Currency, exchange and credit card

Be sure to keep in mind that the Chinese currency is the only currency used throughout the country. Make sure you exchange money at the airport or bank when you arrive. You may use a credit card in China but some places may not take an international credit card. Be aware of all your options relevant to money and have all of them prepared.

The Chinese Currency

In China, the Renminbi (literally People's Currency) is used as the main currency. You will find it often written as RMB, CNY or a character of ¥. Yuan is the basic unit, as the US dollar is in the US. Smaller monetary unit exists, the Fen, but are rarely used as they account for almost nothing. Indeed, it takes 10 Jiao to make 1 Yuan and 10 Fen to total 1 Jiao; so it would take 100 Fen to total 1 Yuan!
You can find notes of 1, 2 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Yuan as well as 1, 2 and 5 Jiao sometimes. In coins, you will have 1 Yuan, the most common but also 1 Jiao and 5 Jiao. You will not have to worry to recognize the 1 Yuan since it is the largest coin.  
Here are the different notes of Chinese Yuan (left), Jiao (right) and the 1 Jiao, 5 Jiao and 1 Yuan:

Credit Cards

In China, credit cards are not accepted everywhere, especially international cards. Small shops, restaurants, train stations and tourist sites often only take cash. Get ready to have enough cash with you to shop for the entire day.
To withdraw money, most ATMs accept cards like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner's Club, Federal Card, Million Card, JCB, especially in big cities. If you go in the countryside most ATM machines will not accept foreign cards. To check if your card will be taken at an ATM look at the logo on the screen of the ATM to see if your card can be used or not.  
In some ATM machines, you will have a ceiling of 2,500 RMB per withdrawal (sometimes some banks allow up to 3000 RMB). If you want to remove more, simply make a new withdrawal from the same machine.
Check with your bank to see if you can use your credit card in China, what the withdrawal cost is and the maximum you can withdraw. Also, to ensure a hassle free trip be sure to alert your bank of your travel to China. Some international banks have alerts on your card and may prevent you from withdrawing if a transaction made is suspicious and unusual.
In China, traveler's check or travel checks are accepted at some airports, hotels and shops, but it is best to check with your bank before departing.


Money Exchange

Before departing, it is important to change take cash with you. When you are taking cash also go to your bank and ask for new notes as banks and exchange offices in China may refuse old dollar bills.
If your credit card fees are too high, you can change dollars in exchange offices of airports that charge commission. Otherwise, in all Chinese banks, it is possible to complete this transaction at no extra cost. Each bank also offers varying exchange rates that are only a few cents apart, which does not place preference on one bank than another. Remember to take your passport to the bank or you cannot exchange money.

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