Alibaba Payment Methods: comparing the best ways to pay suppliers

Tarah Ren
Freddie Larkins
Last updated
November 17, 2023

Alibaba has transformed global e-commerce, bridging the gap between businesses and suppliers. Yet, selecting the best payment method on this platform can often feel like navigating a labyrinth.

In this article, we'll simplify this process for you, offering a comprehensive comparison of various Alibaba payment methods, highlighting Wise Business as a particularly effective choice.

Wise gives you the flexibility of several payment methods, allowing you to pay by debit card and bank transfer in multiple currencies while benefiting from low fees and mid market exchange rates.

Join us as we unravel these payment methods and shed light on how Wise Business can enhance your Alibaba transactions, saving you time and money. By the end of this article, you'll be equipped with a clear understanding of the payment landscape, helping you make the most informed decision for your business transactions.

Exploring the different payment methods on Alibaba

There are several ways to pay for items on Alibaba. We break down the pros and cons of each method below.

1. Alibaba Trade Assurance

Alibaba's Trade Assurance is a free service designed to foster trust between buyers and suppliers. The order protection service provides coverage for shipping or quality-related disputes, ensuring your products arrive on time and meet the agreed-upon quality standards.

Users can either place an order online or request suppliers to draft one, then make payments to an Alibaba-designated bank account through various options, including Credit Card, e-Checking, Telegraphic Transfer, or third-party providers like

The latter adds an extra layer of security, acting as a neutral third party in the transaction process, and is popular among e-commerce and freelance platforms.


The transaction fee of Trade Assurance for sellers is 3% of the total order amount (excluding tax). There is no fee for buyers.

  • Provides an extra layer of security as payments are held securely in escrow until you confirm satisfaction with the delivery and quality of your order.

  • A high number of Alibaba's sellers accept payments through Trade Assurance.

  • Customer support for up to 30 days post-delivery.

  • Limited to participating sellers.

  • Potential for disputes - while the program allows for disputes, navigating the resolution process can be time-consuming and complex.

  • Dependent on buyer vigilance - the buyer has to carefully check the goods upon receipt and make a claim within the stipulated period.

2. Credit/Debit Card

Credit or Debit Card payments are popular on due to their convenience and support for multi-currency transactions.

By simply inputting card details at checkout, buyers can swiftly transfer funds to the supplier's account.

However, these transactions may incur fees, including a 2.99% transaction fee and potential currency conversion fees if the supplier's account uses a different currency. This method also has a payment limit of up to USD 12,000 per transaction.


2.99% of the payment amount. The fee will be deducted from your account automatically when you make a payment.

  • Card payments are convenient and easy to execute, requiring only card details at checkout.

  • Credit or Debit card payments cater to multiple currencies, increasing their utility in international transactions.

  • Alibaba accepts a wide range of cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Union Pay, and others, making it accessible to various buyers.

  • Card companies charge a high transaction fee of 2.99% of the total transaction amount.

  • If the supplier's account uses a different currency than your card, there might be additional currency conversion fees.

  • Credit or Debit Card payments have a limit of up to USD 12,000 per transaction, potentially restricting larger purchases.

3. Telegraphic Transfer / Wire Transfer

Telegraphic Transfer (TT), conducted via the SWIFT network, is a highly preferred payment method on Alibaba.

The payment is typically completed within five working days, and Chinese suppliers, in particular, favour TT due to its comparative affordability and the option to transact in Chinese yuan (CNY).

However, users should ensure payments are only made to official company accounts for security purposes. TT's popularity stems from its blend of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and ease of use.


40 USD per international wire transfer.

  • Secure way to pay

  • No third party involved

  • Favourable exchange rate 

  • Transaction fee of 40 USD per international wire transfer with no limit

  • It can take a minimum of 3 days and a maximum of 7 business days for funds to clear for international transfers

  • It can take 1-2 business days for funds to clear for local transfers

  • Your bank might also charge additional fees

4. PayPal

PayPal is a widely recognised and globally accepted online payment method, offering a quick and efficient way for buyers to send money directly to suppliers. It also provides secure transactions with buyer protection, making quick refunds easier in case of any issues.

However, please note that PayPal is not accepted when paying through the Trade Assurance program, and not all suppliers will accept PayPal as a payment method.


You won't usually pay a fee to buy products on Alibaba using PayPal, but it can charge 2.99% above the base exchange rate for purchases in other currencies.

  • With built-in protection for buyers, PayPal is a safe payment method ensuring security throughout the transfer process.

  • Funds transferred via PayPal reach the supplier almost instantaneously

  • PayPal allows order cancellations and refunds if the supplier doesn't fulfil their obligations, significantly reducing the risk of loss for the buyer.

  • Not all Alibaba suppliers accept PayPal, and it's not supported within the Trade Assurance program.

  • Payments in currencies other than US dollars might result in unfavourable exchange rates and relatively high processing fees.

  • Seller accounts may be frozen due to violations of terms and conditions, potentially complicating transactions.

A cheap, secure alternative: use Wise Business to pay Alibaba suppliers

Wise Business emerges as an ideal choice for making payments to Alibaba suppliers, thanks to its ability to convert money at the mid-market exchange rate.

For wire transfers to individual sellers, Wise Business enables you to send Chinese Yuan (CNY) directly to their UnionPay, Alipay, or WeChat accounts, offering the advantage of converting at the market exchange rate.

You can also choose to send US Dollars (USD), British Pounds (GBP), or Euros (EUR) via SWIFT, with USD being the preferred option for many.

When paying a business, sending CNY isn't an option. However, similar to individual transfers, you can conveniently send USD, GBP, or EUR via SWIFT.

Wise also excels with its ability to support debit card payments in more than 40 currencies, including CNY.

These transactions are also completed at the market exchange rate, and only a nominal, transparent fee is charged. Thanks to its streamlined payment process, Wise Business makes payments on Alibaba both easy and efficient.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to make payments on Alibaba?

Making payments on Alibaba is considered secure, but it's always important to be vigilant. You can trust sellers with 'Gold', 'Verified', and 'Trade Assurance' badges, and Trade Assurance suppliers, in particular, are valued for their secure payment portal, diverse payment methods, and additional support. consistently upgrades its security measures and utilises world-leading technologies, including PCI DSS standards and SSL certificates, to protect online transactions.

However, opting for payment methods with a dispute resolution mechanism, such as escrow or PayPal, can add an extra layer of protection.

What’s the safest method of payment on Alibaba?

While several payment methods on Alibaba offer security features, the Trade Assurance program is could be considered the safest. It acts as an escrow service, safely holding your funds until you’ve approved the quality and delivery of your order.

What steps can I take to resolve disputes with a supplier?

Resolving disputes with a supplier on Alibaba starts with a 3 to 30 days negotiation period, where you can discuss issues directly with the supplier. If the problem remains unresolved or the supplier doesn’t reply, you can escalate the dispute to the dispute resolution team by clicking the "Escalate Dispute" button. Once escalated, Alibaba will mediate the dispute, and will usually respond within three working days.

How can I avoid fraud on Alibaba?

Always look for suppliers with 'Gold', 'Verified', and 'Trade Assurance' badges to avoid being defrauded on Alibaba. These badges prove that the suppliers have undergone verification and are a legitimate businesses. You can also use the Trade Assurance program and you should never agree to off-platform transactions or wire money to a private account.