If you didn’t already know, paying by WeChat in China has quickly overtaken cash as the most common method of payment. If you’re traveling to China, it’s entirely possible to get around using cash…but it’s not always the easiest option. What if there were an easier way to add money to WeChat so you could pay with your phone in China? There is, and you’ve probably never heard of it before.
Using mobile payments as a foreigner in China used to be extremely difficult. Thankfully, that has changed over the past couple years and I now use WeChat for pretty much every payment I make while living here. The only remaining challenge is figuring out how to add money to WeChat.
There are a few different ways that you can add money to WeChat on your phone:
●Link a Chinese Bank Account :
Open a bank account in China in order to link China bank card to WeChat wallet.
●Link a Foreign Credit Card :
In late 2017, news broke that it was possible to add a foreign credit card to WeChat wallet, but it didn’t work so well.
●WeChat Balance Transfers :
That leaves us with one final option – accepting balance transfers. As a foreign traveler, you can have a friend transfer you money and then use that balance to pay for things.
“Sharing Economy” Comes to Currency Exchange
Swapsy acts as the platform where people who need US Dollars can connect directly with people who need Chinese yuan. They facilitate the connection and also a place that theoretically takes the risk out of such exchanges.
Step 1: Request Desired Amount of RMB
After I’ve set up my account and added my payment methods for both US dollars (via Paypal) and Chinese yuan (WeChat), I simply told Swapsy that I wanted Chinese yuan in the equivalent amount of US$50.
Exchange rates are supposed to be based on the daily market rate.
Step 2: Choose Payment Accounts for Currency Exchange
Swapsy gives me the option to pay my US dollars using Paypal, Venmo or through direct bank transfer via Zelle.
At this point, I make a contractual agreement to pay $50 via Paypal once I’ve been paired with another person for the exchange.
Step 3: Await Pairing & Make Exchange to WeChat
This is the part that requires a bit of trust. Swapsy provides a full amount guarantee, which means that if your exchange partner defaults, they will cover the exchange amount.
Step 4: Confirm Receipt of Payment and Spend Your Money!
My exchange partner confirms receipt of the $50 and then connects with me via WeChat.
The funds are then transferred to my WeChat balance and are available for immediate use. Even if you as a traveler don’t have a bank account connected to WeChat, you can still hold a balance in your “wallet” and then use WeChat to pay for items as you travel around China.
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