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If you’re moving to the U.S. for work, school, or even for an extended personal stay, obtaining an American credit card is something you should consider. While you can always use your Canadian credit cards in the U.S, the exchange rate is reason enough to apply for an American card. Furthermore, if you plan on moving to the U.S, permanently, using an American credit card will help you build an American credit history. Keep reading to learn how to get a U.S credit card as a Canadian.

How To Get A U.S. Credit Card In Canada

As a Canadian, deciding to move to the U.S, whether for a short or extended period of time, is a serious decision. Getting your finances in order, including obtaining an American credit card can help make the process go as smoothly as possible. 

Step 1. Get An American Address

In order to apply for an American credit card, you will need an address that is located in the U.S. If you’re moving to the U.S. you can use your new home address and if you’re attending school in the U.S. you can use your school-provided housing address. You may also be able to use the address of friends or family in the U.S, although this may not work in all cases. 

What If I Don’t Have A Permanent Address?

You may have to look for a service that provides American addresses to obtain a credit card. Several mailboxes and mail forwarding services that incorporate a US address are available, and many merely charge for delivery and provide these addresses for free. 

In Out Parcel and Shipito are two of the most well-known brands. Most of these businesses charge an annual fee that may range between $70 and $120. You have to verify that there are no additional fees associated with using the address to receive bank letters. Also, check if the address is residential and valid for opening a credit card account because banks do not accept commercial addresses and some may not accept post office box addresses.

You may check if your address is residential with the help of the USPS address tool.

Step 2. Open An American Bank Account

To obtain a U.S. credit card you don’t necessarily need an American bank account but it will make the process easier and is a good idea if you’re planning on moving there permanently in the future. This is especially true for those who are receiving a paycheque in the U.S.

You will also likely need a Social Security number, the American equivalent of a SIN, in order to apply for a U.S. bank account. But, you might also be able to simply use your passport and visa at certain banks.

Consider A Cross-Border Account At Your Canadian Bank

Some of Canadian’s big banks have branches in the U.S, like CIBC, TD, BMO, Scotiabank and RBC. So, when you have a Canadian account, you can, in most cases, open an account in the U.S. without submitting any additional documents.

A cross-border account at your current Canadian financial institution will make transferring money back and forth easier and will save you time. 

Step 3. Get A ITIN Or SSN

To get approved for an American credit card as a Canadian, you will typically need either an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or Social Security number (SSN). 

Who Can Get An SSN?

American citizens are given an SSN at birth and any non-citizen with the authorization to work in the U.S. can apply for an SSN. 

Who Can Get An ITIN?

Non-American citizens who do not have the authorization to work in the U.S. can be issued an ITIN for tax purposes.

To submit your application for ITIN, you will need to compile several documents. The procedure can be lengthy, but it is necessary to ensure that you receive your chosen U.S credit card.

An ITIN can help you get a credit card and use U.S.-based services, but you have to earn money in the United States to get one. It doesn’t matter how you make money in the United States; you should get an ITIN number to meet your IRS obligations. 

Use A Dedicated ITIN Service

You can obtain an ITIN through a variety of companies. They’ll charge a fee for their services, and you’ll receive your ITIN in a matter of days with little work. Frugal Flyer and U.S Tax Resources are two popular providers. If you search around, you can find even better alternatives.

Do It Yourself

Those who do not want to use the services of a professional firm might apply themselves. This procedure is a little time-consuming and complicated, but it is achievable. When submitting your forms, keep in mind that even a minor error can result in a denial.

Be sure to fill out the form and double-check for errors once you have all the necessary papers. Gather all supporting documentation and mail it to the IRS address below which you can find on their official website.

Documents Required– Justification for an ITIN (for example, proof of US-based income)
– A certified copy of your passport
– A correctly filled out W-7 ITIN form
Address To Submit FormsInternal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
ITIN Operation
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342

This process can take up to four months without considering how long it takes to request a certified copy. If all goes according to plan, you will receive your ITIN in the mail.

The Benefits Of A U.S. Credit Card

Having access to an American credit card as a Canadian can be extremely useful in many circumstances. Here are some of the key reasons why so many Canadians want to acquire an American-issued credit card.

Build An American Credit History

As mentioned above, using an American credit card will help you build an American credit history which is important for those interested in permanently relocating to the U.S.

Make Payments In U.S Dollars

If you shop on American websites frequently or have U.S.-based bills to pay, an American credit card might be useful in doing both. 

Earn Rewards

Some people might be surprised to know that reward credit cards in Canada aren’t as generous as those in the United States. Most Canadian institutions offer rewards of 0.50 percent to 1%; however, in the United States, those rewards can reach 5%. Rewards can be cash back, discounts, and redeemable points.

Extra Bonuses

U.S credit cards usually provide extra incentives, particularly to travellers who are looking for insurance. If you travel frequently, a U.S card may provide benefits such as access to airport lounges and hotel upgrades.

How To Get A U.S Credit Card In Canada FAQs

Why would a Canadian want a credit card from the United States?

American credit cards typically offer a wider variety of perks and benefits. Furthermore, an American credit card can make shopping and travelling to the U.S. much easier. Consumers who travel frequently to the U.S. for work or pleasure will benefit the most from an American credit card.

Is it difficult for a Canadian to get an American credit card?

It’s not as straightforward as you might think to get a U.S credit card from Canada; you’ll have to go through several steps to ensure your application is accepted, like getting a U.S address, a bank account, and ITIN.

How to get a U.S address while I am not living there?

Thankfully, the address does not have to be in your name. You can enlist the support of friends or family in the U.S. by using their address or, you’ll need to find a business service that supplies U.S addresses for a fee.

Can I get a U.S bank account via my current Canadian Bank?

Some Canadian banks may have branches in America and offer cross-border bank accounts, such as CIBC, TD, BMO, Scotiabank, and RBC.

What is the fastest way to build my credit with a U.S Credit Card?

Building your credit takes time and effort. Your payment history is often one of the most important factors affecting your credit scores. So making on-time payments with your US credit card can help build your credit.

Bottom Line

Obtaining an American credit card as a Canadian will take some effort but ultimately it will be worth it. You’ll be able to cover any financial obligations in America like bills, and an opportunity to build an American credit history. If you are looking to move to the U.S. permanently in the future, a U.S. credit card is an important part of your financial life.

Caitlin Wood, BA avatar on Loans Canada
Caitlin Wood, BA

Caitlin Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Loans Canada and specializes in personal finance. She is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. Caitlin has covered various subjects such as debt, credit, and loans. Her work has been published on Zoocasa, GoDaddy, and deBanked. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security.

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