What is the local currency?
China's currency is the renminbi (RMB) or the yuan, which means "people's currency."
In spoken Chinese, the yuan is referred to as kuai.
What denominations does it come in?
The currency has three units: yuan, jiao and fen. One yuan equals ten jiao, and one jiao equals ten fen. The following denominations are available:
Notes: 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1 yuan; 5, 2 and 1 jiao; and 1 fen
Coins: 1 yuan; 5 and 1 jiao; 5, 2 and 1 fen
Due to the very low value, fen notes and coins are almost useless.
What is the best way to exchange currency?
You may exchange money at most branches of any of the larger domestic banks (Bank of China, ICBC, China Construction Bank, China Agricultural Bank). You may also do so at international banks such as Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered; the rates are competitive but the bank fees are higher.
Currency is only exchanged freely from foreign currencies to RMB. Freelance moneychangers outside (and sometimes inside) banks are usually more economical and commonly used. However, beware of counterfeit bills.
Bank of China ATM machines can accept foreign ATM cards.
What are commonly-used forms of payment for everyday purchases (such as groceries)?
Cash is the most commonly used although larger supermarket chains and upscale stores will accept local ATM/debit cards. Hotels catering to foreigners will accept international credit cards.
Will I be able to use my credit card around town? If not, list when I’ll need cash.
Hotels, restaurants and major shopping chains accept credit cards. It is advisable to keep cash on you at all times.
By what method are bills (such as rent and utilities) paid?
If you live in a serviced accommodation, payment can sometimes be made to the onsite management center.
Payment systems in Suzhou vary by area. For instance, in the Suzhou Industrial Park, some utilities are paid in advance and others in arrears. In downtown Suzhou, all bills are paid in arrears. Check with Crown Relocations in Suzhou, your real estate agent or the management of your apartment compound when you move in.
What are the requirements for opening a bank account? At what stage of the settling-in process should I open it?
A passport and a small amount of cash are usually sufficient although, strictly speaking, a residence permit is also required.
Will foreign residents be able to find banking services in their native languages?
The international banks operating in Suzhou (HSBC, Citibank and Standard Chartered) have reliable English-speaking staff. However, they are generally not versed in other languages.
Are there any restrictions on services for those who are new to your country?
The yuan is not a freely converted currency. While it is easy to change foreign currency into yuan, it is often more difficult to exchange yuan into a foreign currency without additional paperwork required, such as proof of income tax payment. Additionally, transferring RMB out of China is not permitted nor is transferring foreign currency that has originated in mainland China. Changing RMB to a foreign currency is not permitted unless it is changing money back that was cashed using traveler’s checks.
What are typical banking hours?
Most banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Some domestic bank branches are also open on the weekends.
Are automatic teller machines (ATMs) available around the clock?
Domestic banks have ATMs that are available around the clock.
Is there any other money information that might help me?
Check with your bank of choice for the bank's policies.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.