Students shopping in Tianjin

Currency and banking in China

Looking after your money

While it may seem daunting getting used to a new currency, managing your money in China isn’t too different to what you’ll be used to at home.

The staff at the INTO office will be able to help you with anything you’re unsure of, such as exchanging currency or opening a local bank account, leaving you more time to enjoy your new city.

What currency is used in China?

In China, the legal tender is CNY (Chinese Yuan), also known as RMB (Renminbi).

Notes are issued to the value of ¥100, ¥50, ¥20, ¥10, ¥5 and ¥1. Coins are used less frequently in the North of China.

How much cash should I bring?

Academic students:

It’s important to remember to bring enough cash with you when you first arrive to cover any ‘settling in’ costs, such as accommodation, health checks or sim cards. You can use your debit or credit cards to withdraw Chinese money from ATMs, and family and sponsors can send you money through bank transfers. Staff at the INTO office can help you with this.

You’ll need approximately RMB 2,000-4,000 per month to cover your basic living expenses – however, remember that this will vary depending on your lifestyle and spending habits. You’ll find various budget restaurants and cafés around the campus. It’s possible to eat well while spending RMB 700 on food each month.

Chinese Language Summer Programme students:

The programme includes the cost of all meals, activities, tuition and accommodation, so you’ll only need cash for souvenirs, snacks and any spending you want to do in your free time. RMB 2000 should be enough to cover any basic costs for your time in China, although allow extra spending money if you plan on shopping trips or nights out.

What's the cost of living in China?

China is a much cheaper place to live than Western Europe or North America. As a rough guide, a bottle of water costs RMB 2 and you can ride the subway for just RMB 3. If you want to enjoy a meal at the canteen at Nankai University, it will cost around RMB 10.

Shopping is a popular activity in Tianjin and you’ll find large shopping malls such as Joy City or BinJiang Street have many western brands too, including Zara, H&M, Gap and many more. The prices at international branded shops like this will be similar to what you’d pay at home.

Opening a bank account

Using a Chinese bank account is far more convenient in the long term. In your orientation week, we will help you open a Chinese bank account with Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPDB). There is a large branch of SPDB on Nankai University campus, with an English-language service available five days a week.