What is the cheapest way to convert Chinese Yuan to US Dollars? The amount is between 35,000 and 300,000 CNY; a fairly large amount. Anyone have any tips about this?

(FYI- asking for a friend; I don't have this sort of money!)

This older question covers the broad context. I'm hoping for China specific information.

  • It's highly unlikely you'll get better exchange course CNY-US outside China, so you should split your procedure to 2 steps: the cheapest conversion CNY-US in Mainland , and then the cheapest transfer from China to US. Ask on Personal Finance, those guys know much more that folks here.
    – user9879
    Aug 1, 2016 at 8:30

1 Answer 1


There are numerous ways to move money internationally, but China puts restrictions on how much currency can be moved out of the country in a given year.

The most direct way is to process an IBAN/SWIFT/Wire transfer from a Chinese bank to a U.S. account. This requires that your friend has a USD-denominated bank account to receive the money, and the bank charges a commission, but that commission usually has a cap. China Construction, ICBC, Bank of China, etc. all support this method.

Less direct is to convert the money into a digital currency that can be moved more easily. One common method is to operate a U.S. and an international PayPal account simultaneously. Yet again, you'll need a U.S.-based bank account tied to a U.S. PayPal account, and a Chinese PayPal account tied to a UnionPay-compatible bank account. Send the money from your bank to your international PayPal, then from your international PayPal to your U.S. PayPal account.

Less direct, still, but perfectly doable is to purchase bitcoins with RMB, then sell them for USD from the U.S. That has no commission aside from transactional costs involved in conversion.

  • Is there a cheapest way? Jul 29, 2016 at 16:04
  • "Cheapest" depends on the day. Theoretically, a bitcoin transfer with a bit of arbitrage could actually "make" you money, but currency fluctuations could also lead to losing a lot of money. I wouldn't recommend remitting money via bitcoin as an investment strategy. The bank wire fee depends on the bank issuing the transfer, and the Paypal method is pretty fixed, but you lose money on currency conversion. Without knowing the specific bank on both ends, the amount of time the money will be in limbo, and the exact amount being sent, it's hard to estimate which is cheapest.
    – Tyler
    Jul 29, 2016 at 16:55
  • I have one doubt: AFAIK PayPal TOS forbids you to have 2 PayPal accounts. And if you use bank account of other party for even temporary money storage, you might, depending from jurisdiction, be subject of tax from unregistered money storage, or even money confiscation.
    – user9879
    Aug 1, 2016 at 8:28

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