Skip to main content
Payment Methods by Country

The Most Popular Payment Methods in China

Alipay, a subsidiary of Ant Group, stands as the foremost online payment platform in China since its establishment in 2004, achieving dominance in the market. Offering a diverse array of services, including online payments, money transfers, bill settlements, and wealth management, Alipay boasts a user base surpassing 1 billion and widespread acceptance among millions of both online and offline merchants.
WeChat Pay, under Tencent’s ownership, presents another influential mobile payment platform in China, seamlessly integrated into the WeChat messaging app with over 1 billion monthly active users. WeChat Pay facilitates in-app payments for various services, encompassing shopping, dining, transportation, and more.
UnionPay, the largest card scheme in China, enjoys widespread acceptance, providing both debit and credit cards, with an extensive network of ATMs and point-of-sale terminals. Additionally, alternative platforms such as JD Pay, Baidu Wallet, and Apple Pay contribute to the diverse landscape.
The prevalence of mobile-based payment platforms, owing to their convenience and integration with other services, establishes them as the favored method for online transactions in China. As smartphone usage proliferates and access to banking services expands, the trajectory of robust growth in the Chinese e-Commerce market is anticipated to persist.

Popular offline payment methods in China

Bank Cards
Mobile Payment Apps

List of payment methods in China

WeChat Pay, an extensively used mobile payment service in China, seamlessly integrated into the WeChat messaging app with a user base exceeding 1 billion monthly active users, facilitates a broad spectrum of online and offline transactions. Users can link their bank accounts or credit cards to their WeChat accounts, enabling payments through QR code scanning or direct transfers to other WeChat users. Widely embraced by merchants, both online and offline, WeChat Pay is a prevalent choice for everyday activities like shopping, dining, and transportation. Beyond its payment functionality, WeChat Pay offers additional features such as money transfers, bill payments, and the storage of loyalty cards and coupons. Its pervasive acceptance and user-friendly features have transformed it into an indispensable payment method in China, reshaping the landscape of transactions and diminishing the dependence on cash.
UnionPay serves as a prominent payment method in China and stands as the exclusive interbank network in the country. Widely accepted by a multitude of merchants encompassing online and offline establishments, hotels, restaurants, and transportation services, UnionPay cards facilitate diverse transactions such as purchases, cash withdrawals, and money transfers. These cards, whether linked to bank accounts or utilized as prepaid options, also provide mobile payment services through a dedicated app, enabling users to conduct transactions seamlessly via smartphones. Notably advantageous for both domestic and international users, UnionPay’s broad acceptance among merchants, including those catering to tourists, ensures convenient payment options without the reliance on cash.
Mastercard is accepted as a payment method in China, but it is not as widely used as other payment methods such as Alipay and WeChat Pay. Mastercard has been working to expand its presence in China and has partnered with several Chinese banks to issue Mastercard-branded cards. However, the use of these cards is still relatively limited compared to domestic payment methods. Additionally, foreign-issued Mastercards may not be accepted at all merchants in China, especially smaller businesses that may only accept local payment methods. Therefore, it is recommended to have alternative payment options when traveling to China.
PayPal serves as a viable payment option, albeit with restricted functionality when contrasted with its capabilities in other nations. Chinese users can employ PayPal for cross-border transactions, facilitating international online purchases. However, the platform lacks support for domestic transactions within China. To utilize PayPal in the country, users must possess a verified PayPal account linked to a Chinese bank account or credit card. This enables them to make payments on international websites that accept PayPal. It’s important to recognize that Alipay and WeChat Pay dominate the digital payment landscape in China, boasting larger user bases and wider merchant acceptance. These local platforms offer more extensive services and are widely embraced for both online and offline transactions within China. Consequently, while PayPal is an available payment method in China, its utilization is constrained compared to the prevalence of local digital payment giants like Alipay and WeChat Pay.
Visa serves as a widely recognized and accepted mode of payment across China, particularly among merchants in major urban centers and popular tourist destinations. This includes hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and online vendors. The versatility of Visa cards extends to point-of-sale terminals in urban areas and facilitates online transactions on Chinese websites and mobile applications. Despite this widespread acceptance, it’s crucial to be aware that certain smaller establishments may exclusively accommodate local payment methods like UnionPay. To ensure a seamless experience, it’s advisable to carry some cash or an alternative payment option in case Visa is not viable. Additionally, travelers are encouraged to inform their bank or card issuer of their travel plans to prevent potential disruptions due to security measures. In essence, Visa proves to be a convenient and prevalent payment solution in China, streamlining the purchasing process for travelers throughout their stay.
In February 2016, Apple Pay was introduced in China, marking its fifth global expansion. The service, supported by UnionPay, the largest payment network in the country, is widely accepted at various establishments, including retail outlets, restaurants, and online platforms. To utilize Apple Pay in China, users must add their UnionPay credit or debit card to the Wallet app on their iPhone or Apple Watch. Payments can then be made by holding the device near a contactless terminal and verifying the transaction with Touch ID or Face ID. Notably, Apple Pay in China extends its support to transit cards for public transportation in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, and users can also make in-app purchases.