Tips for Exchanging Money When Travelling in Beijing
Exchanging currency in a new city can present challenges. You don’t want to waste time, but you don’t want to be ripped off either. Beijing is no different, and the Chinese capital does offer some convenient options when it comes to exchanging your currency. The question becomes: which option is best?
Airport Area: Convenient, But at What Price?
Anyone who has done a lot of traveling knows that a major international airport almost always has an option or area where you can exchange money for local currency. This is often viewed as the best choice if convenience is your main priority. While you may not love the idea of standing in line to exchange currency after a long flight into the city, this is a safe and secure place where you have access to reliable (read: legal) money exchange options.
You’re virtually guaranteed to pay the steepest exchange rate allowed by the Chinese government here. The convenience will simply cost you a little bit more. Often times the area near the airport will include additional fees that make the overall transactions more expensive, as well.
Look For a Chinese Bank
While this might not be an exciting or “sexy” answer, the truth is that banks will almost certainly have a better exchange rate than your other option. Independent money brokers who don’t operate with banks are actually illegal in China – and people posing themselves as.
In theory, the rates should all be roughly the same as the exchange rate is regulated strongly by the Chinese government however there are many cases of personal instances where experienced travelers reported that this isn’t the case. This might not be due to illegal activities. Often the set rate is more of a “corridor” or closely knit range that lenders are allowed to work within.
This means the rate from one bank could be a bit higher, or a bit lower, than a competing bank, as long as both are within that exchange rate.
The Bank of China is generally your best option, but will only be open during normal banking hours from Monday through Friday making them a limited option.
Remember to Bring Your Documents
You absolutely will need to bring your identification, your passport, and any other relevant documents when heading into a bank. Rules are strictly followed and you need to make sure that you are properly prepared.
Otherwise there’s no way you’re going to get your money exchanged. As a side note, never trust someone claiming to be a money exchanger who does’t require documents. This is just asking for a counterfeit scam!
Try the ATMs
ATM machines are another great option for turning United States Dollars into Chinese Yuan. These machines are open 24/7 and provide an exceptional option for all those hours when the banks aren’t going to be open. These machines generally don’t have the best exchange rates and will include ATM fees in addition to being on the higher side rate wise.
On the plus side, reliable ATMs can almost always be found right outside banks in addition to hotels and many of the higher end tourist or commercial areas. This means that finding an ATM shouldn’t be too hard and this can be a good quick way to get things done, but once again you need to plan ahead to go from one ATM area to another.
Be Safe & Enjoy Beijing!
While articles like this can often come across as scary, or induce anxiety, this isn’t our main purpose. Most places in modern nations are safe, but you need to make sure you always take the proper precautions! You would while at home, so why not on the road?
Follow the information in this article, remember to look for the best local options, and with a little planning you will have no problem making sure you consistently get the best rate with the least amount of hassle so you can enjoy everything the amazing city of Beijing has to offer.