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Foreign Exchange Guide to China

Latest market mid-rate: 1.0 =

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

The domestic currency in China is the Chinese yuan with currency code CNY. Read this foreign exchange guide to China and the Chinese yuan with money transfer and travel tips plus Chinese yuan exchange cross rates.

In this guide we review :

  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

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.

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.

Chinese yuan (CNY) in the markets

Between February and mid-May, the yuan spent most of its time trading between 6.25 and 6.35 to the US dollar. It was trading at 6.33 at the time of this report (May-14).

Within the same period, the yuan was nearly 6 percent stronger against the Australian dollar, at 4.79, and 3 percent stronger against the euro, at 7.59.

Supporting the yuan in 2018 has been the inclusion of Chinese equities and yuan-denominated bonds in widely followed indices, which promotes capital inflows into China, as well as the introduction of the world’s first exchange-traded, yuan-denominated oil futures.

It was expected by many analysts that the yuan would remain strong in the presence of trade tensions between Beijing and Washington, although those tensions eased in April after Chinese Premier Xi Jinping spoke at the Boao Forum of opening up China’s economy and of his hopes for reduced trade tariffs.

The median forecast of analysts polled by Reuters in May placed the yuan at 6.37 and 6.36 per US dollar over three and twelve-month time horizons.

The interactive chart below shows the CNY to USD exchange rate for the previous 3 months with rate alerts for days when the exchange rate moved up or down significantly or for 30 day highs and lows.

CNY-USD 3 Month chart
Loading CNY/USD Chart
CNY currency converter

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 Chine 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.

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)

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 Exchange Rates Compared

Buying CNY Cash with USD 1,000

Travelex Online logo Travelex Online
¥5857.60 CNY (9.96%)
Free Home Delivery when you Buy Online Travel Money & Cards with $0 commission and great exchange rates only available from Travelex Online. Zero cost for Home Delivery or pickup your foreign cash at your local Travelex store or at the airport on departure day. * Home deliveries can only be made to the registered billing address of your chosen payment method.
Price Details
Receive: ¥5857.60 CNY
Exchange Rate: 5.8576
(Inverse 1CNY=USD 0.1707)
Fees: USD 0
Total Cost : 9.96% (from mid-rate: 6.5052)
Amount of money that could be received by your currency exchange at rate USD/CNY=5.8576 and inclusive of the fee of USD 0.
Rate timestamp : Sat Jun 23 2018 04:00:03 GMT+0000 (UTC)
Bank Rates - Average
¥5635.18 CNY (13.37%)
This is the average USD to CNY Buy Foreign Cash exchange rate from multiple banks, exchange kiosks and post-offices, available over the counter and via the internet.

Price Details
Receive: ¥5635.18 CNY
Exchange Rate: 5.6921
(Inverse 1CNY=USD 0.1757)
Fees: USD 10 (1%)
Total Cost : 13.37% (from mid-rate: 6.5052)
Receive CNY ¥222 less than with  Travelex Online logo Travelex Online
Amount of money that could be received by your currency exchange at rate USD/CNY=5.6921 and inclusive of the fee of USD 10 (1%).

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

Getting a better deal when sending money 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!

Sending a LARGER international money transfer? Request a Free Multi-Vendor Quote

Compare Foreign Transfers

Sending USD 10,000 to CNY

OFX logo OFX (prev. USForex)
¥63,293 CNY (2.7%)
Book & track your foreign transfers online (24/7) with industry best rates for all your deals - not just the first one! Lock in exchange rates with Spot & Forward Deals. BestExchangeRates users get the transfer fees waived.
Price Details
Receive: ¥63,293 CNY
Exchange Rate: 6.3293
(Inverse 1CNY=USD 0.1580)
Fees: USD 0
Total Cost : 2.7% (from mid-rate: 6.5052)
This is the amount of money that could be received by your transfer at rate USD/CNY=6.3293 and inclusive of the fee of USD 0.
Rate timestamp : Sat Jun 23 2018 04:04:20 GMT+0000 (UTC)
Bank Rates - Average
¥61,308 CNY (5.76%)
This is the average USD to CNY International Transfer exchange rate and fees from multiple banks for FX rates available over the counter and also via Internet Banking.

Price Details
Receive: ¥61,308 CNY
Exchange Rate: 6.1400
(Inverse 1CNY=USD 0.1629)
Fees: USD 15
Total Cost : 5.76% (from mid-rate: 6.5052)
Receive CNY ¥1,985 less than with  OFX logo OFX
This is the amount of money that could be received by your transfer at rate USD/CNY=6.14 and inclusive of the fee of USD 15.

Chinese yuan - exchange rates - live and historic

Major CNY cross rates
View Full List (A-Z)

CNY/USD - Chinese yuan to U.S. dollar - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
10 Jun 20180.15611 Week
18 May 20180.15681 Month
19 Dec 20170.15146 Months
17 Jun 20170.14681 Year
17 Jun 20160.15192 Years
18 Jun 20130.16305 Years
19 Jun 20080.145410 Years

CNY/EUR - Chinese yuan to Euro - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
10 Jun 20180.13251 Week
18 May 20180.13301 Month
19 Dec 20170.12796 Months
17 Jun 20170.13121 Year
17 Jun 20160.13472 Years
18 Jun 20130.12175 Years
19 Jun 20080.093810 Years

CNY/GBP - Chinese yuan to British pound sterling - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
10 Jun 20180.11641 Week
18 May 20180.11641 Month
19 Dec 20170.11316 Months
17 Jun 20170.11491 Year
17 Jun 20160.10582 Years
18 Jun 20130.10425 Years
19 Jun 20080.073710 Years

CNY/JPY - Chinese yuan to Japanese yen - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
10 Jun 201817.08451 Week
18 May 201817.37251 Month
19 Dec 201717.10646 Months
17 Jun 201716.28051 Year
17 Jun 201615.83392 Years
18 Jun 201315.52855 Years
19 Jun 200815.685310 Years

CNY/AUD - Chinese yuan to Australian dollar - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
10 Jun 20180.20531 Week
18 May 20180.20871 Month
19 Dec 20170.19786 Months
17 Jun 20170.19261 Year
17 Jun 20160.20542 Years
18 Jun 20130.17205 Years
19 Jun 20080.153110 Years

CNY/CAD - Chinese yuan to Canadian dollar - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
10 Jun 20180.20241 Week
18 May 20180.20211 Month
19 Dec 20170.19506 Months
17 Jun 20170.19401 Year
17 Jun 20160.19602 Years
18 Jun 20130.16635 Years
19 Jun 20080.147510 Years