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Recharging Your Chinese Mobile Phone Online

No More Typing in 20-digit Numbers

Your mobile phone is running low on money, but you don’t need to run down to the corner recharge-card seller. You can recharge your account directly from Taobao and you won’t even have to enter in any long PIN numbers.

Out of Town? This is the Only Way to Recharge

If you are traveling in China and your mobile phone runs out of money, you are out of luck. Recharge cards are region-locked, so the one you buy in Xi’an won’t work for your Shanghai mobile number. But recharging online always works, wherever you are.

How to Do It

This one is super easy. Just go to the Taobao homepage. Click on Recharge Mobile (手机充值)


1. Choose your Mobile Phone carrier.
China Mobile = 移动
China Unicom = 联通

2. Choose your location
This is where you bought your mobile phone number.

3. Choose how much money you want to recharge.
Start with a modest amount until you get the hang of it. 

Manual or Automatic?

The next screen gives you a few options. You may notice that you get a slight discount by recharging online! But this discount is nothing significant, and I suggest that you choose the top one, which is automatically recharge (自动充值)



The other two options are to recharge within 10 minutes, and to send the recharge number online so you can recharge yourself. Spending the extra Y0.70 has always seemed worth it to me to avoid these hassles.

The next step is where you enter in your mobile phone number.


What happens then?

The next screen should be familiar – just enter your password to confirm payment with your password.  And that’s it! A person will receive your request and help you recharge your mobile.  Within a minute or two, your account balance should be updated. China Mobile users can confirm their balance by sending an SMS to 10086 with message text: ‘YECX’. You will receive an SMS response telling you how much you have left.

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