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Payment Methods in China: A Guide to Paying and Exchanging Money

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

In China, there are various payment methods available to both residents and visitors. Here are some common ways to pay in China:

  1. Cash: Cash is widely accepted in China, especially for smaller transactions and in local markets. Make sure to carry sufficient Chinese currency (Renminbi) with you.

  2. WeChat Pay: WeChat Pay is a popular mobile payment method in China. It is linked to your WeChat account and allows you to make payments by scanning QR codes at participating merchants.

  3. Alipay: Alipay, operated by Alibaba Group, is another widely used mobile payment platform in China. Similar to WeChat Pay, it enables you to make payments by scanning QR codes.

  4. Bank Cards: Major international credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are accepted at many hotels, high-end restaurants, and larger retail establishments. However, it's important to note that smaller businesses may not accept foreign cards.

  5. Mobile Payment Apps: Besides WeChat Pay and Alipay, there are other mobile payment apps available in China, such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. These apps allow you to link your bank card and make payments using your mobile device.

  6. Online Payments: When shopping online in China, you can use various online payment platforms such as Alipay, WeChat Pay, and UnionPay to complete your transactions.

Here are few tips for exchanging money:

  1. Install WISE, not only you can have account in Yuans there, but you can connect your WISE card to Alipay. Wise offers a good exchange rate. The only thing you will have to pay is the 3% card payment (which is normally paid by the retailers)

  2. The above solution works in all big shops. For the smaller shops, this might not work.

  3. Not many, but some shops (Western Brands, Clubs) accept WISE card - then you will not have to pay this 3% card payment (which is normally paid by the retailer)

  4. As mentioned above, you can apply for Alipay Tourcard. As mentioned above, it is 5% fee, but it takes some time to get it.

It's advisable to carry a mix of payment options, including cash and a mobile payment method like WeChat Pay or Alipay, as they are widely accepted. Also, remember to inform your bank or credit card provider about your travel plans to avoid any issues with using your cards abroad.

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