Back in late 2019, it was announced that WeChat and Alipay would let people add foreign credit cards to use mobile payment in China. Considering how much easier it is to purchase goods and services using WeChat in China, this is a huge announcement for expats and travelers to China. But does it work? And if not…what other options are there?
Up until this point, it’s only been possible to connect a Chinese bank card (usually UnionPay) to your WeChat Pay or Alipay account.
For foreigners, this meant opening up a bank account in China, which takes a bit of time and patience, not to mention a long-term residence visa.
There are other other global payment solutions for China that are great, but these are alternatives to WeChat at best. If only WeChat could accept Visa or MasterCard as payment options, life in China would be so much easier!
Back in early 2018, WeChat announced that they would begin accepting foreign credit cards as an option on their platform. That was two years ago and, well…
…it never worked (as many commenters on this article have attested to).
So what’s to say it’s going to work this time? Well, for one, both MasterCard and Visa have made announcements about the upcoming partnership, which is a good sign.
Here’s what you need to know about using WeChat in China, including my thoughts on the wisdom of giving the Chinese government all your financial information (hint: this is key).
Conditions | Foreign Credit Cards & WeChat
Back in 2018, WeChat had set up a number of limiting conditions to add a foreign credit card to use WeChat Pay.
- First, you had to download WeChat in China, which meant you couldn’t set up WeChat Pay before you arrived. That sucked.
- Second, you couldn’t use a debit card; they only accepted credit cards.
This time around, it seems that things are different. While it’s not clear exactly how WeChat will be handling the change, right now Alipay launched an international version of their app that caters to foreigners.
Here’s what we know so far:
- WeChat will accept Visa, MasterCard, JCB, Diner’s Club and American Express Cards (credit cards, not just debit cards);
- You won’t need a Chinese phone number to register your account; it can be done with your foreign phone number.
- Apparently, this marks a loosening of regulations around foreigners with WeChat Pay accounts.
You see, throughout 2019, many foreigners who had previously had WeChat Pay accounts without a Chinese bank account had been shut down. Now, it seems like that will be changing.
Adding a Foreign Credit Card to WeChat | My Experience
Disclaimer: Because WeChat hasn’t yet rolled out this new feature, I can’t be 100% sure this is how the process will eventually be done. However, what I’m about to show you is the current process of adding a foreign credit card to WeChat Wallet.
Currently, it doesn’t work.
As I open up WeChat on my phone, the first thing I do is click “Me” on the bottom menu to find my “Wallet”.
From here I can click on the “Cards” menu item. As you can see, I already have a WeChat Wallet activated, so theoretically this should be easier for me to do.
I’ve already added my Bank of Communications card to WeChat, which works very well, I might add.
However, I’d like to see if I can add my foreign credit card. So I’ll go ahead and click “Add a Card” and see what we can do here…
The first sign that things might not go well is that it won’t let me change the name on my card. It insists that my name is “Summers Joshua [middle name]” because in China, they put your last name first.
Of course, this isn’t how my name is listed on my credit card, but oh well. We’ll continue anyway.
Once I’ve added all my card information, address and contact info, I’m ready to finish this process.
I press “Ok” and the card should (theoretically) get added to my WeChat Wallet.
And this is where things will hopefully change with this new announcement from WeChat and Alipay.
Right now, I can’t add a foreign credit card (as you can see from the error message above), but in the near future, that’s supposed to be different.
Security Alert | Is This a Good Idea?
Before we continue with some alternatives to adding a foreign credit card to WeChat Pay, we need to address a very important question that you should be asking yourself:
Is giving my financial information to WeChat a good idea?
It’s a well-known fact that China’s government has backdoor access to WeChat. That’s just part of life for Chinese people, but for those of us who have a choice…
…do you really want China to have access to all your personal info?
Consider this: when you add your foreign credit card to WeChat, you’re going to have to give WeChat – and by extension the Chinese government – the following information:
- Your Verifiable Identity: They need to know who you are, so you’ll have to verify your identity using your passport, which means they’ll have your real name and ID number.
- Your Phone Number: You’ll have to provide a working phone number using a text verification code to open up a WeChat account. Now your name is attached to a phone number.
- Your Address: Your credit card verification is attached to your address, so you’ll need to give that to them.
- Your Credit Card Information: Finally, you’ll be required to give your credit card information.
Wow…that’s a lot of information that the Chinese government all of the sudden has access to. I don’t know about you, but that’s slightly scary.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it; I mean, it’s certainly going to be a more convenient way to travel to China. But I want you to understand what kind of privacy you’ll be giving up in order to do so.
And if that seems like a bit too much, here are your other options.
Alternatives to Using Foreign Credit Cards with WeChat Pay
So until foreigners are granted the ability to add credit cards to WeChat, what alternatives do we have to pay with WeChat or otherwise? Is cash the only option?
Fortunately, there are a few solutions that I’ve mentioned above but I’ll go into more detail here:
- Open a Chinese Bank Account: The easiest way to add money to WeChat Pay is to connect it to a Chinese bank account. Foreigners with residence permits are legally allowed to open an account and it usually only takes 1-2 hours to get it done. They’ll issue you a bank card immediately and you can add that card to WeChat.
- Use a Global Payment Solution (U.S. residents only): I’ve recently started using a new global payment solution known as ECARD. It’s a UnionPay-branded card that gives me the ability to use any ATM in China and pay for things anywhere cards are accepted (which is better than Visa/MasterCard). I load the card with my U.S. bank account (it’s pre-paid) and although I can’t use it with WeChat, it works for pretty much everything else in China. If you’re interested, it’s free to apply for ECARD.
- Peer-to-Peer Exchange: Of course, since many travelers don’t have friends in China to send them money, you’ll need to find another way to get money onto WeChat. That’s where something like a peer-to-peer exchange service can help. These services connect you with somebody who wants US dollars so that you pay them $100 via Paypal or bank transfer. They in turn pay you the equivalent RMB to your WeChat account. Unfortunately, this only works if you already have your WeChat Wallet activated.
- Cash: Finally, it’s perfectly acceptable to still use cash in China. It’s not exactly easy, but it’s possible. Many Chinese ATMs accept foreign debit cards and will spit out Chinese Renminbi for you to use.
Conclusion | Foreign Credit Cards on WeChat Pay
There are changes that are coming to the system, but for now, we still need to wait before we can add a foreign credit card to WeChat Pay.
Nobody has given a clear timeline for the rollout of these changes (and it’s almost been a year), so we’re really just in a wait and see period.
As travelers or expats, using WeChat is convenient but not absolutely necessary. Don’t be afraid to get cash from a Chinese ATM.
And if you absolutely must add money to your WeChat Pay account, you can do so using the alternate methods mentioned above.
Otherwise, don’t bother trying to add your foreign credit card to your WeChat Wallet yet. Based on my experience, it doesn’t work yet. I’ll let you know when things change.
Further Reading & Resources
Using WeChat or Alipay in China to Pay | Expat Guide
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How do I add a foreign credit card to WeChat? ›
- Go to ME in the bottom bar.
- Go to WALLET.
- Select CARDS.
- Add a Card.
- Enter your card number as it appears on your card.
- Enter your name exactly as it has been input by your bank. This is not the name as it appears on the card itself. ...
- Change ID Type.
- Select PASSPORT.
WeChat will accept Visa, MasterCard, JCB, Diner's Club and American Express Cards (credit cards, not just debit cards); You won't need a Chinese phone number to register your account; it can be done with your foreign phone number.Can I add credit card to WeChat Pay? ›
Step 1: Open "Me", go to "WeChat Pay", "Wallet", and select “Cards”. Step 2: Click “+” at the bottom of the page to add your card. Step 3: Enter your WeChat payment password to verify your identity.What cards are accepted in WeChat Pay? ›
The card schemes supported by WeChat Pay include VISA, MasterCard, JCB, Diners Club International, and American Express (AMEX).How do I register for WeChat Pay outside China? ›
- First, you'll need a WeChat Official Account.
- Then, log into your WeChat Official Account and activate WeChat Pay.
- You can partner with a domestic WeChat Pay institution.
The short answer is “yes, anyone can open a WeChat Wallet”, but… …as with anything in China, it's not that simple. You see, WeChat requires what they call “real-name verification” in order to open a WeChat Wallet to send and receive money.Can you add foreign credit card to Alipay? ›
Can I use a foreign credit or debit card to top up? You'll need a Chinese bank account to get started with either Alipay or WeChat Pay. Once you've added your Chinese account and card, you might find you can add a foreign card to your Alipay account.Do I need a Chinese bank account for Alipay? ›
How do I set up AliPay in China? You simply download AliPay from your App Store on your device. You will need to register a mobile number and set up your account. Once this is complete just link your bank card (Chinese account or now a foreign account is also possible) and you are good to go.How do I pay America on WeChat? ›
For example, if you are in a store that accepts payment from WeChat, you simply scan the seller's unique QR code, enter the amount of the purchase, and confirm the payment. Then the app transfers the funds from your account to the seller.Does WeChat accept Visa debit card? ›
The service works with Mastercard, Visa and JCB. TechNode noted that this move marks the first time users can use WeChat Pay without having a Chinese bank account or Chinese-based credit card.
Can WeChat Pay link to bank account? ›
You can link a new bank account, bank card, or unlink bank account or bank card on the WeChat app.Does WeChat accept debit card? ›
To enable Quick Pay, WeChat users simply need to top up their app's mobile wallets. This is done by adding any Visa or Mastercard debit cards issued by Malaysian banks, and transferring your desired amount to the wallet. Once this is done, you will get a QR code that can be scanned to initiate the payment process.Does WeChat Pay work in USA? ›
You can only use WeChat Pay in the US if you have a bank account registered in China, Malaysia, South Africa or Hong Kong. This is because the WeChat wallet is linked to this bank account. This unfortunately rules it out as a payment option for most people except Chinese citizens and permanent residents.What is the meaning of bind bank card? ›
Binding of Bank Card means the activity of binding your bank card number to your registered UnionPay Account after you are registered as a UnionPay User.
- Go to the “Me” tab on WeChat. When you are on your own tab, you'll see “Wallet” listed on the top right side. ...
- Add your card. ...
- Fill in the required information. ...
- Set your password. ...
- Enable QR code. ...
- Try it out!
Input your ID/passport number, mobile phone number, a photo of your ID/passport and a photo of yourself (we recommend not editing the photo beforehand...). After submitting, you should be able to rejoin the beautiful world of digital payments.Does WeChat accept Mastercard? ›
1. Paying an online merchant on WeChat Pay MY wallet: You can use your Wallet Balance or a Malaysian Visa/Mastercard bank card to make a payment when you visit a merchant's official account on WeChat. 2.Why does my WeChat not have WeChat Pay? ›
Note if you don't see Wallet in your WeChat, it is because you downloaded the international version of WeChat. Here is a trick to see the WeChat Wallet on the international version of WeChat. You can click on Setting/General/Language to change the WeChat language to Chinese. This will activate your WeChat Wallet.How can I verify my WeChat ID? ›
If your WeChat account is already linked to your phone number, you can use the SMS verification method to verify your account. Go to the 'Verify Identity' section and tap [Via SMS verification code]. An SMS verication code will be sent to your phone. If you don't receive an SMS code, you need to request again.
How do I link international card to Alipay? ›
- Step 1: Download Alipay and Sign Up with Your Phone Number. ...
- Step 2: Add Your Bank Card. ...
- Step 3: Enter Your Bank Card Info. ...
- Step 4: Confirm Your Phone Number and Other Info Registered With Your Bank. ...
- Step 5: Make Payments!
Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are all widely accepted in big cities in China. Depending on your bank, using a foreign credit card in China will usually incur a foreign currency exchange fee and a transaction fee from either your home or the local bank, which can add up fast.How do I add a Visa card to Alipay? ›
Steps to link your card
Step 1: Open Alipay, go to "Me" and select "bank cards". Step 2: Click "+" on the upper right corner to add your card. Step 3: Enter your debit card number. Step 4: Enter your mobile phone number that you leave with us.
To verify, you will need your passport and a bank card under the same name. Make sure all information you fill in should be 100% authentic. You need to add your bank card to your Alipay account on the Me page. Go to the Balance page, and add your passport information.How much is the limit of Alipay? ›
- For unverified accounts, the maximum top-up limit by way of cash at merchant stores is HKD 3,000 daily, HKD 10,000 monthly and HKD 25,000 annually. - For Intermediate accounts, the maximum top-up limit is HKD 5,000 daily, HKD 30,000 monthly and HKD 100,000 annually.Can foreigners receive money on Alipay? ›
Alipay is now available to both Chinese nationals and foreign customers. If you've never used Alipay before, you can download the app, enter your information, and link your bank details. Alipay will now work with foreign bank accounts, as well as major credit cards like Mastercard and Visa.Does WeChat Pay currency? ›
When Chinese shoppers buy goods overseas, they can pay in CNY by WeChat Pay. The local currency will be converted into CNY based on real-time rate. No more worries about currency conversion.How much money can you transfer on WeChat? ›
The daily limit is RM5,000, and the monthly limit is RM10,000. Quick Pay: The daily limit is RM4,999.How do I register for WeChat in Nigeria? ›
- Step 1: Input more detailed info. About the business as. ...
- Step 2: Set up the name for your WeChat Official Account. The naming methods includes. ...
- Step 3: Confirm the name for your WeChat Official Account. ...
- Step 4: Confirm the invoice. ...
- Step 5: Pay the Fees.
The merchant generates a QR code for the customer to scan using the WeChat app. Once the customer scans the merchant's QR code, they can complete the payment. This mobile payment method is used for purchases in physical stores, websites, and media advertising.
How do I link my Alipay with foreign credit card? ›
You simply download AliPay from your App Store on your device. You will need to register a mobile number and set up your account. Once this is complete just link your bank card (Chinese account or now a foreign account is also possible) and you are good to go. How to top up AliPay in China?How do I change my region on WeChat wallet? ›
Start in Me, tap into Pay , tap "..." menu on the top right corner and choose Switch Wallet Region to select the specific region.Does WeChat accept Mastercard? ›
1. Paying an online merchant on WeChat Pay MY wallet: You can use your Wallet Balance or a Malaysian Visa/Mastercard bank card to make a payment when you visit a merchant's official account on WeChat. 2.How much money can you transfer on WeChat? ›
The daily limit is RM5,000, and the monthly limit is RM10,000. Quick Pay: The daily limit is RM4,999.Does WeChat Pay currency? ›
When Chinese shoppers buy goods overseas, they can pay in CNY by WeChat Pay. The local currency will be converted into CNY based on real-time rate. No more worries about currency conversion.How can I buy Bitcoin with WeChat? ›
- Sign up for a Paxful account - Create and verify your account to get your free Bitcoin wallet with 2FA security. ...
- Find a vendor – Click Buy from the main menu and select Buy Bitcoin. ...
- Read the requirements – Click on the Buy button to view the vendor's terms.
Are you a foreigner that is looking for a way to join in the fun? Alipay is a great option to consider as it uses a “Tour Pass” feature that will give foreigners a chance to use this widely used app in a lot of China, just like the locals do.Which countries use Alipay? ›
Alipay is a digital wallet that securely stores a shopper's payment and shipping details. It supports major credit and debit card types, including American Express, Mastercard, and Visa.How can I fake my location on WeChat? ›
To start with, just unlock your Android phone and go to its Settings > About Phone and tap the “Build Number” feature 7 times straight to unlock Developer Options. Step 2. Once that is enabled, go to its Settings > Developer Options and turn on the feature to “Allow Mock Locations” on the device.
How can I remove my region in WeChat? ›
Open WeChat > tap Discover > Live Streams & Nearby > tap People at the top of the screen > tap "..." in the top-right corner > Clear Location.Can I use Hong Kong WeChat Pay in China? ›
WeChat Pay HK users can enjoy instant payments at supporting merchants in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Macau via mobile.Does WeChat accept Visa debit card? ›
The service works with Mastercard, Visa and JCB. TechNode noted that this move marks the first time users can use WeChat Pay without having a Chinese bank account or Chinese-based credit card.Does WeChat accept debit card? ›
To enable Quick Pay, WeChat users simply need to top up their app's mobile wallets. This is done by adding any Visa or Mastercard debit cards issued by Malaysian banks, and transferring your desired amount to the wallet. Once this is done, you will get a QR code that can be scanned to initiate the payment process.