This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series How To Get US Credit Cards

One of the things you will need in order to get your first US Credit Card is a US bank account.  The reason for this is simple … you need to be able to pay your balance and in order to get your first card, you’ll need to be able to prove you have an account.

I’ll walk you through everything you need to know in order to get set up for a US bank account.

Keep In Mind

When I say you need a US bank account, I DO NOT mean that you need a US dollar chequing account.

It’s not the same thing.

What you need is a US-domiciled bank account, meaning that the bank is based in the United States.

Now opening a bank account without a permanent US address can be difficult so the easiest way to make this happen is to use a bank that has a presence in both Canada and the US.

Banks That Qualify

I’ll start by saying that my knowledge of banks that have both a US and Canadian presence may not be 100% complete but the two I know about (RBC and TD) will suit about 99% of my readers.  Most if not all of this post will be concentrated on RBCs offerings because that’s who I use and even though I have a TD bank account, I found that the fees were much more expensive than that of RBC.  If TD makes more sense for you, I would suggest making an appointment with a Personal Banker and going through your options.

One word of warning on TD Bank.  They only have branches in certain US States (mostly in the NE part of the country) and Nevada is not one of them.  If you do plan on using Shipito (I covered that in the previous series post), be aware that your bank and “home” address will not be in the same state, which may not be the best scenario to get approved for a US card.

Royal Bank

As you probably know, Royal Bank is one of the major banks in Canada but what you may not know is that they also have a US domiciled bank called RBC Bank (Georgia).  This is important because as I had stated earlier, you need to have a bank that has a US address in order to qualify for your first US Credit Card.

Royal Bank has been a rock solid solution for my needs as a Canadian that needs to pay US credit card bills and the fees have been incredibly low.

Once you are set up, it’s very easy to move money between your Canadian and US accounts and bill payments are electronic, meaning your credit card company typically gets your payments faster than you’re used to here in Canada.

How To Get Started

The first thing you need to do is open up a Canadian account at RBC.  You can either do this online or at a branch.  Though I’m a fan of doing everything online, it might be better if you did this in person with a Personal Banker because you’re going to want to open your US account at the same time.

Picking Your Canadian Account

My main bank is PC Financial because I hate paying fees, so I had no intention of using RBC as my day to day banking solution.  What I was looking for was an account that allowed me to have the lowest fees possible while still allowing me to transfer money back and forth between my Canadian and US accounts.

The account that I chose to go with is the Day to Day Banking Solution.  The reason was primarily that the fees were very reasonable ($4.00 CAD/month) and it allowed me to make 12 transactions per month for free.  Typically, I only do 1-2 a month depending on whether I have a balance owing on my US card.

The Day to Day Banking account is the lowest tiered chequing account that RBC offers and it works great for my needs.  Unless you are planning on using RBC as your day-to-day bank, you don’t need anything more extravagant.

Picking Your US Account

RBC Bank (Georgia) has a couple of options when it comes to banking, the Premium Checking and the Direct Checking accounts.  I went with the Direct Checking option because it was the lowest in fees and did everything I needed it to do.

If you go with the Direct Checking and choose to do electronic statements, all you need to pay is $3.95 USD/month.  This allows for 10 transactions a month and should be good enough to get you off the ground.

Transfers Between Your Canadian and US Accounts

The reason you are setting up these accounts is so that you can make payments against your US credit cards.  Obviously, US credit cards require payment in US Dollars so how do you get your Canadian dollars over to your US account?  It’s simple.  Just do an instant transfer once your two accounts are set up.

Let’s walk through how to do that.

First, sign into your Canadian RBC account and click the link that says “Go to RBC US Banking Accounts”.

This will take you to your US bank account.  From there click on “Transfer Money Cross-Border”

Then simply complete the transfer as you normally would.

Prior to completing the transfer, you will be given the exchange rate to review before you complete the transfer.

So the question you might be asking yourself is, how good is the exchange rate?  Well, it’s surprisingly pretty good.  You can see it will cost $6.51 CAD to get $5.00 USD.  According to Google’s exchange rate of the day, it should cost $6.46 … a 5¢ difference, which is pretty great.

I find that the exchange rate is pretty fair with RBC but when you are talking about large dollar transactions, you may want to look into another foreign currency exchange option, which we will explore in the next part of the series.

Paying Bills

Paying bills with your RBC US bank account is exactly the same process as in Canada.  The only difference is that the vendor you are paying gets the payment much faster … at least that’s been my experience.

As you can see from the Recent Payments section, I made a payment of $4,628.33 on July 10th, 2017.  Let’s see when AMEX receives the payment.

Same day.  Pretty impressive!

Wrap Up

RBC has been a fantastic partner for my journey into US credit cards and you can even get your first US credit card from them if you so wish but I believe there’s a better option, which we will cover a couple of series posts from now.  There may be other cross-border banking solutions that fit your needs but based on my research and needs, RBC checks all the boxes.

Up Next

We tackle the last pre-requisite needed in order to get your first US card – obtaining a US phone number.

Series Navigation<< How To Get US Credit Cards – Part 3 – Mail ForwardingHow To Get US Credit Cards – Part 5 – US Phone Number >>
Jayce is the founder of PointsNerd, and avid traveller and a teacher by nature. He prides himself on flattening the learning curve through step-by-step guides because everyone needs to start somewhere.


  1. Depending on your needs, the TD option might be better if you can limit the number of transactions you do on the Canadian side.

    I setup a U.S. Dollar Bank Account with TD over here in Canada. The fees are $1.25 USD per transaction (waived with $1,500 USD). Then I setup a TD Convenience Checking account in the US that waives the monthly fee if you keep at least a $100 USD minimum (which is extremely low!). So the only fees you need to pay is the $1.25/transaction over here in Canada if you simply keep a measly $100 in your US account.

    I usually transfer USD across the border once every 4-6 months allowing me to minimize the fees I need to pay. If you can afford to keep $1,500 USD in your TD Canadian account, then no fees for you!

    • Hi Paul,

      This is a better question for a tax lawyer to be sure but from my understanding, you only have to file if you have US based revenues. Cheers


    • Hi Steve,

      RBC (Georgia) does not have a physical banking location in NV, however, you only need to have the bank domiciled within the United States so having a branch in Nevada (unless you plan on actually banking in Nevada) doesn’t matter. Hope that helps.


      • Thanks for clarofitokr Jayce. Only reason I asked was because you mentioned it may not be ideal to have your home address state will be different than your bank address.

        Was hoping you could clarify. I referenced the section below.


        “If you do plan on using Shipito (I covered that in the previous series post), be aware that your bank and “home” address will not be in the same state, which may not be the best scenario to get approved for a US card.”

  2. Hi Jayce, I have the same question than Steve… Is it a bad thing if the bank is not located in the same states than our physical adress? I want to use shipito but there’s no branch of either TD or RBC… thanks 🙂

    • Antoine,

      As long as the bank is in the US, it doesn’t matter if it’s in the same state as your Shipito address. If you can make the two match, all the better but it’s not a huge deal. Cheers


  3. What about the address on RBC since they do call the bank sometimes? Do you put the US address in permanent, mailing or seasonal?

    • Hi AlphaBeez,

      I would suggest you use your US address as your permanent address and you mailing address. Once AMEX verifies your address, you can update it online to whatever you would like.


  4. I tried setting up a US convenient chequing account with TD but they don’t offer Arizona as one of the states that you can enter as a home address, any suggestions on what to do? I have my ITIN now and was hoping to send my bills to my parents house in Arizona. I also have a credit card set up with RBC if this helps.

    • Did TD say why you could not put a home address in Arizona?
      I’d suggest escalating with TD to set you up in Arizona before going to option B which is registering for up a US mailbox / mail forwarding service.

  5. I was able to get a convenience chequing account through td, however I just received a letter in the mail asking me to fill out a W8-BEN form (certificate of foreign status of beneficial owner for united states tax witholding and reporting for individuals). Do I need to fill one of these out? I won’t be making in income in the US, just using the chequing account it to pay off US credit cards.

    • James, you would have to consult a tax lawyer or maybe some online resources but I believe the reason that you need to fill out the form is due to the potential interest earnings you would receive from the bank.

  6. First comment didn’t post for some reason… Anywho, great work man! thx for all the tips. I was hoping to just clear up one thing about the RBC Bank US address as I have had a cross border bank account for several years and my Canadian address is listed in my profile information. Some questions:

    1) Is it as simple as changing the Canadian address to the US based Shipito address in the account profile/preferences to ensure AMEX gets the correct address when they call RBC Bank to verify?
    2) Does doing this constitute as any form of fraud that has hurt anyone who has used this technique?

    Keep up the good work!



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