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Chinese Currency

Money in ChinaThe use of plastic may be becoming more popular among Beijing's 18 to 24 year olds, but the primary method of payment among most residents is still cash In banks, shops and restaurants you'll often see locals paying from large, brown envelopes stuffed with wads of notes. However, international credit cards can now be used in many large retailers, all high—end hotels and even some restaurants. Many ATMs throughout the city now also accept foreign debit and credit cards. Only the local Chinese currency of Renminbi(¥)is accepted in Beijing.

Local Currency
Taking its name from the People's Bank of China (Zhongguo Renmin Yinhang). Chinese currency is known as Renminbi or "people's money". The basic unit of Renminbi is the yuan(or kuai in the spoken form). One yuan is made up of ten jiao(mao in the spoken form),and one miao is subsequently broken down into ten fen. Only yuan come in paper notes, and are available in the following denominations: 1 00, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. Availahie coins are: 1 yuan, 5 jiao, 1 jiao and the now rarely used 5 fen, 2 fen and l fen.

Until 2005 the Renminbi was pegged at a fixed exchange rate to the US dollar. Pressure from US and G7 finance ministers then pushed the Chinese government to change their policy and to instead peg the Renminbi to a basket of world currencies Renminbi is a relatively stable currency and is now fully accepted in Hong Kong as well as in parts of some other Asian countries succh as Vietnam.

Beijing is stuffed full of banks,all battling for the custom of a growing middle class with rising incomes. Major domestic banks such as Bank of China, China Merchants Bank,  and Industrial&Commercial Bank of China(ICBC) are industrial and commercial bank of China in Beijingeasily accessible, with multiple branches located in all of the city's districts. Foreigners can open up yuan or US dollar accounts at most branches. All offer local debit cards, internet banking services and currency exchange services, although the latter is not always available at minor branches. It is practically impossible for foreiqners to get credit services from domestic banks, but there are several branches of internationaI banks such as HSBC or Citibank:, Opening times vary but in general they are 0pen from 09:30 to 16:30 Monday to Friday sometimes with an hour's break from 12:30 to 13:30, and from 09:30 to 12:30 on Saturdays/

There are more than 3,000 ATMs in banks throughout Beijing, as well as in many supermarkets, hotels and shopping malls. Here you can use your domestic debit card to withdraw a maximum of ¥20, 000 per day, with a limit of ¥2, 000 to ¥3, 000 per transaction. If you have a foreign debit or credit card, you can withdraw funds from back home at many branches of Bank of China, ICBC and China Merchants Bank. The latter two are connected to the Visa Plus card system, while ICBC accepts MasterCards with the Cirrus logo. To locate Beijing ATMs that accept Visa and Master Card visit http//visa.via.infonow.net/locator/global or atmlocator. There are four Citibank ATMs and 16 HSBC ATMs that accept most foreign credit and debit cards. for listingcall the HSBC hotline on 800 820 8878. Particularly useful HSBC ATMs can be found in the China World Hotel and in Beijing Capital International Airport. To improve security at ATMs, the Central Bank announced in 2007 that all of Beijing's ATMs would be fitted with face—recognition technology to identify criminals and protect against fraud.

Money Exchanges
As long as you have your passport, you can exchange money in most hotels and in major branches of large domestic banks, several of which have exchange counters at the airport. The government standardises rates of exchange, so there is little point in shopping around. Hotels often charge higher commissions than banks, which generally charge either 0.75% to 1% or a fixed fee of up to ¥ 50 per transaction Keep your receipts in case you want to reconvert surplus yuan later. Avoid the private money exchanges; these are illegal in China and frequently deal in fake notes. The easiest way to get local currency is to withdraw money using your international debit or credit card at a compatible ATM where you'll pay 2%to 3%commission.

The ATM in BeijingCredit Cards
Almost all of Beijing's three, four and five—star hotels accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express, JCB and Diner's Club, Visa and Master Card are now accepted at some high-end restaurants and in a selection of la rger retailers. In smaller shops and markets, you'll have to pay in cash. You can get cash advances with your credit card at large Bank of China branches, but a commission of at least 4% will be added in addition to those charged by your card provider.
For security purposes, it is worth subscribing to a credit card protection policy that will replace your card anywhere in the world in the event of loss or theft. You'll be able to arrange for cash advances to be sent to you if you are stranded without money or cards, get temporary travel documents if you lose your passport and be covered in the event of credit card fraud. You can apply for these protection plans through your home bank or directly with companies such as CCP Direct or Sentinel Card Protection. However, if you lose your card and are not subscribed to such a plan, call Visa 800 440 0027, American Express 800 610 0277, or MasterCard 800 110 7309.

Tipping is rare in Beijing. Until recently it was discouraged by the government and banned by restaurant owners. However, waitresses and taxi drivers are becoming more accustomed to getting a few extra yuan. Although not expected, telling your cabbie to keep the change or giving your hairdresser a 5% to 1O% tip is acceptable. Expensive bars or restaurants often add a 15% service charge so further tips are not necessary. Feel free to offer a good waiter or waitress a ¥ 1 0 or ¥ 20 note, but try not to let the boss see or it may be nabbed.