Shanghai Apartment Search – Tired of Bait & Switch

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  • #4962
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I have contacted several agents on this site and others about looking at a specific apartment, only to have them say “Sorry, that apartment was just taken earlier today, but I can help you…” it feels like bait and switch. Apartments don’t usually rent on the first day, do they? Maybe they do.

    Anyway, here is what i am looking for: 2 bedroom 2 bathroom, near Line 4 subway station either Shanghai Stadium or Shaghai Indoor Stadium stops. Will pay up to (but hopefully less than) 15,000 per month. You can send me a PM through this site if you have something good for me to see. I need to move in before May 20th.

    Thanks!

    Andy

    #4546
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I have contacted several agents on this site and others about looking at a specific apartment, only to have them say “Sorry, that apartment was just taken earlier today, but I can help you…” it feels like bait and switch. Apartments don’t usually rent on the first day, do they? Maybe they do.

    Anyway, here is what i am looking for: 2 bedroom 2 bathroom, near Line 4 subway station either Shanghai Stadium or Shaghai Indoor Stadium stops. Will pay up to (but hopefully less than) 15,000 per month. You can send me a PM through this site if you have something good for me to see. I need to move in before May 20th.

    Thanks!

    Andy

    #4963
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I know what you mean. I can say that I’ve been there… and still am… I’m not yet finished with my apartment hunting.

    Anyway, I was able to view an apartment with your specific requirement near the Shanghai Stadium, in Longwu Rd. I initially wanted this unit but it’s a bit far from my office (in Huai Hai Lu).

    If you want, I can send you a PM for the details.

    #4964
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I had a terrible time getting agents to tell me where the apartments were before we went to see them, because I know most places I could write off without going in. Just walk by in my free time and say “no.” Both times I’ve rented an apartment I’ve had to look at over 20 places because of the bait and switch and not being told where the places were, so I could rule them out. Good luck, you might try refusing to go unless you know before hand the complex and walk by yourself.

    #5731
    Anonymous
    Guest

    A list of all nationwide — as opposed to regional — banks that issue credit cards in China:

    1. Bank of China;

    2. China Construction Bank;

    3. Agricultural Bank of China;

    4. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China;

    5. Bank of Communications (HSBC);

    6. Hua Xia Bank (Deutsche Bank);

    7. Guangdong Development Bank;

    8. Shenzhen Development Bank;

    9. Shanghai – Pudong Development Bank (Citibank);

    10. China Merchants Bank;

    11. Industrial Bank Co. (Hang Seng Bank);

    12. CITIC Bank;

    13. Everbright Bank; and

    14. Minsheng Bank.

    There are some regional banks, such as Bank of Beijing and Bank of Dongguan, that also issue credit cards and there is one nationwide bank, Postal Savings Bank, that does not. Most regional banks, though, do not issue credit cards and those that do tend to only approve applications from individuals who actually live within their banking area.

    As for mortgages, almost every bank — regional or nationwide — will offer them.

    It pays to be a clever consumer because credit card / mortgage services and terms vary widely between banks. One should not make the mistake of assuming that all banks offer similar products and, thus, similar terms and conditions.

    China does have a credit reporting system run by the People’s Bank of China. Individual banks such as ICBC have developed their own credit scoring system. Unfortunately secured credit cards such as the Bank of China Great Wall Card do not report to the PBOC.

    #5732
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Differences in spending patterns between Chinese people and many people in Western nations.

    There are two very common misconceptions, though. While nowhere as high than in, say, the US, the percentage of Chinese credit card users that carry a balance from month to month is far, far higher than 2% and projected to increase.

    For their part, Chinese credit card issuing banks are trying to overcome the main barriers to increased credit card consumption. One of these, interest, is a difficult nut to crack since the interest rates are tightly controlled by the People’s Bank of China. Still, Chinese banks have found a method to effectively reduce the interest rate to 6% — lower, many say, than the actual inflation rate.

    The second misconception is that the majority of credit card users carry a balance from month to month. This is false. The actual rate is much, much lower. I do have the actual data and when I get around to it I might look for it and post it.

    There are far more than the 40 million credit cards in circulation. ICBC alone, the largest credit card issuer on the Mainland, has more than 8 million credit card customers followed by China Merchants Bank.

    One thing that’s important for me, at least, is the ability to use a bank’s online banking system to manage credit card account data, account payments and administrative tasks like VbV or MasterCard Secure Code registration. I much prefer using online banking in English.

    One of the best credit card issuing banks in terms of online banking function in English is ICBC. Not only is their online banking service extremely robust, but it is also reliable. You can use it to repay your credit card debt and even exchange RMB into US$ in order to repay, in realtime, any foreign currency credit card debt. No other bank on the Mainland offers that service — even in Chinese.

    Shanghai – Pudong Development Bank has an English version of their online credit card banking service, but it is basically only for checking account information and cannot be used for transfers or account repayment.

    Bank of China recently launched a nationwide online banking service in English, but it is a major PITA. You must use their random password generator security device and the online banking service is not at all robust. You can do nothing beyond simple account transfers to your credit card in RMB. Further, even though Bank of China issues a foreign currency credit card (The Great Wall Card), that card cannot be linked to BOC’s online banking.

    Hua Xia Bank supposedly has an English version of their credit card online banking, but it is constantly broken and access is all but impossible. In any event, even if it did work, it is even less useful than PuFa’s.

    #5733
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I have an ICBC account and am generally pleased with the online banking though like many Chinese websites is “noisy”, overcrowded and confusing. Am especially pleased at how transfers happen in real time… (why can’t foreign banks work like that!?)

    Anyway my question is can I get a credit card from them? When I applied for the account they said no but this being China rules change all the time… I do not have residency here if that makes a difference.

    #5734
    Anonymous
    Guest

    ICBC is probably one of the least expat friendly banks in terms of credit card products. If you are not here on a work permit / residence permit, it is all but impossible.

    What you can do is get a secured credit card from them. They don’t do this as much as they used to, but you can find a friendly branch and tell them you can deposit an amount equal to your target credit limit in a long term deposit as guaranty. They should accept and issue you a credit card.

    They will report the history of this card to the People’s Bank of China credit reporting agency and after a while you will have — hopefully — a good credit record. You can then ask ICBC to return the security deposit to you thus making your card a normal (i.e. non-secured) credit card.

    #5735
    Anonymous
    Guest

    They wont issue credit cards to foreigners unless i have 500K savings. this is with Pudong Bank, not sure with BOC though.

    #5736
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Why would you expect they’d give you a credit card? Do you own real estate? Work in a Fortune 500 company? Have an extensive credit record as listed in the People’s Bank credit reporting agency?

    If the answer to these questions is no, then you are just another subprime accident waiting for a place to happen — in the bank’s eyes.

    Try BOC. They will probably issue you a card with a 10k RMB limit if you place an equal amount in a long-term guarantee deposit.

    #5737
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Is it difficult for an expat to obtain an unsecured credit card from a Chinese bank? Generally, yes. Very.

    Is it discrimination? The answer is murky.

    Just like in, say, the USA, there is a legitimate risk issue that banks are obligated to consider. Some factors that mitigate that risk are:

    1. Credit history;

    2. Property ownership;

    3. Own your own car;

    4. Ties to the local community;

    5. Ability to repay the amount borrowed;

    6. Cosigner;

    7. … and others.

    The vast majority of expats have no established credit history which can be verified in the People’s Bank credit reporting system. This leaves the expat applicant at a serious disadvantage.

    The vast majority of expats also do not own property or cars. With no established credit history, this can be fatal when the bank is evaluating your application.

    In the bank’s eyes, ties to the local community means you have a long-term presence and roots in the community. Having that and a decent, stable job will sometimes result in approval for local residents, especially college students. Unfortunately few expats are in this target group.

    Most expats would probably have the ability to repay their debt, but even for local people this alone is seldom sufficient.

    In the past banks did allow — and often even insisted on — cosigners. Now they generally do not allow cosigners even for Chinese applicants.

    Probably the best method an expat could use is to obtain a secured credit card. Make sure the history is reported to the People’s Bank and after a couple of years request a refund of your security deposit. A year or two after that, apply for another credit card based on your good credit record.

    We all know that when you exchange, say, US$ for RMB that you can often take the unused RMB and exchange it back into US$ on the strength of the original currency exchange receipt. Well, when it comes to US$ obtained from an incoming wire transfer (TT), you need to be very careful or when you exchange those US$ into RMB you are pretty much stuck with those RMB for life if your idea was to use whatever RMB you didn’t need back into US$ using only the original currency exchange memo.

    US$ cash in hand (i.e. banknotes) is considered “cash” [钞] and cash can be converted to RMB and then back again to US$ using the original exchange receipt.

    US$ obtained as the result of a TT or the deposit of a US$ check is not considered cash. It is considered “forex” [汇] and if you are not careful when you exchange that forex to RMB you will have problems repatriating any unused money.

    The reason is, basically, because of the disparity between the exchange rate between US$ cash to RMB and the US$ forex to RMB. Let’s say that the US$ / RMB exchange rate is 1:7. You can give $1 cash to the bank teller and they will give you 7 RMB. When you want to later get US$ back for your RMB you give the bank, say, 7.5 RMB and they will give you $1. Let’s call this 0.50 RMB the “spread” or the bank’s profit on the transaction. However, when you give the bank $1 in forex, the bank gives you pretty close to if not exactly 7.5 RMB, but they give you no currency exchange receipt because they do not allow you change the resulting RMB back to US$ without them having earned their spread.

    The only way to get around this is by first exchanging your US$ forex for US$ cash, taking the US$ cash and then using that to buy RMB. Unfortunately, when you take the proceeds of a TT or foreign currency check deposit in foreign currency cash the bank does not like that and they will charge you an approximately 1% commission on the currency you withdraw.

    This whole forex vs. cash distinction is supposedly going to be eliminated by the People’s Bank , but it not happening very quickly.

    #5738
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Hi All,

    I am new to Shanghai and have been getting a lot of useful info from this forum. So, thanks for keeping this going.

    Now, I am having trouble getting to the bank of america and citibank websites. The problem is so persistent that it almost seems like these websites are blocked. I am able to open all other types of websites but not these two. I have been trying for the last few days.

    Any thoughts? Are these really blocked or is it a problem with my new company computer?

    Thanks.

    P.S. Moderator: If this is not the right thread for this post, please feel free to move it.

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