Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yep, I'm Unemployed (and we're still in a credit crisis)

My first time I really felt unemployed was two days after my last official day at Google. I went over to Stanford Federal Credit Union to open an account, because I found out that they have a Visa card with no foreign exchange fees (unlike most American credit cards, which charge 2.5-3% on top of the crappy exchange rates they offer). I opened a Savings Account, and then applied for the credit card. The loan officer told me I couldn't get it, cause I have no income. I told them I could show them proof of assets, or even deposit money as collateral in a secured account, but she said no, ain't getting no loan (she actually used the word ain't). The very nice associate helping me said she'd submit the application anyway, and we'd see.

A couple days later, I get an email from SFCU saying the same thing the loan officer had said. We had a back-and-forth exchange which basically amounted to me trying to give them my money, and them saying no. I even suggested that I assumed SFCU would encourage innovation and entrepreneurship (it's Stanford Federal Credit Union, in Silicon Valley, for chrissakes), to which they replied that I needed two years of income statements from my new company. Excellent. To add insult to injury, the CD rates dropped 0.5% that day, so all I left with was a savings account with a $5 balance after paying $50 for the privilege of joining their credit union.

Fast forward 1.5 weeks. I walk into a bank in Korea and open an account with a passport. I ask about CD rates, and they tell me they're "really low - only about 2.5%. And the longest term is 12 months". I ask about credit cards, and the associate says sure, all I need to do is deposit the credit limit in a secured account which will earn 3% interest (higher than any CD in America), and I'm good to go. I ask what the fees for all these accounts are. She laughs and says, "Oh, there aren't any fees for accounts in Korea. It's different from America."

That's for sure.

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