Beijing - Post Report Question and Answers

Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Some places which specifically cater to foreigners will take US credit cards. ATMs may or may not work with your US debit card. Most people find they have to use WeChat or Alipay for almost everything. - Nov 2021

No. Also it is getting harder and harder to use cash. Everything is done through WeChat pay and you need a Chinese bank account to use WeChat pay. It's all doable but frustrating and means you have to regularly deposit money into a Chinese bank account for the privilege of spending your money at Chinese stores. - Nov 2020

US credit cards are not widely accepted, so you’ll want to get a Chinese bank account set up as soon as possible. This is required for you to use the WeChat payment system, which is preferred by most vendors. Cash is still accepted, although seen less and less, and many small businesses won’t be prepared to make change. - Aug 2020

No. Unfortunately credit cards are not normally accepted. Almost all transactions are now done by Wechat via your cellphone. Quite a few places do not accept cash. My Wechat is linked to my local bank account. I cash a check at the embassy, then deposit the cash in my bank ATM every month or two. - Jul 2020

No. You have to work out WeChat. good luck. - May 2020

Not much, everyone pays with WeChat. Some establishments only accept WeChat or AliPay, no cash. - Nov 2019

In larger stores you can use an international credit card but every where else only accepts cash or Wechat. In order to use Wechat you have to open a Chinese bank account with your passport. Once you have that you can use the Wechat wallet feature which makes life much easier here for paying anyone. - Oct 2017

This is China. Counterfeiting and information theft is rampant here. Either use the embassy cashier or find an ATM inside a bank you trust and don't stray from it. Expect your credit card details to get stolen at some point and for your bank to turn off your card constantly. - Dec 2015

It is possible, but this is still a predominantly cash-based economy in most establishments. Cash is the way to go. - Apr 2015

I use cash mainly but many merchants accept Visa and American Express. - Aug 2014

I use both credit cards and ATMs at several locations around time. Many people do not. I think you just need to be cautious and keep a regular eye on your accounts to make sure nothing is amiss. - Jul 2014

Easy to use credit cards and ATMs. - Jun 2013

China is still very much a cash society, with many small-scale shops who do not accept credit cards. Larger stores do. ATMs are generally not safe, with many reports of ATMs loaded with counterfeit bills. We use the embassy cashier, which guarantees the bills. - Aug 2011

ATMs are everywhere! - Apr 2011

This is mostly a cash economy although an increasing number of merchants are taking local credit cards. The credit card system here is called Union Pay, and merchants need a separate machine to take Visa, MasterCard, etc. Most of them won't have this so until you have a local bank account you'll need to be prepared to pay cash. Many ATMs do not take foreign cards. Bank of China, HSBC and Citibank ATMs work with foreign cards reliably. Of the three, I trust HSBC the most. ATMs are sometimes stocked with counterfeit bills, and you have no recourse if you are cheated. For this reason, I always use the same ATM in the lobby of my office; it is always stocked with brand new fresh uncirculated bills. - Jan 2011

You can use a credit card and ATM, although you run the risk of getting counterfeit bills at the ATMs. I personally never use my credit card, but lots of people do. - Apr 2010

An increasing number of ATMs. Debit cards are easily available. - Jan 2010

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