Credit Cards

Although Visa and MasterCard signs abound, credit cards are of limited use in China—in most cases only the Chinese versions of the cards are accepted. Otherwise, an establishment will accept all of them—American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa—or none at all. Many hotels accept foreign cards, but only the most upmarket restaurants outside hotels do so, as do those souvenir shops where you are already paying well over the odds—in fact, if a shop accepts foreign credit cards, that's a good reason to look elsewhere.

You can also obtain cash advances on your MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club, or Amex card from major branches of the Bank of China, with a minimum withdrawal of ¥1,200 ($150) and 4% commission, plus whatever your card issuer charges—a very expensive way to withdraw cash, and for emergencies only. If you do plan to use your card while in China, it's a good idea to call your card issuer and let it know in advance.

All major credit cards are widely accepted in Hong Kong and Macau.

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