The Chinese currency is called renminbi (people's currency) and is often abbreviated to RMB. The basic unit is Yuan. Ten Jiao make one Yuan; ten Fen make one Jiao. Thus 100 Fen make one Yuan.
Hongkong's currency is the Hongkong dollar and Macau's is the Pataca. Both currencies are worth 7% more than Renminbi.
A money belt or pocket sewn inside your clothes is the safest way to carry money. Velcro tabs sewn to seal your pockets shut will also help thwart roving hands. Keeping all your eggs in one basket is not advised - guard against possible loss by leaving a small stash of money (say US$100) in your hotel room or buried in your backpack, with record of the travellers cheque serial numbers and your passport numbers.
Stock up some ¡ê ¡è10 bills in case of the vendors and taxi drivers cannot make change for big note.
Counterfeit bills are a problem in China. Very few Chinese will accept a ¡ê ¡è50 or ¡ê ¡è100 bill without first checking to see whether or not it is a fake. Notes that are old and tattered are also sometimes hard to spend. If you are having problems with a note, exchange it for a new one or small change at the Bank of China -counterfeits, however, will be confiscated.
Besides the advantage of safety, travellers cheques are useful to carry in China because the exchange rate is actually more favourable than what you get for cash. Cheques from most of the world's leading banks and issuing agencies are now acceptable in China - stick to the major companies such as Thomas Cook, American Express and Citibank and you'll be OK. However it is only acceptable in the bank instead of shopping centers.
At the present time, ATMs that work with foreign currency are hardly found out of Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai.
Credit cards are gaining more acceptance in China for use by foreign visitors in major tourist cities. Useful cards include Visa, Maaster Card, American Express, JCB and Diners Club. They can be used in most mid-range to top-end hotels (three star and up), Friendship Stores and some department stores. Note that it is still impossible to use credit cards to finance your transportation costs; even flights have to be paid for in cash.
Credit card cash advances have become fairly routine at head branches of the Bank of China, even in places as remote as Lhasa. Bear in mind, however a 4% commission is generally deducted and usually the minimum advance is ¡ê ¡è1200.
Except in Hong Kong and Macau, having money sent to you in China is a time-consuming and frustrating task that is best avoided.
China Courier Service Corporation (a joint-venture with Western Union Financial Services in the USA) is very fast and efficient. In Beijing, there is a branch at 173, Yong'an St.Tel: 86-10-63184285.
Foreigners can indeed open bank accounts in China, Both RMB and US dollar accounts (the latter only at special foreign exchange banks). You do not need to have resident status, a tourist visa is sufficient.