"Foreigners" Getting a Credit Card in Taiwan

Banks in Taiwan generally refuse "foreigners" credit cards. I guess they're afraid they won't be able to recoup money (I would think this line of doubt should be extended to any customer, regardless of his or her skin color). Taiwan's constitution states in Chapter I, General Provisions, Article 5: "There shall be equality among the various racial groups in the Republic of China (Taiwan)." But it doesn't seem to have had much bearing on this issue. The card hawkers who set their tables up at the doors of Taiwan's department stores, outside theaters or even on sidewalks seem to shiver with fear when they see a "foreigner" approaching. I've discussed the absurdity of this with a local friend who works for a bank in Taiwan, a bank that also denies people access based on their skin color. He told me: "We really don't have any way to make locals pay us back any more than we do 'foreigners'. Credit cards should be issued on salary, whether people have collateral, appear normal, etc. But I just don't want to rock the boat".

About a month ago, I was leaving Costco (Cheng Ho branch) in Taiwan. Chinatrust Commercial Bank had set up a booth at the door. Their sales rep., seeing my Taiwanese wife out in the lead, immediately came up to her with an application in hand. My wife, who hates credit cards, turned him down flat. When I had caught up, I said: "I'll apply. What's the process?" These words sent the Chinatrust Bank rep. into a stuttering state of confusion. Aghast, he told me:

"You're a 'foreigner'! It's not possible". Actually, I figured this kind of response was on the way. Several of my friends have been turned down at Chinatrust Commercial Bank on their credit card applications based on race. One friend, who speaks Chinese, was even offered a card. After he'd finished the application, the teller informed him, upon conferring with her superiors:

"We can't give you a credit card because you're a 'foreigner'".

Naturally, the whole "you're a foreigner" stuck in my craw. After considering my options, I decided to write to Costco and explain the situation - namely, they were cooperating with a bank that discriminates against out-groups. I asked: "Do you really want this attached to your brand"?

The next day, and for a week following, I received a flurry of email replies from Chinatrust Commercial Bank, who assured me that their bank didn't discriminate. They told me: "It was just a big misunderstanding. We'd like to process your application pronto". They were even willing to send a rep. over to my office at my convenience. When their rep. did show up, a VP no less, he explained: "It was just a big misunderstanding. They're afraid to speak English!"

"But I was speaking Chinese," I countered, "just the same as I am speaking Chinese to you. Plus I can name people who have been told they couldn't apply at your bank because of the color of their skin".

"It's just ignorance," was the reply. "BTW, let me have the name of the rep. so he can be punished".

"That's not necessary [especially if he's following company policy]." I liked the guy and didn't want to get into it. I could see he was trying, and that he didn't agree with what had transpired.

My application was passed seamlessly. I didn't even have to, oddly, submit information about my salary, assets or what have you. Some of my friends have pointed out that I was just being bought off. I can't really verify this. When I emailed Chinatrust back about statistics, in particular, how many "foreigners" have credit cards at the bank, I received no reply whatsoever. In fairness, I suppose it would be violating the bank's confidentiality code and undercutting security. I do, however, now have another credit card, my first Taiwan-based credit card. Did I receive it to shut the f*&^ up? Maybe. I still believe that it could mean that Chinatrust has had to rethink how it deals with its customers. If so, this is great news.

Let me know if you've had problems with Chinatrust Commercial Bank in getting a credit card. They have stepped out into the light to clarify their position. This post, or an email to the bank, might speed things along.

Note: I've been contacted by advertisers in February, 2011. They would like me to put up this link. I don't have a problem doing so as I've been posting for years out of my own pocket and time. Plus, I don't find their company troublesome in the least. If you do find this concept to the contrary, please let me know. Anyway, here goes: it's for a credit repair company.


Vince Cowsill said...

Why deal with a bank that discriminates against you for being a "foreigner"? I would think that some bank might want to attract "foreign" customers.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Why deal with a bank that discriminates against you for being a 'foreigner'?"

There's a simple answer: I like Taiwan and I hope it can be better. I don't accept discrimination anywhere on any terms.

David said...

Well done Patrick for asserting your rights. I think the problem is a product of both prejudice and stupidity/ignorance. Neither are acceptable and Taiwan's banking system has a long way to go before it can meet international standards.

Anonymous said...

Are you a Taiwanese citizen? If you're not, while you may dislike the foreigner classification, you are a foreigner. I also don't see what's racial about it as long as other non-white foreigners are also turned down for credit cards.

Patrick Cowsill said...

I am neither a Taiwanese nor a foreigner. You write: "it as long as other non-white foreigners..." In fact, I am not even a non-white foreigner. I don't fit any of this pigeon holing.

I am worried about Taiwan though. Many of Taiwanese friends have told me this: "We want to be accepted by the UN, WHO, etc. as Taiwan / Taiwanese. Therefore, we don't feel comfortable to hear Americans, French, English, etc. being lumped together and their nationalities disregarded by fellow Taiwanese."

"I also don't see what's racial about it..." Many people obviously disagree with that. I for one do. Or, I wouldn't have posted it on my blog. You see how fast they scrambled to patch this thing up? If I didn't have a point, you think they would've lifted a finger?

berlinerstrasse said...

But you do not have Chinese nationality, do you? So they might be afraid to not be able to sue you if you waste a lot of money and then leave the country.

Just one idea, maybe it's also just racism. Many countries are more racist than Germany, because we always carry our past in mind. Therefore, I often do not understand other countries' behaviour...

Patrick Cowsill said...

How is having a Chinese citizenship relevant to getting a credit card in Taiwan?

At the end of the day, a credit card company can do next to nothing to recoup a bad debt, either from a Taiwanese or "foreign" customer. I mean what are they going to do? Foreclose on a living room set?

"So they might be afraid to not be able to sue you if you waste a lot of money and then leave the country." It's still racism. Why would they think a Taiwanese with a lot of debt wouldn't do the same? And actually they do do this.

I can't believe that credit card companies here think they can sue people anyway. The way it works in Taiwan is that even if you do sue someone, you won't be able to collect. The cops don't care to get involved. They'll probably ask you, once you successfully sue someone, to provide the bank account number of that person, their address, etc. so they collect.

The "he'll leave the country without paying his debts" is just an excuse for institutionalized racism. The way you judge a customer isn't by skin color - it's by salary, assets, collateral, character, history, etc.

dennis said...

patrick, reading these comments just again shows that much of Taiwan (i'm by the way is a taiwanese) needs to get out more. citizenship shouldn't be a requirement for a c/c application, residency is. in new zealand and australia, anyone can apply for c/c, provided the applicant is able to prove residency, by means of for example drivers liscence, utility bills, etc.

Brian Q. Webb said...

I've had an account at Shanghai Trust (the "Puki" bank) for some time, with a good history and enough in the pot there to act as collateral.

About a month ago I tried to apply for a credit card and was told they couldn't because I was a foreigner. However, they were willing to give one to my (Taiwanese) wife on which I could be listed as an additional card.

I said "no", of course.

Good article. I'm going to draft a letter to their customer service tomorrow.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Brian, who will you draft the letter to? I wrote to Costco, not the bank. I doubt the bank would've done a thing for me otherwise. In fact, I didn't even bother to reason with Chinatrust.

My suggestion is writing to an international company that Shanghai Trust partners with. Ask them if they really want to be cooperating with an outfit that prejudices against minorities / out-groups, that sort of thing.

Kaminoge said...

Years ago, when I lived in Tokyo, I applied for a Saison VISA card, issued by the Seibu Department Store. I was rejected, with no reason given, but it was generally understood that the odds of "foreigners" being approved for credit cards were slim. Nevertheless, I requested a meeting with a Saison representative, and after a long discussion, it finally emerged that the reason his company was leery about issuing cards to non-Japanese was that we usually didn't have any guarantors to list on the applications (Japanese applicants usually have their parents act as guarantors). Armed with that knowledge, I was able to find a Japanese national willing to act as a guarantor, then was approved for the card after reapplying.

Anonymous said...

What the hell? How are you not a foreigner if you aren't Taiwanese?

This ain't about feelings dude. If you you are Taiwanese, then go do your military service like everyone else. You wouldn't be the first naturalized male citizen.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"What the hell? How are you not a foreigner if you aren't Taiwanese?" I am an American.

What are you smoking anon? I don't have any interest in joining Taiwan's military; I don't think I've ever suggested I have an interest either. Did you even read my post? I am not advocating for only Taiwanese people to have rights here. Do you get it? I am doing exactly the opposite, with some suggestions how.

"What the hell?" Why would I offer a suggestion on how to gain rights if you're in an out-group and being prejudiced against and then well, I don't know, give up my out-group status?

Anonymous said...

There's no prejudice at work here and having a credit card is not a "right". The banks are making a risk analysis. They may be wrong. It may be bad business. Possibly, a smart bank should try to get the business of all the foreigners in Taiwan. But it's perfectly legal to differentiate between citizens and non-citizens. It's the same in the US.

I don't get why you got so worked up about being treated as a foreigner when you just admitted that you are.

Patrick Cowsill said...

No, I have never called anyone in Taiwan a foreigner, really never. That's why I put usually put scare quotes around the term. I wouldn't want to be associated with it. I do feel some sympathy when I hear Aborigines speak of 300+ years of cultural genocide, but I still do not point my finger. There is room for all groups in my Taiwan, whether that is Aborigines, Taiwanese, Hakka, Japanese, French, black, white, green, purple or what have you.

It is my right to complain, make no mistake about that. I do it when I feel I'm justified. I do it when I feel like it and sometimes to amuse myself. If you're confused about that, have a look about on this blog. I complain. This time, I got through to the people at the bank. Who are you getting through to right now?

I am not trying to convert people. I am simply explaining to those who are interested how they can protect their rights when being discriminated against. I will point you to the constitution once again: Chapter I, General Provisions, Article 5: "There shall be equality among the various racial groups in the Republic of China (Taiwan)." I can go on about it all day. I love to state and then restate it.

We can go around in circles. I'm not censoring you. But don't you get the point? This blog post is to explain to people who have been prejudiced against a way that might be helpful in rectifying that. Once again, find a partner to that company and write to them.

dennis said...

Patrick, just ignore this anonymous idiot, who obviously can't read, has poor logic, and frankly has shown that s/he has been living in a hole.

Anonymous said...

Another one of those issues that sheds light on the way so many Taiwanese tend to conflate issues regarding race, ethnicity and nationality (confusion which is also at the root of many of the problems and risks of Taiwan's policy regarding China). But confusing race and nationality is still common in many racially/ethnically homogeneous nations (I saw it during my years in Sweden), and Taiwan is still very homogeneous, statistically-speaking.

Long-term foreign residents just don't fit anywhere into peoples' "foreigner" stereotypes. And I suppose not many of the Thai workers, Filipino care-givers, or foreigners sent there by Nokia, Volvo, the AIT, etc. are likely to apply for credit cards in Taiwan.

After reading about your dealings with Costco and the bank, my suspicion is that this particular bank is sending out memos amending the "no foreigners" policy that say something like "Foreigners may not apply. However, in extreme cases, and only with the approval of a department head, exceptions can be made for particularly persistent and annoying foreigners who threaten to publically damage the bank's repuation."


Anonymous said...

In a mix race country like U.S., everybody is a foreigner except the Native American Indian, even it is questionable. For the same token, nobody in Taiwan has right to call others as foreigner.
In the States, it is not hard to get a c/c but it is a well known fact that the bank and department store does not like to give c/c to those single women that included the multi-billionaire Oprah Winfrey; she was rejected years ago.

Anonymous said...

You are using words in ways that are not normal.

Foreigner in Taiwan means non-citizens. You are not a Taiwanese citizen. What are you railing against? Just because foreigners are a diverse group of individuals doesn't mean you aren't one. Maybe Taiwanese should be careful of their stereotypes of foreigners and foreigners should be careful of their stereotypes of Taiwanese. Sure, but doesn't mean you aren't a foreigner.

Nothing in your story indicated that you were discriminated against due to the color of your skin. They rejected you because you are not a citizen. If you think it was racist, prove it. Someone say, of Japanese ethnicity and not a Taiwanese citizen is able to get a credit card and you aren't?

And then the really weird usage--why do you appear to mean Minnan by Taiwanese and classify Hakka or waishengren as non-Taiwanese (or conversely that Taiwanese don't include Hakka and waisheng)? That is the only prejudicial/racist thing I can find in your whole story and comments.

(That you're informing foreigners that they can get a credit card if they make a lot of noise about it is a good service to the community, but again, it has nothing to do with racism).

Patrick Cowsill said...


You think when the credit card vendor are going "Aagh!" when they see me it's simply a reaction of "here comes a non-citizen". I'm countering that it's racist. Obviously we see it differently.

But you've written: "Foreigner in Taiwan means non-citizens." All I can do is offer anecdotal accounts that foreigner in Taiwan is race based. I've been accosted by people who would like my daughter to model for them. By your definition, she is a Taiwanese. She has a Taiwanese passport and ID. She was born here in Taiwan too. When I ask them why they want my daughter to model for them, I have been told this: "Because she's a foreigner". How does this fit in with what you're saying?

I do agree that the stereotypes are no good, if that is indeed what you are saying.

Patrick Cowsill said...

BTW, "why do you appear to mean Minnan by Taiwanese and classify Hakka or waishengren as non-Taiwanese (or conversely that Taiwanese don't include Hakka and waisheng)?"

Fair enough. Taiwanese means everyone here.

Anonymous said...

There's a thread on Forumosa from this story: http://www.forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=83795

coeurdalene said...

I'm a cash and carry kind of guy and I consider credit cards to be the bane of mankind. Every time I walk by the pinheads selling credit cards to the locals I simply steer clear and think to myself, "Keep your fucking credit ball-and-chains to yourselves you black-hearted scumbags."

As a human race, we should all unite against these credit touting criminals and refuse to play their game any longer. That would put them out of business and out of our lives for good.

"Unite!", I say. Boycott the greedy bastards!!!


coeurdalene said...

As far as the 'race/racism' thing goes, the last I checked, DNA research has revealed that the human race (homo sapien)is 97.6% CHIMPANZEE. The other 2.4% is somewhere between WORM and JELLYFISH.

The only real difference that we can legitimately focus on is whether or not we have a penis or a vagina... and, even then, those wires can get crossed on occasion.

All in all, we are just monkey-faced slimy jellybellies visiting this planet for a very short while. And thank God for BEER!!!


Anonymous said...

“Foreigner in Taiwan means non-citizens. You are not a Taiwanese citizen. What are you railing against?”

Are you talking to me?
Then, I must point out that you are making another mistake again. I am a real McCoy Taiwanese citizen all right, not only that, I even had a Japanese citizenship like your grandfathers did before the WWII.

Issue of c/c is purely a financial matter, should has nothing to do with nationality and racialism. I don’t know why you guys are fussing about over such a small matter?

I had my c/c since I was a student and still have several of them after my retirement almost 20 years ago.
My cards are good all over the world though I am not sure they are accepted in China. As a world traveler, I use them freely at any corner of the wrold and I pay off my balance over the internet no matter where I was living.

BTW, the “nationality” is an outdated word. Don’t forget we all belong to one race, called “human race” and on the same boat, a spaceship named “planet earth.”

Anonymous said...

"How does this fit in with what you're saying?"

It doesn't. Go back and read what I said. I didn't say that foreigners aren't subject to stereotypes or prejudice, just as Taiwanese are subject to stereotypes and prejudice by foreigners. I said you didn't prove or even make a convincing argument that the credit card issue is race based.

Just as you seem to take issue with Taiwanese being unfamiliar in how to deal with a non-Taiwanese customer, you are completely unfamiliar with the majority of foreigners in Taiwan that are from East Asia and that have exactly the same difficulty acquiring a credit card without Taiwanese citizenship.

In fact, you're the one making all the assumptions here about some imaginary Asian foreigner that gets offered a credit card no questions asked when you have no experience with that.

Again, thanks for the story on how you get a credit card--by making a big fuss about it--but there is no actual racism involved.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Just as you seem to take issue with Taiwanese being unfamiliar in how to deal with a non-Taiwanese customer, you are completely unfamiliar with the majority of foreigners in Taiwan that are from East Asia and that have exactly the same difficulty acquiring a credit card without Taiwanese citizenship."

I (I'm guessing that you're labeling me as "foreigner") am unfamiliar with the "East Asian" equation. I didn't write a single word about East Asians (unless you mean Taiwanese by that). It's probably neither here nor there to what I am writing about. I am writing about how people who are prejudiced against based on race can still get credit cards.

I think it's ludicrous to suggest that prejudice is nationality based and not skin-color based when we apply it to what I am writing about. When I walk up to a department store or theater table to apply for a credit card, I don't present my passport or ID and then wait for them to go "aagh, he's not a Taiwanese national in how I define it!" They don't look at my ID at all. They look at my skin color and assume that I am not Taiwanese. That is as far as it gets.

I have lots of anecdotes that support the idea, as Scott has mentioned, that Taiwanese equate citizenship to race. And it is certainly a worthy and interesting topic for a blog post. But this post is not really about that. I'll restate: this post is for those from out-groups in Taiwan and how they can achieve a locally based credit card and perhaps make banks rethink how they deal with customers and the better points of the Taiwanese Constitution. If you want to poop on the constitution, well, that is up to you.

Patrick Cowsill said...

And you are pooping on the constitution. Let's look at it one more time: Chapter I, General Provisions, Article 5: "There shall be equality among the various racial groups in the Republic of China (Taiwan)." Notice it says "in" and not "of". I am from a "various racial group", and out-group too, and I am "in" Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

I moved to Taiwan 15 years ago and worked for the same company for 10 years, and had a good bank balance and pretty good salary, too, being deposited into the bank I wanted to get the credit card from. The bank could not issue me a credit card. Their reason was, I am a foreigner. I tried on and off for ten years, no luck.

Then, five years ago I was walking in Taipei 101 with my Taiwanese husband. The China Trust sales rep tried to sell him a card. Husband says, how about my wife? The rep says, oh no, she is a foreigner. My husband says, but in the US I got credit cards and I wasn't a citizen. Sales rep says, well you could guarantee her card. Husband laughs very hard. Rep says sorry no. Husband says, it's ridiculous. I smile. Rep makes calls. I could get a card without a guarantor. A few days later I get a call to say sorry I can't have a card because I am not a citizen. I get a bit upset, having been told yes and then no. They say, oh, but your husband is Taiwanese. You can keep your card.

So, in my experience, you can't have a credit card if you are a non-citizen, oh but wait, you can. And, it's not financial, because when I got the card, I was a fulltime mom with no income of my own and no money deposited at China Trust, and no guarantor.

It's the inconsistency that is so frustrating, especially when staff tell you there is rule with such conviction, then for some it's broken and for others not.

Anonymous said...

"Chapter I, General Provisions, Article 5: "There shall be equality among the various racial groups in the Republic of China (Taiwan)."

I see you have added Taiwan after the ROC. This is incorrect. The "various racial groups" actually refer to the five major ones: Han, Manchu, Mongol, Muslims, and Tibetan, not just any racial groups. In other words, they are all ROC citizens upon whom the equality applies. Even though the definition is obviously outdated, however, as in the US, any change in the interpretation of the constitution requires the approval of the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

Hui tribe (回族)is a minority in China and Muslims (回教徒)are followers of Islam; both should not be confused together though many people in Hui tribe are Muslims.
BTW, the constitution has been referred several times here in this Blog, anybody please, tell me which one is it; either the Constitution of Republic (中華民国憲法)or Taiwan’s draft Constitution(台湾憲法草案)? The former one is out of date and the latter one is not yet approved, isn’t it?

Patrick Cowsill said...

I did not add "(Taiwan)". Why don't you grab the English version of the constitution, before you say anything more, and read it. The "(Taiwan)" is in there. This is a direct quote.

You have simply made this part up: " The "various racial groups" actually refer to the five major ones: Han, Manchu, Mongol, Muslims, and Tibetan, not just any racial groups." None of that is in the constitution. Why do you do it?

Anonymous said...

Read the original:
"第五條 中華民國各民族一律平等。"
These 各民族 are 漢,滿,蒙,回, and 藏. It does not mention any other non-citizen groups.

The English version does not trump the original version. Again, the Constitution is outdated, still any change at all must be through legislation.

Anurag said...

I am also living and working in Taiwan since 5 years ...and applied for Credit Card in many banks.. but they refused always because i am forigner.... But i really appreciate your efforts Patrik well Done.....

Patrick Cowsill said...

"The English version does not trump the original version." I am not saying it does. I am not saying the Chinese trumps the English either. I don't know one way or the other. I've never read anything on this to make me have an opinion.

Plus things are obviously written differently in English for a different audience (see recent push back by the international community on Taiwan's forever changing name). Those positions have been restated in English, but I don't think in Chinese.

Anonymous said...

So, Patrick, you rather fight than switch, eh? You don't want take the easy way out, saying "Taiwan, Love it or Leave it." Indeed, I like your style; I also admire your courage. Keep going, Pat. I will stand behind you and support your Blog.

Anonymous said...

that's a very interesting thing to ponder:

Re: "There shall be equality among the various racial groups in the Republic of China (Taiwan)" or "中華民國各民族"....

Even if that is translated as meaning "all races IN the ROC...", I think we can safely assume that "in" (in this case) probably was never intended to mean (and still does not now mean) "all people residing in" in the same sense as "in" is used (and is interpreted to mean) in, for example, the US constitution.

I'm sure the intended meaning was more like "There shall be equality among the various racial groups WHO BELONG in the Republic of China (Taiwan), i.e. Han people, plus the other 5-7 percent who make up the minority ethnic groups"

That was never meant to include people other than that, which is one reason people still can't see beyond the race=nationality thinking today. And they've never been taught to see past it in their education.


Anonymous said...

I really didn't know how to reply your questions for the topic of "Foreigners getting a Credit Card in Taiwan"on the blog after I finished reading it. Party because I am a banking employee , I knew exactly real reasons as like what you've unveiled on the blog. Partly because I am one of your best friends here in Taiwan, no matter how my English is good or bad. I have to admit the truth that it is very tough for any foreigner to apply for a credit card in Taiwan, but I also back up for your criticism about it.

So above all just let me have a paradoxical idea in my mind. I think we should not focus on the problem as a racism, as you described that bank's recoup policy is the same to both of local people and foreigners. We have to treat the problem being a fact that how a applicant of credit card can be thoroughly trusted by the bank, and let the bank be willing to approve the credit line for the applicants. Perhaps, providing banks with any kind of collateral or guarantor could be the best way, but the bank is not like pawnshop in the past any more.

Why don't you come up with something special or efficient reference like the best credit records for banks to think about? Even though there is not any regulation which not allow foreigners to contact with the bank, each bank has its stance. You can't deny that bank authorities should be obliged to protect its depositor's money, and there is no reason for banks to pay the damage amount caused from bad loan. I don't know if above explanations could be satisfied with you, but I hope so.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Perhaps, providing banks with any kind of collateral." I would happily provide the banks with collateral. Plus I have had a credit card in another country for 20 years. If your bank is looking for an air-tight guarantee that every loan will be repaid, how can you offer credit to a single individual? There will always be risk, no matter who you're dealing with. Ironically, Chinatrust gave me a credit card without even asking about my salary, assets or other collateral.

Anonymous said...

Don't the banks have their insurance policies to protect their losses in case the card holders failed to repay?

coeurdalene said...

You guys be careful with this credit card thing. Most of the major credit institutions in the U.S. recently issued notices to all cardholders mandating that those who who do not pay off their entire credit card balance by November 15th (2009) will be forced to accept a new interest rate of 24.9%-- plus annual fees.

These credit card companies are very tricky... very tricky indeed. I recommend GOLD... buy as much GOLD as you can... NOW!!!


Anonymous said...

20 years ago, I paid $400 for a piece of one ounce gold coin; I also invested $400 for a blue chip stock at the same time. Today, I can sell the gold coin for 3 times more at $1,200; however, the stock is worth $12,000, hefty 30 times. My question is where do you safe keep the gold pieces and how to find a buyer? In the other hand, your stocks are all kept by the stock broking company through the internet and you can sell them at split second and cash it in no time. Beside, look at the 30 years gold price history, the gold is at all time high today, certainly nobody want buy high and sell low. Based on my experience, I would prefer stock over gold.

coeurdalene said...

Wow! $12,000 on your stock investment. That's what I call a success story. I hear that GOLD will be close to $2,000 an ounce by mid-2010. You're right, as soon as I sense a lack of confidence in the market, I will most certainly sell. I also buy an equal amount of SILVER and the predictions are that it may get as high as $200 an ounce right along with GOLD. In answer to your question, I keep my precious metals in a large safety deposit box in my bank. I have established a relationship with several GOLD & SILVER dealers here in the U.S. that will buy or sell precious metals AT (or NEAR) spot price. So far, this has not been a problem for me. I would rather have invested in your stock, however... that's for sure.


Anonymous said...

Invest in the reliable American company for long term is recommended by Warren Buffett, though I do not like his life style, nor his decision to give his money to Bill Gate foundation for distribution. Invest in stock is a good idea provided you can find a good one. All brokers claim that they know which one to buy. If it is true why are they still working? One other factor is the time. I may not have another 20 years to see my stocks grow since life is short. A single old man died in San Francisco with hunger was in the news sometimes ago. After his death, people discovered that he had 3.5 million dollars worth of railroad stock in possession. How good is it if he is dead? Walter was my coworker. I saw him cashed in many sacks of junk silver coins when the silver hits all time high last time; he since retired young with the money. It is great to learn some young man have saving in the society where most of the people run in debt. People tend to over spent beyond their means nowadays, I heard only one out of four has sufficient money for retirement, social security alone certainly not enough. Have a good day wherever you are.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Coeurdalene, the issue here isn't whether credit cards are evil or not. I applied for one to buck the nastiness of what the bank was doing. I saw there was a certain unabidable attitude, and I wanted to call them, and Costco, on it. That is why I applied for another credit card. Actually, I already have a credit card overseas, and they have always treated me just fine.

coeurdalene said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I like the points you make.

You might appreciate that I got in on several stocks early on and reaped nice benefits from IBM, Walmart, Blockbuster, Home Depot, Lowes, Toys-R-Us, and Cisco. But, that was back when I was employed with Fidelity Investments during the late-80's and 90's. I was just plain lucky to get in on those stocks early on when they were still rising/splitting as never before seen. Only one stock was a disappointment to me and that was Lucent.

These days, I buy gold and silver coins just for the quick return... but that certainly is not the way to leverage one's entire portfolio... as you wisely point out.

Like you, I can only hope to reach that golden age of retirement.


coeurdalene said...


You'll have to take my comments as tongue-and-cheek at times-- I guess my way of bending things a little 'off topic' every now and then.

I have credit cards. We all have credit cards. It is a 'must-have' nowadays especially when traveling. Just try and book a hotel or rent a car with cash these days-- not likely.

I've had very good luck with MBNA and Capital One personally. But there are, unfortunately, many people that are drowning in the credit card game... but, I suppose that is their own undoing and not the 'evil' credit card companies' fault as you point out.

If I might say, I do believe that there should be 'cap-limits' on how high a credit card company can raise someone's interest rate beyond the original indroductory rate offered. Perhaps a structured cap-limit such as 1-2% per annum by law?

Cheers :oD


Anonymous said...


The interest rates in Taiwan are already pretty high. Recently, the bank put up my interest rate. I pay off the bill every month, so I couldn't see the reason. They just wrote it in a tiny note on the second page of my statement. I called them up and told them I noticed, and I didn't like it. Two days later, they called me to say they lowered it again for me.

Also for those in Taiwan, don't forget to get your benefits attached to your card. Probably, no-one will tell you, but you may get free towing service for your car in case of breakdown, free long-term parking at the airport, discounted parking at certain places around Taiwan, and so on.

coeurdalene said...

Yes, Anonymous, the interest rate hikes are happening everywhere around the world. And sometimes you can dispute them successfully.

Like you, I like the benefits on the credit cards as well. There is a 1% fee on many credit cards nowadays if you take the Disability & Unemployment option. I just talked to a guy that had his entire credit card paid off ($1800.00) because he was disabled and unemployed for a year. The credit card insurance is usually backed by a major finance company like Chase, so there is minimal 'scam-factor' involved.

Of course, it is always better to simply pay off your balance every month if you can. :oD


Anonymous said...

You've been anointed on Forumosa to continue with this effort, http://forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=82622&start=80:

"Wow, I guess this conversation really fizzled out. They (the Taiwanese) are succeeding at dividing and conquering us.

Yuli, you little newbie, that Patrick guy sounds like a good candidate. It seems he has the language. Our previous fearless leaders all had the language and that makes a big difference. Let's anoint him in fragrent rice wine and chodofu and put him to work."

More posts, please.

Patrick Cowsill said...

I'm mostly interested in Taiwan's history. I occasionally take time out to post up advice on what out-groups can do to ensure their constitutionally protected rights. Some things are just common sense.

We're all "foreigners" here (although I suppose Aborigines might have some points to argue). Love it or leave it. You can always leave if you find that it gets too tiresome, and that goes for new Taiwanese from the West or new Taiwanese from China of the past 400 years. Good luck in making our Taiwan a better place for the people who love it and who intend to protect it.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff with your blog! Also the credit card BS they lay on here. I applied at 3 banks for a credit card and was rejected because I was a foreigner, pure & simple. On a similar note, the Bank of Taiwan, after being a faithful customer for almost 20 years denied my request for a mortgage - yes, because I am a foreigner. Conversely, First Commercial bank was willing to give me a mortgage (but what's the point if I can't get an APRC?). Now, today, at the university I sometimes work at just discovered the great ROC govt is forcing all part-time teachers to pay lao bao and chien bao - even though, like myself, we already pay through our employer (mine being a cram school). The university has complained but the govt doesn't care. I figure it's just a money grab: do it cause it can: right or wrong doesn't enter into it.

Karthik Prathapachandran said...

Dear Pat,

The same happened to me couple of weeks ago. I used to go to costco every month. This month the China Trust guy jumped on me with an application for credit card. I said okay and he filled everything for me. He visited my office which is miles away from Costco to take the so called relevant documents. He said I'll get a call in 4 days and after that I'll get the credit card in 10 days. After 2 weeks I called him and told that I didn't get any calls or credit card. He said he was so busy and call me back. Then he called me and told, as I am a foriegner the bank will not give me card. It was something irritated and I called the bank. The person who took the phone checked my ID number and told me that she don know why my card was rejected. Again I called another number as I am so disturbed. The guy who took the phone told me that he'll call me back in 5 minutes. I waited for 2 hours and called him back. I was in a state of mind that I should get a proper answer from the bank why I was rejected. He said my sales rep will call. I said OKAY, and the rep called me and said he'll email me reason. I got the email that night stating that its very hard to get a credit card to a foreigner from his bank. I replied that I want to speak with his manager. His friend(he said he is the manager) called me and said if I have NTD 60000 salary(I am getting a little bit less and the rep already taken those documents) or I should be in a Manager postition to get a credit card. I said you are lying and show me the proof. Then I asked " Are you really a Manager or working in the same bank?". He said "No, I am sorry, I just want to help my friend".
I was out of words and just hang up the phone....

Pat, any advice for me...I really don't want mess up with the sales guy's job as I clearly know the value of job during economic crisis...

Patrick Cowsill said...

They didn't ask for my salary at all. I suggest emailing Costco and explaining to them.

Alton said...

Anonymous is correct in noting that the primary issue is one of citizenship.

Taiwan is a welcoming place. But it's a sad fact for all of us that the island has more than its share of foreign nationals who stiff their hosts. They show all the proper documents when getting an apartment, a phone, a banks account. Then one day they disappear one day with no advance notice, leaving a stack of big bills behind.

The telephone company reps, landlords and creditors we meet are keenly aware of this pattern. For the most part they are doing what they can to work with us while still taking measures to protect themselves. For phone company reps and landlords that means getting a deposit. For banks it means asking that a citizen co-sign a non-citizen's application for credit.

Inconvenient? You bet. Unreasonable? Occasionally. But always understandable.

My message to everyone abroad who is entertaining the idea of coming here to work: be ready to treat our Taiwanese neighbours with respect, or give both them and us a present and stay away.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"But it's a sad fact for all of us that the island has more than its share of foreign nationals who stiff their hosts." I will need some statistics to back this up. Are "foreigners" worse in this regard than locals? More than "its share"...? Once again, what are you talking about and in comparison to what other country? Otherwise, sorry to be so direct, but this just smacks of xenophobic fear-mongering.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have trouble getting an application at Costco--the lady nicely handed me one and I told her I would take a look at it. It was after I sent in my application that the trouble started. Apparently, I wasn't worth a platinum card because I was a foreigner. Luckily, the receptionist at work, an absolute star, used to work for a credit card company and talked them into approving a platinum card for me. Not really happy with their attitude still, and I usually just used that card for Costco--it is not my main card for the majority of my purchases.

marc said...

Long story short, I had a Shanghai Bank CC for over 10 years with excellent credit history.

Once my working permit expired though, Shanghai Bank would not re-new my card.

Strange as I still had about $50K on my debt balance. So they still trusted me enough to pay off the balance, but they didn't trust me enough (after 10 years worth of credit history) to renew my card.

Racist bastards is all that I can say. Fu*k Shanghai Bank.

angel said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have very enjoyed. I will keep visiting this blog very often.Its a really very impressive blog.
credit card counseling

jenny said...

hi Patrick. i've been trying to get a F%%%%% credit card for so long in taiwan, even i have a creadit card form my country they keep on refusing to give me one even when i have saving accounts mostly in china trust and megabank,i feel really bad, the only answer i get is, sorry you are foraigner and there is nothing we can do. I feel engry. do you have any suggestion , something i can do/ It could be so much easy to use a local credit card and i know i am able to pay without difficulty. any suggestion, Thanks

Paul said...

Taiwan is a friendly place, but only if you are a tourist and not planning to stay longer. How many times I heard this word – “foreigner”!
If you want to join travel group, you had to pay more, because you are foreigner!
To get phone someone should sing for you! Credit card same!
You have to renew your local driving license every year as soon as get new ARC. What the hell my ARC has to do with ability to drive?

Someone posted these all measures for protection???? What?
If you rent house landlord will ask your deposit.
Phone bill? Usually you phone cut off immediately if bill was not paid.
Credit card – you should look at your credit history, such as salary and paying bills on time, but not if you are foreigner or not.
I have number of Taiwanese friends who did not paid for their credit cards and own pretty big amount of money to banks and???? What bank can do to you?

The most ridiculers rule – Taiwanese can have two passports and no one give a shit, but if foreigner lives here for long time, having wife and kids and truing to apply for Taiwanese passport they will ask you to give up your own.

I lived in Taiwan for 6 years and was thinking this is a good place to live, but after all bureaucracy and unfair resist treating when I got job offer from my country I left Taiwan without second thought!

Patrick Cowsill said...

"hi Patrick. i've been trying to get a F%%%%% credit card for so long in taiwan, even i have a creadit card form my country they keep on refusing to give me one even when i have saving accounts mostly in china trust and megabank,i feel really bad, the only answer i get is, sorry you are foraigner and there is nothing we can do. I feel engry. do you have any suggestion , something i can do/ It could be so much easy to use a local credit card and i know i am able to pay without difficulty. any suggestion, Thanks"

I simply wrote to Costco, their "foreign" partner and asked them if they wanted their brand associated with racism and xenophobia. Then I explained how Chinatrust, their partner in Taiwan, was discriminating against out-groups in Taiwan.

I then outed Chinatrust on the Internet right here on this blog. Chinatrust responded immediately. They sent a rep over to my office and signed me up for a card. I didn't even have to provide the normal particulars, such as salary, assets, etc. Their response wasn't close to enough to silence me. I hope you do more to out the banks that discriminate against you, like I have. Use the Internet and talk to their "foreign" partners.

mw said...

Hi Patrick, I'm an foreign Chinese with Indonesian passport, so I don't know if the constitution you referred to applies in my position. Being a same 'race' as the so-called majority, I don't know if I could call them discriminative or racist after my credit card application to China Trust got rejected. :( They didn't even bother to let me know, I called the customer hotline to check, and the lady said she'd get back to me when asked the reason. She never did.
I submitted copy of passport+ARC, 3 months payroll sheet, and copy of passbook. I have been working for more than 3 years in a foreign company in Taiwan, I've lived here for more than 8 years, and my job title, salary, all suits the requirement.. well, just besides the fact that I don't have Taiwanese ID. I just don't get why it was rejected and don't know what should I do about it. I travel quite a lot for work, and I'm getting tired of carrying around whole chunk of cash around when travelling...a credit card would be great to have...!

Patrick Cowsill said...

Foreign Chinese with Indonesian passport I don't know what to say. Does the bank look down on Indonesians or is there some other reason (though I do feel your frustration).

Someone posted this comment before: "Nothing in your story indicated that you were discriminated against due to the color of your skin. They rejected you because you are not a citizen. If you think it was racist, prove it. Someone say, of Japanese ethnicity and not a Taiwanese citizen is able to get a credit card and you aren't?"

Actually, they are handing them out to overseas Chinese who do not have Taiwanese passports. What do you make of that?

73Minstrel said...

Hi . I am a Canadian who has been living in Taiwan for almost 11 years .. I recently went to China Trust to apply for a credit card around january 12 ... Seemed like it was taking a long time so I decided to make a call .... I speak Chinese but opted for English service.... They told me they would look into my application and then phone me back. No one phoned me back but later that night I got a text in broken English saying your Card had been approved ... The next day I phoned them to find out when I should expect it... after 7 phone calls "press one for English service " nevr getting anyone who could speak English... Waited till the next day Phoned again ... This time I got a lady who could speak English and she informed me ... I had been declined , becasue I am a Foreiner .... I told her that that was unacceptable and I would not take that for an answer... I told here my monthly salary was higher than most Chinese people, and that I was a p[ermanet reesident of taiwan and should be allowed to get some sort of credit..... she tried everywhich way to tell me I was a foreiner and couldnt get a card .. I told her she better get me someone above her pay grade to call me as this is discrimination.
the called me back and said they were re processing my application.. and wouyld get back to me tomorrow... They did call the next day and said they were still working on it and would call me once again the next day ... so far no return call ... We'll see ?

What do you suggest I take as next course of action?


Patrick Cowsill said...

Well you could try to shame them. I doubt it's going to do a lot though. First, they probably don't believe they're discriminating against you because that is, in their mind, something that only happens in the West to minority groups. You're not likely to get a lot of sympathy from your fellow man in Taiwan either. They'll probably just get embarrassed, make excuses for the bank, tell you discrimination isn't possible in Taiwan (that it, once again, only exists in the West) and finally get a little tribalistic on your ass.

What you can do is appeal to the bank's foreign partners, like I did with Costco. In my situation, Costco didn't want the racist policies of a partner sticking to them. That's why Costco told China Trust to give me a card.

One more thing: try to record these conversations and get them online. That would be really cool.

73Minstrel said...

Thanks for your advice Patrick.
Actually they phoned me this afternoon to get my address as to where to send my card to.

So looks like I got it !!

Anonymous said...

This blog is already more that 2 years old. Actually, the central bank of china has already relaxed the credit card issuance policy since 2005 thereby allowing foreigners to apply credit card without a guarantor by just presenting a proof of financial capability.


That incident of Patrick is a reminder about Taiwanese hands-off attitude towards foreigners. Probably, the sales rep or bank rep doesn't trust nor doesn't take any responsibility to a foreigner.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Actually, the central bank of china has already relaxed the credit card issuance policy since 2005 thereby allowing foreigners to apply credit card without a guarantor by just presenting a proof of financial capability. ."

I have friends who have been told they cannot apply for credit cards because they are foreigners well after 2005. I had one friend who couldn't even get an application for a credit card because he was told he was a "foreigner." Actually, he never told them that he was a foreigner, but that is a point for another discussion.

"Probably, the sales rep or bank rep doesn't trust nor doesn't take any responsibility to a foreigner." Yep. Since the bank doesn't get this straight with its employees says something too.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Probably, the sales rep or bank rep doesn't trust nor doesn't take any responsibility to a foreigner."

I think I'll respond to this as well. First, why are they not afraid to take responsibility for a local, who is just as likely to choose not to repay? Taiwan's bad loans are sky high; I think that would be the result of locals as foreigners can't get credit. Second, why is it foreigners in particular that makes them brain freeze? There must be a policy within the banks (previous comments on this blog seem to attest to it) and for coworkers getting in trouble over this. Finally, a knee-jerk reaction is obviously going on to those who are not in the "us" group.

Unknown said...

Dear All

I am living in Taiwan since 7 years and now got my APRC. After that i apply for credit card First bank but they again rejected . Is there any way I can complain about it in any place about that. waiting for reply .

Anurag Dikshit

Patrick Cowsill said...

On what grounds were you rejected?

Unknown said...

they said they can not give credit card to foreigner i apply two times and my office also helped to fill the form and provide all required documents . but after some time i got message in my mobile that my application rejected...
i think after stay 7 years and APRC i should get Credit card . can any one suggest me any solution for this.

Patrick Cowsill said...

You need to go to the bank and find out why you were rejected. That is step no. 1.

Anonymous said...

I have been fighting with American Express Taiwan for a few weeks now. I picked up an AMEX card in Canada as they promised worry free card transfers.

When I tried to transfer the card, they wanted me to send proof of income which i did. then they said i needed an arc. I said I can only get the arc when I arrive but that they told me in canada that they do card trasfers. I was told that Taiwan doesn't do global card transfers.

Then I got this email


I double check with mail room today, still not found your mail. I think the mail might get lost.

Can you please resend a registered mail to the following address:

Also, I check with our audit department, they told me if you sir do not give us your ARC front and back copies.

Taiwan Amex will not accept your apply ( 99% decline for foreigner ). To prevent any further inconvenience,

I suggest you apply a ARC also.

I will still check your mail mean while and update you since I have any information.


Do I believe that they didn't receive my application form? No, they are stalling. And they essentially told me that foreigners are a 99 % decline.. nice

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Taiwan Amex will not accept your apply ( 99% decline for foreigner ). To prevent any further inconvenience,

I suggest you apply a ARC also."

I have an ARC, as do many of the people commenting here about unfair treatment. Complain to Amex back home about what is going on. That is probably the best way to get results. And write about (write more, that is). Let people know that this sort of thing still goes on.

Anonymous said...

Hi again.

I will be emailing a contact here at Amex Canada about this, but I don't have much confidence that it will work.

I also signed up a HSBC account in Canada before I leave to go to Taiwan as they said it won't be a problem transfering it over but knowing Taiwan and it's horrible banks, I doubt that will work either.

Since I am a costco member, hopefully Chinatrust will give me some love as they did for you hopefully.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Chinatrust didn't give me some love though. In fact, they offered the application to my Taiwanese wife, who makes considerably less than me and has no financial assets really (unless you're talking about my financial assets). My wife told them she didn't like credit cards. Then I asked for an application and was told "no," because I was a "foreigner." In fact, they had no way of knowing that as I had neither told them my status nor presented them with ID. They made a racist assumption based on the color of my skin.

I complained to Costco about this and asked them if they really wanted an image of racism sticking to their brand, which is quite clean. I was guessing Costco had no idea that Chinatrust was discriminating against people on the basis of race (on their grounds, no less, as the Chinatrust guys were handing out the applications inside the doorway of Costco's Chung Ho, Taiwan branch). I was correct because I was immediately contacted by Chinatrust.

To sum, there was no love there. Costco told Chinatrust to knock it off.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant to say that eventually with a complaint the bank moved to give you a card. I bet that trick doesn't work anymore as probably the bank probably sat down with a high up at costo to give them their fake reasons for declining foreigners a card. I might give it a whirl though :)

Patrick Cowsill said...

I wrote about it and lots of people have read about what I had to say. Companies don't like that; they hire PR companies to keep tabs on this sort of thing.

I think Costco didn't really know what's going on. Furthermore, they probably don't agree now that they do. After all, they did something about it.

The reason a company like Costco gets behind something like this (meaning a credit card with the stores logo on it) is it drives business to their stores. How could Chinatrust's lack of trust, nay, silly fear of foreigners, help this?

Anonymous said...

Hi Patrick.

I was the last "anonymous" poster that sent you a message.

I received my ARC today and so I went to HSBC Taiwan to apply for a credit card they told me I could get. I have an advance account which is higher level than the basic one. They said unless I have 3 million dollars in their bank with a Premier account, no credit card on my own application, no matter the money I have in HSBC Canada. And I asked for the manager in Taipei name and was refused (the manager refused to talk to me) So I took your tack and sent a email to their co branded partner in USA to let them know like you did. No matter what they do at least I let their partner know what a crap company they deal with. Actually all the banks in Taiwan treat foreigners like garbage. It's like they all got together to decide policy.

Anonymous said...

I am about to get a credit card from Hua Nan Bank in Xizhi, New Taipei City. The guy comes to our office 3x per week and though I filled out the form and have a Taiwanese guarantee (my girlfriend) I still have no credit card. He always says "next time ", I finally asked my supervisor to translate to him that I will change my bank and suddenly he passed the form on to the credit card department. But that doesn't mean I have a credit card, they are coming with more and more requests every week. Last week they asked for my payslips, this week (5 days later) they want my girlfriends payslips, lets see what they ask for next week. They promise calls but never call, they ask me to email passport copies but never answer to my emails. This bank really sucks and I regret to have an account there, but the company forces me too.

Anonymous said...

Did they ever end up giving you the credit card at Huanan?

Anonymous said...

Hi Patrick, I applied 2 weeks ago for a Chinatrust Costco card. The man helped me fill out the forms.

They said it would take 3-5 days to process and I would be texted the result. 5 days later and no reply so I called them to ask if it was approved. A woman answered and said no, sorry.

I asked the reason for it, and she told me because my documentation was not clear. She said I could re fax it to her attention, and she would give it to the application team to re review.

She said that I needed to give them another 5 days to review and I would be notified by text message of the result.

I told her that I applied 2 months ago and was declined because I was told they want foreigners to have 1million in the account for over 3 months. I had the 1m nt, but it was only in the account for 1 month at that time. They said I would be accepted if I reapplied 2 months later which I had done so I said to her that the card should not be rejected this time as I complied with the requirements.

This is the fifth day and still no answer. I am hesitant to get Costco involved as I don't want to get anyone in trouble, but it seems this may be the only way to get a response.

I wonder if the employees are held personally responsible for approving applications if a foreigner defaults, and this is why they're very reluctant to do anything.

I placed 1 final call to them today, so hopefully they will get back to me today with positive news.

Patrick Cowsill said...

This is the letter I received from the bank, a day or so after I complained. The rep came over to my office and gave me a credit card, no questions asked. Then he assured me that I was wrong -- that people were not being discriminated against at the bank. I have friends who have been told they could apply because they were foreigners though. I have deleted the phone numbers:

"Dear Patrick ,

My name is Adam Wang, a vice president of the Credit Card Division for Chinatrust Commercial Bank. On behave of Chinatrust, allow me to first express my sincere apology for any inconveniences or mistreatments you’ve unduly received. In addition, let me reassure you that both domestics and foreigners are welcome to apply Chinatrust credit cards.

And therefore, I will look into this matter personally and ensure such misconduct does not happen again.

With your permission, I would also like to assign one of our senior manager in assisting you through the application process. It is my humble hope that you will reconsider using our credit cards once again.

If you have any further comments, you could reach me ----- or senior service manager is 陸慶德(Qingde Liu)


Patrick Cowsill said...

"She said that I needed to give them another 5 days to review and I would be notified by text message of the result."

That you will be notified by text message has an ominous ring, like they don't want to face you (or conflict) when they tell you to hit the road.

I had a coworker who was denied by text message for not "making the standards." He made twice as much in salary as anyone else on his team (all Taiwanese), and yet they were all packing Chinatrust credit cards. You can find him at his blog: The Writing Baron.

Keep us informed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your help.

I spoke to the woman on Saturday, and she said she will speak to the manager on my behalf and call me back tomorrow. I'll see what they come up with first, and then I will take other measures to complain if there is still an issue.

my case is the same as your friend, in that I am making over double the salary of the Taiwanese teachers in my school, and they all have several cards, and even some of my friends to work in tea shops making very little have cards.

Also, they cannot say that I do not have the funds to backup my request, nor can they say that I do not have any credit since I already have another credit card in Taiwan.

I'll let you know what the end result is and it's worth repeating that your willingness to question these things has been very valuable to the community.