How To Get A Credit Card In China

For foreigners, opening a bank account in China could be a time consuming or complicated procedure, but an application for a Chinese credit card is another story altogether. In general, credit card issuing banks will check the applicants credit history in the People’s Bank of China Credit Reference Center. Most foreigners, though, do not have a credit file much less a credit history. As a result, most banks would not approve such an application.

The key to success is being prepared for the application and collect all of the correct documents the bank may require.

The choice of the bank is also particularly important, as some banks are more foreigner-friendly, such as:

  • ICBC 中国工商银行 (Industrial and      Commercial Bank of China)

  • ABC 中国农业银行 (Agricultural Bank      of China)

  • China      Construction Bank 中国建设银行

  • China      Merchant’s Bank 中国招商银行

  •  Bank      of Communication (交通银行)

Applicants must be at least 25 years of age (not over 70 years old), be fully capable and have an independent and stable source of income with a sufficient ability of repayment.

At the time of application, you must attach your passport and residence permit documents as well as relevant information, such as:

Legal Residence Documents

ü  Cable bill/water bill/ or gas bills from the last three months

ü  Phone bill from the last 3 months

ü  Rent contract

ü  Certification of self-owned house

ü  Receipt of Apartment management fee

ü  Certificate of your living whereabouts provided by the sub-district office

Financial Capacity Documents

ü  Certificate of income provided by the government or an enterprise, within the last three months.

ü  Copies of bank account statement book that shows the most recent three months' income

ü  Personal tax payment certificate

ü  Social security payment receipt copy

ü  Copy of certificate of buying fund, government bond, enterprise bond. (Which must include Buyer's name, account number and balance)

ü  Copy of membership card, including: Golf membership card, China mobile, China Unicom VIP and Airline membership.


Being a foreigner, this procedure already represents a challenge; even if all the required documents are collected, the bank can still reject the credit card application.

For this reason, in this article, we propose an alternative and more efficient approach, in the case in which the bank won’t issue a credit card, the option of obtaining a secured credit card may still be available. Some banks, such as China Merchant’s Bank, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank will often — but not always — issue you a credit card with a limit equal to a long-term deposit which you establish in their bank. After a certain period of time, you may ask them to “unsecure” the card and allow you to withdraw the money you used as a guarantee.

Applicants with a stable job and after having built a positive credit history, should find it easier to conclude the application for a credit card successfully.