How to Pay in China as a Foreigner? (WeChat Pay & Alipay Set-Up Guide)

Table of Contents

Commonly-Asked Questions

Guide on WeChat Pay

Guide on Alipay

Other Payment Options

China has made a tremendous shift towards cashless payment in recent years, with many restaurants and shops in bigger cities no longer accepting cash payments. Cashless payment platforms like WeChat Pay and Alipay are becoming ubiquitous.

As a foreigner traveling to China, understanding and utilizing these payment platforms are essential for a smooth and hassle-free payment. In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about setting up and using WeChat Pay and Alipay during your stay in China.

Before we begin, let's take a look at some frequently asked questions about making payments in China as a foreigner.

Commonly-Asked Questions

1. Can I use WeChat Pay and Alipay as a foreigner?

Yes, you definitely can. Find out more about how to set them up in this blogpost!

2. Can I link my international credit card to WeChat Pay or Alipay?

Yes, both platforms accept international credit cards like Visa, Mastercard, or JCB. WeChat has completed integration with both Visa and Mastercard in July 2023, allowing card users to link their cards to the payment platform.

Find out how to link your cards in the guide below.

3. Can I use WeChat Pay and Alipay outside of China as a foreigner?

As a foreigner, you might not be able to use WeChat Pay outside of China. This function only allows Chinese nationals with a bank account in China. The same applies for Alipay as well.

4. What are the fees associated with using WeChat Pay or Alipay for transactions?

Both platforms typically do not charge users for making payments or transferring money within China, but there may be fees for cross-border transactions or withdrawing funds to a bank account.

5. What is the main difference between WeChat Pay and Alipay?

WeChat Pay is integrated within the WeChat messaging app and widely used for social interactions, while Alipay originated as a payment platform associated with the Alibaba Group and has expanded into various financial services.

Here's a the table of comparison for the functions in WeChat Pay and Alipay:

Table of comparison WeChat Pay vs Alipay
WeChat Pay VS Alipay Table

6. Are there any limits on how much money I can transfer or spend with WeChat Pay or Alipay?

On WeChat Pay, there is a transaction limit of 6000CNY per transaction, a transaction limit of 50,000CNY per month, and 60,000CNY per year.

On Alipay, if you've added an international card, the transaction limits are at 3000CNY per transaction with a cap of 50,000CNY per month, and 65,000CNY a year.

Guide on WeChat Pay

Setting Up WeChat Pay as a Foreigner in China

Setting up WeChat Pay is a straightforward process. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set up your WeChat Pay.

What you'll need:

  • A phone with a phone number
  • Your passport details or a Chinese ID (Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card)
  • A Chinese ID , Chinese Bank Card, or an International Bank Card

1. Download the WeChat App: Visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download the WeChat app.

2. Register an Account: Open the WeChat app and click on "Sign Up" or "Register." Provide your mobile number to create an account.

Sign up to WeChat using phone number

3. Verify Your Identity: Follow the verification process, which may require providing additional information such as your ID card, passport, or other relevant documents.

Verify your identity on WeChat

4. Link Your Bank Card: There are several ways to verify your identity and link your bank card to WeChat Pay:
          - Chinese ID
: If you have a Chinese ID card, you can use it to verify your identity and link your bank card to WeChat Pay.
          - Chinese Bank Card
: If you have a bank account in China, you can link your bank card directly to WeChat Pay.
          - International Bank Card
: Alternatively, you can try linking an international credit card like Visa, Mastercard, or JCB. (However, this method may not always work, and even if successful, you may be limited in the types of transactions you can make.)

*Ensure that all card details, such as the card number, expiration date, CVN2 and billing address are accurate when linking your bank card.

Adding a new bank card in WeChat
Adding a new bank card in WeChat

5. Set Up Your Wallet: Once your bank card is linked, set up your WeChat Wallet by creating a 6-digit payment password.

6. Receive an SMS verification Code: You will receive an SMS verification code on the phone number you provided. After verification, create a 6-digit payment password to finalize the setup.

Using WeChat Pay in China

Once you have successfully set up your WeChat Wallet and linked your bank card, you can begin using WeChat Pay for various transactions in China. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use WeChat Pay:

1. Opening WeChat Wallet: After linking your China bank card, your WeChat Wallet will be activated automatically. If you've linked an international banking card, you may need to wait for up to 24 hours for the wallet to be activated. Therefore, it is recommended for you to do this 1-2 days before your trip to China.

2. Making Payments: To make payments at shops, restaurants, or other establishments, simply tap the money button within your WeChat Wallet or on the home screen. In most cases, you'll scan the vendor's QR code to complete the payment.

Making payments on WeChat

3. Sending Money to Contacts: If you need to send money to a friend or contact, navigate to their chat within WeChat.

Then, under the menu options, find "Red Packet" or "Transfer". Do note that "Red Packet" allows you to transfer a maximum of 200CNY.

Transferring money to contacts

Enter the amount you wish to send, choose the payment method (card or WeChat wallet balance), and confirm the transaction.

Enter amount you want to transfer

The recipient must accept the payment within a specified period (within 24 hours), or the money will be returned to you.

4. Other Payment Features: WeChat Wallet offers additional payment features beyond basic transactions. You can use it to pay your phone bill, hail taxis, purchase train tickets, buy movie passes, and more. Simply explore the options within the WeChat Wallet to access these services.

Other payment features on WeChat

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the whole suite of features WeChat offers. For a comprehensive guide on how to use other functions in WeChat such as replying messages, using Mini Apps, and more, read this post.

Guide on Alipay

Setting Up Alipay as a Foreigner in China

Alipay's new 90-day 'tour pass' program allows foreigners to use the app without the need for a Chinese bank account or local mobile phone number. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set up Alipay as a foreigner:


What you'll need:

  • A phone with a phone number
  • Your ID details
  • An international bank card (Visa, Mastercard, JCB, Diners Club International, Discover)

1. Download the Alipay App: Start by downloading the Alipay app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

2. Sign Up with Your Phone Number: Open the app and sign up using your phone number. This will be your primary contact information for accessing Alipay.

Sign up with phone number into Alipay

3. Choose the Alipay International Version: During the sign-up process, make sure to select the Alipay International Version to access the features tailored for international users.

4. Link your bank card: Click on "Pay/Receive", select "Add Bank Card", and just key in the details of your card.

Linking bank card to Alipay step-by-step guide
Guide on linking bank card

If this does not work for you, you can choose to set up a 'Tour Pass'.

5. Select 'Tour Pass': Once signed up, navigate to the 'Tour Pass' section within the app. Alternatively, you can link your bank card directly

Selecting the TourPass option in Alipay
Selecting Tour Pass in Alipay

6. Verify Your Information: Verify your personal particulars.

Alipay in-app guidelines

7. Enter Load Amount: Decide on the initial amount you'd like to load into your Alipay account. This is the amount you'll be able to spend using the app in China. You can only load up to 10,000CNY in the account.

8. Add Your Bank Card: Link your bank card to your Alipay account. This will allow you to load funds onto the app and make payments in Chinese Yuan (CNY) during your stay in China. The screenshot below shows the details and things to take note when topping up money into the app.

Adding a bank card into Alipay
Alipay in-app guidelines (adding bank card)

8. Start Making Payments: Once your Alipay account is set up and loaded with funds, you can start using it to make payments in China. Simply scan or show your QR code at the checkout to complete transactions seamlessly. The following screenshot provides more details on making payments.

Making payments using Alipay

Find out more here.

Other Payment Options in China

While WeChat Pay and Alipay dominate the digital payment scene in China, there are other alternatives worth considering. UnionPay, for instance, offers seamless payment solutions both domestically and internationally.

If you are staying in China for a longer period, it is advisable for you to apply for a Chinese phone card and a Chinese bank account. This will make day-to-day payments and getting around more convenient.

This article is brought to you by Bluente.

Bluente is the world’s first business language services platform. We built a document translation tool where you get your translated documents in less than 2 minutes, retaining the same format of your file. Try it now at We also we teach business languages (CN, ID, EN, ES) tailored for professionals through our mobile and web app. Find out more here:

Back to Blog