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Tibet Money & Credit Card

Last Update: June 30, 2020

What’s The Currency in Tibet?

Tibet currency is the same as in mainland China. Currency of Tibet is known as Renminbi (RMB) or Chinese Yuan (CNY). The basic unit of this currency is Yuan. In spoken Chinese, the word Kuai is almost always substituted for Yuan. Ten Jiao (commonly known as Mao) make up one Yuan. That’s to say, 10 Jiao (or Mao) = 1Yuan (or Kuai).

RMB comes in paper notes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Yuan; and 1, 2 and 5 Jiao. Coins are in denominations of 1 yuan; and 1 and 5 Jiao.

Note:
1.Coins are not acceptable in Tibet even for tipping.
2.China has a problem with counterfeit notes. Very few Tibetans or Chinese will accept a Y100 or Y50 note without first subjecting it to intense scrutiny, and many will not accept old, tattered notes. Check the watermark when receiving any Y100 note.

Tibet Currency Exchange

Lhasa central branch of the Bank of China
In Tibet, the only place to change foreign currency and travelers cheques is the Bank of China.

Where to exchange for Chinese currency?

  • In Tibet, the only place to change foreign currency and travelers cheques is the Bank of China.
  • Top-end hotels in Lhasa have exchange services but only for guests.
  • Outside of Lhasa, the only other locations to change money are in Shigatse, Zhangmu, Purang (cash only) and Ali, and at the airport on arrival.

How to exchange for foreign currency?

  • The only place in Tibet to officially change RMB back into foreign currency is the central Lhasa branch of the Bank of China. You will need your original exchange receipts. You cannot change RMB into dollars at Gongkar airport.
  • Moneychangers at Zhangmu (by the Nepal border) will change Yuan into Nepali rupees and vice versa.
  • Yuan can also easily be reconverted in Hong Kong and, increasingly, in many Southeast Asian countries.

Tips:
1.If you are travailing upcountry, try to get your cash in small denominations: Y100 and Y50 bills are sometimes difficult to get rid of in rural Tibet.
2.The currencies of Australia, Canada, the US, the UK, Hong Kong, Japan, the euro zone and most of the rest of Western Europe are acceptable at the Lhasa Bank of China.
3.The official China currency exchange rate is given at all banks and most hotels, so there is little need to shop around for the best deal. The standard commission is 0.75%.

Travellers Cheques How They Work?

Travelers checks are useful to carry in Tibet for the advantage of safety and higher exchange rate. Travellers cheques from the major companies such as Thomas Cook, Citibank, American Express and Bank of America are accepted. The Bank of China charges a 0.75% commission to cash travellers cheques.

Can I Use Credit Card in Tibet?

Credit card usage is limited in Tibet. Most local tours, train tickets and even flights out of Lhasa still can’t be paid by using a credit card. The few shops that do accept credit cards often charge a 4% surcharge. What’s more, the Lhasa central branch of the Bank of China is the only place in Tibet that provides credit card advances. A 3% commission is deducted.

International Wire Transfers to China?

Getting money sent to you in Lhasa is possible but it can be a drag.

  • Option one is by using the Bank of China’s central office in Lhasa. Money should be wired to the Bank of China, Tibet/Lhasa branch, 28 Linkuo Xilu, bank account No 90600668341, SWIFT code BKCHCNBJ900. Double-check wiring instructions with the bank beforehand.
  • Option two is via Western Union (www.westernunion.com), which can wire money via the Express Mail Service at Lhasa’s main post office.

Withdraw Money from ATM in Tibet?

Several ATMs in Lhasa and Shigatse accept foreign cards. However, it’s suggested to check before trying your card as many ATMs can only be used by domestic account holders.

  • The Bank of China accepts Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, American Express and Plus. The maximum amount you can withdraw per transaction is Y2000 with the Bank of China.
  • The Agricultural Bank accepts Visa, Plus and Electron. The maximum amount you can withdraw per transaction is Y1000.

Note:
Cards are occasionally eaten, so try to make your transaction during bank hours.

Tax in China for Foreigners?

Although big hotels may add a tax or ‘service charge’ of 10% to 15%, all other taxes are included in the price tag, including airline departure tax.

How to Keep Money Safe While Traveling Tibet?

  • A moneybelt or pockets sewn inside your clothes is the safest way to carry money.
  • Keeping all your eggs in one basket is not advised - you should keep an emergency cash stash of small-denomination notes in US dollars apart from your main moneybelt, along with a record of your travelers cheque serial numbers, emergency contact numbers and passport number.

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