Using Credit Cards In China?

busy city street in ChinaQ: I’ll be traveling to Beijing in a few weeks. Which credit cards will I be able to use there?

A: Over the past decade, the usage and acceptance of credit cards has surged, especially in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. You shouldn’t run into any problems at major hotels, department stores, and upscale restaurants. However just like in America, there will be some mom and pop stores that don’t accept credit cards. In rural areas outside the major cities, credit card acceptance will be to a lesser degree.

When using credit cards in China, the most common are Visa and MasterCard. However American Express and Discover are also widely accepted in the larger cities, especially since Discover acquired Diners Club processing network a few years ago (which is widely used in the urban areas of China).

Of course it is important to also have the local currency, the Yuan, place places that don’t accept plastic. Also, keep in mind you will be charged a foreign transaction fee of 1 to 3% by your credit card company. However from my experience, that is a small price to pay for peace of mind. I’ve heard so many horror stories of overseas rental car companies and hotels charging for fictitious damage after leaving, so having the fraud protection by your credit card is a must. Check out our best travel rewards credit cards to learn more.

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In case anyone else reads this:

BRING DISCOVER! The local ATM/debit/credit processing network is fully linked to Discover, meaning you can swipe at anywhere that accepts domestic debit/credit cards. In Shanghai you can even add money to local subway/bus passes with it. In addition to being less widely-accepted, Visa/MasterCard bring with them the possibility of compulsory DCC, where the merchant’s bank processes the currency exchange for you instead of Visa/MasterCard, typically at an inflated rate (to add insult to injury, most banks that charge foreign transaction fees do so even if your transaction was processed in US dollars- a double whammy).

Firstly, welcome to Beijing,China.I work and study here,maybe I can give you some advises.In China the local currency is Ren MIN Bi(Yuan),nowadays more and more people use credit card,so almost citise in China accpet the credit card.In China,people use the dual-currency credit card,like the China Unionpay and Visa/Mastercard.So Visa and Mastercard more popular than American Express,however the Diners Club and Discover are rarely hard to find.Want to get more information please check out the China Unionpay Website