You are headed to China for a business trip, so you search on the internet for what spending money in China looks like. Of course, you find multiple articles online, but none details the precise best ways for foreign travelers to pay for goods and services in China. There is no denying that AliPay, WeChat Pay, and credit cards are the leading payment platforms you can use to make purchases in China. Cash is also a widely accepted payment mode, so don’t forget to carry some bills with you.
Therefore, even if you are into stock investing and intend to stay in China for a couple of years looking for companies to invest in, a simple stock advisor review and any of the payment platforms below will keep you going.
For the longest time, cash has been the king in China for non-Chinese travelers. However, November 2019 brought some advancements in how visitors purchase goods and services. WeChat Pay and AliPay mobile payments became a standard mode of payment for travelers as it was with the locals. But here is the thing. The user experience and interface of the mobile apps might still be a little clunky for non-Chinese users.
We know you probably might have heard or read about the controversial state of China’s use of cash. Despite what you might have read about zero use of cash in China, it is vital to know that cash is still accepted everywhere in the country. In fact, China’s government recently made another statement supporting businesses to accept cash payments.
Today, most locals in China use AliPay for nearly all of their daily transactions as this is one of the country’s two dominant mobile payment platforms. This mode of payment is acceptable everywhere, from street vendors to big brands. Before November 2019, the only way someone could have used this application was to have a Chinese bank account which was challenging for most visitors. But as of November 2019, things changed, and AliPay began allowing foreigners without a Chinese bank account to use their mobile payment platform in the country.
With AliPay, you can now create a prepaid account and fund it with MasterCard, Visa, or JCB. The payment platform allows you to load up to ¥2,000RMB, equivalent to approximately $285USD at a time. This amount can be more than enough for your daily purchases for around two to three weeks. However, it is essential to note that there is a ¥10,000RMB total load limit within a period of 90 days.
WeChat Pay is the other dominant mobile payment platform in China today, besides AliPay. It is also acceptable across the country, from small businesses to big companies. Like AliPay, WeChat Pay also started allowing foreigners without a Chinese bank account to use their app in November 2019. But WeChat Pay functions slightly differently from AliPay. You only need to link a credit card, and you don’t need to fund it. It charges all payments to your credit card as they occur. Also, you don’t need to worry if you have a MasterCard or Visa because WeChat Pay supports both of them. Additionally, WeChat supports Discover, AMEX, Dinners Club, and JCB.
Generally, international credit card acceptance is relatively low in China. Still, the good news is that it is acceptable in multiple places in tier 1 cities, including Shanghai. Credit card use in China is limited to major hotels (think of prominent domestic and international brands) and airlines. It is also limited to semi-upscale chain restaurants in malls in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and other major cities.
What Is Our Overall Recommendation?
Based on our research, this is our recommendation if you are looking to visit China for business purposes or a holiday trip. Carry enough cash with you as you visit different places in China because cash is accepted everywhere on that massive land. Ensure you bring lots of small bills from 5RMB to 20RMB for public transit. But also, don’t forget to carry a MasterCard or Visa and use it wherever applicable to save your cash.
Lastly, load about 300RMB into AliPay and test drive it. Alternatively, set up your WeChat Pay and add more funds to it as you get more comfortable and knowledgeable with the application until it becomes your main payment form.