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Notes on Chinese Credit Card Service

Updated Beijing Time

If you want to obtain a credit card from a Chinese bank, options are available from two different avenues.

The Big Four state-run banks – Industrial and Commercial Bank (ICBC), Construction Bank (CCB), Bank of China (BOC), and Agricultural Bank of (ABC) - can provide convenient access to their developed and extensive networks of outlets.

Thanks to decades of experiences, their operations are relatively sophisticated and resourceful.

Two credit cards of the Construction Bank.

However, their service is not very customer-oriented or friendly. They also offer fewer benefits than their SME competitors, due to their accumulated bureaucracy of quasi-monopoly and advantageous government background and resources.

For instance, the Construction Bank does not advise its average credit card user when the card service is due to expire, and to renew, the user have to go and queue up at the bank and then go back another day - and queue again - to get their new card. The bank does not take the initiative of service, and it seems that the user has to 'ask' for the card service extension.

You also usually have to wait a long time for service at most outlets of these four tycoon banks as they take the majority of market share and users.

The second option is the SME banks with their non-state backgrounds. With fewer outlets, they are not so convenient to reach, but they do offer comparably friendly service and more benefits - like substantial discounts from time to time when you pay by their card at partnering cinemas, restaurants, and other dealers.

When your card is due to expire, these banks will usually advise you and ask for your extension, the new card will then be mailed to you, without the troubles of going the bank and queuing, as with the 'Big Four'.

A kind of credit card of the China Merchants Bank.

Of all the credit card services, the one from the China Merchants Bank (Zhaoshang Yinhang, medium-sized) is the best-received in Chinese communities. Their online service is also high-rated by users.

(By Ronald Li)


Editor: Ronald Li

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