You’re still with me? Good.
I know that there’s been a lot of information thrown your way but if you’re reading this, it means that you likely really want that US card. Today we jump into the meat of the matter and explore how we can get you your first US card.
In the previous series posts, I told you that you needed the following items:
- An ITIN – used to “store” your credit history so that you can get more than just one US card
- A US Mailing Address – needed in order to prove your US “residency” and a place to send your credit cards once you’re approved
- A US Bank Account – needed in order to pay your credit card bills
- A US Phone Number – needed in case your credit card company needs to get a hold of you
- An American Express Credit Card – more on this later
Assuming you have all the items above, you are ready to open up your world to endless credit card possibilities!
How American Express Helps You
You may be wondering why you need an American Express as part of your process. The reason is that it’s the easiest way to get a US credit card AND ensure that you build your credit history. AMEX actually has a process to get you your first US Credit Card. It’s called the American Express Global Transfer.
American Express is a global credit card issuer and a provider of credit cards all over the world. They understand that customers move countries all the time. Whether that be for work or for personal reasons, as a business, AMEX is interested in retaining their customers so they make the process of getting your first credit card in a new country relatively simple.
Now one thing everyone asks about is what happens to your Canadian account and MR points when you do the Global Transfer. The answer is nothing. The MRs stay within your Canadian account and the points you accumulate in your American account are completely separate.
Let’s look at how we use the Global Transfer Program.
When you go to the Global Transfer page, you will notice something on the right-hand side of the page that details everything you need to get started.
Let’s look at each requirement in detail and point you back in the right direction if you don’t have one of the items listed.
Your American Express Account Number
You should already have an American Express card in order to “transfer” to a new country. If you don’t, you can apply for any of the existing cards in their portfolio but you will have to have the card established for at least 6 months for you try to do the Global Transfer. Below are reviews of the AMEX cards I recommend. Give them a read and see if the card is right 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
US Home Address
Remember when we got you to sign up for Shipito in Part 3 of the series? This is the reason why. American Express requires a US address in order to set up the transfer and by providing your Shipito address, you fulfill the requirement.
US Phone Number
As I had mentioned in Part 5 of this series, having a US phone number is a requirement for card application but, to be honest, it’s probably the least enforced of the requirements. If you provided your Canadian phone number, I don’t think it would be an issue.
US Bank Account Details
This is probably one of the most important aspects to get right because they will call the bank and verify the information you provide. In my experience, when I was completing the transfer process, I was put on hold while the AMEX representative called Royal Bank (Georgia) to verify the account information I provided belonged to me.
I was not worried about this step because I had set up a proper US domiciled bank but if I hadn’t, I’m confident the application process would have ended right there and then.
If you need a refresher on how to set up a US Bank Account, take a read back through Part 4 of the series.
Passport details, U.S.-issued Social Security Number, or U.S.-issued Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
You don’t need to provide your passport or SSN (because you likely don’t have one) so the only thing left is your ITIN. This is probably the most important aspect of the Global Transfer for two reasons. The first is that AMEX requires it and the second reason is that we intend on applying for more than one US card. The ITIN acts as a proxy for a Social Security Number, which is used to track credit history. Once you establish a solid credit history in the US, you can apply for any card you want. Right now we are starting with an AMEX card but in the future, you’ll want to look at other cards that will benefit you the most.
If you are reading this post before the others, you need to go back and read up on how to get an ITIN in Part 2 of the series.
I didn’t’ write a post about this requirement because it’s pretty easy. All you need for this requirement is to say that you are being transferred to a US city as part of your career advancement. I’ll leave the rest of it up to you but be prepared to have the address of your new place of work in the US.
What Card To Get?
Now that you’ve decided to go ahead with the Global Transfer, the first question is probably, which card you should get. Of the US AMEX cards, I believe that the best value is with the Premier Gold Rewards card. The reason I recommend this card is that the first year is free and the spend requirements, though higher than what we experience in Canada, is not too terrible.
You will get 40,000 Membership Rewards after $2,000 spend in the first 3 months.
You also get a $100 airline credit to be used on your airline of choice. I know from experience that you can use that credit to buy a gift card for later use and like the Canadian Platinum Credit Card, the credit is an annual one, meaning you get 2 in the first year of your card (one for 2017 and one for 2018).
Another big reason I recommend this card is that there are no foreign transaction fees associated with out of country spending. This means that you can meet your minimum spend requirements with spend in Canada and not incur the typical 2.5% adder that credit card companies usually charge for foreign transactions.
If you’re interested, you can apply with the link below:
You can apply online or over the phone. I would recommend that you apply over the phone so that you can help shepherd the process more directly. If you do decide to apply online, the instructions are on the Global Transfer page.
If you are applying via phone, all you need to do is call 1-877-621-2639 and let them know you are interested in doing the American Express Global Transfer. From there the rep will walk you through the process. Be sure to have all the information we covered above handy.
American Express will use your credit history from your Canadian card as a proxy for your eligibility for a US card. Keep in mind this is only done once, meaning that any future US AMEX cards you get will be based on your credit score in the US (once it is established). You will no longer be able to rely on your Canadian history for future card applications.
One item of note is that when you call into AMEX, you will have to let them know that you are applying based on a referral because they may only be able to pull up the 25,000 MR offer on their system. My full referral link is: http://refer.amex.us/JAYCELgYhg?XLINK=MYCP. You may need to quote that URL to be eligible for the 30,000 MR offer.
Now that we have walked you through how to get the card, let’s examine how you meet the minimum spend and make your payments.
About the employment details, does Amex or any other US credit card companies check up on this? Everything in the process seems legit until this part, and then you have to be sneaky. When applying for new US credit cards do you use this same info/address as to who your US “employer” is?
Hi S, when I applied for my card, they did not verify the employment details but I work for a multinational so we actually have a US location. For your address, you would use your Shipito address. Your employer’s address doesn’t matter. Cheers
What would you suggest for someone not working in a multinational for the employment reason and info/address? When applying for cards we have to verify the statements on our application are true. It seems like it’s not really the case. Concerned about the risk of not being 100% honest. I imagine online credit applications are easier than calling in.
When you apply for other US credit cards and have to input employer info such as employer’s address you would suggest using the shiptoit address as the employer’s address?
When I applied for my first Amex card (Amex Blue) in 2005, they did ring my employer.
In 2015 and no longer living in the US, I applied for my 2nd Amex card (Premier Rewards Gold) on a foreign IP address (didn’t bother to use a proxy). I didn’t get an immediate approval and was requested to call their customer service number. Called Amex on Skype. The Customer Service Rep wanted to make sure it was really me as applying from a foreign IP flagged the application (hence Jayce is right about a phone app being more straightforward). They just quizzed me about my previous address and some other security questions about my credit history. For employer info, I said I’m self-employed/freelancer. Immediately approved after that call.
Great information Faye! Thanks for contributing! Cheers
They are unlikely to check. However, cc companies are still more likely to ring employers of younger applicants (under 21) and people with limited credit history.
Out of about a dozen credit cards I applied for under age 21 when my history was just 0-2 years old, 2 issuers, Amex and Discover did ring my employer.
After age 21 and 20 more cards – none of them called my employer.
Regarding employment info: if you are retired, and, for example, a snowbird with a US address for the winter (<6 months) then you wouldn't have an employer……
I would suggest you simply state that you are retired. The Global Transfer program is not only for people that are transferred for work but also for people like you; snowbirds that are in the US a good amount of time. You could always call the Global Transfer desk and ask them how they treat these situations but I’m 99% sure that you would be fine and your application would be judged based upon your previous credit history with AMEX. Hope that helps.
since writing this article, do you have a different set of Preferred Canadian banks that do what RBC has been doing? I bank with BMO.
are there new cards you would recommend since ?
After getting your ITIN, and opening your Amex account, how long did it take you to be able to get a FICO credit score? Every site I try (CreditKarma, Experian etc) is unable to locate a credit profile for me.
Typically it takes about 3-6 months for your credit score to show up with the US firms. Credit.com is usually the go-to site to check for folks with ITINs.
If you get a TD us card when you open their US account, would that be enough to start building the US credit score? thanks for the detailed instructions. Please add some referral links so I can click when I apply.
Had a quick question, so what would you say during the initial application if they ask for your US phone number?
Since Telos –> Google voice doesn’t work now?
If you sign up for a amex gold card in Canada and received the bonus, can you received another bonus from the American version when you do a global transfer?