Why ALIPAY is the most important app to have when travelling around China and How to Use It.

November 16, 2023

Why ALIPAY is the most important app to have when travelling around China and How to Use It. 

90% of China is said to be cashless. Even beggars in China are cashless. They display signs with their qr code and ask people to scan it and make donations. Under the law merchants are prohibited from refusing cash payments, but sometimes they don't have change so if they accept it, be prepared that they might not have change. Foreign credit cards are also not widely accepted so you need to ask before making a purchase or eating in a restaurants whether or not they will accept your mode of payment. That's why I made sure I downloaded the Alipay app before arriving in China. Alipay is widely accepted in China and easier to use than Wechat. I attempted to use wechat, but before I get to actually use it, my account was blocked for reasons i cannot understand. 

That being said, I would say ALIPAY ROCKS! I used the app in China for everything: for my store purchases, for my metro rides and for my taxi rides. You can also buy China train tickets, attraction admission tickets and tours in the app because trip.com is incorporated in the app. It was seamless. All you need is a good mobile data connection. I discussed how to get it in my previous post. Check it out HERE


1. First you download it to your phone through the app store. 

2. You can sign up using your foreign mobile number or your email address.

3. Make sure your app is switched to the International version so it's all in English. It looks like this. 

If its all in Chinese, it means the app is in the Standard version. So go to Settings and click Switch version then put a check mark on the International Version. See below

4. Then add your foreign credit card. 

Click Account then Bank card then add your foreign credit card.

These are the cards accepted at Alipay:

Once you're able to add your card, you can already use the app. 


Refer to this dashboard

1. To pay for goods in 2 ways

A. By clicking SCAN to scan the merchant's QR code, to make payment. It will ask your payment password before executing payment. 


B. By clicking PAY/RECEIVE so you can generate a QR code that the merchant will scan. It will also ask for your payment password before executing payment. The QR code generated is for one-time use. You need to generate a new one for a subsequent purchase. 

You can use this second mode of payment if the merchant has a device that can scan your qr code. In smaller shops, they don't have a device so they just display their store qr code for you to scan


a. Call the bank that issued your credit card that you added to the app to inform them of the dates that you'll be in China to make sure they don't treat it as an unusual charge and suspend the use of the card. 

b. Activate the roaming signal of the sim card linked to the added credit card and bring it with you just in case your bank sends a message asking for confirmation of transaction. 

c. Add at least 2 credit cards to the app to serve as backup in case the other one suffers a glitch. 

2. To pay for metro rides

With the app, you no longer need a metro card. In fact, it's hard to get a metro card anymore because they're phasing it out. 

To use it, set the city where you're using it. In the example above, I set it to Shanghai. Then click transport to retrieve the qr code of your transport card. Display it on your phone then scan it on the turnstile of the metro station for the barrier to open. You can also retrieve another qr code if you want to take the bus. You need separate qr codes for the bus and metro.


3. To get a taxi

Click Didi and it works just like Grab or Uber. 


Get China train tickets, book tours and admission tickets. To be able to use this, you need to verify your account in the app. This means you need to submit your passport information because your passport will be your ticket to the train and admission to sites. They do not ask for a physical ticket at the entrance of the train station to allow entry. They ask for your passport. 

YOU CAN TEST IF YOUR ALIPAY WORKS BY SCANNING THE QR CODE FOR THIS CHARITY: https://aheartforchina.com/pages/blog/193-blog-4?fbclid=IwAR16FBOZXjZiUnnPMMXMXGUTHGMwoTBx15_NwIcKdO91XqpNn1HFqhFN04k

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