What Should I Do With My Stacks Of Chinese Currency?

Greg has a question for the world travelers and expats who are part of the Consumerist hive mind. He writes that he has about $2,000 worth of Chinese yuan, in cash, from his first year as a teacher in China. He’s back visiting the US for a few weeks, and can’t figure out what to do with his giant pile o’yuan.

I just finished my first year teaching in China and I’m back in America for a few weeks of R&R. I managed to save about $2000 in yuan (all cash) during my time there and thought I’d have an easy time converting it at my bank, Wells Fargo, when I returned. Not so much. When I went the other day, the bank was selling at a rate of $1:6.35CNY and buying at a rate of $1:7.69. My credit union doesn’t convert foreign currency and Travelex offered an even worse rate.

I knew coming in that I’d have to pay some sort of premium (mostly for bill verification), but a 21% markup is excessive. The money I’m losing converting to dollars here could fund a nice inter-China trip with my ladyfriend. So, my question is: should I blow the money I saved on something epic like hiring the ingredients for a Bloomsday party bus (driver, wait staff, bus, monkey trainer, cases of Guinness), bite the bullet and drop it in my bank account at a loss or schlep it all back to China in search of a better exchange rate?

My vote: blow it all at Walmart.

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