Well, I won’t be moving to my own host anytime soon. The reason? I don’t have a debit card. My US debit card expired last month. I’ve ordered a replacement, but I’m still waiting to get it. It seems like this is as good a time as any to bring up the fact that my ongoing efforts to get one in Taiwan have failed.

A debit card, for those of you who don’t know, looks like a credit card. It can be used like a credit card to buy things online, but it’s NOT a credit card. Debit cards don’t involve borrowing money or buying things on credit, they just charge money out of your bank account. If the bank account is empty you can’t buy anything, but on the good side there are no interest fees or any other fees involved.

About two and a half years ago, I went to 10 or 15 banks trying to get a debit card. Some didn’t offer debit cards at all; they weren’t that popular in Taiwan at that point. However, China Trust and Taishin have them. Unfortunately neither will give them to foreigners. The question is why not? Since they don’t let you borrow money, there’s no risk to the bank. One clerk said that since I’m American I “could just leave Taiwan at anytime”. So what? I could leave Taiwan, and then the bank would lose nothing since I couldn’t have borrowed anything from them. In fact, after I left, whatever balance remaining in my bank account would be theirs.

After huffing and puffing and complaining, I got China Trust to send me a written explanation. The funny thing is, they lied to me in it. They said that due to a problem with their system, foreigners temporarily couldn’t apply. That was two and a half years ago. I went in last week, and I’m still not allowed to apply. I showed them the letter and they just said, “Oh, the system still has the same problem.” Does two and a half years count as temporary?