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Providing Spending Money to a Minor Abroad in Shanghai?

Providing Spending Money to a Minor Abroad in Shanghai?

Old Mar 23, 19, 10:50 am
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Providing Spending Money to a Minor Abroad in Shanghai?

A family member (a minor) will be traveling to Shanghai for a study abroad program this summer. This family member is an authorized user on a couple of my credit cards. Is there a wise way to provide a limited amount of spending money while in Shanghai?

Somewhat related, a resident of that area told me that people commonly pay for things using a smartphone app. What are the chances that Apple Pay would be accepted in various places there? Said minor is a US national and has an iPhone.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 12:12 pm
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They should have an ATM card and use that for cash. There are limited uses for credit cards in everyday life for a minor.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 12:21 pm
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You'll find a long thread here on pay-by-phone apps. There may possibily be an exception or two now, but for all practical purposes to pay by waving your phone in China you need a Chinese bank account in your name (and a Chinese SIM in your phone). For three months, it may be worth the hassle to try to set this up. For a few weeks, probably not.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 1:30 pm
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Originally Posted by xooz View Post
They should have an ATM card and use that for cash. There are limited uses for credit cards in everyday life for a minor.
I'm glad you mentioned this because I probably wouldn't have thought of it. I seldom use my ATM card these days, but this person has their own account so getting an ATM card would be easy. Do Chinese rig ATM machines with skimmers from time to time?

Originally Posted by 889 View Post
You'll find a long thread here on pay-by-phone apps. There may possibly be an exception or two now, but for all practical purposes to pay by waving your phone in China you need a Chinese bank account in your name (and a Chinese SIM in your phone). For three months, it may be worth the hassle to try to set this up. For a few weeks, probably not.
That is what I had suspected, as the person who told me this is a Chinese national. So for foreigner minors, cash only, more or less?
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Old Mar 23, 19, 2:45 pm
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Just take normal precautions when using an ATM: hide the number as you key it in.

Best to have two ATM cards in case there's a problem with one or it's lost. Note that sometimes banks will block overseas use as suspicious and you have to call to clear the block

It's nice to feel you fit in waving your phone like everyone else, but not having Wechat or Alipay won't be a hardship.
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Old Mar 24, 19, 12:54 am
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1. Apple Pay is not widely accepted
2. Wechat and Alipay are accepted 99.9%
3. You need a Chinese bank account in order fully avail of Wechat/alipay
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Old Mar 24, 19, 10:31 am
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Be sure to advise your credit card issuers and ATM card banks that son will be traveling in China during specific dates. I'd encourage the kid to pay by credit card when possible in nonsketchy establishments that accept one or more of his cards. IIRC this should generally include convenience stores, foreign stores, some chains, major transportation, most hotels (if applicable) that accept foreigners, and real restaurants, although less so in smaller towns or places that have fewer foreigners. Since ATMs sometimes don't work with foreign cards, he should try to keep a reasonable amount of local cash and perhaps also some larger clean crisp USA bills (maybe a couple $100s) to be exchanged into yuan at a bank/official foreign exchange place in an emergency.

BTW if he's going to China as part of some established program for foreign students, the program (or its USA partner) should provide advice on some of these issues, either in material sent out to accepted students or through links on its website. If he has access to a knowledgeable person at the program's (USA) headquarters, he can ask that person for advice about logistics of this nature. [It's part of the service you're purchasing.]
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Old Mar 24, 19, 6:25 pm
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My son has been there for quite a number of years now. Agree with the above that having 2 cards is a good idea, since if one gets lost/stolen etc, it can be quite some time to get a replacement. I had this happen and had to wire my son some money to tide him over.

Also, if a large expenditure comes up, you can get your bank or credit union to allow for large withdrawals if needed. Check with them on their rules.

Finally, as for skimmers, they exist there as here. Some education for your family member is a good thing whether they use a card here or in China.
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Old Mar 24, 19, 6:28 pm
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I rarely use credit cards these days because: 1. many merchants are confused by foreign CCs; 2. DCC makes my blood boil; 3. Alipay is extremely fast.

As I mentioned upthread, a Chinese bank account is very useful for both Alipay and Tencent Pay (Wechat), but not essential because other people can juice you.
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Old Mar 24, 19, 8:19 pm
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"As I mentioned upthread, a Chinese bank account is very useful for both Alipay and Tencent Pay (Wechat), but not essential because other people can juice you."

As pointed out a number of times here in other threads, you cannot enable QR-code payments without identifying yourself using a Chinese bank account. That is, you do need a Chinese bank account to use wechat and alipay for those payments. (There may be some recent exceptions for HK people, I'm not sure.)
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Old Mar 24, 19, 10:02 pm
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
"As I mentioned upthread, a Chinese bank account is very useful for both Alipay and Tencent Pay (Wechat), but not essential because other people can juice you."

As pointed out a number of times here in other threads, you cannot enable QR-code payments without identifying yourself using a Chinese bank account. That is, you do need a Chinese bank account to use wechat and alipay for those payments. (There may be some recent exceptions for HK people, I'm not sure.)
Got you. A few months ago, an FTer told me that he was unable to open a bank account because he didn't have an RP. This was news to me because I previously opened many Chinese bank accounts without an RP. Since I have an RP, I can no longer provide a litmus test function for non-RP people, but the OP's minor is unlikely to score an RP (i.e. this process is pretty difficult now).

ETA: While off topic, I want to implore all RP holders to sign up for e channel. I managed to pull off the Shenzhen Bay border crossing in 6 minutes last week (this can take up to one hour).
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Old Mar 25, 19, 12:43 am
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
1. Apple Pay is not widely accepted
2. Wechat and Alipay are accepted 99.9%
3. You need a Chinese bank account in order fully avail of Wechat/alipay
Apple Pay with a non-UnionPay card is not widely accepted. Apple Pay with Union Pay however can be used pretty much in every place that accepts a Union Pay card.
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Old Mar 26, 19, 7:12 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Be sure to advise your credit card issuers and ATM card banks that son will be traveling in China during specific dates. I'd encourage the kid to pay by credit card when possible in nonsketchy establishments that accept one or more of his cards. IIRC this should generally include convenience stores, foreign stores, some chains, major transportation, most hotels (if applicable) that accept foreigners, and real restaurants, although less so in smaller towns or places that have fewer foreigners. Since ATMs sometimes don't work with foreign cards, he should try to keep a reasonable amount of local cash and perhaps also some larger clean crisp USA bills (maybe a couple $100s) to be exchanged into yuan at a bank/official foreign exchange place in an emergency.

BTW if he's going to China as part of some established program for foreign students, the program (or its USA partner) should provide advice on some of these issues, either in material sent out to accepted students or through links on its website. If he has access to a knowledgeable person at the program's (USA) headquarters, he can ask that person for advice about logistics of this nature. [It's part of the service you're purchasing.]
I'm pretty diligent about putting travel notices in place with card issuers, but that is good advice. Easy to overlook as I am not a traveler in this case.

Son will be with a group managed by ACES, and they have a minder on the ground with the group who is fluent & familiar with everything local. They have been running this for a decade, and so far they have been very responsive to questions, so we are not worried or anxious, it is just that I saw no harm doing some front-loading from the collective wisdom here. They do a two-day orientation before the group departs, but once the group is on the ground, they split to the host families with whom they will board.

Originally Posted by xooz View Post
My son has been there for quite a number of years now. Agree with the above that having 2 cards is a good idea, since if one gets lost/stolen etc, it can be quite some time to get a replacement. I had this happen and had to wire my son some money to tide him over.
[...]
Finally, as for skimmers, they exist there as here. Some education for your family member is a good thing whether they use a card here or in China.
We have spending caps in place on his AU cards. Haven't needed them yet, but will definitely keep an eye on all transactions.

Originally Posted by tauphi View Post
Apple Pay with a non-UnionPay card is not widely accepted. Apple Pay with Union Pay however can be used pretty much in every place that accepts a Union Pay card.
May I ask, what is UnionPay? They are a card payment clearing service like Visa or Mastercard?

Again, son is a US-national minor, so I don't think he will be opening any Chinese bank accounts or whatever. The program in question is six weeks in duration, I believe.

Thanks for all the responses.
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Old Mar 27, 19, 7:25 am
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I agree having a CC may be useful for emergencies/ very large purchases. But cash is by far the most convenient form of payment if one can't use WeChat. DCC is rampant for non-Amex cards, and Amex is not that widely accepted. DCC charges can be egregious, and I just don't the feeling of being scammed an extra 3-10%.

tb
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Old Jun 24, 19, 1:55 pm
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We have read some Chinese ATMs will require a six-digit pin, so for foreigners that have four-digit pins, supposedly tack on a couple of zeros at the front of the pin? Really?
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