I’ve talked at length with HSBC about this. The fact that their day-to-day communications are handled by low-level staffers with poor English and a shaky grasp of what they are talking about doesn’t help.
Basically, as I understand it, they need to have some ‘security’ even if they don’t actually secure the loan against anything. I’m sure this makes perfect sense to someone, if not to me. In other words, they want to see that you have assets that they could pursue if you default.
This rule is proclaimed to be universal, ie they don’t lend to anyone who doesn’t have something of value - usually property - regardless of nationality. Until I’ve seen how a Taiwanese is treated when they apply I have no way to make a comparison with how they treat a foreigner. So I can’t vouch for the truth of what they have told me, but it does at least make sense.
As a foreigner you probably don’t have any assets here that will make them feel more comfortable with lending you money, therefore they ask that someone with some assets - ie a local - step up to guarantee your debt.
If true then this makes more sense than the crap I’ve been getting from Chinatrust, and may even be due to regulatory issues. The foreign banks are subject to more limitations than local banks due to protectionism, or so I am told. Making sense of it all is a an arduous process and I don’t have the time or energy to pursue this properly. But here’s a little free advice:
If you do a little detective work, such as entering the words ‘hsbc taiwan’ into google, you may find a page such as this one and thus learn the name of the person in charge of HSBC in Taiwan.
Try entering his name together with the word ‘taiwan’ and among the listings there may be something containing a photo and a ‘mailto’ tag that will allow you to send him an email directly.
That’s what I did anyway, and the eventual result was that I got an unsecured credit card. Have fun.