money in chinese

58 Words and Phrases to Talk About Money in Chinese with Ease

Money makes the world go round, doesn’t it?

Okay, money isn’t everything, but it does play a huge part in our lives. 

(qián) is money in Chinese, but do you know other vocabulary and phrases to talk about financial exchanges?

Because money is so essential to us and the fact that China is one of the top 10 wealthiest nations in the world, it makes sense to learn this particular vocabulary theme in Chinese.

Let’s get started!


How to Describe Money in Chinese

money in chinese

China’s official currency is the Renminbi (RMB), which is also called Chinese yuan (CNY), and its currency symbol is ¥.

Most payments in China today are cashless already, with mobile payments becoming more and more common. However, whether you’re talking about digital or physical money, the word for that is still (qián) 

One of the most useful phrases to know if you’re in a Chinese-speaking country is: 

多少钱? (duō shǎo qián?) — “How much does it cost?”

Kuai vs. Yuan

You’ll often hear prices being said with these terms: 

(yuán) — monetary unit

(kuài) — informal form of 元, more common in conversation

If you want to say ¥50, you can say: 

五十元 (wǔ shí yuán) 

五十块 (wǔ shí kuài)

This is similar in the United States, where you might switch between “dollars” and “bucks.”

While 块 is considered the informal version of 元, it’s more commonly used than 元 in everyday situations. 

fus元 is also normally used for prices in whole numbers, but if a price has decimal points, 块 would be the unit to use.

Counting Money

For prices with decimals, here’s some additional vocabulary: 

(jiǎo) — 0.1 yuan, 10 cents/pennies, dime

(máo) — informal form of 角, more common in conversation

(fēn) — 0.01 yuan, 1 cent/penny

For example, if you want to say ¥9.30, you’d say:

九块三毛 (jiǔ kuài sān máo)

 For brevity, say 九块三 (jiǔ kuài sān).

Sometimes, in formal documents like contracts or reports, 角 might be used instead;

九块三角 (jiǔ kuài sān jiǎo)

What if there are two numbers after the decimal point? ¥20.75 would be expressed this way: 

二十块七毛五分 (èr shí kuài qī máo wǔ fēn)

Or, more concisely: 二十块七毛五 (èr shí kuài qī máo wǔ).

Important Chinese Vocabulary for Payments

Paying with Cash

woman holding her wallet

Paying using digital apps has become so common in China that it’s actually leading the race to become a cashless society. Most shops and even stalls have QR codes for you to scan with your phone.

There are times when using cash can be tricky (and mark you out as a tourist), but the government legally requires all places to accept cash. If you’re planning to pay in cash, then here are some keywords to know: 

现金 (xiàn jīn) — cash, ready money

钞票 (chāo piào) — banknote, paper money, (money) bill

硬币 (yìng bì) — coin

零钱 (líng qián) — small change, loose change

钱包 (qián bāo) — wallet

零钱包 (líng qián bāo) — coin purse

货币 (huò bì) — currency

Paying with Mobile Apps and Cards

money in chinese

No cash in your wallet? No problem.

Even small street vendors accept mobile payments, and both locals and foreigners alike have been using apps such as Alipay and WeChat Pay to shop, pay bills, book tickets and more. After all, WeChat is much more than just a messaging app.

Here are the options for payment when going cashless:

借记卡 (jiè jì kǎ) — debit card

信用卡 (xìn yòng kǎ) — credit card

Visa卡 (visa kǎ) — Visa card

万事达卡 (wàn shì dá kǎ) — MasterCard

支付宝 (zhī fù bǎo) — Alipay

微信支付 (wēi xìn zhī fù) — WeChat Pay

To pay by card, simply say:

我要刷卡 (wǒ yào shuā kǎ), which literally means you want to swipe your card.

To ask if the above cashless payments are available, you’d just tack on 可以吗 (kěyǐ ma) after saying your preferred payment.

If you want to ask, “Do you accept WeChat Pay?” or “Can I pay by WeChat?” you’d say:

微信可以吗 ? (wēi xìn kě yǐ ma?)

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Phrases for Money Transactions


three girls shopping in china

You might already know some key phrases when it comes to shopping, so let’s focus primarily on money exchanges.

As mentioned above, the phrase for “How much is this?” is:

这个多少钱? (zhè ge duō shǎo qián?)

Is it too expensive? Say:

太贵了! (tài guì le!)

If you happen to be shopping at a market or a store that does allow bartering, you could ask for a discount.

An indirect way of asking is by saying:

能便宜一点吗? (néng pián yi yì diǎn ma?), meaning “Can you reduce the price?”

Although if you don’t mind being more direct, you could ask:

可以打折吗? (kě yǐ dǎ zhé ma?), meaning “Can I get a discount?” or “Is there a discount?”

Unless specified otherwise, most stores and vendors accept cash payments.

Refer to the formula provided above if you’re going cashless.

Paying for Meals

money in chinese

You’ve successfully ordered your food in Chinese, and now it’s time to pay the bill.

If you haven’t been given the bill yet, you can ask for it by saying:

服务员,买单  (fú wù yuán, mǎi dān), which literally translates to, “Server, bill.”

Need to split the bill? Let your server know that you want to pay separately by saying:

分开付 (fēn kāi fù) — pay separately

If you need an invoice for tax purposes, just ask 可以给我发票吗? (kě yǐ gěi wǒ fā piào ma?), which means, “Can you give me an invoice/official receipt?”

You’d then indicate the type of 发票 you need.

In China, you’d request either “individual,” which is 个人 (gè rén), or “company,” which is 单位 (dān wèi).

For the latter, you’ll have to provide your company name and address in Chinese.

Visiting the Bank

high-rise buildings in china

Looking for an ATM machine, or perhaps need a bank statement?

Regardless of whether you can carry a conversation in Chinese without fumbling, knowing these terms will at least give the bank tellers an idea of the kind of service you require.

自动取款机 (zì dòng qǔ kuǎn jī) — ATM

银行 (yín háng) — bank

新账户 (xīn zhàng hù) — new bank account

帐号 (zhàng hào) — account number

储蓄账户 (chú xù zhàng hù) — savings account

支票账户 (zhī piào zhàng hù) — checking account

银行证明 (yín háng zhèng míng) — bank certificate

银行对账单 (yín háng duì zhàng dān) — bank statement

取钱 (qǔ qián) — to withdraw (from a bank account)

存入 (cún rù) — to deposit (from a bank account)

存款单 (cún kuǎn dān) — deposit slip

Exchanging Currency

money in chinese

For currency exchange in Chinese, check out these translations for the most commonly traded currencies.

美元 (měi yuán) — USD, American dollar

欧元 (ōu yuán) — EUR, euro

日元 (rì yuán) — JPY, Japanese yen

英镑 (yīng bàng) — GBP, Great British pound, pound sterling

澳元 (ào yuán) — AUD, Australian dollar

加元 (jiā yuán) — CAD, Canadian dollar

瑞士法郎 (ruì shì fǎ láng) — CHF, Swiss franc

港币 (gǎng bì) — HKD, Hong Kong dollar

纽元 (niǔ yuán) — NZD, New Zealand dollar

瑞典克朗 (ruì diǎn kè lǎng) — SEK, Swedish krona

You’ll also likely have to say these: 

货币兑换 (huò bì duì huàn) — currency exchange

国外汇兑 (guó wài huì duì) — foreign exchange

外币 (wài bì) — foreign currency

人民币 (rén mín bì) — renminbi (Chinese currency)

汇率 (huì lǜ) — exchange rate

And once you’re ready to exchange currency, these are the golden phrases: 

我想兑换一些[美元]到人民币。 (wǒ xiǎng duì huàn yì xiē měi yuán dào rén mín bì.) — I would like to exchange some US dollars [or whatever your desired currency is] to Renminbi.

我要兑换的总金额是… (wǒ yào duì huàn de zǒng jīn’é shì…) — The total amount I want to exchange is…


You might’ve heard people referring to Chinese money as yuan and renminbi. So what exactly is the difference between the two?

What’s Yuan?

Without getting too technical with financial lingo, (yuán) is the unit of account; simply meaning a unit that indicates how price is measured, such as the value of banknotes and coins.

Thus, when you’re talking about denominations, you’d say 100 yuan, 50 yuan, 20 yuan, 10 yuan and so forth.

Yuan (¥) is also the symbol and unit used in foreign exchange, and CNY is the abbreviation used in international finance, trading and other modes of monetary exchange.

What’s Renminbi?

Renminbi (RMB) or 人民币 (rén mín bì), on the other hand, is the official currency of China. Known as the “people’s currency,” it’s referred to as the country’s medium of exchange.

The difference between the two is subtle, but most of the time, people will talk about Chinese money in terms of renminbi, as indicated in this conversation below.

Even though the two people in the conversation are discussing foreign exchange rates, the first speaker is speaking about Chinese currency as a medium of exchange, not as a unit of account. Therefore, he refers to Chinese currency as renminbi.


And there you have it. Knowing all these terms and phrases may not be as pain-relieving as counting money, but it sure does make life a lot easier when dealing with money in Chinese!

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