How to Use WeChat Wallet as a Foreigner in China

If You’re Going to Live in China, You Should Know How to Use WeChat Wallet

Allow me to explain something that will make your life in the Middle Kingdom just a little bit easier.

I’d been using WeChat for years after I’d come to China, but never knew that I could use the WeChat wallet service as a foreigner. Because I’m one the tiny fraction of people that uses Windows Phone instead of an iPhone (mostly because it was more convenient for me when accessing and paying for Western apps), I had mistakenly thought that it was my version of WeChat that was to blame for not having the Wallet option on my Services page.

Has there ever been a time when you’ve been invited to join a group but couldn’t because you didn’t have a bank card registered? Well, this is what it was talking about: you didn’t have a bank card connected to your WeChat wallet.

As it turned out, I was wrong. My version of the application was fine. The problem was that unless I selected the Chinese language version of the app, the WeChat wallet feature was inaccessible. After I had changed the language, all of the features were identical to that of my Chinese friends.

How to Use WeChat Wallet

So here is how you change your language settings. Go to Settings> General> Language> and choose 简化中国 (Simplified Chinese).

If you ever need to change it back, you can go to 设置> 通用> 多语言> English, but if you’re accustomed to the interface and know where everything is, you might not need to, even if you don’t speak Chinese.

After you open your wallet menu, you’ll find that there are different ways to send and receive money. Transfers and Bank Cards.

You can add a bank card by tapping the option at the top, and there you’ll be instructed to enter a six-digit code for when you intend to pay for something. You might not want to use the same six-digit pin you use on your bank cards for security reasons. Enter the complete number from the bank card you want to connect; then you’ll be prompted to enter your name and ID type.

Banks that will accept your passport as validation include ICBC, Bank of China, and China Merchants Bank, and China Construction Bank. Other choices include Industrial Bank, Bank of Communications, China Everbright Bank, Huaxia Bank, and ABC.

Put in your full name, the same way you entered it when you created your bank account. Enter your passport number and registered mobile number. After, it will send you an SMS verification code. Enter the code, and you’ll be registered.

TIPS: If you’re having trouble when entering your bank card into WeChat, try the following: Chinese banks don’t know how to deal with foreigners names. Sometimes they enter all of your names in ALL CAPS because that’s how it’s displayed in your passport. Another thing you might try is entering your LAST NAME FIRST. I’ve had it entered this way before when trying to get my card linked. 

If the app still fails to verify, ask a Chinese friend if you can sign in on their mobile app. Some of the features might be missing on your version of WeChat. 

Now you can send digital red pockets to your friends with a limit of 200 RMB. It works well for special occasions. If you are ever in a hurry for cash but have no time to visit an ATM, you can send someone money directly from your account in exchange for bills. Or if you need to put money in your account, you can do the opposite. For a larger amount, you can select a WeChat transfer. You can use the service to pay at some businesses. You can also use the WeChat option to make purchases off of Taobao!

How to Use WeChat Wallet

Enjoy! You are now modern!

Edit: Some users have told me that by receiving a hongbao from a friend they were able to unlock the WeChat wallet feature. So if the language trick doesn’t work for you, this is something else you can try. If you’re still having trouble entering your passport and/or name into WeChat and you can’t figure out what the problem is: Go to the bank! Chinese banking systems are not really meant to support foreign names, so sometimes they put the last name first or have everything in caps. Make sure you take note of how your details are entered into the banking system. 

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