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Alipay - Mobile Payments In China

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Alipay, operated by Alibaba Group, is a widely used mobile payment platform in China. Similar to WeChat Pay, it enables you to make payments by scanning QR codes, offering you a convenient way to pay for purchases almost anywhere in the country. As a foreigner without a Mainland bank account, which is required for WeChat Pay, Alipay is likely to be your best option for mobile payments.


To prepare for your journey, you can install Alipay on your mobile device and verify your account. The verification process involves confirming your phone number and scanning your passport.

Once you have obtained a Chinese SIM card, in Alipay settings, you can change your phone number to the Chinese one, ensuring seamless communication.

Linking your bank card to Alipay is the next step. For having good exchange rates, consider using WISE bank card. With WISE, you can have an account in Chinese Yuan. While there is a 3% card payment fee associated with WISE transactions (typically paid by retailers everywhere else), it remains a worthwhile choice for larger stores.


Linking your Bank Card

Alipay is widely accepted in major shops, making it a convenient payment method for most of your needs. However, it's important to note that smaller shops may not support Alipay if you choose to pay using your Bank Card - they require you to pay with your Alipay balance.

Based on my own experience during a month-long trip in China, I encountered this situation only 2-3 times. To be prepared, it's recommended to carry some cash as a backup.

Pay with a QR code

In certain cases, select shops, particularly Western brands and clubs, may your accept your WISE card (or any other bank card), eliminating the need to pay the 3% card payment fee usually borne by the retailer. If you come across such establishments, take advantage of the opportunity to save on transaction fees.

Additionally, you have the option to apply for an Alipay Tourcard, which incurs a 5% fee but provides a backup plan for payment. This card allows you to top up your account and enables you to make payments anywhere, giving you peace of mind throughout your trip. However, please note that obtaining the Alipay Tourcard may take more than a week, so plan accordingly.


If you require further advice or wish to personalise your China trip, contact us. We offer personalised China trip advice with packages starting from 30 GBP. We can provide valuable insights, recommendations, and assistance to make your journey to China a truly unforgettable experience.

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