Friday, 24 October 2008

Pounds Now on Sale in China

There were many reasons for me to come to China, but there were also a few reasons for me to stay at home. One of these reasons was money.

After finishing university I came out with some debt that needed paying off ASAP. I had previously taken out a couple of credit cards which mainly went on buying music equipment to help with my coursework. My plan was to finish university, find a job, any job, and pay them off. Things didn't run so smoothly as my trip to China came just seven months after finding work (which I was happy to get out of anyway). Then, once again, I used my credit card to fund the plane trip from the UK to China and back. I never expected I would want to come back to China after my holiday, but it felt so much like the right thing to do. I guessed I would be able to pay off my credit cards while working in China -- surely no problem.

In fact, there were many problems, and I found out that it is impossible to transfer money from one bank account to another without being completely ripped off. The final blow came when I travelled back to Hangzhou, went to the HSBC -- who I have an account with -- and failed to put any money into my account. Why? Because HSBC in China only deals with domestic transactions. The world's local bank indeed.

Now, with Kimi's help I have saved up some money and exchanged the Chinese Yuan (RMB) into British Pounds. The first time I did this was here, and the second time was just a couple of days ago. I now have a worrying amount of cash to bring back home with me when I come back at Christmas (all £50 notes too).

It is an especially good time for me to exchange money because of the terrible economic disaster going on in England. I remember four years ago when I came to China, the exchange rate was GPB 1 = CNY 15.4. When Kimi exchanged my money the other day, it was an incredible GBP 1 = CNY 11.8. But today I was shocked again. Things have changed dramatically in just two days. On Windows Vista, my exchange rate gadget is now telling me this:

That is a fair amount of extra money I could have got with my RMB if I had waited just two days. I can only assume it will get worse now that Gordon Brown has revealed recession is happening. I think it is time for everybody to leave England and come to China.

Finally, my seven-day working week is now over!


Anonymous said...

Hey Chris, you really shouldn't be sorry about your lack of options to transfer money. The important thing is that you have money. :)

I sort of have the same problem with sending money from the US to Belgium. What I ended up doing was to send my ATM card to my parents in Brussels and have them retrieve money from there. Not only the transfer is free if you use the same bank (Citibank) but you also get the best exchange rate.


alex said...

hi chris,

Things are no different in the gulf. And the whole changing money/sending money thing does my head in totally. I have now found out that my visa card isn't really a visa card if you get my drift. And they call themselves the world's bank and so short I prefer a cashless society, I hate being under a banks boot, but so it is.

You make a good point about the credit crisis. People are struggling in the UK at the moment. However, I don't think China pays as well as the gulf. Less than one quarter of my present salary is like changing my entire months salary back in China, that is IF you can actually get UK pounds which always seemed impossible when I was there. I only successfully received dollars and euros, why pounds are so hard to get I have no idea.

Enough rambling for me. Chin up, we could be back in Manchester where it's 15 degrees and icy winds:)

Chris said...

Thanks for your comments you two!

Ihengsi, that is a great idea. I never thought about doing that before. I could set up a Bank of China account here and then my parents could withdraw at home because there is a branch in the centre of the city.

Alex, I completely agree, I hate the business that banks make from us. Once I've cleared my HSBC account I am closing it just out of principle.

I also had no idea the pay is that much better in The Gulf than over here, that's a huge difference. No wonder more and more people are heading over there.

Shawn said...

Today,my told us the goverment would try to depreciate the RMB to
eapand the exporting
I think it's a good news for foreigners?

Chris said...

Yes, I think that is very good news for foreigners. But not so good for us in China, haha. It would be a great idea to exchange foreign currency now and then exchange it back to RMB later. We could probably make a little bit of profit out of it!