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How To Get a US Credit Card In Canada This Year
Why would you want to get a US credit card?
Many US credit cards are legendary for their sign-up bonuses (for example, the coveted Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card 🤤) that the Canadian financial market does not offer 😭😭😭
Getting your first US-based credit card is the stepping stone in building your US credit history. In the future, it will open a door to more lucrative offers (maybe, including the above-mentioned Sapphire card 😍) that will help to save you money on your travels and other stuff.
But is it possible for a Canadian to apply for a US credit card without having said credit history? And if so, how?
The answer is yes 🎉 and yes 🎉 and in this post, I will tell you exactly how you can do it.
I have been wanting to get a US credit card for a long long time. I have an opportunity to travel to the USA at least 4 times a year (when Sam goes to his business trips and conferences) but I often choose not to since it may become too expensive.
After getting a US card with juicy rewards, I definitely plan to stop saying “no” and enjoy traveling more!
So, read on my research!
Who offers US credit cards to Canadians?
There are not that many financial institutions that can issue you, a Canadian living in Canada, a US credit card.
I did research and found out that there are only two of them: Amex and RBC.
In the case you do not know, American Express or Amex is not a bank, it’s a financial institution that issues credit cards.
Since it’s a global company that also operates in the USA, you can apply for their Canadian credit card and then “convert” it into a US one via the Global Card Transfer Service.
You can apply for SimplyCash credit card (a referral link, I will get a bonus if you sign up using it). The card has no annual fees 😻 Then, use it for a few months, and then request the card transfer service to change it to a U.S. one.
RBC offers a full-fledged U.S. credit card that can help you build a U.S. credit history.
You can apply for a card online or go to a Canadian branch to get it.
However, it comes with a catch: You would need to open a checking account that has an un-waivable monthly fee. I personally do not like bank solutions with fees that cannot be waived thus I am not a big fan of this product.
On the plus side, this solution is simpler compared to the one from Amex. You will get your U.S. card right away without jumping through any additional hoops 🦘
I checked BMO Harris and TD Bank US and both banks require a US residency in order to apply for a credit card.
What about TD Bank Borderless Plan?
It does come with a credit card but… Forget about it 😞
The credit card they offer as a part of their Borderless Plan is a Canadian one. It is attached to the Canadian credit card system and won’t give you any U.S. credit history.
What you need to actually get a US credit card
The U.S. credit system absolutely requires you to have on your credit file the following things:
- a U.S.-based address 🏡
- a Social Security Number (SSN) 🔢
How to get those? Are we screwed?
No, no at all 😁
How to get a U.S. address
How to get a U.S. based address 🏡 if you live in Canada?
Well, you may have heard of various services that offer just that: A real U.S. address for foreigners including the ones from Canada.
In Canada, many would love to do online shopping 🛍 on American websites but too often, these online retailers do not ship to Canada or offer better deals for U.S. shoppers. There are services out there that help to deal with these kinds of problems by providing a U.S address, receiving the package on their side, and then forwarding it to your non-US address.
But does it mean you can use any of them for your first US credit card?
No, it does not 😢
U.S. mail forwarding
In this particular case, you need to find a service that does mail forwarding 📤📥
It is different from package forwarding and not all U.S. package forwarding services offer that.
However, this is not it yet.
Not a CMRA
In order to be fully eligible for receiving bank correspondence, your U.S. address must not be registered as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA).
Banks may refuse to send mail to such addresses. It means that the shipping company address has to be “clean”.
In order to find out whether an address is registered as a CMRA, you can check it out on the UPS website. In the field “Commercial Mail Receiving Agency”, you should see a letter N for “no”.
And, it’s still over not yet 😱
Shipping credit cards
You need to make sure that the service would actually forward mail with credit cards inside 💳
Some of cheaper forwarding services such as Shipito and MyMallBox have recently started denying forwarding credit card mails internationally. They included credit cards into their list of prohibited items under a monetary category.
Clearly, you cannot use such services since all you need it for is forwarding credit cards.
Bringing it all together
So, in the nutshell, the U.S. address for a Canadian comes from a U.S. forwarding service that must:
- do mail forwarding 💌
- not be registered as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA) com
- allow forwarding credit cards (CC) and other financial docs 💳
Here, I collected info about 15 U.S. forwarding services along with the info about three important criteria I mentioned above.
As you can see, despite a big selection of services that offer a U.S. address, only a handful of them satisfies all our conditions.
|Service||Not a CRMA?||Forward mail?||Ship CC?|
|Fish Is Fast||✅||❌||❌|
Now, how much will it cost?
Of course, on top of that, the fees of the service should be reasonable; otherwise, what’s the point to bother at all if the costs exceed the benefits?
In the next table, I collected all fees and charges of the US mail forwarding services that satisfy the criteria we talked above.
For the shipping cost, I estimated it via the calculators provided by services.
I used typical letter dimensions: 8.5”x3.5”x0.5”, 1lb weight (wait, what?! 1lb for a letter? Well, it’s because some calculators do not allow to put a number lower than 1).
All the numbers are in USD💲
|Service||Sign-up fee||Monthly fee||Handling fee||Shipping cost||Total cost|
For the price, it seems that we have a clear winner: Planet Express. And we have 2 runner-ups: iPostal1 and Opas.
Planet Express service
Planet Express has a plan without a monthly fee, which is a big plus if you plan to receive mail only occasionally.
While you would need to pay a handling fee, the shipping cost is only slightly more than $7. It actually consists of two charges: $5.08 for shipping and $2 for insurance.
Sign up for an account here: Planet Express (I will get $5 for each person who registers via my link and sends a package).
Does PlanetExpress forward credit cards?
I have heard that they stopped doing that. So I asked their customer service if it was the case.
I got a reply confirming that they still ship credit cards to Canada:
Is Planet Express trustworthy?
I have not used Planet Express myself yet but I did research what others say about it.
On TrustPilot, the company has stellar reviews, 9.2 out of 10 with an excellent rating.
👍🏻 Customers love it mostly for great service, good prices, customer support, and speed of processing.
👎🏻 As of complaints, some customers do not like the fact being on the paid plan still requires them to pay extra fees for mail handling.
How to use Planet Express mail forwarding service
I opened an account with them and so far, everything was super easy.
First, you log in and the web app offers you to fill out your personal info.
At the same time, you need to agree with the form 1583. It’s called Application for Delivery of Mail Through Agent and the service needs it in order to do mail forwarding:
Your information will be used to authorize the delivery of your mail to the designated addressee as your agent)
Once accepted, the form will be sent to you by email.
Then, you need to add a deposit to your account in order to get access to the suite number for your U.S. address.
Planet Express uses its own warehouse address as a basic address and assigns customers different suite numbers.
At the moment, I am at the stage of adding a deposit. Once I move further, I will update the post – stay tuned!
Planet Express vs MyUS
MyUS.com is another mailing service you can use to forward a credit card.
It is quite similar to PlanetExpress in terms of services.
However, the price of the plan that includes mail forwarding is much more expensive. The total price for the first forwarded mail is $70+ while with PlanetExpress, you will pay around $9.
It does not seem to be a viable option for a credit card forwarding.
Ok, we sorted out the U.S. address and now, let’s move on to the next step: Getting an ITIN, an SSN replacement.
How to get an ITIN, an SSN replacement
U.S banks (as well as Canadian ones) require to have an SSN (Social Security Number) for every client they get. It is used for tracking credit history.
However, the bad news is that an SSN can be issued only to people who work in the U.S. 😭
For the ones, who don’t but still need some kind of an ID number for the US movement, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) comes in play. Usually, an ITIN is used to fill a US tax return but in this case, banks will use it to create your US personal credit history.
The good news is that:
👉🏻 banks accept ITIN as a substitute for an SSN
👉🏻 it is possible to apply for it from outside of the US
The bad news is that you need to prove that you are a non-US resident using a US-based service and need an ITIN to avoid withholding taxes. To do so, you need to provide a letter certified by said service.
The good news is that Amazon seems to give away such a letter with ease. Just download it from here and print it out.
How to apply step-by-step
So, in order to obtain an ITIN, you need three documents.
Here’s how to prepare them:
- download and fill out a W-7 form (here are the official instructions on how to fill it out and here are the instructions how to fill it if you are just a Canadian trying to get a US credit card 😉)
- prepare a certified copy of your passport; you can also send an original if you are not afraid to risk that it may get lost (I am so I am getting the copy)
- download and print out the Amazon ITIN document
Collect all these docs and send them to the address specified on the IRS site.
They say that you should receive a letter in 7 weeks (if your application has no mistakes!). If we add 1 week for the letter to travel there and back, it may take up to 8 weeks 🛣
All steps in the nutshell
Here’s an overview of all the steps you need to do in order to get a U.S credit card as a Canadian:
👉🏻 apply for an ITIN
👉🏻 get a U.S. address via PlanetExpress
👉🏻 apply either for a U.S. credit card with RBC or for a Canadian one with Amex (a referral link, I will get a bonus if you sign up using it)
👉🏻 if going with Amex, use the Global Card Transfer Service to convert your card to a U.S. one
Paying your U.S credit card bill
Once you get your new shiny card, you need to get a U.S. account with USD in order to pay the bill 💸
If you do not have the US account, you can read my post about how to open a US bank account for Canadian.
In order to transfer money to your U.S. account, you can use OFX, an online service that specializes in international wire transfers and currency exchange management.
What I choose
I am still in the process of getting my own very first U.S credit card 💳
I decided to choose Amex over RBC since I really liked the bonus they offer to new clients. Also, I do not want to open a new account, which comes with a non-removable monthly fee (I really do not like monthly fees).
I am just waiting for some big expenses coming my way so I can rack up as a big bonus as I can 😊
Then, I will use PlanetExpress to get a U.S. address 🏡 I just need to add a deposit in order to be able to use it.
US credit card in Canada: What are your thoughts?
What do you think guys? Did you like my post?
I am in the very beginning of this journey and I plan to update the post once I move further. Stay tuned!
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