Paying for things in China using Alipay/Wechat

Did you guys know that foreigners can now link their international bank cards and use them to pay for things in China?

I wrote an article about it recently. In this article we cover:

:white_check_mark: What exactly Alipay is
:white_check_mark: How to link your international bank card to Alipay
:white_check_mark: How to set up Tourpass (essentially a temporary bank account)
:white_check_mark: Limitations to Tourpass
:white_check_mark: Alternatives you should consider

This isn’t just relevant for LTL students coming to China but anyone in fact. Whether you are going to China on business, for travel or to visit friends - this applies to all.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? || Have you recently been to China or are living in China and have further experience with linking foreign cards?

I’d love to hear your story too - it seems to vary for each and every one of us :sweat_smile:

LINK || Alipay for Foreigners (in 2023) || How To Link Your Bank Card


Hey Max, just a heads-up: the Tourpass app has been discontinued/suspended since March 2023. There is now a mini app called “TourCard” instead.

Unfortunately, neither linking a foreign credit/banking card nor TourCard will allow you to pay everywhere. These methods sometimes work with certain big shops (that have no issues accepting cash in any case), but not with many other shops let alone street vendors. In addition, the ID verification process for the TourCard app is not straightforward at all.

In short, it might be easiest just to use cash unless you have Chinese bank account.

Hey thanks for your comment :slight_smile:

Yes I updated the article to reflect these changes. I just noticed above in my list that I used Tourpass instead of Tourcard! Force of habit.

Are you in China now? Did you try?

I mention in the article the importance of also taking cash, thanks for reinforcing that point!

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Yes, I’m currently in China. One other method, which has been working well is to ask a friend to transfer money to my Alipay account. The money thus received can be used like normal.


That’s a smart suggestion actually.

Can this be done without a Chinese bank account? Let’s say you live in China (with a local bank account) and I don’t.

Can you send me cash to my Alipay despite me not having a bank account?

I know this can be done when both parties have a bank account but not sure on this example here.

Yes, exactly. So if I have a Chinese bank account-linked Alipay account I can send you cash despite yours not being linked to any bank account. Your account just needs to be verified (i.e. upload scan of passport, take selfie etc).

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We actually helped a lot of our students to link there international credit card to Alipay and it worked without problems during the last few weeks.

Keeps changing all the time - and is getting more important because getting a Chinese bank account keeps getting harder and harder.

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That’s a super little hack. I will update the article with this idea.

Thanks for sharing :slight_smile:

Great to see that others appear to have more success with linking their international cards. Overall, it would be nice to see some of the apps becoming more open to foreign visitors or those living abroad.

Has anyone tried linking a WeChat wallet to their visa card?
My Chinese friend in Beijing said that if I can do that, which she says I can do since beginning of July, I’ll be able to pay with it anywhere, same as her.

I’ve linked my Visa credit card successfully but I’m yet to try it. I go to China in September so I plan to run a few payment tests to see what happens.

I’ll report back :innocent:

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Thank you! It’ll be great to know how you get on.

I should be in China in November (cross fingers, throw salt over shoulder, turn 3 times on the spot, praise the goddess of travelling…)

If it’s ok to ask - anyone who’s managed to link a card - which Western bank account did you link to your WeChat/Alipay?

I’ve got a account with a visa card, and a variety of currencies held in it. I’m quite excited by this account, I already have Yuans in it! I converted some more this week because it went down in relations to the Euro and the Pound.

I would really like to link it to my WeChat. For the moment I can’t because my passport is expired. I will try in a month or so.

Wise is a great backup. Nice work for joining and converting some CNY.

As I go before you hopefully I can report back. I do have a Chinese bank account but I plan to try and not use it, so we can test some of these out.

I really hope the Visa QR code in Alipay and WeChat works!

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We published our video guides for both Wechat and Alipay on Youtube. Hope they are useful.

I am going to China next month so I will try a few of these methods out and see if they work.

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@Pascale-Mandarin_Simplified_HS are you looking for this post?

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Yes! Thank you

I’ve received confirmation that I’m all set up for WeChat wallet… but as Max says, you only find out when you try and buy something over there.

I’m wondering whether I could try and buy something online on Ali Express with it.
I’ll try and link up a credit card as well. I think you can link up more than one card…? I hope.

Anyone tried to use WeChat wallet from Europe when buying something on Ali Express?

In my experience I could never use my Wechat pay outside of China. I always get an error at checkout.


In other news, it seems that now you can link Visa debit card. Not just credit cards.
Am waiting to hear from my bank They seem to be all set up already for WeChat.

Every 3 months, China surprises us with another update that makes like for foreigners teenyweeny easier each time!