Money and Mosquitos
Another reminder. If you plan to use a charge card in China, remember to call your credit card company and let them know that you will be in China from August through December, so they won’t think your card was stolen when suddenly it’s being used in China.
This summer I used my ATM at the China bank in Beibei. I asked for 500 RMB. Now, if I had used traveler’s checks to get 500 RMB, using the net conversion rate of 7.6 RMB/$ I got from the Bank of China (which takes into account a small fee for cashing the check), it would have cost 500/7.6 = $65.79. When I got home, I found that my savings account (not my checking acct) was debited $65.26 + $2.00 (service fee) + $0.98 for the exchange rate = $68.24. Hence I paid about 3.7% more to get 500 RMB out with my ATM than by cashing a traveler’s check (which was free for me).
If you cashed more, the service fee would stay the same, but I’m not certain about the “exchange rate” number.
In the long run, they are not too much different. Here is a summary:
Advantages to using ATMS:
· Quick and easy (once you figure out the machine)
· Always available
Disadvantages to ATMs
· What if you lose your card and have no travelers’ checks
· Can only obtain a certain amount of money per day (probably not an issue)
Advantages of using travelers’ checks:
· Higher exchange rate
· Compensated if lose them (if you have copy of the receipt)
Disadvangtages for using travelers’ checks:
· are a hassle (in terms of paperwork to cash them and having to sign many of them)
· Usually cash them only at a Bank of China which during my summer trip were closed for currency transactions on weekends.
· Must have passport with you to cash.
Finally, if you have any tendency to get motion sickness, you must bring medication for it (something like Bonine which is available over the counter). We will have many bus rides, some on the bumpiest roads you’ve ever experienced. Given the recent floods in Chongqing, some of the country roads might be in bad shape. We might not be able to get to a local gorge that we usually visit if the roads are worse than they were this summer.