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Foreign Exchange Guide to China

Read this currency guide to China with money transfer and travel tips.   [USD/CNY=7.0631]

Country Code:
Domestic Currency:
Chinese Yuan
Symbol - Code:
Telephone Prefix:

This is a foreign exchange guide to China, the Chinese Yuan currency plus CNY transfers and travel tips.

In this China currency guide we take a look at :

  1. Chinese Yuan info - general info about the Chinese Yuan
  2. Chinese Yuan in the markets - recent CNY moves and predictions from the FX markets
  3. Travelling in China - currency & money saving tips
  4. Buying Chinese Yuan cash online - travel money for China
  5. Sending money to China - save on Chinese Yuan bank transfers to China
  6. Chinese Yuan exchange rates - latest & historic exchange rates.

Chinese Yuan (CNY) general currency information

What is the Chinese Yuan currency code and symbol?

The three letter currency code for the Chinese Yuan is CNY and the symbol is ¥.

Which countries use the Chinese Yuan?

It is the domestic currency in China.

The Chinese currency is actually called renminbi, but you will more frequently hear it called by the name of its primary unit, the yuan. The renminbi-yuan relationship is similar to that of Britain’s sterling-pound (sterling being the name of the currency and a pound being one unit of that currency). The ISO for renminbi, or the yuan, is CNY. An ISO of CHN denotes yuan traded in offshore markets, such as Hong Kong.

According to the Bank for International Settlements’ 2016 survey of the foreign exchange market, the yuan is now the world’s eighth most traded currency and has overtaken the Mexican peso to become the world’s most traded emerging market currency. However, disappointingly, 95% of all yuan trading remains against just one other currency, the US dollar.

The yuan reached its all-time low against the dollar in January 1994 when the exchange rate for USD/CNY reached 8.73. It's all-time high occurred in January 1981 when USD/CNY hit 1.53.

A high point for Chinese officials in recent years came when the yuan was added to the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies in October 2016 and, with its inclusion, joined the dollar, euro, yen and the pound as an official world reserve currency.

Importantly, China’s currency is not freely floating, which is to say that it is not determined wholly by market forces or purely by demand and supply. While market forces do play a part in China’s ‘managed float’ system, daily changes to the value of the yuan are restricted by the country’s central bank to moves of 2% above or below a midpoint, or reference rate, against the US dollar. This special rate is set each day by the central bank after consideration of the values of currencies from China’s main trading partners.

Chinese Yuan (CNY) in the markets

In early August the offshore yuan surged to a decade high of 7.05 per US dollar, breaking the symbolic and closely watched USD/CNY = 7.0 exchange rate, after the trade war flared up again and the US labelled China a "currency manipulator".

Increasingly, the yuan is being used as a barometer for progress made on US-China trade talks.

Trade tensions have ramped up again since May when President Trump announced higher tariffs on Chinese goods, after China retaliated with tariffs of its own, and then after Trump placed Huawei on the "entity list," thereby making it impossible for the tech giant to do business with US firms.

The interactive chart below shows the USD to CNY exchange rate and trend for the previous 3 months:

Travel, Currency and Money saving tips for China


China's international visitors have rocketed to an impressive 26 million in 2015. It is said that in less than 10 years, the country will become the first tourist destination with the world's largest number of visitors.

Can I use a Credit Card in China?

Credit cards are still not accepted in many places so it will be convenient to carry a travel card or cash with you. If you're thinking of only visiting the larger cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin or Chengdu, you'll find no real problems in using a credit card in China. If you plan on travelling outside of the big cities, however, you'll have trouble finding ATMs and businesses that accept credit cards. As general rule the Chinese do not like the idea of debt and so tend to avoid using or accepting credit cards. Even in the big cities it can still be unreliable to depend on using credit cards depending on which area you are in.

The highest denomination (100 yuan) does not carry a huge amount of value so if you intend to make large purchases you may be carrying a conspicuous wad of cash around with you. In only recent years, more and more banks around China have made this possible to the extent it is becoming standard. 

Beware of people on the street side who offer services of money exchange. There has lately been a growing rate of ATM scam, where certain characters set up fake ATMs to scam credit card details. Just try to avoid any ATM that looks suspicious, or use the ATMs at major banks. There is also counterfeit money circulating in China, these are almost always smaller notes so try not to break up your larger notes all the time. Also be sure to notify your bank that you will be using your card in China so that they do not block your card suspecting fraud.

How do I get around in China?

China’s domestic air market is growing rapidly, with more than 180 commercial airports. At least nine new airlines, a few of them focus on low-cost routes, have been approved for operation since the government lifted restrictions on privately invested airlines in 2013. Together with the more established domestic carriers such as Shanghai Airlines, Tianjin Airlines (part of China Eastern), Xiamen Airlines and Dragonair, these new startups provide a vast network of flight services to smaller domestic destinations that previously could be reached only by train or bus.

Flying in China is very much smog/weather dependent. Delays and cancellations are commonplace due to serious air pollution that affects pilots’ visibility during take-off and landing. Traveling by high-speed rail (HSR) is a much more reliable alternative.

The train network in China is one of the most extensive in the world, as it combines older, slower trains that stop at smaller towns with the D-class trains that run up to 124 mph, and also the ultra-modern, high-speed G-class trains (HSR, or gao tie in Chinese) that connect bigger cities at speeds up to nearly 200 mph. Advance bookings are recommended, especially for sleeper classes. Travel by HSR in China is fast, punctual, comfortable and clean.

If you have plenty of time and a limited travel budget, long-distance buses are a good option. They are cheaper than flights and high-speed trains, and tickets are easier to secure however they can take two to three times as long as the high speed trains. Bus service networks also cover many smaller towns and villages that cannot be reached by train.

If travelling to China be sure to check when the local holidays are as everyone in China tends to holidays at once. So 590 million people take to public transport during peak local holidays known as Golden Weeks, which fall over Chinese New Year and National Day in early October. This makes it almost impossible to casually get a train or hotel room, or to see the sights.


Travel money for China


Save money and time by Ordering your Chinese Yuan online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the CNY cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.

Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.

For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in Chinese Yuan otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.

Travel Money ProvidersAmount CNY(¥)Exchange RateFee USDTotal CostDeal Links
U.S. Bank Foreign Currency
U.S. Bank logo
6,611.4 CNY
Banks - Average Rate
U.S. Bank logo Wells Fargo Bank logo
6,545 CNY
66 CNY
Wells Fargo Bank logo
6,479.17 CNY
132 CNY
Travelex Online US logo
6,226.4 CNY
385 CNY

U.S. Bank logoU.S. Bank

U.S. Bank: Travel Money USD→CNY
USD amount:$1,000 USD
Exchange Rate:6.6114 (6.4% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:6,611.4 CNY
Total Cost:6.4%
Time:18:00 Local
Currency Services:Branch
: /5.0

Banks - Average Rate

Travel Money USD→CNY
USD amount:$1,000 USD
Fee:$10 USD (1%)
Exchange Rate:6.1802 (12.5% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:6,545 CNY
Total Cost:7.33%
Currency Services:Branch

Wells Fargo Bank logoWells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Bank: Travel Money USD→CNY
USD amount:$1,000 USD
Fee:$20 USD (Minimum fee)
Exchange Rate:6.6114 (6.4% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:6,479.17 CNY
Total Cost:8.27%
Time:18:00 Local
Currency Services:Branch
: /5.0
Travelex Online US: Travel Money USD→CNY
USD amount:$1,000 USD
Fee:$0 - No fees for Debit & Credit Cards
Exchange Rate:6.2264 (11.85% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:6,226.4 CNY
Total Cost:11.85%
Rate Fetched: Wed Aug 21 2019 16:00:05 GMT+0000 (UTC)
Currency Services:Online order, Branch pickup, Home delivery
Delivery/Collect:2-3 days
: 4.3/5.0
Snapshot 08/21/2019 - See full table

China Trip Checklist    

  1. Compare CNY travel cash rates - probably why you are here!
  2. Search Hotel deals - Save on your accomodation in China
  3. Lonely Planet - world's best travel guide (coupon and deals)

Sending money to China

When searching around for information on how to get a good exchange rate when sending money to China you need to start with finding out the latest Chinese Yuan foreign-transfer exchange rate.

Then compare your bank's exchange rates to several licensed FX providers exchange rate and fees to see how much you can save (we make that calculation easy here).

Buying property in Shanghai

Have Shanghai property prices peaked?

Shanghai property prices have risen roughly sevenfold over the past decade but being a global city with broad-based demand from occupants and investors, an outright crash is unlikely. Still, today's buyers have probably missed the golden age of price appreciation.

Can foreigners buy property in Shanghai?

Foreigners who have lived and worked legally in Shanghai for one year are allowed to buy for self-occupancy. They are not officially permitted to rent out their flats. Mortgages from local banks are available to foreign buyers, typically with a downpayment of 30 per cent.

What is the most popular property in Shanghai?

European-style alleyway (longtang) homes in the former French concession (French: Concession française de Changhaï; Chinese: 上海法租界; pinyin: Shànghǎi Fǎ Zūjiè; Shanghainese: Zaonhe Fah Tsuka) are charming but heating, plumbing and electricity infrastructure is often dilapidated.

A longtang (弄堂 lòngtáng, Shanghainese: longdang) is a lane in Shanghai and, by extension, a community centred on a lane or several interconnected lanes.

Shanghai "longtang" alleyway

Get a better deal for foreign transfers to China

When sending money to China it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 4 simple steps :

  1. Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
  2. You specify the local or Chinese Yuan amount you want to transfer
  3. Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
  4. Once your funds are received by the provider the converted CNY amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in China.

Use our Send to CNY calculator to compare the exchange rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more Chinese Yuan deposited into the recipient bank account and less margins and fees kept by the banks!


USD to CNY International Money Transfers


Foreign Transfer ProvidersReceive CNY(¥)Exchange RateFee USDTotal CostDeal Links
OFX logo
68,056 CNY
Best Overall
Wells Fargo Bank logo
66,575 CNY
1,481 CNY
HSBC logo
66,527 CNY
1,529 CNY
Banks - Average Rate
Bank of America logo U.S. Bank logo Wells Fargo Bank logo HSBC logo
66,121 CNY
1,935 CNY
Bank of America International Money Transfers
Bank of America logo
65,691 CNY
2,365 CNY
U.S. Bank International Money Transfers
U.S. Bank logo
65,691 CNY
2,365 CNY
OFX: Foreign Transfer USD→CNY
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:0^ - No fees for BestExchangeRates users (normally $12 for smaller transfers)
Exchange Rate:6.8056 (3.65% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:68,056 CNY
Total Cost:3.65%
Rate Fetched: Wed Aug 21 2019 16:03:14 GMT+0000 (UTC)
Transfer Speed:1-2 days
Services:Bank Transfers - Online & Phone, Foreign Currency Accounts
: 4.8/5.0

Wells Fargo Bank logoWells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Bank: Foreign Transfer USD→CNY
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Exchange Rate:6.6695 (5.57% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:66,575 CNY
Total Cost:5.74%
1,481 CNY less than using OFX
Time:18:00 Local
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers
: /5.0


HSBC: Foreign Transfer USD→CNY
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:$15 USD (.15%)
Exchange Rate:6.6627 (5.67% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:66,527 CNY
Total Cost:5.81%
1,529 CNY less than using OFX
Time:18:00 Local
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers
: /5.0

Banks - Average Rate

Foreign Transfer USD→CNY
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Exchange Rate:6.6218 (6.25% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:66,121 CNY
Total Cost:6.39%
1,935 CNY less than using OFX
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers

Bank of America logoBank of America

Bank of America: Foreign Transfer USD→CNY
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:$100 USD (1%)
Exchange Rate:6.6355 (6.05% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:65,691 CNY
Total Cost:6.99%
2,365 CNY less than using OFX
Time:18:00 Local
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers
: /5.0

U.S. Bank logoU.S. Bank

U.S. Bank: Foreign Transfer USD→CNY
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:$100 USD (1%)
Exchange Rate:6.6355 (6.05% from mid-rate)
CNY amount:65,691 CNY
Total Cost:6.99%
2,365 CNY less than using OFX
Time:18:00 Local
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers
: /5.0
Snapshot 08/21/2019 - See full table

CNY/USD - Chinese Yuan to United States Dollar - Historical Rates

1 Day0.142018 Aug 2019
1 Week0.141712 Aug 2019
1 Month0.145320 Jul 2019
6 Months0.148820 Feb 2019
1 Year0.145319 Aug 2018
5 Years0.162820 Aug 2014
10 Years0.146421 Aug 2009

CNY/EUR - Chinese Yuan to Euro - Historical Rates

1 Day0.128018 Aug 2019
1 Week0.126312 Aug 2019
1 Month0.129420 Jul 2019
6 Months0.131120 Feb 2019
1 Year0.127119 Aug 2018
5 Years0.122820 Aug 2014
10 Years0.102221 Aug 2009

CNY/GBP - Chinese Yuan to British Pound Sterling - 10 Year History

1 Day0.116818 Aug 2019
1 Week0.117312 Aug 2019
1 Month0.116220 Jul 2019
6 Months0.114120 Feb 2019
1 Year0.114019 Aug 2018
5 Years0.098120 Aug 2014
10 Years0.088621 Aug 2009

CNY/AUD - Chinese Yuan to Australian Dollar - Historical Rates

1 Day0.209218 Aug 2019
1 Week0.209712 Aug 2019
1 Month0.206420 Jul 2019
6 Months0.207520 Feb 2019
1 Year0.198919 Aug 2018
5 Years0.175420 Aug 2014
10 Years0.175521 Aug 2009

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