Some key points on finances for the trip.
Note on currency exchange here in the U.S.: It is possible to obtain Chinese currency here in the U.S. However, the exchange rate available in the U.S. is very unfavorable – as of today, approximately 5.57 RMB to the dollar here in the U.S. as opposed to the going rate of 6.63 RMB.
- all essentials are covered in the trip fee (transportation, hotels, meals, admission fees, etc.).
- students will be responsible for all costs beyond those essentials – e.g. snacks, souvenirs, extra hotel fees (e.g. room service, phone calls, internet connection, laundry). With regard to food, it is possible that students may have a craving for Western food (e.g. McDonalds, Starbucks) along the way. The will be responsible for such expenditures.
- it is difficult to predict how much spending money an individual student might want to bring because individual needs, desires, spending habits vary considerably
- prices in China can vary, in some contexts they are much cheaper than in the US but in other contexts they are comparable (e.g. prices in stores on Wangfujing St. in Beijing are similar to the US but in other smaller markets they are less)
- students and parents should consider whether they want to bring a debit card, a credit card, or cash to convert or some combination of these
- credit cards are accepted in some contexts (larger stores, hotels, etc.) but not in others (smaller shops, vendors, etc.)
- ATMs are available in the large cities and airports we’ll be in, but it is not possible to predict exactly when students will be able to access them
- banks usually charge somewhat large transaction fees for foreign purchases and ATM usage (parents should consult with their banks to see how much they are)
- banks should be informed if a credit or debit card will be used in China to insure they will not be blocked
- parents should also discuss how their student will keep their money safe (what kind of wallet, purse, etc.)
- personally, I will bring a combination of cash to exchange, a debit card, and a credit card
- chaperones cannot and will not be responsible for supervising students’ purchases and use of credit/debit cards, thus parents should discuss with their student issues of budget