China is the land of smartphones and genius apps that will make your life easier. People of all ages and financial backgrounds have internet phones, since Samsung/iPhone quality alternative cost less than $150 (and the most primitive smartphones can cost as little as $15).
Everyone who has a smartphone also has WeChat, an app that acts as Facebook, PayPal and WhatsApp all in one. Most stores and even street vendors accept WeChat payments, so you’ll rarely need to carry lots of cash. Unfortunately, you may run into a place that doesn’t accept WeChat…
I happened to find myself at a Chinese hospital with no cash, no functional credit cards and no friends to lend me money. After a brief moment of panic, I started asking strangers if they had any cash and flashing my WeChat at them. The first two people I approached were cashless and very apologetic but the third had a large wad of bills that he happily gave me in exchange for a WeChat transfer that took mere seconds!
I was very proud of myself for figuring this out and showed it off to a Chinese friend. After they laughed in my face, they told me that this was very common in China. Being helpful and giving is part of the culture, especially when it comes foreigners asking for help. Also, WeChat is 100% trustworthy so it’s literally impossible to steal money this way.
The only downside to this amazing way to turn any stranger into a zero-fee ATM is that you need to have a Chinese bank account to use with your WeChat Wallet function. So this is only applicable to expats living here long-term. Have you ever tried this before and have any stories to tell? Please share in the comments below!