How To Get US Credit Cards – Part 5 - US Phone Number

How To Get US Credit Cards – Part 5 - US Phone Number
This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series How To Get US Credit Cards

Another slightly annoying thing that is required for a US credit card is a US phone number.  The reason the US phone number is required is that in the event you don’t get instantly approved for your card, the credit card issuer will need to get a hold of you and using a Canadian area code complicates matters.

Luckily the process (while lengthy), is pretty straight forward with a little tech know-how.

Getting A US Number

This is a two parter so stay with me.  Ultimately what we want to end up with is a Google Voice number.

Google Voice is a service that allows someone to call your Google Voice number and have that call forwarded to your home, cell or work number.  This is great because rather than have all your contacts update your phone number every time it changes, all they have to do is call your Google Voice number and the call will be forwarded to your new number (assuming you update it in the app).

Unfortunately, this service is only available to people in the US but like everything we’ve been talking about, there’s a way around it.

Getting a Temporary US Number

As part of the account verification process to get a Google Voice number, you need to have the following two things:

  • US based IP address
  • US phone number that can receive a call/text

We’ll cover off the IP address thing next but let’s tackle the US phone number.

What we need to do is go into Google Play or the AppStore and download a program called Telos.  Telos is a free app that will give you a US phone number which we will use to secure our Google Voice number.

You may ask “why not just use Telos?”.  The reason is simple.  Google Voice is free and Telos requires credits once you run out of your initial free credits.

Setting Up Telos

Once you sign up for a Telos account, the process to get your US phone number is pretty self-explanatory in the app.  I would recommend you use the same city that your mail redirector is based.  For me, that’s in Minden, NV.

Just choose any of the phone numbers listed above and you’ll be set.  Just be sure to write down that new number.

Telos gives you 15 credits and you can earn additional credits by watching videos, playing games and checking in on a daily basis.  If you are only using Telos to verify your Google Voice number via text, it only costs you 0.5 credits so there’s no need to earn additional credits.  I don’t know how many credits a voice call is but I imagine it’s very minimal as well.

Getting a US VPN

For those that don’t know, a VPN is a Virtual Private Network and in layman’s terms, it makes it look like your web traffic is coming from somewhere other than where you actually are.  This is useful if you want to remain anonymous on the internet or need to sign up for a Google Voice account.  Remember, Google uses your IP address to determine where you are located and if you’re in Canada, you won’t be able to sign up for an account.

That’s why you need a VPN.

One easy to use service is TunnelBear.  Check out this one minute tutorial on how to use it:

In the video, the user chooses France as the location.  Just choose the US and you’re good to go.

Sign Up for Google Voice

Once you have TunnelBear installed, turn it on and “tunnel” to the US.  Now what you want to do is create a new GMail account but be sure to put in US information when it asks you for things like your address.  This will create your new US based Google account.  Next head over to voice.google.com and sign up for a new account.

The video here will walk you through the steps:

The only thing that you need to keep in mind is that at 1:55 of the video, it shows the user entering a home phone number that gets verified.  Just enter the phone number you created with Telos.

Once you verify the phone number, you can continue setting up your Google Voice number and once that’s done, you’re all set with a new permanent US phone number!

Make note of this number because it’s the number you’re going to quote for all your future credit card applications.

While Google Voice will not ring your phones in Canada, in the event that someone does call, they will leave a voicemail and you will get an email with an attachment of that voicemail.  Simply return the call using your Canadian phone number.  I’ve never been questioned as to why my number appears in Canada but if I was, I would simply say that I’m in Canada for work … which I am 🙂

Up Next

Let’s put all the pieces together and get you that first US credit card!

Series Navigation<< How To Get US Credit Cards – Part 4 – US BankingHow To Get US Credit Cards – Part 6 – Getting Your First Card >>

Also published on Medium.

14 Comments
  1. Thank you for doing this series. I have always been curious about how Canadians have been able to get US credit cards. I have never seen anyone lay this process out so clearly and informatively. Although I do not see a need for myself to get a US credit card At the moment, this is fantastic information for the future Thank you for all that you do and your amazing blog!!!

  2. I’m having trouble with google allowing the Telos number for verification purposes. It shows the error message “This phone number can’t be used to sign up for a Google Voice number. Try verifying with another number.” Am I the only one that is having issues, or is there a way around this?

    1. Hi Jon,

      I used this method successfully but it was a couple of years ago. Google may have shut down the use of Telos but I’m not 100% sure. The other option is to have a friend in America verify the code for you or you could do it the next time you are in the US.

      To be honest, I think the US phone number is the least critical of the items that you need in order to get a US credit card so if that’s the worry, you should be okay.

      Cheers
      Jayce

    2. Thank you Jayce for these amazing posts. Unfortunately I am having a similar problem. I cannot use my Telos number to activate a US-based gmail account.

      Telos says the numbers become active after 15 minutes, so I made sure to wait before trying.

      I note the app says if a Telos number is not active at least once a month you lose the number and it is made available to someone else. It is possible that in the past someone else may have used the number with Google.

      Nonetheless, thank you for the great info!

      1. Hi Nic,

        It seems as though the Telos trick may be dead now.

        I just looked back and I have my Canadian contact number listed in AMEX so I don’t think it’s a big deal not to have a US number. Cheers

        Jayce

  3. I just tried getting Telos number but it ask you to choose a monthly plan and no option of using credits to get the number ..

  4. Do you have any alternative to Telos? The method you provided is no longer valid as you can not use credits to pick your phone number in Telos anymore.

    1. Hi Kyle,

      I’m afraid I do not have an alternative solution at this point. Sorry …

      Jayce

      1. Can you just tell AMEX you’re going to be using your Canadian number while in the US and use that as your phone number?

  5. Google
    Verify your account

    You’re almost done! We just need to verify your account before you can start using it.
    ex: (201) 555-0123 Phone number

    How should we send you codes?
    Text message (SMS)
    Voice Call
    This phone number cannot be used for verification.

    HELP, I’m STUCK at this point

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