How to Pay in China: Payment Guide for Tourists

There are plenty of payment methods in China, but you may surprised by the fact that people of China don't use cash and cards as the primary way. For first-timers to China, it might be complicated for you to use mobile payment service but it is the most popular way to pay in China. Wanna pay like a local in China? All you need is this guide to China's payment service.With the development of super apps WeChat and Ali Pay, China has become a cashless society. As an estimation, 80% of daily transactions take place on mobile phones in China. All transactions can happen by just simply tapping on the screen. From small stores and restaurants to shopping malls and big supermarkets, you can pay for everything by scanning a QR code or providing a payment code to be scanned.

Nowadays, both WeChat and Ali Pay can bind with a foreign bank card to pay. The registration and operation of these apps have become more and more simple and convenient. Here we provide more detailed registration steps for you to understand how to use mobile payment services.

Step 1: Download WeChat App

You can download the WeChat app from the App Store or its official website. You may see its name appear as Weixin, it is the Chinese pronunciation of this app. It is not only a payment tool, but also an instant communication like WhatsApp. You can not only use it to pay but also communicate with your local tour guide and your Chinese friends.

Step 2: Sign up for a WeChat Account

Firstly you need to sign up. There are two ways for you to register. You can sign up with your mobile phone number, or sign up via a Facebook account. You may need to provide some information about your passport.

If you choose to sign up with a phone number. Enter your mobile phone number and get a confirmation code via message service. Then enter the confirmation code to verify your phone number and finish registration.

Step 3: Bind Your Visa or Master Card

Go to the "Me" section and tap "Services", tap on "Wallet" then choose "Bank Card". Enter your bank card number and finish the verification following the instructions of WeChat. After binding your card, you can use WeChat Pay in most situations. As a reminder, some small shops or merchants might not accept transactions from credit cards.

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, JCB, Diners Club, and Discover cards can all be bound with your WeChat account.

Instructions for WeChat PayInstructions for WeChat Pay

Step 4: Pay With Payment Code or Scan QR Code

Usually, there are two ways to pay with WeChat Pay: show your payment code to the scanning machine, or scan the QR code of the shop to enter the price of your purchasing item to pay.

Due to different situations, you can choose the correct way to pay.

Step 1: Download Alipay

Similar to WeChat Pay, you can download the Alipay app in the app store or the official website. The difference between these two apps is that WeChat is an instant communication tool with payment service, while Alipay is an app that mainly provides payment service. WeChat is similar to WhatsApp, while Alipay is similar to PayPal.

Step 2: Register for Alipay

Sign up for your Alipay account with an email address or phone number (no matter if it is a Chinese SIM card or not). Then remember to choose the Alipay international version.

Step 3: Bind Your Cards to Alipay

Enter your card number and finish all the information that is needed to fill out, then you will bind your card to Alipay to use it. Alipay can accept adding Visa, MasterCard, JCB, Diners Club, and Discover cards into your account.

Instructions for AlipayInstructions for Alipay

Step 4: Use TourCard to Purchase Local Currency

If you cannot bind your card with your Alipay account or in some small restaurants and stores that cannot accept international transactions on Alipay. You can try to use the TourCard service. This mini-program of Alipay is provided by the Bank of Shanghai. First, you should search for the TourCard program in Alipay, and tap on the button. Complete the verification field with your passport or ID number to verify. Then load your funds into your Tour Pass account. You can use it now!

The advantage of using a Tour Card in Alipay is that you can use it in more situations, such as a shop that cannot accept credit cards. Because you have already bought Chinese Yuan in your Tour Card. However, it will charge a 5% service fee for each top-up.

TourCard in AlipayTourCard in Alipay

You can find the Currency Exchange office in most international airports, big hotels, and ports. You can change some cash in these places, or go to a local bank to make an exchange with your passport.

As the former explains, cash is not the main payment method in China. However, travelers are still using cash to pay because it is the most convenient way. Paying by cash is mostly a symbol of tourists or elderly people who are not familiar with smart devices.

Sure, cash can still be accepted in some small towns and villages. You can prepare some cash to avoid emergency circumstances. However, paying by cash is sometimes not as popular as mobile payment because there is usually no change in most shops.

You can use credit cards and debit cards with logos of UnionPay, Visa, MasterCards, and other main banks, to pay in major cities.

However, debit cards and credit cards are not frequently used directly to pay. Chinese bind their card to WeChat Pay or Alipay to pay. Even small vendors, are proud of showing their payment QR code to you and recommend you to pay with mobile payment.

If you are planning to use cards to withdraw cash, ATMs are easy to find in every city and town. It is not hard to find a machine to withdraw money.

Start Your China Adventure With Odynovo

Still feel confused after checking this complete guide to China payment services. Feel free to contact your travel consultant to figure it out! With Odynovo, all you need to do is nothing but enjoy your wonderful journey in China.

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