If you’ve been at this game for a while, you may feel like the odds are against you if you want to continue earning miles/points at the same pace as when you first got into this hobby … and that’s because they are.
Canadian Credit Card issuers are starting to come up with Terms and Conditions that make it difficult for people to churn their credit cards. As an example, American Express has terms that state that you can only receive the Welcome Bonus once per card. TD requires that you haven’t had the same credit product in the last 6 months. Luckily, there is still one very lucrative card that you can still churn, the MBNA Alaska World Elite Card. I wrote an article on the churnability of this card a little while back if you are interested.
If you want your points portfolio to grow as quickly as possible, you probably need to look at getting US Credit Cards.
Now if you’re itching to tap into the US Credit Card market, I can tell you from experience that there is a way … and I’m going to show it to you in my standard step-by-step method. There seem to be a few posts out there about how to get a US credit card but nobody tells you how to meet the minimum spend requirements, how to pay the credit card and some of the other things you should watch out for. My intention is to guide you through the process so you don’t feel like you only have half the equation.
Before I jump into anything, I’m going to provide a legal disclaimer because I am not an accountant, tax specialist nor a lawyer so the use of this information is done of your own accord.
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Why Even Consider US Credit Cards?
The reason is simple. The US has access to at least 10x the number of credit cards Canadians have access to and often times the sign-up bonuses on these cards are much more lucrative than what we see in Canada.
A common card that is lauded for its incredible value is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, where you can get 100,000 Chase points for a $450 annual fee. That annual fee includes a $300 annual credit for travel (which means you can claim it twice … once in the year of application and again when they year rolls over .. hello $600!) as well as access to Priority Pass Lounges worldwide!
There are other examples but suffice it to say, the offers are fantastic!
Is This Legal?
Again, refer to the disclaimer but from my understanding, yes, everything is kosher.
You may want to consider consulting a tax expert/lawyer to get the definitive explanation here but I know of many Canadians that have US credit cards.
I will say that the process to get a US credit card can be a long one and something that takes attention to detail but the rewards can be well worth the effort. I will also say that getting your first US credit card is fairly easy but the subsequent ones will take time because you need to establish your US Credit History before credit card companies take a chance with you.
OK. I’m In … What Do I Need?
There are a few requirements that you need in order to get started with this process and while it may not make perfect sense right now, it will throughout the series. I promise.
My guide is going to be based on my own personal experience so while there may be other methods, this is one that worked for me and I can’t see it not working in the future.
Below are a list of items you will need:
- A current passport
- An American Express Card that has been active and in good standing for at least 6 months. If you don’t have one, you can apply for one but be sure to read my reviews of the cards to see which one works for you.
- American Express Gold Personal – 25,000 Membership Rewards after $1,500 spend – No Annual Fee for the First Year
- American Express Gold Business – 30,000 Membership Rewards after $5,000 spend – No Annual Fee for the First Year
- American Express Platinum Personal – 60,000 Membership Rewards after $3,000 spend – $699 Annual Fee (get that to $299 – info in the review)
- American Express Platinum Business – 75,000 Membership Rewards after $5,000 spend – $399 Annual Fee
- American Express SPG Personal – 20,000 SPG Points after $1,500 spend – $120 Annual Fee
- American Expres SPG Business – 20,000 SPG Points after $1,500 spend – $150 Annual Fee
- A Cross-Border Bank Account – more information on what this is and how to set it up in the upcoming posts
The next part of this series will focus on how to apply for and receive your Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).
Also published on Medium.