WeChat Pay for Foreigners || A Comprehensive Guide (for 2024)

WeChat Pay || 2024 Updates AND How to Connect International Cards

Step aside, cash and credit cards.

There’s a new payment juggernaut in town, and it’s already taken China by storm – WeChat Pay.

This year there’s particularly big news for foreigners in China.

WeChat’s parent company and tech-giant Tencent made an important announcement:

Foreign visitors can now link international cards to WeChat Pay.

This is truly a game-changer for tourists, particularly as apps such as PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay aren’t used in China and paying with foreign debit or credit cards has previously proved tricky.

Not to mention China is fast becoming a cashless society.

But we’re here to help. In this blog we’ll explain everything you need to know about using WeChat Pay so you can say goodbye to fumbling with cash and say 你好 Nǐhǎo to paying like a local!

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || What is WeChat Pay?

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || Why Use WeChat Pay in China?

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || Setting Up and Linking International Cards

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || How to Use WeChat Pay

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || Limitations and transaction fees

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || FAQs

Follow our video guide to show you how to link your foreign bank card to Wechat

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || What is WeChat Pay?

Picture this: You’re dining at the best hotpot restaurant in Chengdu, shopping till you drop in central Shanghai, or catching a taxi to the beach in Beihai.

When it’s time to pay, you’re told foreign cards aren’t accepted.

But that doesn’t bother you. You’re a China pro. You’re using WeChat Pay.

With a swipe of your phone, you’ve paid and you’re back off on your China adventure.

So, exactly how did you make the magic happen? It’s actually pretty simple!

WeChat Pay is a mobile payment platform that allows users to seamlessly make cashless transactions using their smartphones.

It’s found on the all-in-one messaging app WeChat (if you’re unfamiliar with WeChat, you might want to check out our Ultimate WeChat Guide first!)

And before you think WeChat Pay is just one of those niche apps that you don’t need to pay attention to, you might be surprised to learn that in 2021, WeChat Pay had more than 900 million users.

WeChat Pay allows users to pay for a wide range of goods and services, both online and offline.

👉 It has become a dominant force in China’s cashless economy, revolutionizing the way people complete financial transactions in their daily lives.

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || Why Use WeChat Pay in China?

As we mentioned above, some poorly-prepared tourists arrive in China only to discover that their cards aren’t accepted, Google and Apple Pay abandoned them this side of the firewall and some shops don’t even accept cash.

Lex the Lion
Use your WeChat account for more than sending selfies!

So, it’s pretty crucial that you have a reliable form of payment ready to use for when you land in the China.

Given that WeChat is the most popular app in China, our students in previous years often arrived expecting to set up WeChat Pay (or Alipay) in no time, only to find that a Chinese bank account was required, which presented a whole other issue.

However, times have changed and now even if you’re only in China for a few days, weeks or months, you can can now use WeChat Pay too!

BONUS || Find out all you need to know about using Alipay (including how to link international cards) in our 2024 Alipay Guide.

Knowing how to use WeChat pay is becoming increasingly important in almost cashless China.

Luckily, WeChat pay offers a range of payment methods that you can use throughout your stay:

  • QR code scanning
  • In-app purchases
  • WeChat Mini Programs

By activating WeChat Pay, you’ll have access to all sorts of useful features, from Split Bill and Ride Hailing to (for those lucky enough among us!) wealth management.

Now, let’s learn how to set up WeChat Pay on your phone.

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WeChat Pay for Foreigners || Setting Up and Linking International Cards

Once you know how, setting up WeChat Pay is a pretty straightforward process.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Open Wallet

To access the Wallet, you’ll need to first click on the “Me” section, which you’ll find at the bottom right of the WeChat app.

Then, click on “Services” and on this page you’ll find the “Wallet” function, which will take you to your payment options.

Add a Bank Card

In the “Wallet” section, you’ll find the option for “Cards”. Here, you’ll be able to click on “Add a Card”.

Fill in the relevant information, including your bank number and name.

NOTE || Unlike when you’re treating yourself to a little something on Amazon or Shein, here you won’t enter the name on the card. Instead, you need to enter your name as it appears on your bank account.

ANOTHER NOTE || If you’re staying in China long-term for work or study, we’d recommend opening up a Chinese bank account, as whilst these steps work theoretically, in reality some foreigners have reported issues with linking international cards.

WeChat Pay for Foreigners - how to set up

Input Personal Information

Here you’ll need a form of ID, most foreigners will use their passport information here.

Other forms of ID are accepted, such as Permanent Resident ID cards, or a Resident Permit for Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan residents.

Then you’ll need to add your phone number, which is important for the final step:


Once you’ve entered your phone number, you’ll receive a text with a code to complete SMS verification.

During the card binding process, the mobile phone number needed for verification should be capable of receiving SMS verification codes. Importantly, this number does not have to be a mobile phone number from mainland China, but it can also be a foreign number.

Finally, create a 6-digit payment password to ensure the security of your WeChat Pay account.

And then… success! Happy shopping with your new WeChat Pay account!

But wait! How do I actually pay for something?” we hear you screaming at your computer.

Don’t worry, that’s all in our next section ⬇️

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WeChat Pay for Foreigners || How to Use WeChat Pay

Most transactions in China, including paying for goods in shops, settling the bill in restaurants and even donating money to homeless people on the street, are completed through scanning QR codes.

Quick Pay

Probably the most common form of payment in China is quick pay, which as you may have guessed, is because it’s quick.

Once your WeChat Pay account is set up, all you have to do is return to the “Services” page and click on “Money” at the top left of the screen.

Then you’ll have your QR code ready for the vendor to scan.

Alternatively, on the homepage of WeChat there will be a small + button on the top right. You can click this and then select the “Money” option to access the QR code.

But that’s not all WeChat Pay has to offer. Payments can also be completed in these forms:

  • QR Code Payments
  • In-App Web-Based Payments
  • Native In-App Payments

To keep things simple, we’ll just go through QR Code Payments in this blog. However, on the note of apps, make sure to take a look at our Must Have Apps for China article.

QR Code Payments

This is essentially the same process, but in reverse.

So instead of the merchant scanning your QR code, you scan theirs.

It’s pretty straightforward to do, you simply need to:

  1. Click on the + on the WeChat homepage
  2. Select “Scan” and scan the QR code
  3. Enter the amount you would like to transfer
  4. Confirm the transaction with your payment password

See, easy peasy!

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || Limitations and Transaction Fees


Whilst it’s great news that foreigners can link international bank cards on WeChat pay and shop til they drop, there are some limitations you need to be aware of.

For instance, foreign cards don’t support sending red envelopes and direct transfers.

There are also some spending limits to bear in mind:

  • For single transactions, the cap stands at RMB 6,000 (~US$836)
  • The monthly cumulative limit is RMB 50,000 (~US$6,970)
  • The annual cumulative limit is RMB 60,000 (~US$8,366).

But hey, for a short term stay in China that’s plenty to fuel your shopping sprees and adventures!

Transaction Fees

It turns out there is such thing as a (transaction) free lunch!

For those smaller purchases below RMB 200 (~US$27), you won’t have to worry about any transaction fees, WeChat Pay’s got you covered.

For those slightly bigger buys above RMB 200, there is a transaction fee of 3%.

Happy Shopping! How has your WeChat Pay experience been? Let us know in the comments!

WeChat Pay for Foreigners || FAQs

Can foreigners use WeChat Pay in China?

Yes, foreigners can use WeChat Pay in China.

WeChat Pay is available for both Chinese and international users, making it convenient for foreigners to make cashless transactions while traveling or living in China.

How to activate WeChat Pay?

Open Wallet

Click on “Services” and on this page you’ll find the “Wallet” function, which will take you to your payment options.

Add a Bank Card

In the “Wallet” section, you’ll find the option for “Cards”. Here, you’ll be able to click on “Add a Card”.

Input Personal Information

You’ll need to add your phone number, which is important for the final step.


Once you’ve entered your phone number, you’ll receive a text with a code to complete SMS verification.

And then… success! Happy shopping with your new WeChat Pay account!

How can I set up WeChat Pay as a foreigner?

First, download the WeChat app and register for an account.

Then, on the “Me” page select “Services“. Here you’ll have the option to click on “Wallet” and proceed to “Add Card“. Here, you’ll need to enter your card information, ID information and phone number to verify your account.

Importantly, tourists and short-term visitors can now link international cards.

Are there any transaction limits for foreigners using WeChat Pay?

Yes, there are transaction limits for foreigners using WeChat Pay.

For single transactions, the maximum amount allowed is RMB 6,000 (~US$835).

Additionally, there are monthly and annual cumulative limits of RMB 50,000 (~US$6,955) and RMB 60,000 (~US$8,350), respectively.

Can foreigners send and receive red packets (hongbao) with WeChat Pay?

As of now, foreign tourists and short-term visitors using WeChat Pay cannot send or receive red packets (hongbao) on the platform.

This feature is limited to Chinese users and long term residents in China.

Should foreigners use WeChat Pay or Alipay?

The choice between WeChat Pay and Alipay depends on individual preferences and specific needs.

Both payment platforms are widely used and accepted in China, offering similar functionalities.

Most importantly, both platforms now allow the linking of foreign bank cards.

For a more informed choice, take a look at our article on WeChat Pay vs Alipay.

What currencies does WeChat Pay support?

WeChat Pay currently supports the following 26 currencies.

These are…


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  1. Jessie

    After I link my foreign bankcard and passport for identify verification, it says I still need to link a Chinese bank account to complete ID verification! Has anyone found a way around this?

    1. Max Hobbs

      Hmm that’s odd, something we’ve not seen yet with our students. So you have been unable to fully attach your card?

      1. Christian chong

        I also have the same issue as jessie

      2. Chun

        I set up WeChat pay a few weeks ago and successfully link to my international Visa card. However I try to use WeChat Pay in Yue Hwa Products Emporium a department store in Hong Kong it doesn’t work. Is the reason I switch Hong Kong Tourist SIM card with a different phone number or Do I need to choose region to enable WeChat pay

        1. Max Hobbs

          It won’t work in Hong Kong, only Mainland China. It doesn’t matter which SIM you use unfortunately. WeChat Pay only works for Chinese nationals in Hong Kong.

          We’ve tried as a team using Wechat Pay in foreign countries but it only works for Chinese nationals. Don’t ask us why!

  2. Ralph

    As a foreigner living abroad, your information listed on the website is not very helpful.

    First, I tried linking my foreign bank card via your suggestion on the alipay page and it didn’t work.

    Now, my wechat app which I downloaded from google play doesn’t even have wechat pay as an option.

    Just a feedback because I feel like all the 30 mins or so I’ve spend reading and trying out the methods you suggested ended up failing.

  3. Ralph

    After consulting my wife I’ve decided to leave another comment to apologize as she told me users will have to enable wechat pay before it appears under the ME page.

    So, apologies for my previous comment due to my slow and senile brain since there is no way to delete it.

    Hope it didn’t ruin anyone’s day.

    1. Max Hobbs

      Of course not Ralph. These things are never as easy as they seem! Glad you found a way.

    2. لازازي

      I do the same step as a passport and a visa card. After verifying the card, it says check the phone number, but the code does not arrive

  4. I think I linked it after many trial and errors… now I can’t wait to go back and try or do you think I should try abroad first where wechat pay is accepted?..

    1. Max Hobbs

      Nice, well done Joy! It will likely only work in mainland China so you’ll have to wait! Good luck 🙂

  5. Dave Courtright

    Good article. I’ve linked my bank card. Is there a way that a Chinese person can pay me using this? And then I can put it in my bank account? I seem to be getting the message that I need a Chinese bank account.

    1. Max Hobbs

      They won’t be able to send money to your bank. That is a drawback. You can send money, but you won’t be able to receive any.

  6. Kelly

    I have been able to use WeChat Pay in China using Australian Visa and MasterCard debit bank cards, but sometimes it doesn’t work. At the dentist, hairdresser, a few restaurants, a chemist and a few shops, it did not work. Vending machines prefer the MasterCard account but all the others take from my Visa (Wise transfer). So always having cash is essential. At one hotel in Shanghai that had already taken in the Trip.com booking process, a pre-authorised full amount as a deposit, I used my Wise Visa card to pay using their EFTPOS machine (PIN).

    So now I am faced with a different issue, how to send money to a friend in China? WeChat says for the friend to set up a Wise transfer account. Any other options? No red envelopes or transfers or cash possible (they are too far away).

    1. Max Hobbs

      Yes this is the problem and why we make it clear to have a number of different options available. There is no set method of spending money in China! You genuinely have to try as you go.

      For your question – I think Wise is probably the best option here. You can also send a bank transfer to their Chinese bank if you can get the details (you’ll need IBAN and BIC or SWIFT if they have them handy).

  7. eulicid

    There seems to be a step missing? there is a wait time for Face ID recognition where the app asked to take my actual face to compare against my passport. and the app said verification wait times can be a day or longer.

    Is this normal

    1. Max Hobbs

      This isn’t common but it could be a random spot check. From memory I think we’ve seen this a handful of times before with students but it’s typically different for every user.

      1. Japhet

        To me when I put my details it tells that Chinese mainland ID users are temporary unable to add international bank.please switch to Chinese mainland bank card . What can I do to link my WeChat wallet and my bank account I need your help please

  8. Lana

    I’m from Australia, using WeChat payment with my Australian visa. Works fine for small transactions, but when it’s larger than Rm500 payment always failed. And WeChat says it takes payments up to Rm6000. Any how to fix it?

    1. Max Hobbs

      We’re not sure ourselves on the exact limits. It does vary annoyingly, so there are no set rules which makes things even harder for us to diagnose.

      1. Raymond Tan

        This happens so many times to me as well whenever I am in China (I travel to China at least once a month), and it is so frustrating.

        I had my Wechat Pay linked to my credit cards as all foreign visitors do. No problem with small payments below RMB300. Anything above always get rejected, with a message telling me that the card is suspicious and may be a fraud.

        Once I contacted Tencent to report the issues and I have to say that it wasn’t very helpful and the problem persists till now.

  9. hi, I’m a foreigner and tried creating wechat pay and verifying with my passport and bank card and it was approved. however when I try to use wechat pay in retail stores, it keep saying I’m not from China and hence transaction doesn’t get processed. I doubt I had any information entered wrongly, can someone help?

    1. Max Hobbs

      That’s odd, if everything has been verified it should work with no problems. Best to contact Wechat support, or try using Alipay instead.

    2. hello,

      my credit card has zero dollar for foreign transaction fee. if I add my card to WeChat, will my card be still charged for 3% transaction? TIA.

  10. Simon Sutor

    Can you add a credit card to WEChat pay or does it have to be a debit card?

    1. Max Hobbs

      You can add credit cards.

  11. I verified successfully and linked both my debit card and credit card. My balance is 0.00 Yuan but I can’t top up with either of them. When I try to do so I get a message that says “Please add a debit card issued by a Chinese Mainland bank to use the top-up function”. Any ideas?

    1. Max Hobbs

      Hmm, our guess is that you can make payments with your foreign cards but for whatever reason it will not let you top up. Why, we aren’t sure I’m afraid 😔