Tips on getting Chinese cash at a fair rate?


Next year, I’m going to need about 2000 CHF worth of Chinese Yuan, in cash.

I’m trying to look at the different options for getting that cash converted, but I do not have a very good solution. Last year, I brought the CHF cash to China and converted at one counter deep into a city. The rate was not really bad, about 6.5 instead of 6.7. We also checked Chinese banks, but it was much worse.

I checked the options to get the cash in Switzerland, but it’s really bad. The rate is currently 6.96 and the best rate I have found is 6.3 :frowning_face: (the worst was is 5.8 :angry:).

Does anyone has some tips on alternative on getting that cash?

Thanks :slight_smile:

Just came back from China shortly. We changed it to CNY at the Coop Depositenkasse. They have in general the best x-rates. But in HK locals told us that the exchange desks in the city offer the best rates. I assume in China itself it is the same…

Thanks :slight_smile:

I actually didn’t know about Coop Depositenkasse. I will have to check their rates. Do you happen to remember the rate they gave you?

phu, i also changed CHF 2k. I think I still have the receipt somewhere but this rate is 2 months old.

But Coop Depositenkasse offers almost always the best rates. I regularly change EUR/CHF and it was always the best offer. Same as I needed the CNY.

I am not a hundred percent sure where you need the money, but if you want to cross the border of Mainland China only 10000 CNY in Chinese cash is free. I don’t know the applicable laws for bringing more. Could be taxed, could be forbidden.

Debit card:
A good card could help. With my Maestro debit card from SZKB I paid a fee of about 1.8% on top of the mid market exchange rate. It would be about 0.7% but I could only get out 3000 CNY from the ATM (Bank of China) each time. And SZKB charged 5 CHF each time. The same ATM can be used multiple times, but I remember some ?daily? limits of about 20000 CNY. Anyway, this is convenient and better than the rates quoted by you (3.1%, 10.4% and 20%). And there are probably better cards than mine.

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@Strutra2007 Thanks, I will check their rates!

@Helix Yes, I know about the limit. If I get the cash in Switzerland, I will only take 10’000 RMB. I could bring 10’000 more if necessary since my wife will also come with me.

Yes I thought about using my debit card. Do you know how the rates are calculated? I do not really trust my bank to use a fair exchange rate. I will have to get more information about that and about my debit card.

Thanks a lot guys!

I’d suggest getting a Revolut card before travelling.

You can top-up in any currency, and then use the card (MasterCard ad/or Visa) to pay in China, and to some extent to withdraw money from ATM for free.

The exchange rate is interbank (market rate) on weekdays and with 1% surcharge on weekends.
Free ATM withdrawals are limited to 200 CHF/month/person, anything over it is 2%.
There is 5000 CHF/month free exchange with a free Revolut account.

Let me know if need more info, I can also send you a referal link to get your first card for free if you haven’t installed the app yet (otherwise is 7 CHF).

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@thepoorswiss According to their document
“Preise für Basisdienstleistungen und Zahlungsverkehr” (in German) on page 10 you can see the “Maestro-Karte CHF” is included in the “Basis-Set” and charges 5 CHF for “Bancomatbezug im Ausland” (using ATM abroad) + “Devisen-Verkaufskurs” (their rate).

They have their rates online for some currencies. Sadly, CNY is not listed there. But one could probably just give them a call and ask for the rate. From experience it was around 0.7% on top of the mid-market range. That is not too great, Chinese banks wanted around 0.3% last time I exchanged digital CHF to CNY.

Currency exchange is strictly regulated in China therefore all banks and currency exchange shops offer the same rates. You can look them up here and do your math if it’s worthwile to exchange before or after you arrive:

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@Karol I have a Revolut card :slight_smile: I was thinking of using it for all my purchases but the 2% for withdrawals didn’t seem too impressive. But I may end up doing it anyway.

@Helix Thanks for all the details :slight_smile:

@glina I did not know it was regulated so strongly.

From what I see, it seems indeed much better to get it from China. I will have to try from an ATM with my Revolut. If it’s not that great, I will go to BOC.

Thanks a lot guys!

So I suppose you already have also a TW card that you use to top-up your Revolut account for free, right?
Than your effective ATM limit just doubled :slight_smile:
Still far from 10k CNY, but at least some additional cash :grinning:

Yes, I do have a TW as well :slight_smile: I could indeed use it to double my limit :wink:

Thanks for the idea!

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