Changing Money in China: Beijing Airport
Quick advice: avoid it!
Unless you are changing a large sum of money, changing at the airport is a screw job. Actually, even then it’s still a ripoff. It typically is in many airports and border entries – changing money in Myanmar at the airport was a notable recent exception – because the rates are often bad or include a hefty commission. But in Beijing they add insult to injury and are not shy about it. “In order to serve you better” they charge you 60 yuan!
Remember this when you depart! If you have $10 worth of yuan left, either spend it in a duty-free shop, restaurant, or keep it as a souvenir, because if you hand it to a moneychanger, all you’ll get back is a receipt for your donation.
If you have a reliable place to change money in your departure city before coming to China, check the rate and go with that. If you have the fare to get into the city, give Bank of China a try.
Also, big spenders be aware (and for that matter foreign residents who have a lot of yuan piling up) the banks have a daily limit of $500 worth of yuan for a foreigner exchanging from yuan to US dollars. I had received a bit of cash from a magazine client during my trip and found this out at Bank of China. Fortunately, I did not attempt the exchange on my last day in country, and I was able to change the remainder the next day before my departure.