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How do you store your money

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New York City, New...
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How do you store your money

Hi everyone. my family (of 4 people) are planning a budget trip to Beijing next year and must bring ounces (not tons) of money. From what I have read, compared to the US, china is not so credit card friendly. I understand if you are in big big stores and 5 star hotels they do accept credit cards but because I can only afford ounces and not tons of cash, then I am gonna use budget hotels that require cash only. Even entrances to attractions are cash basis. So with the long distance trains. I am making my own independent tour and need cash

My question is this. If you bring, let us say$5,000 to use in China, do you carry it with you every day your are out sightseeing? How safe is it? I believe the hostel that I am staying does not have a safe in the room. are there atms readily available for you to get cash? Any reply is much appreciated.

Thanks!

Beijing, China
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1. Re: How do you store your money

Use ATMs and get cash as you need it.

Jishou, China
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2. Re: How do you store your money

$5,000 in cash would convert to about 35,000 RMB. That's a very conspicuous wad of cash, and I would not advise carrying it around with you. Some parts of China have expert pickpockets and petty thieves, and Westerners are ripe targets. In most cities, there are plenty of ATMs to retrieve cash from your US account. Two warnings: advise your bank that you will be traveling to China and using ATMs there, or they may block the card; and be aware that some ATMs in China expect 6-digit PINs. If you have a 4-digit pin, you may need to precede it with two zeroes. Or you can get a cash advance from the bank teller. Bank of China is your best bet there.

And don't bother with travelers cheques. Even in Hong Kong I had to try several banks before I found one that would accept them for exchange.

New York City, New...
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3. Re: How do you store your money

Thanks for the quick reply qupnicely and wheatdogg.

The reason I quoted $5k is that we will be there for 16 days- pay all hostels, do our own tours, etc. From what I read in TA and other sites, " cash only." "no! no! no! no credti card. " If you understand what I mean.

Do you know how much you can withdraw from atms in china? And the fee? Again thanks a lot to both of you and to all TA members who helped me and helped each other in our quest for travel.

Jishou, China
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4. Re: How do you store your money

You're from the Bronx? I'm from the Island. Small world.

Check with your bank to see if it has partner banks in China. For example, I hear that Bank of America and China Construction Bank are partners, so they waive ATM fees. ATM fees in China vary widely, but international access fees can be pretty exorbitant, like above $5. Most ATMs are limited to 2,000 to 3,000 RMB withdrawals at any one time, but you can repeat the process fairly quickly. (Well, at least, I can, but I have a Chinese bank account.)

Cash only is good advice. Budget places don't mess with credit cards, because of the overhead. But you can also stay in Motel-6-quality places for about 150-250 RMB (about $20-35) a night, and they do take CC. Those hotel chains are called 7 Day Inn, Home Inn, and Hanting Express (hanting kuaijie).They might not speak English though.

Beijing, China
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5. Re: How do you store your money

Yes, the fees will depend on your own bank, especially if getting credit card advances. I only use a local account which is usually limited to 2500rmb per withdrawal and up to 20,000 per day. You don't need to be carrying that much around as a rule and unless you are planning to go to any really remote locations. $5000 is an annual salary for many Chinese.

Nova Scotia
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6. Re: How do you store your money

And keep your daily cash in a hidden money pocket or belt worn under your clothing. Then you can relax.

Phoenix, AZ
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7. Re: How do you store your money

I bank with BofA and they partner with Contruction Bank in China. Last November I withdrew about RMB1000 - 3000 RMB a day depending what I did (overnight train to Beijing from Shanghai, Guide etc.) with my ATM card (not Credit Card) and they waived the fee.

I have a PacSafe Metro Bag, that has security features like locked zippers and wire enhanced straps that are slash prove.. I had it crossed over my chest and never felt unsafe. Be smart, get a money belt or one of the pacsafe bags, if you bank with one of the bigger banks use your ATM to withdraw the cash, I even withdrew once at Bank of China (because I was out of cash and no Construction bank in sight) and the fee was like $3 or $5, so I just withdrew as much as I could to make it worth my while - hope this helps.

Aventura, Florida
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8. Re: How do you store your money

A BofA debit card works well, but you have to use their correspondent bank to not have charges (we used it in UK and Germany).If you can open a Schwab One account with a debit card (they may make you open a brokerage account, but you don't have to use it) Schwab reimburses the ATM fees charged by other banks anywhere in the world (unlike some others that only reimburse fees in the States).

As mentioned, tell banks whose debit cards you are using as well as credit card companies where and when you are traveling. BTW, Capital One is one of the few credit cards that does not charge a conversion fee when you use it overseas. They use the published bank rate current at the time the charge posts.

To carry valuables, my husband used a pouch we got at the Container Store that has a loop to slip onto a belt. It comfortably sits inside your pants and easily flips out. It held cards, cash and our passports and was easier to use than a money belt.

Aventura, Florida
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9. Re: How do you store your money

We just checked the BofA website and they charge a one percent conversion fee on ATM withdrawals made in foreign currency. As of now, Schwab does not.

Indiana
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10. Re: How do you store your money

Be aware of the customs limit on cash. The max you can take into the country is 20,000 RMB. If you get cash before you leave Wells Fargo has the best rates in USA for internet exchanges. AAA uses Well Fargo as well...same rates.

There are plenty of ATMs in Shanghai and Beijing that you can trust. i would stick with Bank of China.

Be aware of cash withdrawal limits. Call your bank before you leave. Let them know you will be in China so "fraud alert" does not shut down your card. Also have them increase your daily withdrawal limit.

Many ATMs in China will have a limit of between 2000 and 3000 RMB per day ($400ish). So you may need to make multiple withdrawals. While FX rates are better at ATMs, the volume of withdrawals needed offsets the gain because you pay a fee per withdrawal.

Even though they do not have room safes, see if they have safe deposit type boxes at the front desk.