How Changi Pay Solves These Common Pain Points Faced By Travellers To China

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 30 April, 2024

Travellers to China face several challenges when making payments. But with Changi Pay, Singapore residents can pay securely and conveniently using their mobile phones, just like the locals.  

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of holidaying in China, you’ll know there’s plenty to love about the country. Between the tasty food, stunning landscapes, sprawling cities, historic landmarks and seemingly endless rows of walking streets, there’s plenty to see, buy, play, and do. And if you’re fortunate to be friends with the locals, you’ll find that the Chinese are among the warmest people in the world. 

What’s less enjoyable, though, is the inconvenience faced when trying to make a payment. The vast majority of retail transactions are made using Alipay or WeChat Pay, which is undeniably convenient – for those who have access to them. Travellers often have to rely on credit cards or cash, but that’s less than ideal for reasons we’ll discuss later. 

That has changed. With Changi Pay, you can pay like the locals using your mobile phone, without having to get a China mobile line or jump through convoluted hoops. And in the process, solve several pain points that travellers in China tend to face.


4 common pain points facing travellers in China (and how to solve them)

1. Credit cards not widely accepted in China 

The main form of payment in China is via QR codes on platforms like WeChat Pay and Alipay, and credit cards are less commonly used. 

While you may be able to use credit cards  in more advanced cities like Shanghai and Beijing, they are likely to be limited to international hotel chains, department stores, and other large-scale establishments. Still, card acceptance is not guaranteed.

Hence, QR code payments remain the most prevalent form of payment in China, which poses a challenge to tourists who may only have credit cards. 

How Changi Pay solves this pain point

Changi Pay is widely accepted at tens of millions of Alipay+ enabled merchants in China. You can use Changi Pay to pay via Alipay or Alipay+ using your mobile phone, without the need to carry physical cards or cash.

2. Cash isn’t widely accepted either

Not only are credit cards not widely accepted in China, cash is actually frowned upon too. The local Chinese are so used to the admittedly more convenient QR-based payments that merchants and cashiers actually find it a bother to deal in cash. 

And even if you wanted to use cash, there’s another wrinkle. Fun fact: The largest bill in the Chinese currency is the 100 yuan note, which is… not very large at all. This means that you’ll need to carry a fair amount of cash with you at all times, which is not recommended for safety or convenience. 

Sure, you can wait till you arrive in China to withdraw renminbi from the ATMs. But that’s provided you can locate a suitable ATM that would let you make the withdrawal. 

Also, you’ll need to pay a fee for each withdrawal, anywhere from RMB 20 to RMB 30, plus processing fees charged by your home bank. All said, you won’t be getting the best value this way. 

And, since China runs on a predominantly cashless payment system, paying in cash marks you out as a tourist, which could mean being targeted with inflated prices. Not the best way to enjoy your holiday.

How Changi Pay solves this pain point

Forget about paying with cash. Just show your Changi Pay QR code and pay like everyone else in China. 


3. Language barriers

Navigating through WeChat and Alipay in English can be a challenge too.  For instance, while the “Services” section on WeChat is in English, clicking on specific icons like “Hotels” switches to Mandarin, posing a challenge for non-Mandarin speakers.

How Changi Pay solves this pain point

On the other hand, Changi Pay offers all its services in English, eliminating language barriers and making it a breeze to use in China. With Changi Pay, you can easily make payments by simply tapping on the “Pay” icon on the app’s bottom navigation bar. This user-friendly approach ensures a seamless payment experience without any language-related hurdles. 


4. Transaction Fees

Paying with WeChat and Alipay can be convenient for some, but did you know that they charge a 3% fee on single transactions that are above RMB200? To avoid this extra cost, some may choose to split  transactions into smaller amounts. However, this just adds to another hassle during your payment.

How Changi Pay solves this pain point
Changi Pay has a solution that makes your life easier. With Changi Pay, you will not face any transaction fees on purchases exceeding RMB200. That’s right - no hidden charges! Plus, you will benefit from competitive exchange rates without worrying about transaction fees.

And here’s the cherry on top: for every S$500 accumulative spend using Changi Pay overseas, you’ll earn S$50 e-Vouchers to use at Changi Airport. It is like getting rewarded for making your payments hassle-free and cost effective. So why settle for extra fees when you can enjoy a seamless payment experience with Changi Pay?


How to use Changi Pay in China

Changi Pay is a newly launched digital wallet with payment services powered by Liquid Group. You’ll need to download and install the Changi App, activate your Changi Pay account, and top up funds into your Changi Pay linked Liquid account via PayNow to make payments in China. 

Just follow these simple steps. 

Setting up your Changi Pay account 

  1. Download the Changi App to your preferred mobile device. You’ll need a Singapore-registered mobile line. 
  2. Within the Changi App, tap ‘wallet’ to activate your Changi Pay digital wallet account. 
  3. Then, in the Changi Pay overview page, tap the + sign
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to register and top up your Liquid account using Paynow. And you’re ready to pay in China.

Making payments with Changi Pay

  1. When making a payment in China, let the merchant know you’ll pay via Alipay or Alipay+ (支付宝 or “Zhi Fu Bao”). 
  2. If the merchant requests for your QR code
    1. select "Show my QR code" in the "Pay" page and present it to the merchant. 
  3. If the merchant presents you with a QR code
    1.  scan their QR code using the camera in “Pay”                  

Why you should choose Changi Pay 

The ability to make safe and convenient payments in China isn’t the only reason why you should check out Changi Pay. 

In fact, China is just one of the countries in which you can enjoy the benefits of Changi Pay. Changi Pay can be used when holidaying in Malaysia and Macau, with more countries to be added to the list soon. 

But more excitingly, Changi Pay offers travellers a slew of advantages including speedy, fuss-free top-ups via PayNow, acceptance at tens of millions of merchants in China, and competitive foreign exchange rates with no transaction fees

And because you can choose how much you want to put into your Changi Pay account, you can have better control against overspending while on holiday, 

One more thing. Changi Pay rewards you the more you use it. You can earn S$50 Changi Pay e-vouchers for every S$500 accumulative overseas spend from 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025, up to a maximum of four sets of S$50 e-vouchers. The e-vouchers can be used to pay for other purchases when you come back to Changi Airport. Win-win!

Download the Changi App now for more enjoyable holidays in China.


This article was written in partnership with Changi Pay

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


Use a personal loan to consolidate your outstanding debt at a lower interest rate!

Sign up for our newsletter for financial tips, tricks and exclusive information that can be personalised to your preferences!