How to use WeChat Pay as a foreigner? (Full setup guide)

Adam Rozsa

WeChat Pay is a digital wallet service from Chinese social media giant WeChat, which lets users make mobile payments and online transactions.

But if you’re in the US or a US tourist visiting China, you’ll want to know - can Americans pay with WeChat?

Read on to find out, in our guide to WeChat Pay for foreigners.

We’ll also show you an alternative for easy, low-cost international payments - Wise.


Can foreigners use WeChat to pay?

Yes, it is possible for users who aren’t Chinese citizens or permanent residents to use WeChat Pay.

However, you might need to download the international version of the app, and you’ll face restrictions unless you have a Chinese bank account. We’ll look at this in more detail shortly.

WeChat Pay is available in the US too. It was first launched for Chinese tourists visiting the US, but it’s now become a handy mobile payment option for expats and international students living here.

Not all stores and websites accept WeChat Pay as a payment method though. So you’ll need to look out for the WeChat Pay sign in store or at checkout, or enquire with the retailer directly.

Send money internationally the easy way with Wise

If WeChat turns out not to be a viable payment option for you (which is likely, considering the many restrictions), take a look at the Wise Account as an alternative.

When you open your Wise account online, you’ll gain access to a powerful multi-currency wallet. You can hold up to 40 currencies at once, and switch between them when you need to. Send money worldwide in just a few taps, for low, transparent fees and the mid-market exchange rate.

And for a one-off fee of just $9 , you can even order a Wise card for use in 150+ countries, which automatically converts currency at the best rate whenever you spend.

You can manage it all using the handy Wise app.

See how much you can save with Wise:

Get a Wise Account today

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: Only Pay for What You Use for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.

Can you use WeChat Pay without a Chinese bank account?

Yes, you can use WeChat Pay without linking a Chinese bank account, simply by adding credit card details.

But there are some restrictions you should know about. WeChat Pay only accepts foreign credit cards, not debit cards. And you’ll only be able to use WeChat Pay in stores, not for sending money to friends and family.¹

How to set up WeChat Pay - a guide for foreigners

Now, let’s look at setting up WeChat Pay for foreigners.

The first step is to download the app and set up your account. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to the app store for your device (such as Google Play or the App Store) and download the WeChat app - look for the international version
  2. Open the app and tap the ‘Sign up’ button
  3. Provide your personal details when prompted
  4. Follow the on-screen steps to create your account.

Before you can use the money app, you’ll need to add a credit card (or a Chinese bank account if you have one) and verify your identity.

This requires providing identity documents (such as a passport), a photo of yourself and full personal details in order to prove that you are who you say you are.²

How do I link my foreign credit card to WeChat?

Here’s how to add your credit card to WeChat Pay:¹

  1. Open the WeChat Pay app
  2. Select ‘Me’ and then ‘Wallet’
  3. Tap ‘Bank card’ and then ‘Add new bank card’
  4. Enter your card information
  5. Follow the steps to verify the billing address, including entering an SMS verification code sent to your registered phone number.

Bottom line

After reading our guide on how to use WeChat Pay for foreigners, you should have all the info you need to download the app and get started. It can be a little tricky, as the app isn’t fully geared up for use outside of the US.

If you find it too complicated, just remember that other money transfer apps are available - such as the Wise app.

Learn more about Wise

💡 Interested in other mobile payment solutions? Read our guides to Alipay and the Alipay Tour Pass, along with how to use Wise to send CNY to Alipay users.

Sources used for this article:

  1. The People’s Government of Beijing Municipality - How can foreigners use WeChat Pay?
  2. WeChat - Help - How do I remove WeChat Pay restrictions?

Sources checked on 22-Aug-2023.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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