Payment Methods when Importing from China: A Complete Guide

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About to pay a manufacturer in China? The payment method, and the process, often have a major impact on the outcome. In fact, it can spell the difference between success and failure, when buying from overseas suppliers. In this article, we introduce you to four common payment methods, used when transferring funds to Chinese suppliers.

Content Overview

  • Telegraphic Transfer (T/T)
  • Letter of Credit (L/C)
  • Alibaba Trade Assurance
  • PayPal
  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
  • Payment frauds and scams
  • USD bank accounts for importers
  • Sending Money to China: Q&A with Neat in Hong Kong

Telegraphic Transfer (T/T)

The Telegraphic Transfer is standard bank transaction, placed either through your internet bank or in a local bank branch. This payment method is accepted by all Chinese manufacturers with a bank account. Virtually all, that is. Albeit common, it offers no protection by itself, unlike the Letter of Credit, which I’ll get back to in a bit.

That is, however, not saying that T/T is necessarily an unsafe payment method. Continue reading Payment Methods when Importing from China: A Complete Guide

How to Pay Suppliers on Alibaba: A Complete Guide

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Found a supplier on Alibaba but not sure how to pay them? In this guide, you will learn how to pay suppliers on the #1 supplier directory, both through the built-in Alibaba payment gateway and ‘off-platform’.

Keep reading and learn how you can pay suppliers by wire transfer, credit card and the secure payment system – and how you can claim a refund if the goods are not matching the product description.

In addition, you will also learn why a refund cannot always be taken for granted, and how you can prepare for, and win, a dispute.

This is covered

  • Telegraphic Transfer (Bank Transfer)
  • Alibaba Secure Payment (Escrow)
  • Alibaba Payment Links
  • Pay Later
  • Alibaba Online Transfer

Telegraphic Transfer (Bank Transfer)

Alibaba.com is a supplier directory – an online platform for finding factories and trading companies in China, and other countries around the world.

While Alibaba.com has in recent years expanded into providing payment solutions, most buyers go here to find suppliers and then continue business discussions elsewhere. Hence, the transactions are still for the most part made outside of the Alibaba.com ecosystem. That is likely to change in the future but is the case at the time of writing.

We often receive questions about ‘how to pay suppliers on Alibaba’, but the truth is that they are paid the same way as manufacturers that are not listed here – and that is mostly via telegraphic transfer. Continue reading How to Pay Suppliers on Alibaba: A Complete Guide

Paying Chinese Suppliers Using Western Union: A Complete Guide

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Even to this day, we keep receiving reports from importers getting scammed by anonymous traders in China. In many cases, they have one thing in common – the buyer sends money using Western Union.

While Western Union as a company is legit, it was never intended as a platform for paying Chinese suppliers.

In this article, I explain why and how scammers exploit Western Union to defraud importers, and which payment methods you should use instead.

What’s the benefit of using Western Union?

Western Union operates a global payment network that enables individuals to transfer money from one place to another, in a matter of hours. While payment services like PayPal and TransferWise offer fast payments today, that was not the case until only a few years ago.

At a time when telegraphic transfers, normally taking 4 to 5 days to arrive, was the only option, Western Union was the go-to place for fast payments.

While they may not be the only option for fast payments these days, they still have a strong position across the globe. Especially when you need to send emergency funds to a friend or family member that lost their credit card or passport in a foreign country.

Continue reading Paying Chinese Suppliers Using Western Union: A Complete Guide

Escrow Payments to Chinese Suppliers: A Complete Guide

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excrow payment

Escrow payment solutions require the supplier to meet certain conditions (e.g., ship products) before the funds are released. In theory, Escrow payments ensure that the buyer is not scammed and that products are actually shipped.

In practice, however, Escrow payments are only as good as the ‘money release conditions’ the supplier is forced to comply with. Keep reading, and learn how Escrow payments in China work, and the various solutions available for importers.

What is Escrow?

Normally, a buyer transfers funds directly to the supplier’s bank account. This is risky, as the supplier could then disappear or deliver an insufficient product. There’s no ‘refund’ or ‘chargeback’ mechanism in place when paying suppliers by telegraphic transfers.

Escrow, on the other hand, involves a middleman receiving the funds from the buyer – only to release the money once certain conditions have been fulfilled.

These conditions can either be set by the buyer and seller, or by the Escrow payment services. Common ‘escrow payment conditions’ include the following:

  • The seller can prove that the documents are shipped (e.g., provide a tracking ID)
  • The products are approved by the buyer after delivery

Continue reading Escrow Payments to Chinese Suppliers: A Complete Guide

How to Make a Telegraphic Transfer (T/T) to a Chinese Supplier

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Telegraphic Transfer (T/T), which commonly called ‘Wire transfer’ is still the most common payment method, when transferring money internationally.

Yet, making Telegraphic Transfer payments is not without risk. In fact, the risks involved are far bigger than most importers might think.

In this article, we explain why a slight misspelling could result in tens of thousands of dollars being withheld by the receiving bank – and why you should never pay privately held bank accounts.

Keep reading, and learn how you can avoid payment delays, scams, and other Telegraphic Transfer related issues.

1. Get the beneficiary name, address and other account details right

When writing money to your supplier’s bank account, you need to make sure that all beneficiary and bank details are correctly, and fully filled in.

If, for example, the beneficiary name is not correctly typed in, the money will be withheld by the Chinese bank – and finally returned back to you.

This is indeed a good security measure, but this will cost you at least 2 to 3 weeks. In addition, you don’t get the bank transaction charges from neither your bank or the suppliers. But, that quite irrelevant, in comparison to what a month long delay could cost your business.

So, why is this even an issue to begin with? Continue reading How to Make a Telegraphic Transfer (T/T) to a Chinese Supplier

How to Pay China Factories By PayPal: 5 Things You Must Know

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Sending money through telegraphic transfer (T/T), or paying by letter of credit (L/C), is slow and relatively complicated.

The wrong beneficiary name, or even address, can delay the payment for weeks, and there is no effective way to request a refund in case you get scammed by a supplier.

So, why aren’t more importers using payment services such as PayPal, that can send money instantly to suppliers – while also offering the chance of getting the money back if the products are not matching the specifications?

Keep reading, and learn why many suppliers refuse to accept PayPal payments, and what you can do to change their mind.

1. Most suppliers only accept PayPal payments when ordering product samples

PayPal is available to both businesses and individuals in both Mainland China and Hong Kong. Opening an account only takes minutes, and is as easy as anywhere else on the planet.

Yet, many Chinese suppliers, both factories and trading companies, don’t accept payments via PayPal.

Why is that?

First, it’s a matter of old habits.

Most suppliers are accustomed to the established payment methods, such as telegraphic transfer and letter of credit – while they are quick to dismiss newer payment methods.

The suppliers that do accept PayPal payments tend to restrict it to sample invoice payments only. As such, most suppliers don’t accept PayPal payments for larger orders. Continue reading How to Pay China Factories By PayPal: 5 Things You Must Know

Payment By Letter of Credit in China – A Complete Guide

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Letter of Credit

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By default, most Chinese manufacturers require a 30% deposit before production. When, something turns out to not go as planned, the deposit, as if by magic, suddenly turns into a non-refundable down payment, never to be seen again. To avoid undertaking such risks, many importers rely Letters of Credit (L/C) to pay their suppliers, which requires no such deposit. Instead, the payment is released only when the goods are shipped.

In this article, we explain how a Letter of Credit can act as an extra layer of security when buying from China – but also why importers cannot blindly rely on an L/C as the ultimate safety mechanism.

How a Letter of Credit Can Protect Your Business

Unlike a regular T/T transaction, an L/C guarantees that a seller, for example a Chinese manufacturer, will receive a payment in full once certain conditions has been met. For importers, an L/C removes the risk of making an upfront deposit payment, before production, while the supplier can be sure that they will indeed receive the money when the batch is completed. Well, that’s at least how it works in theory. Continue reading Payment By Letter of Credit in China – A Complete Guide