SINGAPORE - At the headquarters branch of Overseas Chinese Banking Corp. the Mercedes parked on the plaza is not promoting auto loans. It is the expensive bait in an increasingly cut-throat effort to lure new credit card customers.

OCBC is not alone. Many banks give away luxury cars or apartments - worth as much as $1 million - to win the business of Asians who don't mind annual fees and interest rates as high as 30% for the prestige of a MasterCard or a Visa.

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