What Credit Cards Are Accepted in China?

What Credit Cards Are Accepted in China?

We can all agree when we say that China is still a cash-based nation apart from the major cities which have bough to the idea of online transactions which have made everything simpler and more efficient compared to the traditional forms of payment. So what credit cards are accepted in China? You can use any Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, JCB, or Diners Club as accepted forms of payment in China within most major cities and shops.

For visitors, if you are traveling in big cities such as Chengdu, Beijing, Tianjin, or Shanghai to mention a few, you’ll encounter very few problems when it comes to using credits cards. However, outside these major cities, you’ll be faced with many challenges finding ATM’s or businesses which accepted credit card payments.

what credit cards are accepted in china

The Do’s and Don’ts When Using Credit Cards in China

In most developed countries such as America or Europe when you have less cash in your wallet like $50, most people prefer using their credits cards to buy goods and services. But as for China, it’s a different story.

Debt Aversion, the Chinese culture is very debt averse, and the media plays a significant role in creating an image of how much the Americans and Europeans have sunk into debt. When it comes to a credit card, there is no difference as there is negativity surrounding the use of credit cards.

Even though the country is at the forefront of technological advancement, both the public and banks have not bought into the idea of incorporating credit cards into their daily lives. Luckily for you, we will highlight some of the essential pointers.

Always Ask if they Accept Credit Cards

Who likes being embarrassed when they are short for cash? No one right! Well, when in China and you are running errands, it’s always important to ask the cashier if they accept credit cards or be keen to observe if foreigners are using credit cards. Its always good to be prepared and the cashiers answer will determine what you can buy and their limit.

Insist on Using Your Card

Being insistent will go a long way in helping you in case you are short for cash, as long as there is a card reader always ‘stick to your guns’ and ask them to try it out. Most will find a way to accept your card in some way. If it’s still impossible, you are better to find the nearest ATM where you can withdrawal the cash to make your purchase.

Avoid Relying on Your Credit Card

Not a lot of us may want to hear that, but if you are in a smaller town, it’s nearly impossible always to swipe your card. Even if you are in major cities, the network may be down and having liquid cash may prove to be helpful. For foreigners planning a trip to China, this is the most crucial factor that they should always adopt.

It’s always vital to always having cash on hand and learn to use money as a mode of payment regularly. Even better than cash is to use Wechat pay to make purchases in China as it’s what every shop and locals prefer using. It’s also accepted just about everywhere you go.

Can I Use my Visa Debit Card in China?

can i use my visa debit card in china

In China, most ATM’s accept Maestro, Visa (Plus), and Cirrus. All of them will accept cards and chip-and-pin with a magnetic stripe at the back. For other foreign cards, there are special ATM’s which will enable you to withdraw or swipe in major shopping areas or premier hotels.

For foreigners, you can also check whether you’re an ATM is compatible with your card by merely looking at the card’s logo. You can also find the nearest ATM by using Visa’s online locator on your phone.

You can also confirm with your bank to confirm which cards will work in China and which Card network they belong to. It’s always advisable to inform your bank that you will be abroad minimizing the chances of your card being blocked because of suspicious transactions.

Keypads and Language

Most of the signage on ATM’s are on Chinese, but most of them always have an English language option. In popular tourist locations and shopping malls, they are also available in other languages, mainly Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

ATM’s will also have varying layouts with the keypads running from zero to nine while others it’s the vice versa from nine to zero. It’s important to always check the layout before inputting you pin, keying in the wrong pin three times will result to the swallowing of your card with the machine.

Withdrawals Limits Using Visa Debit Card

Most Chinese ATM’s have per transaction withdrawal limit; the limits can vary from bank to bank. As with many banks, the general rule is that you can withdraw a maximum of CNY 20,000 a day and a minimum of 2,500 per transaction.

Chinese Credit Card for Foreigners in China

Over the past few years, credit cards usage in China has been on the rise, especially in large cities. For tourist and foreigners, this is good news, it’s always helpful to know which are widely used/accepted and the ones which do not charge a foreign transaction fee. All of these cards can be used by foreigners in China:

  • Discover- This was an agreement between China UnionPay and Discover Financial Services (DFS) the only national bankcard payment network, making discover credit cards the go-to card of choice when in China.
  • Mastercard
  • Visa
  • American Express
  • JCB
  • Diners Club

For foreigners, you can download a wallet-sized instruction card that you can pay merchants with all around China. The most impressive thing yet is that there are no transaction fees on the purchase you make.

Plenty of shopping malls, retails stores and hotels accept international credit cards such as American Express, Visa, Diners Club, and MasterCard, well a large number of this card companies don’t charge a foreign transactional fee.

How much are the fees on your card?

All Chinese ATM’s charge transactional fees but the amount varies from bank to bank and usually ranges between CNY 20 to CNY 30 per transaction. Your bank at home will also charge fees, and they will be added to the charges at the Chinese ATM. For foreigners, you should always know that your bank charges a foreign transaction fee and withdrawal fee.  

Final Word

Even though Chinese credit card system is still unpopular, over the recent years the swiping system has been slowly making waves in the country. For foreigners this is the best news, as you can always pay for products and services through your card while traveling in China, how awesome is that? Now that you know what credit cards are accepted in China, if you have any other questions about paying for things, please comment below.

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2 Responses to “What Credit Cards Are Accepted in China?”

  1. RashaOctober 13, 2019 at 7:03 am

    I have problem in my wechat account.. I can’t use my balance because it’s limited 10000 only and I can’t add credit card because I’am not Chinese , I’am foreign and want to buy products by wechat. Please help me

    • Selina ChenOctober 13, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Hi Rasha, are you currently located in China? If so, the best solution in your case would be to open a Chinese bank account. Once you have a Chinese bank account you can easily connect the bank to your wechat account and be able to buy products with wechat.

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