The most frequently question on the (hyper-popular) article on how foreigners can use Alipay is "what if I don't have a Chinese bank card"? Here's the easiest solution so far. It's called Tourcard (formerly called Tourpass).
It rolled out a while ago, and we waited for this to prove itself in the real world. There have been many promises over the years about opening Alipay up to foreign cards, but now five people we know have done it successfully. Seems legit! The intended user is a traveler or someone who, for some reason, doesn't want to sign up for a bank card in China, but there's no reason you can't use it. It's super easy.
1Option #1: Tourcard
Tourcard (previously called Tourpass) is a service provided by the Bank of Shanghai intended to by used by travelers or anyone who needs to make payments in China and doesn't have a Chinese bank account.
It's super easy.
Who can use it? From the app:
Anyone above the age of 18 with a foreign passport and a foreign credit card. They currently support:
- Visa Card
- Diners Club
and your bank needs to support 3D secure.
They charge 5% per transaction, and the limit it capped at 10k total.
You won't need a Chinese phone number for TourCard, but you do need one for setting up your Alipay or WeChat account before you can use TourCard.
Also note that it expires 180 days after the setup.
Search for it on Alipay or WeChat, then follow the verification steps before you can top it up with your credit card.
2Option #2 Directly Through Alipay
You can also link a foreign credit card to your Alipay account. There are no transaction fees for payments below 200rmb and a 3% fee for those above 200rmb, so it's cheaper than Tourcard.
Other limitations are 3,000 rmb for a single transaction and, 50,000 rmb per month and 60,000 per year.
Generally speaking, we hear that using Alipay with a foreign credit card is a bit hit-and-miss, it sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't. Apparently, it's not available for all transaction types.
To set it up, you must have passed the real-name verification, which can be a hassle that takes a day or two. Click on the Settings icon at the top, then Account and Security, then "Real Name Verification" and follow the process.
Once you are verified, go back to your account and select "Bank Cards" to add your foreign credit card.
3Option #3 Relative Cards in WeChat
If you have a family member or friend in China, they can give a Relative Card to you, which allows you to pay using WeChat pay and the money will be deducted from your friend account. There's currently a 3k rmb monthly limit, and each person can only add a small number of family members.
To set it up, your friend or family member clicks on "Discover" -> "Services" > "Wallet" > "Relative Cards".
They select a monthly limit that you may spend, and that's it, you can now start using WeChat pay up to the monthly limit.
This How-To guide is work in progress, we are constantly updating it as we receive new information. We rely on readers like you (yes YOU). If you find this guide useful please help us improve it by adding comments in each step or by clicking the "Verify" link if you find the information provided to be correct.