Travelled to 11 countries / regions

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Visited a couple of times 2016-2018



Asia > China > Useful Info
Updated on Jul 29, 2019 Useful Info

Best way for travelers to pay for things in China

  • For non-Chinese travelers, cash is king (still) in China as of 2019
  • Locals now use AliPay or WeChat Pay for pretty much all of their day-to-day transactions as these are the 2 dominant mobile payment platforms in China accepted by big brands as well as street vendors. However, in order to use these payment apps you need to have a Chinese bank account. You're not going to have a Chinese bank account as a traveler
  • I've heard rumors that you can now link your Visa or Mastercard to AliPay and WeChat Pay and these apps without having a Chinese bank account, but I tried and have yet to make it work personally, as of July 2019. If you have been able to do that I'd love to know how you did it
  • If you really want to use these apps, you can find a friend with Chinese bank account. Give him/her cash, and then have him/her give you "red pocket" through these apps (essentially in-app money transfer) to your WeChat/AliPay account
  • International credit card acceptance is fairly generally but still accepted in many places in tier 1 cities like Shanghai. It's limited to airlines, major hotels (all international brands and big domestic brands), and semi upscale chain restaurants in malls in the major cities (mainly Shanghai and Shenzhen, and to a lesser degree Beijing and Guangzhou)
  • By credit cards I mean Visa and MasterCard. AMEX has almost 0 acceptance outside of international hotel chains
  • Discover, Diners Club, JCB, and other cards I think most likely has 0 acceptance rate
  • UnionPay is the domestic credit card brand, but I doubt you'll carry one of these
  • Despite what you may have read about the death of cash in China, it's still accepted everywhere and the government recently made another announcement reinforcing businesses to accept cash.
  • My recommendation is, carry enough cash with you when you're in China as it is accepted everywhere (and carry lots of small bills like 5RMB, 10RMB, and 20RMB for public transit). But bring a Visa or MasterCard and use it wherever you possible can (like hotels) to save cash


David Bambridge

Travelled to 0 country / region

1 Week Ago

Agree that the simplest way is certainly cash as we have been travelling in various parts of China for 5 months and unable to link cards to Wepay or AliPay . Mainland Chinese bank account required .


Travelled to 0 country / region

1 Month Ago

Where are you? As a U.S. resident, I can apply for an ECARD prepaid card by UnionPay. (deposit USD and spend worldwide, no credit check, no monthly fee, real time exchange rate) they have this "refer a friend earn 10$, your friend also get $10" promotion if you want to use my referal code: RF008646

Bear KLee

Travelled to 0 country / region

1 Month Ago

Try tie your wepay with debit visa/mastercard. I am from Malaysia, and I successfully get it linked a week ago.

Irene Poon

Travelled to 5 countries / regions

1 Week Ago

wechatpay china and wechatpay malaysia is totally 2 different entity. they do not link to each other. malaysian who use wechatpay malaysia can add debit or credit card into their acc and can use as payment like touch n go ewallet. malaysian who use wechatpay china can not tie any account open outsite of china. wechatpay china only accepted china bank acc with china ID and acc is in RMB. the only way to add money in china wechatpay for non china ID person is give cash to those who own a china bank account and ask them to send red packet to us. once we receive the red packet, we can use it as payment in china but can never cash out. (unless you send red packet to the friend and ask the friend to give you cash). i have been to ICBC bank and bank of china (both bank are branches of bank in china) asking to open bank acc but they say china bank in malaysia has no link with bank in china, they are using different system so still can not link. i can only use the bank card for payment but still can link to wechatpay china. however not every shop in china got machine so swipe the bank card as most use wechatpay for payment. the same goes for PBB union pay debit card, so far i have been surveying all bank that got RMB currency account and all give the same reply. so kindly do your research before you reply. i was force to do the research this whole week as im going to china end of this month & so far the best way is still bringing cash at the moment.

Kai Chu

Travelled to 0 country / region

2 Weeks Ago

Linking CC to WeChat Pay is the easy part. You need a Chinese bank account to spend money from your WeChat wallet now.