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One of the easiest ways to get around Shanghai is taking the public metro. So in this edition of Laowai Lowdown, I'm gonna show you how to get a travel card and how to use it.

Every metro station has a service center where you can buy a transportation card. You don't need a passport or any other documents... just money... a 20 yuan deposit for the card itself, and up to 1,000 yuan of credit - the amount is up to you.  When you leave Shanghai, you can turn the card in and get the remaining credit and that 20 yuan deposit back, but not at every place you buy them. More than 170 places across the city accept the return of the card. If you don't speak Chinese, you can ask a friend to call 12319 to find out the one nearest you.

Now I have the transportation card, and I'm gonna ask Miss Qi from the Metro what are the benefits and how to use it. Can you tell me what are the benefits of using this card?

"Once you spend more than 70 yuan on metro fares since the first day of a month, you will get a ten percent discount on all metro rides for the rest of that month," said Qi Jiafeng.

If I'm just in Shanghai for a few days. Is there another card for me?

"You can buy a one-day pass for 18 yuan, or a three-day pass for 45 yuan," Qi said.

And the service center is the place to buy either the transportation card or the one-day and three-day metro passes. You can also put more money on the card there.

Even if you drive for part of your daily commute, the transportation card can also be convenient. The city has six parking lots for what it calls its Park and Ride program, or P+R. That means you drive and park your car near a station and then take the metro to your destination. If you use the transportation card at the parking lots, it will cost you five or ten yuan for the whole day. Otherwise, you will pay by the hour.

And the transportation card also saves money on bus fares. If you transfer from a metro to a bus or from one bus to another within two hours, you get a one-yuan discount on the bus fare - and that works on every bus route in the city.

And there's a 20 percent discount for using the card on the maglev line to and from Pudong International Airport - so the trip costs just 40 yuan. You also get the same discount if you show your boarding pass when you buy the maglev ticket.

So the card can be used for the metro, buses, the maglev, and even parking. Anything else?

We've been talking about how to use this card on the metro and bus systems. But don't forget, you can also pay with this card in taxis. In fact, it's one of the most convenient and safest ways to pay, because you can't be cheated with fake change. Taxi!

ICS helps taxi driver return passport to UK travel

A British businessman gets his passport and money back after leaving them in the back of a taxi on his first day in Shanghai.


Welcome to this edition of Laowai Lowdown. With 11 metro lines, a maglev train line, more than 1,000 bus routes and around 45,000 taxis, Shanghai has one of the world's most complicated public transportation systems. But riders can pay for all of those different forms of transit with the same transportation card, so for people who live here, it's worth getting one. Tonight, our host Steven Weathers will tell you how to get the card and what public transportation discounts you can get with it.


Welcome to this edition of Laowai Lowdown. Many expats have bought goods online. But when they move to China, they may not be able to use the websites they are used to back in their home countries. And if they can use the websites, it could take a lot more time and money due to complicated import issues. But China has a number of its own mature shopping websites. And using them is not as difficult as it looks. Our Money Talks host David Symington is an online shopper here. He will first give you some general guidelines on how to use Chinese shopping websites.