Edwin spent 5 days reading this blog to prepare for his/her jouney to Shanghai for short term language program at Fudan University, but still have some questions to ask. Among them, this one is particularly interesting:
Fudan says I have to pay the tuition (4000rmb) in cash (why cash?) — my question is since i have to change such a large sum of money and walk around with it in my pocket, is it safe? Is it better to exchange money at the airport or would I get a better exchange rate within the city? Do banks take traveller’s checks or should I use cash? — I find this uncomfortable as I never carry that much cash here in my daily life so it’s weird for me…
Haha. I can understand how confusing Edwin is to bring big amount of cash in an unfamiliar environment.
It is Common
Cash is still the most widely accepted payment methods. Credit cards are widely accepted by services with better margin – restaurants, bars, shopping malls, many places still does not accept credit card. Even KFC, McDonald’s and PizzaHut does not accept credit cards in China.
Universities are among the slower mover in terms of commerical usage. I still remember the time when thousands of students carrying cash and waited in line to handin the tuition. This situation was changed in the year 1998 in Shanghai Jiao Tong University, when SJTU joined effort with ICBC (Industry and Commerical Bank of China) to issue debet cards to students.
However, it was wired at that year that when I deposited my 3000 RMB into the card, the university get the money out of my bank account without my approval. I believe this won’t happen today.
For short-term study, it is very common that they only accept cash. There is nothing strong here. So just accept it. :-)
Carrying Cash on the Street?
I don’t think anyone would say it is safe to carry large amount of cash on the street. So won’t I. But carrying cash is the only way to do that, my best suggestion is be careful. 4000 RMB is not that huge in Shanghai – many people take much more than that. It was because Cross Bank Money Transfer was not easy before some tools were put into use.
If you can choose, I suggest you to get the cash from a bank (Bakn of China) near Fudan University. You may ask where you can find the bank after you get to Fudan. To exchange at the airport is another option, but there is no discount to do that.
I have no idea about traveller’s check. It is not a common concept for people here, but I believe banks may accepted, or NOT. Check with your bank first. Citibank are here with a lot of ATM machines. You may ask their branches to get more information.
Wish you a safe trip (with the cash).
P.S. Found my picture in the Esquire magazine 2006.02 issue. It is a group photo occupying two full pages. I am not a fashion fun, and didn’t know what Esquire is. Is it a big brand in U.S? I guess so because many said Esquire is big. The Chinese version is named Shi Shang Xian Sheng (or translated as Fashionable Men).