Forget your transport card? We got your back

Another article by MITrix community of Master In Tech in DHSZ

Chief Editor: @Steven Chao

Chief Proofreader: @Tom Wu, @Charles Ji

Publisher: @Steven Chao

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Your transport card 💳💳💳 is right in your pocket

It is very normal that you forget to bring your transport card. Usually, before the era of silica, you would need to return home and fetch your card. Now, you don’t need to do neither of the silly things — you don’t even need to go to a card center to issue a transport cards

In this article, I will take your through various virtual transport cards.

In general, virtual transport cards can be put into three major categories:

  • Smartphone NFC chips,
  • Wearable NFC chips,
  • QR codes on smartphones and wearables.

Smartphone NFC chips 🤔

NFC (Near-field Communication 近场通讯技术) is a fundamental technology under virtually every card you’ve been using, from Dulwich student ID cards to NFC-chipped Credit/Debit Cards to the IC cards you use to access your residential complexes. The details of how NFC works is beyond the scope of this article, though, you may ask your physics teachers about it.


China T-Union (交通联合 or 全国交通一卡通互联互通) is a contactless transport card used in China. Owner of the card can use it to pay public transport fares in any covered service in China. Basically, with any transport cards, physical or virtual ones, you can take buses and subways in supported cities (full support in Suzhou and Shanghai). Discounts on prices vary between cities.

Apple Pay & Wallet App 💵

Apple introduced Apple Pay transport card in China in the year of 2017. On any iPhones later than iPhone SE or iPhone 6 (iOS 13.4 or higher), you can find an app called Wallet pre-installed on your iPhone. This is the app you can use when you want your iPhone to be a transport card.

News of this week, Apple Pay now supports transport cards Shenzhen Transport Card in addition to Shanghai Transport Card. Beijing T-Union Transport Card is now available to use in lieu of the original Beijing Transport Card that didn’t support T-Union.

Now, there are two ways to add a virtual transport:

Add through the Wallet App

You can add a new transport card through the Wallet App by doing the following steps:

  1. Tap on the “Add” icon,
  2. Tap next,
  3. Tap Beijing T-Union Transport Card, Shanghai Transport Card or Shenzheng Transport Card,
  4. Select the select amount you want to charge to your card (additional service fees may apply),
  5. Done.

Add through Beijing Transport Card App

You can add a new transport card through Beijing Transport Card App through the following steps:

  1. On the main page, tap on “Add a smartphone transport card”,
  2. Tap next,
  3. Select the amount you want to charge to your card,
  4. Tap next,
  5. Done

Other payment app on Android devices

Right after the Ministry of Transport approved development of the card and pilot projects in 2012, there has been enormous support of T-Union and other virtual transport cards on various Android devices, including industry-leading brands like Huawei, Xiaomi, Samsung, OnePlus, etc. The steps to add a transport card is generally the same as adding one to Apple Pay though there are commonly more transport card for more cities available to issue.


Before you issue yourself a transport card, remember to check if the transport card works in your city (In Suzhou, T-Union works perfectly.) Also, make sure you double check the refund terms of the transport cards — not all card issuers support refunds!

Wearable NFC chips ⌚️

Just like on a phone, you can use your wearables, e.g. smartwatches, as a transport card.

For now, support devices include but not limited to Mi Band 3/4 NFC version, Mi Watch and Huawei Watch GT 2 series. First thing to do, is to connect your watch to your phone, preferably an Android device (Huawei and Xiaomi wearables don’t support add transport cards via iOS devices).

Then you should follow the instructions to set up the NFC card. You will probably be asked to set up a new transport card and pre-charge with a certain amount.

After you’ve configured it, you can now use your wearable as a transport card. Isn’t that futuristic?

QR codes on smartphones and wearables

These days, it is not uncommon to see people take subways with a QR code. For instance, in Suzhou, to take the Suzhou Rail Transit, all you got to do, is to download an App called 苏e行 (literal translated to E-traveling in Suzhou), register a new account if you haven’t already and link your account to your the UnionPay app/WeChat Pay/Alipay. After that, you can just use your QR code to take the subway like anyone else.

It is worth noting that if you are a frequent traveler, you’d probably need to install multiple apps with multiple accounts since apps vary with the city you are in.

However, in supported cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Xi’an, you can safe store all of your transport card QR codes in one place — Alipay Wallet (支付宝乘车码).

Right inside the Alipay app, you can find a tab called Wallet in which you can add ALL of your transport card QR codes together.

Despite that WeChat has similar Mini App that have similar function as Alipay Wallet, yet it is proved to be less popular probably due to the relatively limiting number of supported cities.

Thanks for reading

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Thanks for reading! If you have some thoughts you want to share, feel free to leave as comments below! 👇

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*Currently only Beijing T-Union Transport Card and Shenzheng Transport Card supports T-Union.

**Service fees may apply.


China T-union

在中国大陆使用 Apple Pay 快捷交通卡功能

在中国大陆为 Apple Pay 添加交通卡

京津冀互联互通卡现已支持 iPhone 和 Apple Watch

4 thoughts on “Forget your transport card? We got your back

  1. Soren Gong Reply

    When I got my new phone, I usually delete the wallet app. Cuz it WAS not useful at all.😂

    • Steven Chao Post authorReply

      Thanks for your comment! For the record, it IS useful now. 😀

  2. Michael Gates Reply

    So can you store the e-travelling in Suzhou card in Alipay wallet? Or it is not a supporting city yet?

    • Steven Chao Post authorReply

      Currently, e-travelling card in Alipay wallet can be used to take buses but not subways. Looking forward to the support…

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