Date registered: December 25, 2008
Send lpm100 a Private Message
Getting a credit card is SO MUCH shit, that if you have a friend at home who can send you a prepaid credit card, it is just easier to do it that way. (I am assuming that you want to use this card to purchase things off the internet.)
Chinese credit cards are something like out of the question.
I have tried to get one MANY times. What happens is: You go to the bank (alone or with a friend, the result is the same). The bank has you fill out some paperwork (they do it in a very half assed way, perhaps because they know you aren't going to get the credit card anyway). Weeks go by, and you don't get the credit card and you don't get any explanation as to why-- or any way to bring the matter to a conclusion. Also, I found that the words for getting a credit card were so techincal that I could not follow what was being said-- nor could my friend find ways to explain them to me in English.
I've tried this at: The Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and China Merchants' Bank. China Merchants' bank was really cute. They told me that I had to own a house in China (like the VAST MAJORITY of even Chinese people don't have) and have lived at the address for 5 years before they could even consider an application for me. In that event, my parents could cosign for the credit card-- but if and only if they were Chinese people.
I also have a friend who runs a book business here, and he has tried to get credit cards MANY times in the Mainland and failed.
You can not even get prepaid credit cards in Hong Kong. I tried to explain the idea of a prepaid credit card to a Chinese bank teller, and she kept reinterpreting the word as "debit card." (Also keep in mind that Chinese bank cards have no visa logo and can't be used outside of China/ Hong Kong/ Macau.)
The purpose of making credit cards so difficult to obtain is to stop people from skirting the capital controls. (You can get a suitcase full of cash and WALK out of China with it, but you can't electronically transfer anything.)
For paying credit cards down (in response to the other post), here is what I have found works:
1. Go to the illegal money changer in front of the Bank of China near TianFu Square and get the money in $20 or $50 bills. Then you can put them in envelopes IN THE PRIVACY OF YOUR HOUSE and with A4 paper wrapped around each bill so that you can't see what is in the envelope if it is held up to the light. Each envelope is $1 to send to Canada/ USA. So, for $300, that works out to 15 envelopes of $20 each. Or 6 envelopes of $50. (Or whatever. Sometimes I even put odd amounts in the envelopes.)
2. Have a check drawn up on the bank of China. I have not done this in several years, but at that time, the fee for a check drawn up on Bank of China New York was about 80RMB. But I sent that check regular mail and it took a month to get there. When I went to the bank to ask if the payment could be stopped (after about 3 weeks, I thought the check had been lost in the mail), they told me that if the check was lost that it could not be stopped and that was just my ass. So, it was really the logical equivalent of sending cash in the mail.
3. It also works to send the money EMS (and I have sent thousands of dollars back this way), with the caveat that you have to get the blue EMS envelope at one post office and fill out the address label and SEAL IT before sending it to the post office. The last time I tried to send cash in an EMS envelope, I didn't think to seal it and the bitch at the post office looked in the envelope and told me that she could not accept it because it was cash. So, I took exact same envelope and walked it to the next post office (500 feet away) and had the good sense to seal it. I asked for another label to make it look like I was writing something there in the post office and put the other label on the envelope. I registered it and sent $375 in the mail. It arrived in the United States 6 days later, intact. (Usually for amounts over $300, I just use the EMS.)
I can't remember how much it is to wire money to a bank, but I do remember that the expense was such that it made better sense to pay the 180RMB to just send it EMS.
Also: If you want to wire money, it cannot be done in Chinese RMB. So, you will have to buy from the black market (where you will lose money on the exchange rate) and then lose money again wiring. The US$ exchange rate is 6.85RMB:$1, but on the black market the best I have been able to get was 7.1RMB to the dollar.