How to Set Up WeChat Wallet as a Foreigner (in 3 Easy Steps)

September 04, 2019

If you are new to WeChat, you'll soon find out it is the most useful app ever. It is a great way to stay connected to friends, keep up with your China news, and even pay! With WeChat Wallet, you can buy groceries, order food online, book a train or flight, pay your bills, top up your phone, transfer money to friends, and so much more.

In this blog, we'll show you how to set up your WeChat wallet in just three easy steps and pay on mobile wherever you are.

How to Set Up WeChat Pay as a foreigner

Before you start, you’ll need:
  1. Your passport
  2. a Chinese phone number
  3. and a Chinese bank account (registered under said phone number)
    a foreign credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, or JCB).

Step 1: Find your WeChat Wallet

Open WeChat and go to the “Me” section.

Me section in WeChat

Next, go to “Services” (previously called "Pay".)

WeChat pay Services section

You should see your Wallet on the top right.

wechat wallet

What if my WeChat Wallet is not showing up?

If you do not see your Wallet, don't panic.

Ask a friend to make a small test transfer (even just ¥0.01). When you click the transfer to accept it, you will be redirected to add your bank card.

Your Wallet should also become visible.

Step 2: Add your bank card

Now that you are in your Wallet, select “Cards”. Add your card information.

Add a card to wechat wallet

    Note: 1. When filling out your name, it is imperative that you use the exact name that is linked with your bank card. This includes the spelling and order of your name(s). Take note that the name field in WeChat Pay is also case sensitive. 2. You can link multiple bank cards to your WeChat Wallet.

Follow the prompts on your screen. You will get a verification code on your phone. Once you have input the code, you can then set your payment password.

Can I use an international credit card to set up a WeChat Wallet?

Yes, you can use an international credit card to activate your WeChat Pay.

What foreign bank cards can be used to set up WeChat Wallet

WeChat currently supports VISA, MasterCard, American Express (Amex), JCB, and Diners Club International. If you are adding a foreign bank card, select the card provider (VISA, Amex, etc.) as your bank.

However, in our experience, WeChat is not fully optimized to be used with foreign bank cards, and although it lets you use international credit cards to activate your WeChat Pay, it does not always allow you to make purchases.

If you live in China, consider opening a Chinese bank account. Luckily, opening a bank account in China as a foreigner is fairly easy.

Step 3: Go shopping

That's it-you're done! You can now use WeChat Wallet to make all kinds of payments.

If not sure how to pay with WeChat, keep reading below.

How to Pay with WeChat Wallet

Now that your account is all set up, you can start your spending spree! There are a few different ways you can shell out your hard-earned yuan:

1. Pay by WeChat QR Code

Simply scan the QR code provided by the vendor and input the total.

Pay with WeChat by scanning QR

2. WeChat Quick Pay

Sometimes stores or restaurants will scan your payment QR code instead. To access your payment QR, go to WeChat Pay and click on "Money".

Wechat quick pay money QR

3. Pay Online with WeChat

When you go to check out, select payment by WeChat.

Pay online with wechat option

4. Pay within WeChat

Need to pay your utility bills? Top up your phone? Hail a cab? Just go to your WeChat Pay and select the service you need. (Many of these are run by third party services and are in Chinese.)

Pay inside wechat mini apps

There are also mini-programs, or apps built within WeChat, which you can find by using the Search feature.

5. WeChat Transfers and Red Packets

If you need to pay your friend back or send a little thank you, this is the way to go.

In your chat with your friend, hit the + button at the bottom.

Then select "Transfer" or "Red Packet", whichever you prefer. Enter the amount, then your payment PIN to confirm.

Making money transfers or sending red packets in wechat

    Note: At the time of writing, WeChat Pay's international credit card feature is still a trial program. Some payment features listed above may not be accessible if you link a foreign credit card.
    Note: You can choose to charge payments to your bank card or WeChat Wallet balance.

How do I check my WeChat Wallet balance?

To view your balance, go to “Services”, then “Wallet”, and lastly “Balance”.

Note that you can make payments with WeChat even if your WeChat Balance is empty because payments can be directly charged to the bank card linked to your WeChat. However, you can also top up your WeChat Wallet if you wish to.

How Do I top up my WeChat Wallet?

You can top up your WeChat Wallet by moving money from your linked bank card to your WeChat Wallet. Here's how:

  1. Go to “Wallet”, then “Balance”.
  2. Tap on the “Top Up” button below your balance, choose which bank card you would like to source the money from.
  3. Enter your desired amount.
  4. Enter your PIN to confirm the transaction.

Can I withdraw Money from my WeChat Wallet?

Yes. Any money you receive on WeChat will be automatically stored on your WeChat Wallet balance, and you can withdraw it at any time. Here's how:

  1. Go to “Wallet”, then “Balance”.
  2. Tap on the “Withdraw” button below your balance, choose which of your linked bank cards you would like to send the money to.
  3. Enter your desired amount.
  4. Enter your PIN to confirm the transaction.

Bonus: How to add a Relative Card on WeChat Wallet

If you want to give your child, parent, or visitor a measure of independence, send them a relative card! This will allow your family member to make purchases and charge them to your account, up to a limit that you set (maximum 3000RMB/month).

Step 1. Go into your WeChat wallet.

Click on "Relative Cards".

WeChat relative cards

Step 2. Click "Send"

send relative card on Wechat pay

Step 3. Pick one of the cards to send

You have four cards available to send: Father (1), Mother (1), and Child (2). Select the appropriate family member. If you are sending a card to a friend, pick any of the available cards.

Choosing a Relative card on WeChat Wallet

Step 4. Set the monthly limit and send the card.

Your relative now has 24 hours to accept the card before it expires.

Setting a limit on relative cards on WeChat wallet

Have questions on how to ease your transition to China? Learning Chinese can be a big help!

About the Author

Eden has been learning Chinese since 2008. She fell in love with the language, food, and culture and never looked back! Eden lived in China for six years, including in Harbin, Beijing, and Dali.

Eden- Author