Chinese money is called Renminbi (RMB) means "The People's Currency". Chinese money is based on the decimal system, and consists of paper money and coins. The smallest coin is 1 fen, 10 fen make up a jiao (also called mao) and 10 jiao (or mao) make up a yuan. Paper money comes in six denominations - 5 jiao, 1 yuan, 2 yuan, 50 yuan, and 100 yuan. Because ordinary Chinese numbers are easy to write, and therefore easy to forge, a different set of Chinese characters is used for numbers on banknotes and other financial dealings.
As in most countries, the pictures on Chinese money have a political message. Portraits appear on the front of the Chinese money. Pictures of famous Chinese scenery such as the Great Wall appear on the reverse side. The 100 yuan note has pictures of four of the founders of the People's Republic of China. From right to left these are: Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, and Zhu De.
Be aware that at present China is suffering from a rash of counterfeiting. Fake notes are usually produced with color photocopiers and are easy to tell, as the paper feels different. A few years ago you were only likely to see fake RMB 100 notes, but these days there are even fake RMB 5 notes in circulation.
The official name for the Chinese money is Renminbi (abbreviated as RMB, the "people's money") with denominations of the yuan, jiao, and fen, which bear a relationship to each other somewhat like the U.S. dollar, dime, and penny.
RMB is not traded on international markets and can be officially purchased or exchanged only in China or in Hong Kong Stock exchange.
Foreign currencies and traveler's checks may be converted to RMB at hotels. The rate of currency exchange is the same everywhere in China. The 1999 rate of currency exchange was 8.20 yuan = US$1. For example, if an item costs 10 yuan RMB, it will be equivalent to US$1.21; this is calculated by dividing 10 by 8.20. See conversion table.
Your first opportunity to exchange your money for Chinese yuan will be at your first hotel. It is wise to carry some U.S. cash in $1, $5, $10, and $20 denominations as this can be a plus when buying from street vendors.
Most stores at tourist stops accept U.S. dollars. ATM machines are not readily available in China.
It is recommended that you carry traveler's checks as a safety measure. Also, traveler's checks usually command a better exchange rate than cash. For convenience, carry some traveler's checks in $20 denominations. All traveler's checks drawn on American banks are accepted in China. Be sure to make a list of your check numbers and keep the list in a safe place separate from your wallet, purse, or passport.
Major credit cards (except Discover Card) are accepted at all hotels, tourist stores, and factory outlets in China. Be sure to record your account numbers (and customer service telephone numbers) in case you lose your credit cards.
Make major purchases by credit card. You will get a good exchange rate, the protection of the card's charge-back provisions, and often an extra guarantee on your purchase.