Getting Ready for China: Setting up Alipay

Getting Ready for China: Setting up Alipay


Alipay began in 2004 as the payment department of Taobao (Chinese Ebay.) It has since grown and developed into a global leader in online and mobile payments, offering world-class payment security, privacy protection, 100% reimbursement for unauthorised payments, access to a lot of Chinese facilities as well as a variety of tools for budgeting, transferring money between friends and very importantly, online shopping.

Alipay is a great app and really helpful for getting around China. With an Alipay account you can top your phone up, shop on Taobao (Chinese Ebay/ Amazon), order a Didi (Chinese Uber) and order takeaway amongst other things- and the best news for travellers in China is that you can do this all with a foreign card!

Starting on Alipay is pretty easy but here we’ll talk though a couple of things, just to get you started, from setting up an account, getting your card details onto the app and topping up your phone to a few extra useful tips.


Setting Up Alipay

  • Download the App from your app store
  • Once Downloaded open the app and click “Sign Up”
  • Agree to the Terms and Privacy PolicySelect Agree to Alipay Terms and Conditions


  • Type in your Chinese Number

    Enter your Chinese Number and Select 'Sign Up'


  • Enter the code messaged to you within the time limit

    Screen shot of Code Input screen

  • Set a Password and you’ll automatically be logged in and taken to the home screen:

Alipay home screen screenshot

You are now registered on Alipay! The home page is filled with all sorts of useful functions and information, and everything here is in English which makes it really easy to navigate!


How to Add Your Card Details on Alipay

Adding a foreign card to this Chinese App isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems; just a few simple steps means you’ll be able to add your card and use useful Chinese services like Taobao and Didi. The only downside is that foreign cards incur a 3% fee, however I find that the convenience of these services usually outweighs the 3% fee.

  • Click on ‘Me’ in the bottom right corner

On Home screen, click me in the bottom right corner

  • Select ‘Bank Cards’

Select bank Cards


  • Click the Plus Sign on the top right corner

Select the + sign in the top right corner


  • Type in your card number and click ‘Next’

type in your bank card details


  • Fill in your details and make sure your billing address matches the address the card is registered to


fill out your information


  • Confirm the information then click ‘Done’ in the top right corner
  • Your Card is now registered!



How to Top Up Your Phone in China

  • Once you’ve signed up and registered your card, go to the App’s home screen and click Phone Top-Up.

select 'Phone top-up' from the home screen


  • Enter Your Chinese Phone Number into the field at the top (Make sure its right!)

Type in the number you want to top up screenshot

  • Select how much you want to top up (10-500 Kuai)
  • Check all information is correct and click ‘Pay Now’

Confirm how much to top up screenshot

  • When successful you’ll receive a text within minutes to let you know your phone has been topped up!



  • Make sure you let the App have access to you location
  • Remember that Foreign Cards get charged a 3% fee.
  • Double check all your details and exercise due caution with your personal info
  • Enjoy being better connected to Chinese services!