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Currency in China

This article includes:

►Cash and Credit cards in China
►General introduction of Paper money and coins in China. 
►Distinguish Renminbi between the real and fake. 

Chinese currency is called Renminbi (人民币, abbr. RMB) means "People's Currency". The basic unit of RMB is Yuan, 1 Yuan元, yuán) equals to 10 Jiao角, jiǎo), 1 Jiao(角) to 10 Fens(分, fēn), Currently Fen is rarely circulated in the market.). The concept can be understood as in the Hong Kong currency : Dollar, Ten Cent and Cent. Some Chinese people call Yuan as Kuai块, kuài) and Jiao as Mao毛, máo). Chinese currency is issued in the following values nowadays :

Yuan : one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred.
Jiao : one, two and five. 
Fen : one, two and five.

Always check your change to make sure that you have not confused Jiao with Yuan. Jiao notes and coins can be useful if you shop in super markets. Foreign currency (cash or traveler's cheque) may be exchanged for Chinese currency at licensed exchange facilities such as Bank of China and other authorized banks.

The concrete show on RMB as follows: 

►Paper Money:


One Hundred Yuan, 100元 (new edition)

One Hundred Yuan, 100元 (old edition)

   Fifty Yuan, 50元 (new edition) 

        Fifty Yuan, 50元 (old edition)  

Twenty Yuan, 20元(new edition)    

Ten Yuan, 10元(old edition)

Five Yuan, 5元 (new edition)

 Five Yuan, 5元(old edition)

The obverse side of One Yuan, 1元(new edition) 

 Two Yuan, 2元(old edition, rarely currently)

The reverse side of One Yuan, 1元(new edition)

One Yuan, 1元(old edition)

 Five Jiao, 5角   

 Two Jiao, 2角




One Yuan, 1元


Five Jiao, 5角


One Jiao, 1角


►Distinguish Renminbi between the real and fake:

♦Firstly, feel the quality of paper. The paper of real RMB feels more solid. If you crumple a new 100 bill in your hands, the sound should be clear and distinct. If it is a fake one, the sound will often be muffled. Of course, sometimes you will have bills that are very old and worn and inn that case it will be more difficult to tell the difference. 

♦Secondly, look at section1 below the serial number, where there is a green 100 sign (golden 50 sign in a 50 bill). Observing the sign from different angles, you will see color change. 100 denomination notes change from green to blue while 50 notes change from golden to green. If there is no color change, it is a fake. It is commonly the easiest way to distinguish simple fakes as this effect is too expensive for the counterfeiters to reproduce. However, there is no such sign on 20 or less-than-20 denomination notes. 

♦Thirdly, hold a bill up and look at section2, the white space circled, in the light. If the bill is a real one, you will see a clear picture of Chairman Mao’s head. If the bill is a counterfeit, the outline of the picture is often blurred. And you can also have a look at section9. You will see a water mark “100 or 50” on a real bill. However this watermark is not so difficult for the forgers to reproduce and so you cannot wholly rely on this alone to differentiate a fake from a real note. 

♦Fourthly, hold a bill straight and horizontal, and then turn it 90 degrees to your right. Look closely and carefully at section3, where you should see a hidden 100 or 50 sign. The sign perfectly merges into the background and almost becomes hidden, indeed you may not even notice it unless you look at it closely. While some clever fake bills may have this sign too, you should be able to tell the difference as the sign on the fake ones will still remain very clear and can be easily spotted. 

♦Fifthly, softly rub your fingernail against section4, the hair or collar of Chairman Mao and you will feel resistance. The picture, the Chinese characters at section5 and the Braille figures at section6 are all intaglio prints. 

♦Lastly, hold a bill up in the light and observe the symbol at section7. If the bill is real, you will see the symbol join perfectly with another one (section8) on the back of the bill. The two make an ancient Chinese copper sign. If the symbol is higher or lower than the one on the reverse side, or the two overlap unevenly or there is a white space between their boundaries, the bill is not real.

What to do with fake RMB if you accidentally get one? 
According to relevant rules, no one is allowed to use fake bills, and shops, supermarkets, etc. have the right to refuse to accept any fake RMB. Banks are entitled with the power and responsibility to confiscate any fake money identified. If you get a fake bill, you need to hand it to one of the bank branches. However, sadly you are the one to cover your loss as they are not in any way directed to replace your fake notes for real ones, so you need be careful about fake RMB. 


►Cash and Credit cards in China
When you travel to China, you need to bring certain amount of cash with you. Currency exchange is available for about 17 foreign currencies including British Pound, US Dollars, Swiss Franc, Singapore Dollars, Norwegian Krone, Japanese Yen, Canadian Dollars, Australian Dollars, Euro, and Thai Baht, etc. We suggest you convert currency in banks, hotels and airports. The exchange rates are set throughout China. 

Foreign-based credit cards can be accepted by 5 star hotels, high-end restaurants, shops in metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and you can also use it to buy flight tickets. But in remote areas and small cities, credit cards are not widely accepted. 

ATM is common, easy and convenient to handle. But all banks limit the amount you can withdraw, which is between 1000 and 3000 RMB per transaction and the surcharge of each withdrawal is about $8 to $11. Travelcheques can be taken by Bank of China and major branches of ICBC, Citic in major cities, but in remote areas, Bank of China might be the only choice. They deduct 1.5% of the value and then give you mostly same rate as cash. 

>>See our China Travel Tips




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