Alipay in China

Cash is becoming a thing of the past in China. Almost 1 billion people in China actively use mobile payments. Two major companies propel digital payment in China: Alibaba and Tencent. Alibaba’s Alipay is preferred over Tencent’s WeChat Pay by a slight margin. How to use Alipay in China?

Payments in China – Alipay

Alipay, a flagship product of the Alibaba Group, has emerged as one of the leading mobile payment platforms in China. Alipay offers unparalleled convenience, security, and versatility in the digital payment space.

AliPay logo

Where can you pay using Alipay in China?

Whether online or offline transactions, both can be done via Alipay. You can pay using Alipay at:  

  • grocery stores, brick-and-mortar stores, street stalls, convenience stores  
  • cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars 
  • entertainment venues 
  • etc. 

Compared with WeChat Pay, you cannot pay with Alipay on public buses. 

Alipay digital wallet – how to link a bank account to Alipay?

You don’t need a Chinese bank account to link it to your Alipay – you can use a foreign bank card. What do you have to do to link a bank account to Alipay?

  1. Download the Alipay app on your smartphone
  2. Register for an Alipay account
  3. Link your bank account or add funds

      We have shared more tips on paying with foreign cards in China in this post

      You can also opt to open a temporary debit account with the Bank of Shanghai through the Alipay Tour Card mini app. The caveat is that it is valid for three months, and you can only load up to a maximum of 10,000 CNY.

      How to pay using Alipay in China?

      Using Alipay is very simple. Once you are in a store or a restaurant:

      • open your app and show your QR code/barcode to the seller/waiter
      • at the checkout counter, open your app and scan the blue QR code with the app.

      You need an internet connection to make payments.

      When making the transaction, remember that there are additional fees above a certain threshold. For example, you will be charged a 3% transaction fee when making a single transaction above RMB 200.

      QR codes in China

      Can you pay in cash in China?

      How about paying in cash in China? By law, cash must be accepted everywhere, but the reality is different, and you may be refused to make a purchase using cash.

      Alipay – conclusion

      With Alipay on your phone, you can forget your wallet and go out, whether you are in the city or a village (as long as there is Internet access). When planning your trip to China, make sure to download the app and link your bank card for seamless transactions.