Tag Archives: Money

Using Union Pay at #Korea ATM

1 Jan

‚ÄčHow to use a Chinese Union Pay card at a Korean atm. ūüėú I had to learn through trial & error. Hope this saves some Chinese residents visiting Korea!
1. Click button that says English (with #Chinese characters below) – you cannot actually use a union pay card and English – so it has to be done in Chinese.

2. Choice 2 – ‘Foreign Card šł≠ŚúčŤ™ě’ – That’s Chinese

3. Put in your card.

4. Choose ‘CUP’ – Chinese Union Pay

5. Choose the top left button (first button) – šŅ°ÁĒ®Ść°(credit card)

6. Choose the top left button (first choice) – ŚŹĖÁéį (take cash)

7. Now it will ask you how much Won you want.

8. Enter you Bank Card password.

9. Take receipt, card, then cash!

Well done!

Life in China ~ Moving Money

21 Apr


I’m back again with a little piece of life in China! ¬†One of the significant issues confronting expats living abroad is the ¬†matter of getting money back into the States. ¬†

Whether it’s because you still have family at home, you want to put it in savings, or (like me) you have US/China bills to pay – almost everyone goes through the process of moving money from abroad back home or vice versa.

First things first, in China cash¬†has three important vocabulary terms¬†– Yuan, Jiao, and Renminbi. ¬†Renminbi (RMB) is the official name of the currency, and if you want to exchange money to the US Dollar (USD), you need to know that RMB abbreviation. ¬†We usually say “I need to exchange RMB to USD.” On the other hand, one Yuan ( ¬•) is the most basic unit of money in China. In use, it¬†is equivalent to our $1 bill although the exchange rate comes out very differently. Anyway, a¬†bottle of soda here costs¬†¬•3 which means three of the 1 Yuan bills (see above). ¬†They also have bills of¬†¬•5,¬†¬•10,¬†¬•20,¬†¬•50, and¬†¬•100.¬†¬•100 is the highest possible bill you can use. ¬†Finally, they have¬†Jiao¬†or¬†fractions of a Yuan (10 Jiao, 5 Jiao, and 1 Jiao). ¬†10 Jiao has the same value as¬†¬•1, so we just call it 1 Yuan. 5 Jiao are 1/2 of a Yuan (i.e. 50 cents). 1 Jiao is 1/10 of a Yuan (i.e. 10 cents). ¬†The Jiao either come in paper or coins. So we have Cash (Yuan ¬•) and Fractions of a Yuan¬†(Jiao) used in the daily, current Chinese currency or RMB.

In some countries, it is probably more simple than others to send money. Perhaps because China is a UnionPay Nation, it can be rather difficult here.  Union Pay is an alternative to VISA, Mastercard, ect. and is used in predominantly all Chinese banks.  Of course, the banks in China are a little different too.  For example, the bank card I was given does not include a security number or expiration date.And my phone number is 1***-****-****.  Note the extra digit in the middle.   So I have an incredibly difficult time using it online with American systems that require those details.  More and more US businesses are modifying their system to accept Union Pay cards, but the additional information required for many credit card entry systems does not always work.  

So how do we get our money from China into America? Currently, I have heard of four different primary methods or systems of transferring cash. One important factor is how much you need to exchange. Chinese nationals can exchange quite a bit more RMB to USD than foreign expats. Foreigners can only change $3000 a day. 


To do any of this you should have a passport, valid Chinese VISA, a Chinese phone number, and your home address written in Chinese characters.

You also most likely need a Chinese bank account. There are many, many Chinese banks but only some of them work in the International Money Transferring business. For Paypal, only China Merchant’s Bank, ICBC, and China Construction Bank. For Bank-to-Bank transfers or Western Union transfers there are a larger group of banks, but still only the primary ones (i.e. Bank of China, China Construction Bank –I think you can only accept money, not send it though-, Agricultural Bank of China, etc.) ¬†I recommend¬†picking your method and then figuring out which type of bank account you need.

To open a Chinese bank account, you need to go during the work week (Monday-Friday) in order to get the right officials at the bank. The bank may be open on weekends, but the officials may not be there. I took a Chinese student and close friend with me. She had us bring our passports, VISAs, and recommended bringing a second photo ID like a driver’s license. We then went¬†to the bank, filled out a lot of information on a form, and processed the account. Had to sign my name a couple times and then got my card.

I highly recommend that when you do this process you do a couple things to simply the process later. First, bring your Chinese phone number and add it to the forms so it is attached to your bank account. You will need this if you ever want to add Alipay, use Taobao, check your account online, etc. That phone number is one of the ways they verify that you own the account Рthey usually send a verification code by phone. Paypal verification process also sometimes requires that you accept the verification code by phone to enter it into the registration process.  Second, ask them to approve you for online banking and tell them you will use the card for online shopping. The Chinese translator can hep, but they have to actually approve you for using your card online or using it to pay for something. So go ahead and get that paperwork filed this first time.


Many people simply use the Chinese bank itself to transfer money over to a US Bank.  Personally, I found it expensive and a bit of a hassle (especially since I work so much and getting to a bank with a Chinese student who can translate gets to be a problem). 

To do this, you need to bring them your Passport (and Visa) and the foreign bank’s name, mailing address, routing number, swift code, account number, etc. ¬†You then probably need to bring a Chinese student with you to translate depending on where in China you are (Shanghai, they might speak English, but I’m in Henan where that ain’t happening). ¬†It usually costs you a few hundred RMB on top of the exchange rate. Sometimes you have to exchange the money first and then transfer it. Sometimes they will do that for you. It depends.


This is the method I find simplest and most effective. It requires a series of steps, but once set up is extremely easy and cheap (4% fee). You can send up to $1000 a day and Paypal will do the currency exchange for you! To do this though, you will need two Paypal Accounts and two email addresses. ūüôā¬†

Set Up

First, set up your US and China Bank Accounts. Make sure (as I said before) that the Chinese bank has approved you for online banking. China Merchant’s Bank, ICBC, and China Construction Bank are the only China Banks that this will work for! ¬†In a safe location, keep track of your account numbers and the full and¬†exact name that is on your Bank Account. This is very important especially for the Chinese bank because the name must be exactly the same or they will reject it.

Second, set up a Paypal¬†Global Account¬†and use one email address.¬†¬† I recommend doing this with Google Chrome and then just right click on the page, hit “translate to English” and the Chinese will go away ūüôā Sign into the account and on the left click “Bank Accounts and Cards.” Now click “Link a Bank.” For country, choose “China-Bank Verification.” Name should be your first and last name as you used for¬†Paypal. Choose your Bank (the list in order is ICBC, China Merchant’s Bank, and CCB). ¬†Continue. They will ask you to verify that this is your bank account. To do so download the pin number software as instructed and refresh the page. Input your Phone Number (per the Bank records) on top. Then enter your ATM withdrawal pin number. Then the “verification code.” ¬†If done correctly, Paypal will tell you the account has been verified.¬†

Third, set up a US Paypal Account using another email address. Go through the same process of linking and verifying your bank account but add the US Bank this time. Paypal will tell you the account has been verified. 


  1. Put your RMB in the Chinese Bank account. 
  2. You can immediately go to your China Paypal Account and “Send Money” to your US Paypal Account’s email address. It’s easy. Just put in the email address, the amount of money you want to send, and under “shipping”, click “no Shipping required.”¬†
  3. Go to your US Paypal Account. The money should be there pretty much instantly with no problem minus 4%. Now just click “Withdrawal”¬†and send the money to your US bank account. It should be there in 3-5 Business days. ¬†
  4. Done! Wait for the money to arrive.


Many choose to send money home via the Western Union Wire Transfer process. Western Union (Ť•ŅťÉ®ŤĀĒÁõü – Xńęb√Ļ Li√°nm√©ng) is an American Financial Company that will allow you to transfer money either from the USA to China or China to USA. You can do this via¬†Money Transfer -You have to physically visit their offices, but they have many agents in the bigger cities. You can locate an agent here. Conveniently, they give you a tracking number for your receipt. Inconveniently, they only accept US Dollars and their exchange rates (I’ve heard) are fairly high if you do it there.

Their fees are 

  • $15 for transfers of¬†$1-$500
  • $20 for transfers of¬†$501-$1,000
  • $25 for transfers of¬†$1,001-$2,000
  • $30 for transfers of¬†$2,001-$9,000.¬†That is the highest they will do.


Last, of course many people simply carry their money home. ¬†If you don’t need to send money home monthly, it is an option to simply carry it home with you. ¬†There are two ways you can do this.

First, you take out cash in China and take it with you via plane back to the USA. I think this is dangerous because you are carrying too much money. Also, remember that RMB has its highest possible denomination in 100RMB (about $16). So if you take your money home in RMB, that’s a LOT of cash. If you take it in Dollars, it is dangerous.¬†

Second, you can use your China bank card in the States. For example China Construction Bank has an agreement with Bank of America where you can withdraw money fairly cheaply and easily at their ATMs. You pay a small fee for using your card outside of China, but otherwise this is not too bad.  Just remember to verify with your bank in China, because not all bank cards will work. 



Life in China ~ the Currency

18 Apr


A new “Life in China” post is here ūüôā . This week, I’m kind of focusing on Money and Banking in China. ¬†I wanted to start by looking at Chinese currency or money and what it¬†is worth. ūüôā¬†

In China there are three important money terms you should know- Yuan, Jiao, and Renminbi.

¬†Renminbi (Ruhn meen bee) ¬†is the official name of the Chinese currency and is abbreviated on the foreign exchange market as RMB. ¬†So if you wanted to exchange money to the US Dollar (USD), you would¬†officially¬†say “I need to exchange RMB to USD.”¬†

The RMB is then broken down into Yuan (yoo ehn), their most basic unity of money which is usually noted with a ¥. Because the Yuan is more commonly discussed, the exchange market will sometimes informally abbreviate the currency as CNY.   Do not confuse this with the Japanese Yen ( ‎¥‎) which has the same symbol or the Korean Won which sounds remarkably similar (the names of both the Japanese and Korean currencies are actually derived from the word Yuan and thus it can be quite confusing).

 Basically, the RMB has its own version of the dollar bill called a Yuan. So if we were talking about the Chinese currency, we would use Renminbi. But if we were asking about specific amounts of money (i.e. how much is that, how much is in your bank, this costs _____), we use Yuan. ¥6  is approximately $1 in foreign exchange (meaning that for every $1 you would get ¥6 or vice versa.  

On the streets, Yuan = Mao = Kuai = Kuai Qian. ¬† Mao because the bills all have the face of Chairman Mao on them–to be honest this is more common amongst expats than locals¬†ūüôā . Kuai (coo aye) because that is the ancient Chinese word for “piece” when they used pieces of silver. Kuai Qian (coo aya chee ehn) because that is the ancient Chinese phrase¬†for “Pieces of Money.” ¬†So just like Americans speak in both¬†“dollars” and “bucks,” the Chinese might at any given moment talk about “Five Yuan,” “Five Kuai” or “Five Kuai Qian.” ¬†Listen carefully when they speak–and don’t mix up the Qian (money) for Qi (7) since they sound similar to us!

Yuan come in¬†bills of¬†¬•1, ¬•5,¬†¬•10,¬†¬•20,¬†¬•50, and¬†¬•100 respectively.¬†¬•100 is the highest possible bill you can use (which makes for a funny sight for companies since it’s not actually a lot of money – $16 – ¬†and most people don’t use cards here. So you are constantly paying in cash, which means that the store always has tons of cash on hand. You’ll see people coming and leaving the bank with hundreds of “¬•100” bills in their purses.¬†¬†I have to deposit a whole wad each time my paycheck. Little dangerous, but makes me feel quite rich! ūüôā

One Yuan (Yi Yuan)

On the front is Chairman Mao Zedong and the number 1. On the back is the very famous  Xi Hu Lake or West Lake in Hangzhou.




There is also a One Yuan Coin:

Five Yuan (Wu Yuan)

On the front is Chairman Mao Zedong and the number 5. On the back is¬†Taishan Mountain (ś≥įŚĪĪ) in the Shandong Province.

Ten Yuan (Shi Yuan)

On the front is Chairman Mao Zedong and the number 10. On the back is the Yangtze River’s Three Gorges (Qutan, Wu, and Xiling).¬†

Twenty Yuan (Er Shi Yuan)

On the front is Chairman Mao Zedong and the number 20. On the back is the Lijiang River at Guilin 

Fifty Yuan (Wu Shi Yuan)

On the front is Chairman Mao Zedong and the number 50. On the back is the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.

One Hundred Yuan (Yi Bai Yuan)

On the front is Chairman Mao Zedong and the number 100. On the back is the Great Hall of the People (close to Tienanmen Square in Beijing) which is where the National Congress is held.





Chinese Coins or Cents

Of course, where America has its dimes, nickels, and quarters, China has its Jiao (fractions of a Yuan). Jiao actually comes in either coins or bills as you can see pictured below. There are  5 Jiao (1/2 of a Yuan in value) and 1 Jiao (1/10 of a Yuan in value). For Americans, it would be similar to having a  50 cent piece and a dime.  So we have Cash (Yuan ¥) and Fractions of a Yuan (Jiao) used in the daily, current Chinese Renminbi currency or RMB.

Five Jiao (usually written as ¥.5) (Wu Jiao)

One Jiao (usually written as ¥.1) (Yi Jiao)



Common Study Abroad Expenses

11 Aug

Your first step in estimating expenses is to determine what is included in the Program’s Package. ¬†The school/organization will give you a price that you have to pay to them, and what is provided through that package varies from program to program. ¬†Usually, it will include tuition, housing, a certain number of “culture trips” (may be extra!), transportation between hotel and school morning and afternoon (for short¬†programs), VISA (may be extra!), and the assistance of a program advisor.

Some things to verify include:

  • Transportation Fees – does this include flights, trips to and from the school and hotel, trips to internships, extra trips offered during the program, etc.
  • Housing Fees – Is there a deposit required by the hotel? What amenities are provided by the hotel? Is breakfast offered? What about a gym or exercise facilities? Is there a mini kitchen in the room or are you required to eat out? ¬†How about laundry facilities? An iron? Wireless? How many people in a room?¬†
  • Program Fees – Are all culture trips included in this price? Books? Exam software or notebooks? Transcripts? ¬†All classroom expenses?
  • Flights –¬†If flights are included, how many suitcases do you get free?
  • VISA – Is the VISA included or are you getting that on your own (this is important for your time considerations as well- VISA can take weeks to obtain)?
  • Books¬† – Are they included?

In addition to the fees¬†required¬†by the school, you will have a number of out-of-pocket expenses.¬†Many of these will depend on your own choices (e.g. shared or private rooms), but certainly some of them are requisite no matter what. ¬†A great place to find information on living expenses is Numbeo’s “Cost of Living” site or try googleing “Cost of Living in . . . . “

Below, I have attempted to list the most common expenses study abroadists face during the trip.

These costs naturally vary student-to-student, place-to-place so this is not a hard&fast list of expenses. Some of us will spend less, some more. But at least it gives you something to work from!

**[PP] = Usually included in the overall price of the program listed by the school

  • Tuition (???) – Depends on the school, location,¬†and length of the program [PP]
  • Flights (approximately $600-$2500 one-way) – shop early, plan well.¬†
    • Airline Baggage Fees¬†(US-Foreign Country = 2 free bags, then $75-$150 for the third one) – if you are flying¬†internationally between other countries, this cost may change!). ¬†Remember to book all you tickets at once or you might be charged for each bag on any domestic flights included in the trip. Also don’t have overweight luggage!
    • Layover Fees¬†($0 – $300) – Some flights involve layover delays in between each flight.¬†Sometimes people end up spending money on food, drinks, entertainment, souvenirs, short tours of the layover stop, hotels, taxis, etc. ¬†To avoid these extra costs, bring a book or tablet with you on the trip, take a bus if you leave the airport, and sleep in the airport if allowed.
  • Housing (usually around $1000-$1500 / month) [PP] – usually required even for home-stays.
    • Hotel Deposit ($70-$200) – Not always necessary – if required, must be paid upon arrival at the hotel. Usually will be included towards the cost of the hotel room.
    • Alternative would be finding a hostel (average $15-$50/night) or staying with someone you know.
    • Costs¬†for Hotel Amenities (Gym, Trash, Wireless, Recycling, Laundry, Dry-Cleaning, House-Keeping, etc.) are sometimes¬†not included in given hotel fee. ¬†Ask your program director what is and is not included.
  • VISA ($0-$500) – Usually free if you stay less than 90 days. [PP]
    • If you do require a VISA and you have to get your own, it may require traveling to a major city to the nation’s embassy twice (once to drop off paperwork and once to pick up the VISA). This often adds an extra hotel and transportation cost for the¬†trip.
  • US Passport ($135) – ALWAYS required. Check out our¬†Passport page for more information.
  • Textbooks ($60-???) – Depends on your program, classes, etc.
  • Transportation¬†($100-???) – Costs can run at very small if you mostly walk to pretty high if you take taxis or have to pay extra money for culture trips or tours. Walk, Bike, or take a Bus if you can. ¬†Save a minimum $100 just in case!
  • Food ($100-$1000/month) – Depends on location, length of program, and what you eat. ¬†Can range from minor amounts to extremely costly. ¬†To save money try cooking for yourself (especially in the hotel has a kitchenette), eating on the street, or finding restaurants¬†that serve the local workers. Avoid cafes, nicer¬†dinner establishments, or tourist shops. ¬†Organic or Vegetarian options often cost more. ¬†You can always bring a tub of peanut butter and live on sandwiches or bring some boxes of Mac&Cheese! ¬†Not¬†to say you can’t taste some good traditional cuisine! Yummy ūüôā
  • Excursions¬†($50-$200/week w/ $300-$400 for one weekend away trip) – We all want to visit the cultural sites and stop off at a good club now and again. ¬†Try to set aside $50-$200/week (more or less depending on what you’re doing), and spread out the costlier places over the duration of the trip. ¬†I’ve never seen a student manage a study abroad trip without at least one major trip to a different country or city, so save $300-$400 for that one weekend¬†traveling expedition.
  • Souvenirs ($100-$250) – You may not spend it all, or you might spend more. But I’d try to set aside this amount as your base.
  • Clothing ($100-???) – Entirely up to you! ¬†But at least $100 in case you find a t-shirt or jewelry or a hat or something.
  • Suitcases ($100-$150 each)¬†
  • Common Surprise¬†Extras
    • Medication (for the whole time)
    • Iron (if you have a suit) or Dry-Cleaning
    • Laundry
    • Internet (if you don’t have wi-fi, you can sometimes rent a router)
    • Phone Service (a lot of international travelers rent¬†a phone and plan for their trip)
    • Insurance (Health and Renters)
    • Gym / Exercise
    • Kitchen Appliances for the room
    • Living Supplies (shampoo, conditioner, soaps, dish soap, blankets, towels, hair dryers, plates, trash bags, etc.)
    • Clothing (emergency shirts, pants, suits, shoes, hair things, hats, etc.¬†– you packed for hot and it’s cold, you packed for hiking and you suddenly have an internship with a company.
    • Doctor’s Bills – food poisoning, broken bones, etc.
    • Appliances – extension cords, adapters, chargers, padlocks, etc.
    • School Supplies – pencils, notebooks, etc.

So What About You? ¬†Any Costs You’d Add To The List?

Adding Paypal Button to WordPress.com Widget

28 Oct

Now that I have 5+ blogs and 3 website going, keeping everything is starting to take more time and money to cover website maintenance. ¬†I decided to add a Paypal “Donate” button to a couple of the social blogs for those people¬†gracious enough to volunteer to¬†help out.

Unfortunately, the process of adding a “Donate” button was rather more confusing than I expected it to be. ¬†I assumed that you simply created the button on Paypal and then copied the code, but it took a few more steps.

There is a WordPress.com page dedicated to the subject, but it mostly works from the focus of adding the button to a¬†post¬†or¬†page. ¬†Not as a widget. ¬†This one from me is dedicated to the Widgets ūüôā


1. ¬†Go to your WordPress blog and open up “Widgets.”

2. Click and Drag an “Image” Widget onto your Sidebar.

3. Give it whatever Widget title you want ~ e.g.¬†Help Keep the Site¬†Going ‚̧ Continue reading

Book Review: “A Cheap Ticket For Student Travel”

21 May

‚ÄúA Cheap Ticket for Student Travel‚ÄĚ

by Gary Chen

A small little guide for the average college student on saving while they travel.

Gary Chen‚Äôs new book, ‚ÄúA Cheap Ticket for Student Travel‚ÄĚ is a great, yet short, read for college/low income students interested in traveling (especially traveling abroad). ¬†At only 23 pages (in PDF form), you can read through it pretty quickly, but it offers some great insights into how you can travel even on a college student‚Äôs budget. ¬†

He opens with a pretty strong argument for traveling while you’re young ~ time, energy, and lack of ties.  This is something I wish a lot more students would keep in mind; by the time you have jobs, families, and other demands on your time and attention, traveling becomes less and less of a likelihood.  Since traveling can significantly add to both your accomplishments and the broadening of your experience, taking that awesome trip now is a pretty good idea.

Most of his advice officially starts in Chapter two, where he begins with the important saving tool ‚Äď Planning. ¬†This carries through the next two chapters during which he discusses how ¬†even little things like¬†grouping¬†nearby¬†locations together can save money on costs. ¬†Chapter 5 is where he really gets into precise methods of saving as opposed to more general¬†recommendations. ¬†He also has a really great form on pages 17-18 that helps you list out your expected¬†expenses¬†and likely total. ¬†I think filling this out is a great way of reminding yourself precisely how much this might cost you and what you need to save. Throughout the book, he offers some great means of saving and I like the main message he communicates ‚ÄĒ traveling doesn‚Äôt have to ruin you financially!

Writing style: Some of the writing could use some editing and there were a few choppy areas, but overall I found it to be a quick and easy read. ¬†A great addition to the ebook is the number of internal links Chen offers his readers‚Äďhe frequently links to relevant and interesting articles relating to the subject of discussion. ¬†Particularly helpful are the links to discount sites and saving tools; I might even use a few of these!

If you are interested or thinking about traveling, I recommend checking his book out. ¬†You can find it on Smashwords as a FREE E-book (I like the free part, it matches his theme¬†ūüôā¬†)


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