Traveling to China is an exhilarating experience. Everyone should visit China at least once in their lifetime because it is more than worth it. China has changed a lot over the past few decades to become one of the most technologically developed countries in the world.
One of the best examples is how they use their WeChat app for payment while people in the West still mostly use credit cards. Cash is becoming redundant in China, so if you’re going there, you should prepare accordingly.
Read on to get tips on how to add money on WeChat as a foreigner.
What Is WeChat?
Many Americans are unaware, but WeChat is one of the biggest, most downloaded apps on the internet. It has more than a billion active monthly users. Nearly all of China is using this app.
WeChat is no regular app, mind you – it is a “super app” which has many functions. It serves as a social media platform, an instant messaging app, as well as a mobile payment app. This behemoth was made by Tencent, and it has existed for about eight years now.
Non-Chinese people don’t have a need for installing this app, but when you are in China, you basically must have it. If you are traveling to China, you will need the WeChat Pay service, which serves as a digital wallet.
Chinese people use this app to pay the bills, order groceries, pay in cafes and stores, and make other money transactions. Foreigners can have difficulties with WeChat, and they have many restrictions and requirements for using the app for payments.
WeChat Pay for Foreigners
WeChat Pay requires you to activate the wallet feature on WeChat, because if you don’t, you won’t be able to make payments or add any money to your account. Before, you could link a foreign credit card and WeChat Pay would work because your wallet would be automatically activated.
However, there have been many changes due to government regulations in China. For a WeChat Pay wallet, you need your valid ID linked to your WeChat account, and you need to open a bank account in China. The former is fine, but the latter can be troublesome, to say the least.
These policies may change over time and it is best to check with someone living in China, or simply ask the official WeChat support if you can register with a foreign bank account. For now, you will have to open a Chinese bank account, which is easier said than done.
We can only give you theoretical advice on that because you need to physically be in China to open an account in one of their banks. You can’t do it online, and you have to find a bank that is accustomed to working with foreigners.
Requirements for Adding Money to WeChat
Assuming that you have a Chinese bank account, you can proceed with activating your WeChat wallet. You need to download WeChat on your phone while in China. The app works differently in other countries and the wallet only works in China.
After setting up your account, you should tap on your profile in the bottom-right corner of your screen. Then find the Wallet section and there you can add your Chinese bank card. You can try this method with your American bank card and see if it works, but it probably won’t.
Now, to activate the wallet, you need type out your Chinese UnionPay Card number with 19 digits. Additionally, you will have to use your Chinese phone number with this account. Link it with WeChat so that you can confirm you are using the WeChat Pay wallet.
This is the second reason why it’s impossible to add money to WeChat from another country. You need to be physically present and use all of these Chinese things (WeChat app, bank account, and phone number, all originally from China).
WeChat: How to Add Money
At least the authentication process is quite fast. Once your phone number and the Chinese credit card are authenticated, the WeChat wallet will become active as well. Now that this process is done, you can finally add money to your WeChat account.
Your first option – and also the best bet – is to use WeChat to transfer your money from the Chinese bank account you made for this occasion. Also, you can make instant payments from your bank account because WeChat Pay works like a debit card; you just swipe with your phone instead of the card.
Also, you can get cash from a Chinese ATM and deposit the money into the bank account you opened in China.
The other option is money transfer directly on WeChat. It works in a similar fashion to PayPal or Venmo, where it’s free to transfer money to other users. This whole ordeal will go much smoother if you know somebody in China who can help you out, like a friend or a colleague.
WeChat is very intuitive and useful, but due to Chinese laws, some aspects like the WeChat Pay feature are slightly difficult to set up. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand how to add money to your WeChat account.
Have you visited China in the last few years? Did you use WeChat Pay while there? If so, tell us about your experiences and share some valuable tips with the community in the comments below.