When you visit China you should have enough yuan - China's official currency - for daily expenses, rent, food, clothes and incidentals. Some people will say US dollars are accepted by businesses. But it won't be convenient for you to live your life depending on US dollars. You'll constantly be looking for somewhere to exchange your dollars for yuan. Except some hotels, resorts or places only for foreigners you can't use US dollars or other foreign currencies directly.
Exchange Money at the Airport
One of the easiest and most convenient places to change money is at the airport upon arrival. Rates at all banks are the same, everywhere, so you don't have to worry about getting a better rate elsewhere. The only difference will be the charge for exchanging but this is nominal.
Change some money as soon as you arrive so you don't end up cashless at midnight looking for an open bank. Exchange counters at the airport should take both cash and travelers' checks.
Exchange Money at Chinese Banks
You can change money at banks in large cities. All the Banks will offer the same rate on the same day.Only large branches of banks will offer foreign exchange. There will be English-language signage (as well as Chinese) but if there isn't or you're confused, ask the security guard to help you.
If you’re stuck for communication, just show him your foreign currency and he'll quickly understand what you want. If he waves you out the door, that means they don’t offer the service. Go find another big bank.
BOC and ICBC usually have more different foreign currencies to exchange and to be more professional. Foreign Currency to RMB and RMB to Foreign Currency are both available.
Exchange in ATMs
If you do not want to line up and schedule for money exchange in the Bank of China, the ATMs are good options.
ATM machines are everywhere and you can choose to operate in English. There are some banks at the airport, if you exchange not more than 500$, will charge 30RMB for service fee there, except for the Bank of Agriculture.
ATMs are also widely available, although only some will work with international cards. Look for machines with your card system’s logo. Bank of China machines accept most international cards and seem to be reliable and easy to use.Exchange rates and fees are controlled and the same everywhere within China, so usually it is the easiest way to change money at the airport or in your hotel. There are several major Chinese Banks and they are open 24 hours a day.
Save receipts as these are needed to change Renminbi (yuan) back into foreign currency. Without the receipt WHERE and HOW you got the Yuan, they will not exchange your country's currency for you.
Exchange Money at Hotels
Hotels usually charge a higher commission than banks do, so if you can avoid changing money at the hotel, it's advisable.
Keep All Your Exchange Receipts
If you plan to change any Chinese currency into another currency at the end of your trip, you'll need the receipt to do this.
If you don't have the receipt, the exchange counter will refuse to change your money from RMB. So keep all of your receipts and make sure you elect to receive one if you use an ATM to get money.
Don't Go Rural Without Cash
Once you're in the countryside (meaning any smaller town), you might not be able to find a bank with foreign exchange easily. Changing your money before you head off is a safe bet.
But fortunately, you can also use Alipay or WeChat payment in many countrysides now since the online payments are booming in China.
Bring Cash, Not Checks
Cash is much easier to exchange. It doesn't matter what they tell you at the banks of your own country. Yes, travelers' checks are meant to be accepted all over the world.
But your banker at home has never met a surly, sleepy Chinese bank teller who doesn't feel like bothering with a travelers' check that she will have to take pains to verify whether it's counterfeit or not.