefan on March 13, 2009, 10:08:48 AM
it's only safe if they actually deposit the money in an account.. once the bank takes it, you can relax. then withdraw it afterwards.

If they ask to go to a different bank, then they might have an accomplice there
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Guangzhou Writer on April 01, 2013, 03:25:45 PM
Recently sent some money to Canada with Western Union and they would only allow me to send USD. There was a flat $15 fee and it took the girl behind the window, no lie, it took her over 30 minutes of shuffling papers to get it done.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Pashley on April 01, 2013, 07:30:35 PM
Recently sent some money to Canada with Western Union and they would only allow me to send USD.

At one point a foreign friend in a different Chinese city wanted to borrow some money & he suggested W Union, so I toddled round to their local office. They would only send US dollars and could not even do the exchange; they wanted me to go down the road to Bank of China and bring them US cash.

I walked away, asked my borrower for his bank account number, and made an rmb deposit there.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: rongwei on April 03, 2013, 02:37:32 AM
I recently was surprised to learn that Citibank will accept UnionPay in the USA. There is actually a long list of countries (105) where Unionpay is accepted; check out Wikipedia. I know everyone may have slightly different money exchange requirements, but this information may prove useful to some on this site.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: roadwalker on April 03, 2013, 03:20:26 PM
I recently was surprised to learn that Citibank will accept UnionPay in the USA. There is actually a long list of countries (105) where Unionpay is accepted; check out Wikipedia. I know everyone may have slightly different money exchange requirements, but this information may prove useful to some on this site.

In the US, Citibank (includes 7/11s); Wells Fargo; and Chase now spit out US cash from China Union Pay cards (some sources say the account no. must start with 6 or higher). I used all three at some point the last couple of summers.  Chase charged $3 a pop as of last summer where Wells F. and 7/11(Citi) charged $5.  There may be others besides too big to banks but I'm not aware of them.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on April 04, 2013, 06:54:32 AM
And on the flip side, Discover is trying to grab market share in China.  To get started, they are now accepted anywhere in China that takes UnionPay and they aren't charging any fees to merchants (yet).
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Canadapanda on April 06, 2013, 06:20:38 AM
My friend who sends his cards home says Agriculture Bank of China has a much lower international service charge than ICBC for the conversion from RMB to USD.  I am not sure what the actual numbers are, but you might want to consider checking out their charges.  I think he said something like 5% for ICBC and 3.5% for ABC.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: aninvisiblehand on April 06, 2013, 07:51:37 AM
I also sent an Agricultral Bank card to the US for someone to withdraw money for me. Ag Bank's exchange rate is excellent (6.21 actual vs. 6.22 your exchange rate), however they also charge a fee of about 1.3% of the amount you take out.

You can use any ATM in the "Pulse" network. https://www.pulsenetwork.com/atmcal/search.do
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Day Dreamer on April 09, 2013, 03:54:06 PM
What I used to do was open up one of those pre-paid credit cards. I also had another person as a joint cardholder with their own card back home. Whenever either of use wanted to lend/borrow, we just added money. I don't recall the exact service charge, but it was low and the time was almost instantanious as cash must be deposited.
Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on April 10, 2013, 08:00:17 AM
Now that sounds intriguing.  Any more details available, like how do you add money to it in China? (assuming it's issued via a foreign bank)

Title: Re: Changing Money
Post by: Day Dreamer on April 10, 2013, 02:15:03 PM
It was a major credit card through a top Canadian bank. For the life of me I don't remember. I seem to recall going through the Bank of China here. I/we didn't use it that often and since the card has expired, it's no longer used.