Millions of foreigners from all over the world visit China every year for various reason including business and tourism. China is a very interesting, technologically advanced and you may not get most of the digital tools you use back at home. For instance, there are no popular social apps and sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Instead, people in China use WeChat, a popular app that is not only for communication, but for also making payments while in the country.
Therefore, it is important for anyone planning a trip to China to understand how the Tencent’s app works, especially using the WeChat Pay feature. This guide explores everything that you need to know about WeChat Pay to make your trip to China more comfortable and memorable.
Wēixìn 微信 Vs WeChat
Well, this is the biggest confusion among foreigners that WeChat has two different versions within a single app. The local version of WeChat, as referred as Wēixìn (微信 in Chinese), has different payment features than the international WeChat app that you can download outside China. Basically, it is a same app which will get different features based on your mobile number.
In this article, we will explain the app features with local Chinese mobile number. This essentially means, you have restrictions on payment options and read on further to understand more. You can also checkout our Alipay guide for foreigners.
What is WeChat Pay?
WeChat Pay is one of the easy and convenient ways for foreigners to do financial transactions in China. WeChat Pay is a mobile payment method integrated into the WeChat app to enable users to complete payment in different scenarios from their smartphone. It is one of the most convenient ways to make payments for purchases, ordering a cab, or airtime top-up among other things in China, as well as send or receive funds to other users. All you need is to download and install the app from your app store. Create a WeChat account and activate the WeChat Pay to enjoy a range of feature for different payment situations.
WeChat Pay for Foreigners
Most foreigners believe that WeChat is only meant for Chinese users with a Chinese ID, but the truth is the app is available to anyone with a contact number whether inside or outside China. To sign up;
- Go to your app store and search for “WeChat”, download and install the app in your iPhone or Android phone.
- Launch the app and tap the “Sign Up” option.
- Fill in your personal details and tap the “Sign Up” button.
- Follow the screen instructions until your account is successfully created.
Activating Your WeChat Pay
Depending on the region where you downloaded the app from, you may already see the “Wallet” feature by tapping the “Me” icon at the bottom-right corner of the WeChat interface. For some regions, the option is not available and you need to activate the tool.
- Tap the plus “+” sign at the top of the screen, next to the search icon and select “Money” from the menu that appears.
- Tap the “Enable Now” button on the next page and then “Verify User Info” when prompted.
- Here you will need to add your bankcard. WeChat supports over 300 banks and a number of foreign credit cards like VISA, MasterCard and JCB.
For Foreigners with Mainland China Bank Card
If you have a Chinese bankcard and phone number, you can add either debit or credit card. Remember, getting a bankcard needs you to work in China for longterm. The easiest way is to apply through your organization along with appropriate document proofs.
- Simply enter your card number and press the “Next” button.
- On the next screen fill in the bank account details such as the bank name, the card type and so on and then press the “Next” button.
- Follow the instructions of the pages that follow to complete the process.
For Foreigners Without a Chinese Bank Account
If you don’t have a Chinese bank account, you can still use WeChat Pay by linking a supported credit card.
- Enter the credit card number press “Next” and then follow the instructions on the next pages to complete the process.
- Once your card and the phone number have been verified, your WeChat Wallet will be active and you can now use the WeChat Pay.
WeChat Pay currently supports foreign credit cards only, so debit cards will not work. Moreover, this option limits the usage to paying for purchases. You can pay to vendors like mobile top-up from WeChat Pay through the connected credit card. However, you can’t perform the general transfer, Wallet top-up or send red envelops to other users from your Wallet.
Loading Money into Your WeChat Wallet
You can add money to your account through the following three ways:
- Chinese Bank Transfer – You can add funds directly to your WeChat Wallet from your Chinese bank account and use the money for transactions. Alternatively, you can directly spend the money using WeChat payment gateway to debit it from the connected bank account.
- Peer to Peer WeChat Transfer – If you don’t have a Chinese bank account, you can request a friend or a colleague to transfer money to your account either through the general transfer or the red envelop function. The transaction is free, however you can’t withdraw the money if you don’t have Chinese bankcard linked to your WeChat Pay.
- Third-Party Transfer – There are many online platforms that you can use to load money to WeChat Pay but with a small fee. We do not recommend to use this method as it is illegal.
Making Payments with WeChat Pay
There are various options for making payment at the merchant’s store:
- Scanning the Merchant QR code (Quick Pay) – Scan the QR code on the device provided at the store, and directly transfer your money from your account to the merchant’s account.
- Allow the Merchant to Scan Your QR Code – Provide your phone at the store and allow the merchant to scan the code. This will take away money from your account to their account.
- Online options include the Native and Web-based In-App Payments.
The WeChat Pay is not only available to individuals but also foreign companies can sign up for an official account. Through the mini-programs, overseas vendors can use WeChat Pay feature to receive and make payments to suppliers in China.
WeChat Pay Available Countries
Though WeChat app is available in app stores for download, WeChat Pay is only available for few countries. You can use WeChat Pay if you are in Mainland China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, South Africa and Malaysia.
- You can’t use WeChat Pay in countries other than the countries mentioned above.
- If someone sends you a red packet to your Wallet, it is mandatory to link your Mainland China bankcard within 24 hours to withdraw the money. Otherwise, it will be returned back to the sender.
- It is not possible to transfer the amount available on your Wallet to bankcard outside Mainland China. This is an important point that WeChat in not a money transfer app. You need to go to bank and provide earning proof for sending money outside China.
- When you have multiple WeChat Pay accounts in the countries mentioned above, you will have Wallet Region option in the app. This helps you to switch the WeChat Pay account and use the money from the Wallet. However, you can’t transfer the money from one region to another.
China is a country of cashless transactions. If you are planning to visit the country for either leisure or business, you need to embrace the available cashless payment options. One of the most convenient payment methods is using WeChat Pay. However, it needs China bankcard to to make full use of the features.
Hi there. I am a US citizen and I use WeChat pay regularly. Recently I found that I cannot use it anymore and WeChat always wants 国内一类银行卡. Because these Chinese banks in Chicago do not open personal accounts, there is no way for me to have such a bank card. Is there anyway for me to continue using WeChat pay?
Thanks a lot in advance!
can i still use foreign visa card or mastercard to receive money from wechat? march/28/2021
I used to live in China. My Wechat is still with my China mobile number but now I don’t have this number anymore and use my Canada number. My Wechat still works but I still have a balance in my wallet and not sure if I change officially my mobile number to Canada, I will be able to recover this money. Also, since I haven’t use the wallet in a while, I wondered if as another option I simply send this money to a friend in China?
If your WeChat works, the best option is to send the money to some Chinese friend from Wallet.
Supplier from Tao Bao (China)made refund of money to my wechat account in Malaysia. I have just received the notification and required me to accept. Upon accepting the money, it requires me to fill-in my full information including my credit card and CVV number which I feel insecure and started to worry about SCAM matter. I just did it halfway. Is it normal to provide all these information before I can receive the money?
Need advice urgently. Tq
Hi, is there a way to change passport number on WeChat? As my passport will expire soon I need to get a new one. However, there is no way to update the number on the app and I have read that if I update my passport info with the bank, my wechat pay might have some trouble. Is there a way to sort it out?
After you update passport number in bank, WeChat Pay will stop working soon and ask you to verify your account. Then, you can upload new passport and activate again. Only problem is you can’t predict the time gap between bank update and WeChat Pay update. It took few months in our case and also we have to upload few times for the verification in WeChat. Good part is the verification from WeChat will happen quickly (though they claim it takes time).
You can also go to “Me > Settings > Help & Feedback” section to submit your issue as a feedback to their customer service. Alternatively, go to “WeChat Pay > Wallet” section and access the “Help Center” (this is in Chinese).
Hi there. I have tried several times to add an international credit card to my WeChat account with no luck. I’ve tried 5 different credit cards from different banks (both from US and Kuwait). Any suggestions on how to resolve that? I get a message saying WeChat pay is not available in your region.
I’m currently in China and have switched my region upon arrival. What else am I missing? Would appreciate the help.
Are you using Chinese WeChat version with local phone number? WeChat Pay is not available on all countries and you should use the correct app.
My WeChat is international, linked to a Chinese bank account. It works fine only one thing is not changeable. Any purchase I make from the Apple AppStore gets deducted from my bank account, even my standard payment choice is wallet. It uses my wallet for everything except the AppStore.
I live outside China, but am trying to get money to a student friend inside China. I have set up WeChat Pay with my VISA, but it appears I can’t transfer money to her WeChat Pay account?
The advice above states: WeChat Pay currently supports foreign credit cards only, so debit cards will not work. Moreover, this option limits the usage to paying for purchases. You can pay to vendors like mobile top-up from WeChat Pay through the connected credit card. However, you can’t perform the general transfer, Wallet top-up or send red envelops to other users from your Wallet.
I have my Chinese account linked to my Wechat,can I receive and transfer money outside china
Does anyone know what the limit of payment per day is? And any ways of increasing it? I tried to make payments of more than 1k, but was unable to using my foreign debit card.
is there any information when will be option for debit cards?? i own visa debit,hooked it up with wecahtpay but i cant use it… if you have any information,that would be great <3
hi i have a chinese bank card linked to we chat, but the ATM in my own country ate it up, so is it possible to top up my phone from china bank and transfer money into my home country bank account !
Chinese UnionPay debit cards will not work outside China – wonder why did you insert this card in your country’s ATM? Anyway, transferring money to foreign bankcard is not possible with Chinese WeChat Pay account.
What you can do is to go to the Chinese bank and get a duplicate bankcard. That’s an easy process if you have all documents and the card number remains same as it is your account number. After getting a card, you can continue to use without any change in your WeChat account.
Sure seems like they make it awfully hard for foreign tourists to pay for stuff. I just took a train trip from Shenzhen to Mohe in the north, with some Chinese friends, and they got stuck paying more than their share because I could not set up an wallet on my (American) wechat account. Seems like the government would encourage tourists to spend money, instead of having so many regulations. I went to one 4 star hotel and they would also not take foreign credit cards, phone pay or go away? And don’t hotels cater to tourists? My friends paid and I paid them back, but what a hassle. Seems pretty odd to me, wish someone would come up with a solution before I get back to China.
That depends on the financial system of a country. In China, as a foreigner you have to spend money from your earnings for which you are paying individual income tax to government. Similarly, for transferring money out of the country, you should show the tax paid certificate valid within a year. With this system, most vendors will not accept foreign payments as they don’t know where do you get the money and they may not have payment processor for processing foreign payments.
Well, the effective way is to use a local SIM and install Chinese version of WeChat. You can convert money from bank and ask any of your Chinese friend to transfer the money to your WeChat account. Once, you have the balance, you can freely spend anywhere in China. Before leaving the country, either you can close the account or keep it for next trip if you are visiting frequently.
Hi… how can I change the Bank Credit Card that is already linked to WeChat Pay to a new card please? Your answer appreciated. Thanks
Yes, that is obvious. You can add multiple cards and remove the old card from your account at any point.
It seems to me that for a foreigner’s WeChat account with a non-Chinese bank card linked, the Wallet Balance will always be 0 because we can’t receive money, we can only make payments, is that true? When making payment, can it be made through the [√]Money function as well as Mobil Top Up? Thanks.
Not necessarily, you can receive money from your Chinese friends to keep it in WeChat Pay balance and pay to local vendors. All transactions are done through the Money section of the app, you can view each transaction from the history including the mobile top up payments.
Ni hao. We used to get red envelope or transfer from family. However something changed around end of 2019. Now we can still send red envelope from wallet balance but we can not receive new funds from red envelope or transfer. Get error message about must have mainland credit card type I.
We have validated foreign cards on file long time working ok.
Would be nice for this to work again. Xiexie ni for any help.
Had to make payment to a vendor 2 days ago via a QR code. im a foreigner, with an international wechat app, a linked foreign cc and verified (i.e. able to view the “wechat pay function -> mobile-top”.
However, i was not able to make payment despite scanning the received QR code from the vendor.
Would like to check on the accuracy of the article till date as i have an upcoming trip and looking for solutions to setup my wechat pay prior, if possible.
Your answers would be a trip-saviour to me!!
You should able to see “WeChat Pay > Wallet” for using the payment functions. Mobile top-up is one of the payment function for paying to mobile telecommunication vendor. Again, WeChat international app is different than the WeChat Chinese app.
Coming to your question – foreign credit cards are highly subjective matter of working depending on the vendor. Some Chinese vendors do not accept foreign cards issued by the banks outside mainland China. So, you need to arrange the money in RMB for safer travel regardless of WeChat Pay is working or not.
If you have a card form international banks like HSBC, it allows you to withdraw money from your bank account from the local HSBC ATMs.
same problem like mine better if you have a youtube video like in alipay but the problem in alipay for foreigner they only allow you up to 5k rmb
I just tried to use WeChat Pay with a foreign credit card at a vendor in China and it gave me an error along the lines of that payment can’t be used on this transaction or something like that.
I already verified my identity, is WeChat Pay with foreign credit card confirmed to be working now? What could be wrong with my situation?
The problem is that the vendor can block or not accept payments from certain payment gateways like WeChat Pay. For example, foreign credit cards will not work with most of the Chinese vendors and most foreign vendors do not accept Chinese payment gateway like Union Pay.
It is common to get two cards from the bank when you apply for credit card in China. One is for local payments with Union Pay and other is with Master / VISA card for global payment.
In such a case, WeChat Pay can’t help. You can send the feedback to their help center and confirm what’s the problem with the issue. Alternatively, you can try with some other vendor to check whether it works for you.
I installed WeChat and frequently chat with my Chinese friend s five days ago some friend sent me money through the app .but I don’t know how to withdraw since I have no china account..I only received notification but can not see howmuch was sent either..will I be able to get the cash?
You can’t receive money without linked Chinese bank account. The money will be returned to the receiver if you didn’t receive.
I have no China bank account, but have the wechat pay app for foreigners. Will my payments in China come directly from the visa card, or do I need to transfer money from my credit card with “mobile top up?”
When you pay to vendor, it will be directly debited from your credit card. Mobile top up is also a vendor payment for recharging your phone, it does not do any other function.
I Will travel to Xiamen CHina for work purposes. I never use wechat apps before. May I know is it possible for us to retrieve transaction reception when we purchase anything with wechat pay? can it be downloaded from the wechat app itself? I need the receipts for my claim with the employer after my traveling.
Each transaction is recorded and available in WeChat. You can check the details by going to “WeChat Pay > Wallet” and tapping on the “Transactions” on the top right (this is on iOS app, check out the similar settings on Android app). You will also get a message from WeChat Pay for each transactions, which you can tap and see the details.
However, we don’t see any way to print the bill directly from the app.
Im a foreigner with chinese bank account, can use payments scan in China without problems, but request identification verification when trying to pay for a hotel reservation when travelling abroad. No link to verification provided, just a message pop up. What do I do?
It’s common to get the verification for foreigners to confirm the real name verification. You should see the links to submit your details. If you don’t see, you can send the feedback from the app settings. However, you may not get any response.
my interenational credit card is accept. Am i allow to get redpocket and money transfer by other wechat memeber?
No, you can’t accept payments from others. You can only pay to vendors.
No, the linked foreign CC can not be used to perform the general transfer (e.g., top up the wallet) or send red envelops to other users from your Wallet. However, the linked Master/Debit card can be used to perform “Mobile Top Up”.
Thanks for the correction, that’s correct and we have updated the article. You can use the CC for payments and not for receiving money. This will prevent any type of transfers as the card can’t accept the money back when it is not received by the recipient.
I am a US citizen and do not have any Chinese bank accounts. Foreign credit cards do not work as you described here.
Visa, Master Card and JCB are formally accepted in WeChat app. However, it varies most of the time and the app will not accept the card some time. Moreover, you can only pay through credit card and can’t use for any other purposes.
I am an American living in China. The foreign credit card function is almost worthless. The official wechat website lists the companies that accept this payment method. It is limited to a handful of airlines and a few related businesses. The total count is around 10 companies. You will need a Chinese bank card or cash in the wallet function if you want to use wechat pay easily.
Hi, I’m in Malaysia and have the wechat MY app, I can’t follow your guide, non of the settings is available. Do I have to download the wechat app from China?
Yes, WeChat app has two versions within the same app We have updated the article with the difference between the local Chinese Weixin and international Wechat app.
Hi, I’m from Malaysia. I recently chatted with many Chinese friends and they sent many redpackets in the group. May I ask whether I can receive the redpackets with my account linked with a Malaysian credit card?
You can’t transfer RMB received as Red Packet to your bank account outside China. You can keep in the Wallet balance and need to spend from there.