Do you need WeChat Pay?

D. Jack ·

This is an article from one of the pioneer users of Swapsy, who is now studying in China. We are honored to share his experience with you all and hope you find it insightful as well as fun.


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D. Jack, Sep 2, 2018


One of the first things foreigners will notice when arriving in China is that everyone pays for everything on their phones. When I say everything, I mean everything. To help you understand just how universal mobile pay adoption is in China picture this: I was walking down the street in Shanghai and I saw a man playing the flute with a basket left out for tips. Inside the basket, there was no cash, just his QR code.


People are scanning QR codes left and right and if you’re not prepared you might find yourself stuck in the middle feeling a bit out of the loop. You may be discouraged to find out that all your newly exchanged cash isn’t even accepted at some places. I won’t forget the feeling of ordering at a restaurant only to find out shortly after that they didn’t accept cash! Luckily the woman behind me was nice enough to use her WeChat to pay for me and I gave her my cash. It’s these experiences which made me determined on setting up my own WeChat Pay, which can be tricky for foreigners. Let’s look at a couple ways you can set up WeChat Pay.


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Link a Chinese Bank Card

Of course, this implies that you have a Chinese bank card. There is a lot of outdated and unreliable information on the internet about how to open a Chinese bank account as a foreigner. This is due to constant changes in individual bank’s policies regarding visa requirements, among other things. Speaking from my own experience, I visited multiple banks and was unable to open an account with my 6-month X2 visa. Ideally, however, the process should be simple. Arrive at a bank in China with your passport and then with a small deposit of about 20-40RMB you can walk away with an account in about 20 minutes.


You could now link your WeChat to this bank card, allowing you to use WeChat Pay. However, it is important to note that you will have to transfer money into your Chinese bank account which could leave you victim to high fees and unfair exchange rates. It may also be difficult to transfer your money internationally out of your Chinese bank account.


As of now, linking a foreign credit or debit card to your WeChat will NOT work.


(Tips from Swapsy: the most foreign friendly banks in China.)


Adding Money to Your WeChat Balance

Another way to use WeChat Pay is to add money to your wallet’s balance. This can be done if you have a friend who is willing to accept your currency and then transfer RMB directly to your WeChat wallet. However, it’s not always easy to find someone willing to do this.

This is where Swapsy proves itself to be not just a great way to exchange currency, but also one of the best ways to add money to your WeChat wallet as a foreigner. Swapsy does the work of finding someone willing to trade with you so you can exchange your USD and load your WeChat balance simultaneously. This method provides the best exchange value and is the easiest way for foreigners to use WeChat Pay. This way you can avoid the shame and inconvenience of using cash in China and mobile pay your way like a pro.


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(Tips from Swapsy: click here to see the complete walkthrough.)