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Old 10-10-2014, 07:52 AM
 
64 posts, read 57,598 times
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Our son is 17, a senior in high school, will be traveling in a few weeks with his debate team to an international forum in China and I'm looking for suggestions on how to handle his spending money. Obviously, we wouldn't give him cash. A pre-paid VISA card? One of our own credit or debit cards? Do people use traveler's checks anymore? We just want him to be able to handle his funds safely while in a foreign country.

Any suggestions or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-10-2014, 08:29 AM
 
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My son has always made out just fine with a debit card, but he hasn't been to China. He does carry some cash though, changing to the local currency at the airport. I'm not even sure AmEx offers traveler's checks anymore, I thought they phased them out.

Hasn't the school provided you with that type of basic information? In any case, this question would probably get accurate answers on the travel forum.
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Old 10-10-2014, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Brookhaven
371 posts, read 437,958 times
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Having some cash is critical in China. Credit cards are not as widely used especially for small purchases. Although most places that cater to westerners will accept cards. Mastercard/Visa is much more widely accepted than Amex there.
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Old 10-10-2014, 09:37 AM
 
Location: MMU->ABE->ATL->ASH
9,141 posts, read 17,223,795 times
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I would Get a Pre-Loaded Visa/MC card.

There is some much hack/fraud, i would not want to use a debit card that is linked to a account. When he get there he will need "Pocket" change, a draw from a ATM can work for that
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Old 10-10-2014, 10:23 AM
 
2,779 posts, read 4,682,212 times
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For China make sure he has some cash, and it needs to be in new currency, it can't be folded or wrinkled, they are kind of funny about that at the exchange windows in Asia.

Also I would bring a Visa for the majority of expenses, not a debit card. I had my debit card eaten by an ATM machine in Eastern Europe once and it really screwed over the trip...I did learn how Western Union works though

I hope he has a great time, I was a national level debater in high school and got to travel all of the world, it was great.
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Old 10-10-2014, 10:32 AM
 
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OP, hopefully MightyQueen will see this post. I believe her daughter spent a semester in China not too long ago.
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Old 10-10-2014, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Sunrise
10,868 posts, read 14,297,716 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opus123 View Post
Our son is 17, a senior in high school, will be traveling in a few weeks with his debate team to an international forum in China and I'm looking for suggestions on how to handle his spending money. Obviously, we wouldn't give him cash. A pre-paid VISA card? One of our own credit or debit cards? Do people use traveler's checks anymore? We just want him to be able to handle his funds safely while in a foreign country.

Any suggestions or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Credit cards aren't much used in China. It is still very much a cash society. I was just in Beijing a few months ago. I couldn't imagine trying to make the trip work without the local currency -- Yuan, commonly called "Kwai." And it must be the new bills. The PRC changes their money every decade or so, and they're not good about exchanging old bills for new bills. Merchants simply won't do it. And the less time spent at the Bank of China, the better.

China is a very safe place. Aside from credit card theft, your son doesn't have anything to worry about. He can't even get drunk and silly because they only sell "near beer" there. Nothing costs very much and there isn't a whole lot to buy in the first place. (Nothing that's really going to appeal to a 17-year old, at least.)

You are better off sending him with cash than sending him with a credit card. Nobody is going to steal the card information and siphon the funds out of the card that way. China has PLENTY of that kind of crime.

Buy him a neck pouch for large bills and his passport. I'd send him with $500 in local currency (exchange it here for convenience.) That way he can take a girl on a few dates while he's there. Peking Duck at a fancy hotel's restaurant is $20. A pint of Yanjing near-beer at a market is less than $1. A liter of water is less than $0.50. Street food at the night markets is essentially free. Use that as a guide for what things cost in Beijing. Send him with a few $100 bills. Because there's almost nothing that a traveler might encounter in China that a few $100 bills won't fix. Then he can bring the US currency back when he learns that he doesn't need it.

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Old 10-10-2014, 11:44 AM
 
Location: City of Angels
2,935 posts, read 4,782,052 times
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If you're worried about him blowing all the cash at once just give him a debit card and deposit more money on the account every few days. Just bringing cash is fine tho, a lot of hotels have safes and such. Ive never had problems carrying around a lot of cash.
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Old 10-10-2014, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Sunrise
10,868 posts, read 14,297,716 times
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There isn't a whole lot to blow cash on. Cash is safer than a credit card. I have NEVER gone to China and not had someone try to use my credit card information for fraudulent reasons. Even when I use my card at big, respected businesses, I have to keep a daily eye on transactions. Invariably, someone tries to buy a bunch of designer bags or clothing at a Shanghai boutique. As soon as I leave China, I call my credit card to inform them to decline all subsequent charges to my card. Credit and debit card theft is THE crime to worry about in China.

Send the kid with cash. Nothing in China costs very much. And there isn't a whole lot to buy in the first place. The scam artists there deal in ancient traditional medicines and ground-up animal parts. Nothing a 17-year old is going to be interested in.

A week in China:

1) Water, food and beer are cheap.
2) Admission to the historic landmarks is cheap.
3) Taxis and public transportation is cheap.
4) Taking girls on dates is inexpensive. (Even a nice meal at a nice place is inexpensive. My wife and I had Peking Duck for two at a very nice hotel restaurant in Beijing for $20.)
5) Real alcohol at nightclubs is shockingly expensive. But that's going to cost more than the kid is bringing in the first place, so no worries. Besides, most of the stuff they sell is counterfeit. I see loads of bogus Scotch and Cognac when I am there.
6) The sorts of souvenirs they sell at the historic landmarks is cheap.

And that's even without haggling. Hopefully someone at the school can explain the finer points of haggling to the kids. (Don't offer half. The merchants already know about that. Offer 1/4 or so. Or even less. I usually just wait for a local to buy the thing that interests me and then offer the same amount.)
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Old 10-10-2014, 12:10 PM
 
Location: Albuquerque area
244 posts, read 193,796 times
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Scoop's information is excellent. My high school senior has spent the last four summers attending language school in Chengdu and he always goes with crisp, unused $100 bills fresh from the bank. His teacher strongly advises the students not to bring a credit or debit card and will also hold onto students' money personally if the parents request it. If this is a prepaid trip, including lodging, transportation and some meals, you may find as my son did that it's somewhat hard to burn through money unless your child has his heart set on an exquisite jade carving or something of that nature. We allotted $400-$500 for four or five weeks each summer and our son never spent more than half that amount. Also, if your child stays with or makes friends with a Chinese family, chances are he will receive enough gifts and trinkets from them to fill a second suitcase. In our experience Chinese citizens are extraordinarily generous.
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