Can foreigners get a credit card in Taiwan?


#1

Can foreigners get a credit card in Taiwan?

  • No: "everybody knows it's not possible".
  • Yes

0voters

If i were to ask you for your vote today: "can foreigners get a Taiwanese credit card?", what would you say?

Will be interesting to see how similar Taiwan is to Japan: in Japan everybody "knows" of all those things that are impossible.
... even though there is no rule about any of those things...
... but they are impossible...
... because we collectively believe that they are impossible! :sunglasses:

Consequently, if you are willing to change your beliefs you suddenly find that you want to try - and the impossible becomes possible. :slight_smile:


#2

you can get one here, but most banks will say no. I got mine (unsponsored) through HSBC, but then I have HSBC accounts in several countries so maybe that helped.

I also had a Visa card through the Shanghai bank, but only as a secondary card to her indoors's account.


#3

"Impossible" typically is a meaningless word in the world of business. Case in point it would have been "impossible" to imagine anyone wanting to keep their money in low risk low yield investments just a brisk year ago. In the world of capitalistic business, nothing is sacrosanct. There are no moral or logical barriers that cannot be pierced, no impossibilities, if there is a profit to be made.

Anyway from a bank's POV it's really just a simple matter of measuring the risk of opening up credit lines to foreigners weighed against the potential profits. Many people associate with credit cards the physical objects (e.g. cards) and the brands (e.g. Visa). While these are important constructs in the credit card payment system, the actual management of personal credit histories, credit risks, etc is completely distinctly separate from country to country. What that means is if you default on payments, a credit card issuing bank in TW has much less recourse to collect on unpaid debts or make any meaningful impact on your personal credit in your home country. Combine that with the fact that foreigners generally have no credit history in Taiwan to begin with makes issuing credit likely an unprofitable endeavor, particularly for non-international banks.


#4

My application got declined by 3 different banks, even after the front-line staffers said it would be no problem. Then one time I was at my bank getting some travelers' checks to take some money back home, and the branch manager came over for a chat. When we were finished he asked if there was anything else he could do for me and I said "Now that you mention it........". A couple weeks later, I got my card. :discodance:


#5

Which is why Lu Xun said that hope is like a path across a field. At first there is nothing, but after enough people have crossed the way becomes obvious.


#6

關系 is everything if you want to bend the "rules". :wink:


#7

I've got two unsponsored credit cards from two different banks here in Taiwan. So, yes, it is certainly possible IF you talk to the right person at the bank. Now there's the secret: finding the right person.


#8

waving some guanxi around is usually required too.


#9

I'm on my third credit card here. The most recent one (Citibank) was got with my wife's help and has a rather-surprising five-year validity. I'm pretty sure I got the first one (HSBC) on my own - it was definitely before we were married. The first two only ever had one year validity, but renewal was never an issue. This was with a standard 1 year ARC.

I didn't have any 關係 to use, but I teach at a university - I find it amusing how much that makes a difference to a lot of Taiwanese people.

Oh, I've changed cards because better deals keep coming up.


#10

Agreed. And that is where negotiation comes in: considerations of risks and profits are not only a matter of crunching numbers, they also involve personal perceptions, therefore it is vital to establish personal communication and to present oneself and one's concerns in a way that help the other side remember the encounter (i prefer to leave the people who deal with me with pleasant memories, but i am sure we all can think of cases where people get things done by causing sufficiently unpleasant memories). And beyond leaving an impression one should also provide information that speaks to the other side. How do i get bank staff to tell me what risk(s) they see? And what do i tell them to make them judge me much less a risk than other people but see me as a source of profit?

Agreed, as well. My own method for finding the right person is this: whenever i want something that looks like it might be out of the ordinary, i don't tell the staff what i want but present my wish in the form of a request for advice as to what would be a suitable approach toward getting what i want. I want the staff to think and feel that they are working with me in search of a solution (which will potentially bring both them and me some satisfaction), and not give them the impression they have to defend themselves or their position against me encroaching on their territory (which is not likely going to lead to satisfaction on either side). This approach also goes a long way toward avoiding a "no" (in whichever form that may be issued) during a negotiation, but whenever i get the feeling that a "no" is at the horizon, i tend to suggest or ask that the person who has been talking with me so far consult with someone higher up in the command chain or introduce me to such a person. And if a "no" sneaks up on me or can in other ways not be avoided, then i don't argue with the people who deliver it but ask them to explain the reasoning behind their decision, which i acknowledge and thank them for, and when i leave i tell them that i will think the matter over before coming back to talk with them again. This way i am signaling that i don't consider the matter closed yet and also that i consider the people i am talking to an appropriate partners for a negotiation - i believe that this approach has more likely than not a positive effect (it should entice the other side to keep thinking about the "problem", even if only on an unconscious level, which i think will help me in any future encounter). I remember several "issues", including getting my first credit card in Canada (when i was a university student there and the banks in canada had not yet started giving out cards to students), where the answer i wanted was given during the second or third round of the negotiation, not the first one.

I shall store this perceptive saying for future use, sir. It feels so much less aggressive than "trail blazer" but speaks to the same effect.


#11

What Anubis says about finding that "right person" is completely correct. It should be pretty clear that most foreigners who want to apply for credit are upstanding people who are not intending to run up a huge debt and then leave the country. However, without having access to electronic credit records the only way a bank can assess the risk of giving you a credit line is to get to know you and in some ways to go out on a limb. Only a senior rank manager is going to 1) have the time and experience to get to understand your specific situation and 2) get your credit application through successfully.

Good advice and applicable to not just banking.


#12

And yet "number crunching" should be at least part of the risk calculations!!!

When I first applied for a credit card I got turned down abruptly.
When I went to my regular bank, with whom I'd been regularly banking with for over two years and applied, I got turned down. I pressed the issue, asking over and over again, "Where's the risk?"

I stated that I had a steady, stable income, and as I banked with them they could see how much I was earning, as well as how much I'd saved. I pointed out that I didn't need a credit card for financial reasons, but simply to buy things over the internet. Therefore a credit card with a minimal limit would be fine with me, as I'd prefer to keep it in the positive, anyway. So, from the bank's perspective, where's the risk?
"Oh, because, you're a foreigner."
"Right, yes, but I'm banking with this bank, and have more than enough money in my other accounts to cover the minimal balance, so even if I flee the country over night you still have the ability to cover yourself."
"Yes, but Taipei says no."
"Why?"
"Because.... I'll get them to call you."

When Taipei called, I tried to stick to the "where's the risk?" angle, but they insisted on throwing oddball derailing questions.

"Yes, but you don't live here."
"Actually, I do live here, and I'm married, and I intend to live here for some time to come. "
"You're married? Then get your wife to apply! No problem!"
"But I want it in my name. Can I ask again? reiterate no risk arguments So what is the risk to the bank?"
"Taipei's very cold at this time of year."

Eventually, I gave up. My wife applied, and bingo! Two platinum cards, his and hers, with a huge overdraft limit, given immediately to my unemployed, uninsured wife, no questions asked.

I can understand that banks (in any country) could (and perhaps should) be wary of giving credit cards to foreigners, and that credit criteria should be a bit harder to meet than normal, but that just isn't the case here. They were completely willing to give two platinum cards to an unemployed person, but not contemplate a minimum level card to someone with a steady job and money in the bank. It's the complete absence of numbers that I don't understand. I didn't even get the feeling from anyone I spoke to that they even understood the concept of financial risk.


#13

They got her butt if she dont pay, they dont got yours.

For example you could leave TW and never come back. She could too, but most TW-ners come back sometimes.


#14

Foreigners can act in Fubon credit card adverts, but can't actually get a Fubon credit card. Cool eh?

HSBC, Chinatrust, and AMEX have given out cards in the past.


#15

I'm a university teacher with many years in the same position and same home address. Like other posters, the convenience of a local credit card and the travel discounts offered Fubon cardholders were my main reasons for applying. Manager gave me lots of help to fill out forms and then I went into a waiting /calling game for over a month. Finally spoke with a main office secretary who informed me that my ARC would expire and they couldn't give me a credit card because I held an ARC. A month later I got my APRC but decided my US credit and debit card would be enough. I had spoken with a manager about Fubon's certificates of deposit, but since they aren't interested in providing a credit card, I will continue to wire large sums back to the States. I do know of one foreigner who had a local friend influence Fubon to give him a credit card.


#16

Has any single, APRC holders been successful...and WHERE?


#17

I am single, with just an ARC, and got a card with no guarantor. In my experience, it doesn't matter where you go but with whom you speak. It's entirely hit-or-miss. My card is from First Bank. They denied me twice until a branch manager helped out.


#18

I got an American Express card and a Standard Chartered Visa before I was married, without any guarantors. I had to fight to get the Standard Chartered Visa, but the Amex was easy as pie.


#19

Is there a concept of "building credit" in Taiwan for foreigners? If you say get a credit card and pay it on time every month - does that help you get a house loan later? Or does it only count with your own bank, since only they can see your history? From what I've been reading here, there isn't a concept of credit history - just income and stability?


#20

Absolutely yes, but the credit reporting is restricted to some financial products only. There is no reporting for cellphones, electric bills etc.

When you apply for a mortgage they will take particular note of your credit card usage within the past 6-12 months. I don't think having a card and paying it off each month improves your credit much like in the US but if you have revolving credit or missed any payment it will harm your chances of getting a mortgage considerably.