My first visit to U.S. was around the year of2000. I prepared for the trip for almost 1 month – from visa, to map, to research, to exchange money, and to create plan… The excitement and curiosity made going aboard very different from going to other city to me.
However, after visiting U.S. for more than 10 times, to visit a U.S. city is not a big deal any more. It is just like a Beijing trip (and a Beijing trip is like visiting another area in the city).
Money? Where is my Money?
After Boeing 747 of UA 858 arrived in the San Francisco International Airport in the typically sunny morning in the bay area, I realized that I didn’t bring a penny of USD with me during the trip. I still have much Renminbi cash in my wallet, but no USD. I don’t worry about it at all, since I have a magic plastic card – the visa credit card with me, and hopefully, the trip will be OK with the card. The only problem I can think of is, how to pay the tip in hotel.
To travel with no local cash? Bay area seems to provide this opportunity. I remember my first trip to San Jose with 100 USD and some changes in cash, and turned out to bring the 100 USD note back. I just spent the money on tip in hotel.
Australia is not so Credit Card Friendly
We applied the same “credit card” only approach in Sydney this Oct, but failed. The first problem is, the shuttle bus does not accept credit card, so we have to take train. There are many places, like restaurants, and coffee where credit card was not accepted, or at least not welcomed.
In Shanghai? Never go out of airport without RMB cash. The taxi, metro, bus, and food court, for example, all accept cash only. Exchange RMB at airport before going out.
Chance to Exchange USD? Oh. No. Thanks
We witnessed how fast the world is changing. During the first few visit to U.S. in 2000 – 2002, the first thing I’d like to do after getting ticket and visa is to exchange 3000 USD of cash, no matter I needed it or not. At that time, the exchange rate was something around 8.28 RMB = 1 USD, and USD kept going strong. To go aboard was one of the only few opportunity for people in China to exchange some foreign currency. If someone wanted to buy something from outside, they have to trade USD in black market. Any cash people had can easily change back to RMB at much higher exchange rate. Even friends wanted to exchange some USD from you at higher rate you pay the bank.
Just within 4 years, everything changes.
First, people can trade USD pretty freely. With a national ID, people can exchange up to 20,000 USD per year. This was enough, at least people didn’t have to go to the black market just for some USD to buy a book on Amazon.
Second, USD consumption in credit card can be paid by RMB. There is no limitation on it. If I pay USD with my credit card, I can make up the balance simply by RMB.
Third, and most important reason, USD continue to go soft and I don’t want to hold too much USD in cash.
So in the last three trip, I didn’t exchange any cash at all. I have some USD changes that I will bring to U.S., just in case. However, this time I even forgot the changes.
The good thing is, from renting a car, to hotel, to restaurant, everywhere credit card is accepted.
Till now, I didn’t see any problem. What a risky game I am playing. Hope everything should be fine. I will report my the first place I met problem later.
P.S. I am just a small potato in the big wave of change in history. My personal experience in the city or on the road sometimes reflects the bigger change in someway.