One of the many challenges of living in China is paying the utility bills. It is very easy once you know the process but the first time is sometimes a hiccup. There are various utility companies throughout China. Regarding water supply, every region has its own supplier. However, when it comes to electricity companies, there are a lot of suppliers.
Usually, you’ll know the water company representative comes to check your water meter. They may give you a bill there and then, or they may return later to deliver it. If you’re at home when they visit, you can pay on the spot. If you’re not at home, they’ll stick the bill to your door.
How to pay:
Many places have a water card, a top-up card. You can use it when the representative visits your house or by going to the bank or by paying online through Alipay or WeChat pay.
1) Use the top-up card when the representative visits your home. Give him cash and don’t forget to take the receipt.
2) If you were not at home, then the person will stick the bill on your door or put it in the locker. In such case, you can do either of the following to pay the bill.
a) Go to the bank. Confirm with your landlord or agency which bank it would be and then go during the working hour. You would have to collect a token on entering the bank. If you do not know how to do that, show your top up card, and they would help you to get the token. Once your token number is called upon, go to the counter to pay the bill. Please keep cash for the transaction and remember to collect the receipt.
b) You can also do it online through the banking apps Alipay or Wechat.
In China, electricity is mostly prepaid and you need to keep track of the meter.
How to pay:
Most cities have the smart/top-up card which you can top up through online platforms like WeChat or Alipay.
Electricity can also be purchased in person at the bank or using specialized machines located in State Grid offices or sometimes at departmental stores like family mart. The machines have Chinese-only interfaces, but the procedure for buying electricity is quite simple; just ask an employee to demonstrate, and you will know.
Gas in China is supplied in liquid form in tanks/cylinders or through pipes. In most homes, the natural gas is used for cooking, water heating and as well as room heating. Gas in China is odorless, so it is better to install a gas detector for safety. In the prominent cities, it is supplied through pipes, but old building might not have the infrastructure in place, and they resort to propane tanks which need periodic change.
How to Pay:
The person from the gas agency would pay a visit to read your meter every month and generate the bill. If you are at the spot, you can pay immediately or else pay it later online or by visiting the bank, convenient stores or post office within the due date. Many cities have the top up card for gas. You can top up your card by visiting the specified bank.
Notes: Never throw the receipt, file them carefully, you might need in future especially when you leave the apartment.
If you lose the top-up card, contact your agency or landlord first. Usually there will be a fine to replace your card.
Whenever you top-up the smart card, you have to swipe or insert the card in the meter. Remove it when you hear the beep sound and check the meter window if the reading has increased or not.
Always ask your landlord or agency if you are facing any problem with the meters.
For any overdue bill, you would have to go to the office of the particular service provider to make the payment.
If you want to use the Alipay or WeChat pay, take help from one of your Chinese friends to help you the first time and then onwards, you can do it on your own.