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October 26, 2011

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IT'S very easy for young consumers to get a credit card charging around 18 percent annually. Young people are targeted by banks eager to charge interest, fees and penalties. Few credit checks are as strict as in Western countries where credit and consumerism are, or used to be, king.

Almost all card issuers put up easy-to-use application websites. They also set up account-opening events, offering gifts and low-interest initial deals, in offices, Metro stations, residential areas, popular department stores, malls and other places frequented by young people.

Online applications are simple, asking basic information, including ID number, level of education, employer, years on the job, monthly salary and other income. Few banks ask for proof of salary. Some ask applicants if they own property, a car, securities and receive social welfare benefits. Banks might conduct spot checks.

It may take no longer than a week to get a card. Many employees of credit card companies have quotas to fill, so there's incentive to bring in new customers.

China Merchants Bank, one of the earliest card issuers in China, is known for attracting young customers. It offers 100 kinds of cards, some linked with airline, hotel and department store offers; others are stylish and are issued for events like Expo and the Olympics.

"Young consumers are very important, and most are quite good in repaying," says an official surnamed Zhang at the bank's credit card center. He was contacted by phone in Shanghai on Tuesday. He says the application process is strict, and it is possible to get a credit line higher than one's monthly salary, because family property and income may be taken into consideration. It helps if applicants have other credit cards and have a good credit history of repayment.


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