On any trip to China, you need to exchange the currency from your country to the currency of China, the renminbi (RMB). China, unfortunately, does have a problem with counterfeit money, both in circulation, and being given in exchange for foreign currency. That’s why, when you go to China, you should know how to spot counterfeit renminbi (RMB) and how to avoid getting it.
Don’t Exchange Money On The Black Market – As an obvious tourist (obvious, if you’re western, or at least as far as the Chinese black market currency exchange guys are concerned), you’re already a target for black marketeers. When I was in China, I was stopped several times on the street by guys surrepticiously offering to exchange my foreign currency for renminbi . I’d get a ‘good exchange rate’, they told me.
Luckily, I’d been warned by Chinese friends before I left not to exchange money on the black market. Sure, you can get a good exchange rate if you know where to go and what you’re doing. For most tourists though, we don’t. That means, not only will you probably not get a good rate, there’s a fair chance you’ll be given counterfeit money too.
So, if you’re stopped by black marketeers offering to exchange currency for you, politely refuse and go on your way.
Only Exchange Money At Your Hotel Or Bank – To avoid being given counterfeit money in China, only exchange money at your hotel or at a bank. Of course, you can still get counterfeit money given to you at your hotel if it’s not checked by hotel staff correctly, and I even have a Chinese friend who received counterfeit money from a Chinese bank. But, it’s rare and is the safest way to exchange foreign currency.
How To Identify Counterfeit Renminbi– In any situation where you’re going to be given change, you should learn how to identify counterfeit RMB, so you can refuse to accept it, if it’s obviously fake. In many shops in China, you’ll see the staff have a special machine, which they use to check money before accepting it. That’s how big a problem counterfeit money is in China. There are ways to identify counterfeit renminbi just by hand and eye though.
On the latest edition of the RMB, authentic Chinese money has a watermark of Chairman Mao on the front of the note on the left. Hold the note up to the light to look for it. If you can’t find a watermark, the note is counterfeit. Hand it back to the seller and ask for a different note.
There’s a security line on the RMB notes, running from top to bottom. Again, hold it up to the light to find it. There’s also a hologram on the front of the note, which changes color if you move the note around. Counterfeit notes don’t have the hologram.
There are several other ways you can detect if an RMB is fake or not. This excellent website shows you how. It even includes photos.
How To Detect Counterfeit – Xian Travel