[2023 Update] How to Set up and Use WeChat Pay When Traveling in China


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Due to China's advanced digital infrastructure and cashless habit, WeChat Pay(Weixin Pay) and Alipay wallets are a must for every visitor.

I recommend WeChat Pay the most, as WeChat (also known as Weixin) is the social app every Chinese has.

It covers any payment scenario, from supermarkets, restaurants, street vendors to taxis.

I've helped many foreign friends set up WeChat Pay.

Here is my latest guide to share.

Latest Update

Tencent (WeChat's parent company) has announced partnerships with Visa, Discover, JCB, Mastercard and other international card networks.

This means as a foreign visitor, you don't need a Chinese bank account. You can directly link your international card to WeChat for payments.

Many people report being unable to receive WeChat verification codes with their home number.

A mainland China SIM card can be your savior.

Must Have

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Easily register for various services in China

Receiving SMS Free

One-time payment

If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Note: I recommend you be sure to keep your Chinese phone number if you expect to travel to China many times.

Requirements for Setting up WeChat Pay

1. Identity Document

  • Passport — For most tourists, this option works.
  • Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card
  • Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao Residents
  • Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents
  • Residence Permit for Hong Kong and Macao Residents
  • Residence Permit for Taiwan Residents

2. Card Requirement(Credit or debit cards are fine)

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • Discover
  • JCB
  • Diners Club
  • And other international cards

3. Phone Number

Officially it says you don't need a mainland(+86) China number. Any overseas number that can receive SMS verification codes works.

But I recommend using a mainland China SIM card, it avoids many headaches with not receiving verification codes.

How to Set up Wechat Pay for Foreigners?

This is very easy to do. Here is a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Download and register WeChat

set up wechat pay step 1 Pin

Step 2: Tap Me -> Services -> Wallet

set up wechat pay step 2 1 Pin

Notes: Enable Weixin Pay this way, if you can't find the entrance

set up wechat pay step 2 2 Pin

Step 3: Fill in your identity info and add your card

set up wechat pay step 3 Pin

Pro-tips for Set up Wechat Pay

1. You need to enter your name exactly right.

Your passport name, bank card name, and WeChat verified name should match exactly, including: same name order, spaces, and capitalization.

For example, don't put Anne Smith as ANNESMITH or it may fail verification.

2. You don't need (and can't) top up your WeChat Wallet.

This is just a payment feature for foreign tourists, not a full wallet like mainland Weixin. Given China's strict foreign exchange and anti-money laundering controls, the limitations don't surprise me.

How to Use Wechat to Pay?

1. Pay at brick-and-mortar stores

wechat payments 1 1 Pin

At malls, restaurants, hotels, chain convenience stores etc., you can scan their QR code or have them scan yours to pay. These places generally accept both ways of paying.

But for street stalls or small shops in small cities, you'll usually need to scan their QR code to pay.

2. Book and buy attraction tickets

You generally need to book tickets in advance for top attractions in Chinese cities. Luckily you don't need to physically line up – just use WeChat and you're all set.

Here's an example of me booking the Great Wall (Badaling Great Wall) tickets:

1. Search and follow Badaling Great Wall's official WeChat account.

wechat book ticket guide 1 1 Pin

2. Go to ticket booking page and select your ticket type.

wechat book ticket guide 1 2 Pin

3. Select the time slot and pay online.

wechat book ticket guide 1 3 Pin

Select your passport and fill in the details. If booking multiple tickets, each person will need to provide their ID information.

How to Cancel Wechat Pay?

1. log into WeChat > Me > Services > Wallet

cancel wechat pay guide 1 1 Pin

2. Then click Payment settings > Cancel Wechat Pay

cancel wechat pay guide 1 2 Pin

In general, as a foreigner without a Chinese bank account linked, you can't have a WeChat Pay balance. But if you do, you'll need to fully spend or withdraw it before closing WeChat Pay.

Important Notes When Using WeChat Pay

1. If you haven't linked a Chinese bank account, you can only use WeChat Pay to make payments, not top up, transfer money or receive red packets(hongbao).

2. A 3% fee is charged for transactions over 200 RMB(28 USD).

3. Payment limits: 6,000 RMB(835 USD) per transaction, 50,000 RMB(6,957 USD) monthly, and 60,000 RMB(8,348 USD) annually.

4. Don't turn on VPN when making payments or they may fail.

5. Sometimes when you scan a street vendor's QR code it may fail – because they use personal codes unable to process card payments. In such cases, you can only use cash.

Did you know?

I also have the latest tutorial on how to set up and use Alipay.


What is WeChat Pay?

WeChat Pay (Chinese: 微信支付; Aka Weixin Pay) is a mobile payment and digital wallet service by WeChat based in China that allows users to make mobile payments and online transactions.

It is one of the most popular mobile payment platforms in the world, with over 1 billion active users.

WeChat Pay works by linking users' bank accounts or credit cards to their WeChat account. Once a user has linked their payment method, they can scan a QR code or enter a merchant's WeChat ID to pay for goods or services.

WeChat Pay is accepted by merchants all over China, and it is also available in a number of other countries, including Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, and the United States.

Can Foreigners Use Wechat Pay?

Yes, foreigners can use WeChat Pay in China.

In fact, WeChat Pay is one of the most popular payment methods for foreigners in China.

Can I Use Wechat Pay Without a Chinese Bank Account?

Yes you can!

WeChat now allows directly linking international bank cards for payments, including Visa, Mastercard etc.

Can Foreigners Use Wechat Pay Outside China?

The answer is No.

Outside mainland China, you can't use WeChat Pay without a Chinese ID.

Is Wechat Pay Safe?

Yes, WeChat Pay is very safe. I've never heard of stolen payment cases, and they never leak your card details.

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