I'm planning to come to China and buy a SIM card. I'll use it mainly for receiving OTPs because I'll try to open a bank account and will be using it outside of China as well to receive the OTPs.

I'll visit China once in several months.

My priority is:

  1. Cost of maintaining the validity of the number long time (usage cost is irrelevant to me because I can use other international SIM cards, etc).

  2. Ease of maintaining the validity (needing to extend it yearly is better than monthly).

  3. Ease of topping up the balance (can be topped up through an English website / app compared to needing to visit an offline store).

Which SIM card is suitable for me?

Extra info: I will visit about 1-2 weeks, and I expect to be in China once or twice a year, or more as needed.


1 Answer 1


None, for several reasons.

  • As a non-resident you won't be able to open a bank account.
  • It is almost impossible to register, and maintain, a SIM card in China without knowledge of Chinese (or a Chinese friend who can help).
  • Top-up is usually done on the phone, and requires some kind of online payment method (WeChat Pay, AliPay, etc).

You best bet is to create a WeChat account with your foreign SIM card, and link it to a foreign credit card. Then get a prepaid Chinese SIM card, with the help of a Chinese friend, which you can top up every month via either Taobao or other platforms, and pay with WeChat. Once you've done it a few times, you'll be able to do it alone even if you can't read Chinese. Mine, with China Mobile, costs 39 CNY / month, and I top up 100 CNY at a time. There was an option to prepay a full year and be done with it. This could work for you.

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