How to send money to Alipay users in China

Alipay – part of the world famous Alibaba Group – is a popular way to send and receive payments through an app. Sending a payment to someone with an Alipay account is easy – you’ll just need their name and contact information.

That means there’s no need to hunt out bank details when you want to send a payment to your friend in China. In this guide we’ll explain all you need to know about sending money to Alipay users in China.

What is Alipay?

Alipay is one of the largest digital payment platforms in the world, offering e-wallet services which can help users send and receive CNY payments easily. Here are some of the key features of Alipay:

  • Alipay money transfers – send payments in CNY to other Alipay customers with just their name and Alipay ID (phone number or email for example)
  • Shop online with Alipay – make payments at online stores like Taobao and pay through Alipay
  • Alipay bill pay – pay utility bills and top up your phone with Alipay
  • Alipay food – Use Alipay to order food and buy tickets to events online

How do I send money to an Alipay account?

If you’re in the US you may not have an Alipay account yourself. However, that doesn’t need to stop you from sending a payment to someone else on Alipay – you can just use a specialist money transfer service to send your payment in USD, to be converted and received in CNY into an Alipay account.

There are several providers in the US which let you fund a payment in USD, and have it deposited in CNY into an Alipay account, including Wise, Western Union, WorldRemit and Remitly.

To illustrate how the process works, let’s look at a step by step guide to sending a payment to Alipay with Wise:

To send a payment to someone’s Alipay account you’ll need:

  • Their name as shown on their Alipay account
  • Their Alipay ID, which will be the phone number or email they used to register with Alipay

Once you have gathered all the information needed, here’s what to do:

  • Log in to your Wise account online or in the Wise app
  • Set up a transfer to CNY, and select Alipay as the receive method
  • Enter your recipient’s name and Alipay ID (email or phone number registered with Alipay)
  • Add the reason for the transfer, and pay using bank transfer, card, or your preferred USD payment method
  • Your recipient will then get a push notification from Alipay that contains a unique URL to receive the transfer

Go To WiseGo to WorldRemit

3 Ways to send money to Alipay Users

Let’s take a more detailed look at a few different services in the US which let you send money to Alipay users in China.

Wise to Alipay

Wise is a specialist in currency conversion and international payments. You can register a Wise account online or in the Wise app in a few simple steps, and arrange your transfer with low fees and the mid-market exchange rate.

Known for: Fast, secure payments to accounts around the world, with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees

Best Features:

  • Mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees
  • Payments – particularly when using a card – can be received very quickly
  • Open a Wise Account to hold a balance in 50+ currencies, to make it easier to send global payments whenever you need to

Go To Wise

Western Union to Alipay

One of the biggest global money transfer brands, Western Union has a long history and a huge agent network which lets you send payments to be collected in cash around the world. You can also conveniently send payments to Alipay through their app and desktop site.

Known for: Wide range of ways to send and receive international and domestic payments

Best Features:

  • Convenient to send a payment online or in the Western Union app
  • Alipay is one of several ways money can be received in China via Western Union – you can also often send for convenient cash collection
  • New customer discounts often apply, which can bring down the costs of your payment

WorldRemit to Alipay

WorldRemit was launched in 2010, and is used by over 5 million people to send payments around the world, and home on popular remittance routes. Arrange your transfer online or via the WorldRemit app for a fast and secure payment to Alipay.

Known for: Fast and convenient ways to send payments to loved ones, particularly when you’re living or working abroad

Best Features:

  • Pay with a card and your money could be received almost instantly
  • Depending on the transfer amount and the way you pay, you may find there’s no transfer fee – although an exchange rate markup will usually still apply
  • Register and account easily online or in the WorldRemit app

Go to WorldRemit

How much can I send to an Alipay account?

The amount you can send to an Alipay account will be determined by both the provider you select, and the laws in China.

In most cases, the maximum transfer amount is set at 50,000 CNY per transfer.

While exchange rates vary, this is close to 700 USD at the time of writing.

Some providers also have an annual cap – this is set at 500,000 CNY for Wise and WorldRemit for example.

Other providers may cap the number of transfers you can make in a year – effectively also limiting the total value you can transfer. Check out all the details for the provider you’re using, before you hit send.

What currencies can I send from?

The number of currencies you can send from will depend on the provider, and Alipay’s own rules.

Alipay won’t accept payments originating in a select number of countries or currencies – often due to global financial regulations and sanctions. As these restrictions can change over time you’ll need to double check with Alipay if you have any doubts.

Different providers then offer a varied range of currencies for users in the US – but you’ll usually find you have a choice of 50 or more currencies, including USD and other major global currencies like GBP, EUR and more.

  • Wise lets you send payments to Alipay in 50+ supported currencies
  • Western Unions supports 130+ currencies globally
  • WorldRemit offers the option to send to Alipay from 50+ currencies

Is Alipay Safe?

Yes. Alipay has over a billion users, and has built a reputation as a very safe provider, with cutting edge manual and automatic approaches to security and fraud prevention.

Using common sense precautions – like only sending to people you know and trust – should be enough to make sure you can use Alipay completely safely.

How much does it cost to send money to China?

If you want to send a payment from USD to an Alipay account, to be received in CNY, you’ll need to compare a few options to make sure you get the best price for your needs.

There will usually be a transfer fee to consider, and some services will also add an extra fee into the exchange rate used. On the flipside, some providers may have promotional fees and rates for new customers, which can make them a good choice.

Here’s a few options, with an example of the costs to send 1,000 USD. This may capture the specific promotional rates applied at the time of research – so do check a few options before you make your payment, to make sure you get the best live deal.

ProviderSend amountTransfer feeExchange rateRecipient gets
Wise1,000 USD10.31 USD1 USD = 7.189 CNY7,114.88 CNY
Western Union1,000 USD0 USD1 USD = 7.2130 CNY7,213 CNY
WorldRemit1,002.99 USD (transfer fee added onto send amount)2.99 USD1 USD = 7.0977 CNY7097.70 CNY

*Fees and exchange rates correct at time of writing – 27th October 2022

Go To WiseGo to WorldRemit

How can I receive money through Alipay?

If someone has sent you a payment to your Alipay wallet from overseas, there are a couple of steps you’ll need to take to make sure you can receive it safely. Here’s an example of how to get your money if it’s being transferred by Wise:

  1. Log in to your Alipay account and complete real-name authentication
  2. Find the 跨境汇款 (Global Remittance) mini app in Alipay app
  3. Link your bank card to your Alipay ID
  4. Give the sender your name and Alipay ID
  5. You’ll get a notification once the sender has transferred the money, and can click on the URL to claim the payment

Conclusion: What is the best way to send money to Alipay?

With various US money transfer services now compatible with Alipay, it’s easier than ever to send money to friends and loved ones in China.

Compare a few options to help you choose between Wise for low cost transfers with the mid-market exchange rate, Western Union for an impressive choice of 130+ payment currencies, or WorldRemit for convenient transfers 24/7. There will definitely be a provider out there to suit your specific needs.

Use this guide to get you started, and your money will be on its way in no time.

Go To WiseGo to WorldRemit

Claire Millard
Fintech Content Writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
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Seyma Mektepli
Seyma is an experienced content writer and editor-in-chief at Exiap, delivering informative articles on personal finance, and money transfers.
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Last updated
March 16th, 2023