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Can I Get a Credit Card in a Different Country?

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Given how easy it can be to travel to another country and exchange your currency for theirs, it’s logical to think you might also be able to get a credit card there. Recently, a Credit.com reader who lives in Canada but often comes to the U.S. asked us about this in a comment.

“Hi: I am a Canadian citizen living in Canada and visiting U.S. often. I have (an) excellent credit score here (814). Is there a way to get a credit card in the U.S.? I am willing to even pay $500-$1,000 as deposit for a secured card too. Could you please suggest a bank/company for that? Thanks.” — John

Every country’s consumer credit system is different. To apply for a U.S. credit card, you generally need to provide your Social Security number, as well as a U.S. address. You don’t always need to be a U.S. citizen to have either of these, but getting a Social Security number has a variety of requirements, including immigration documents for foreigners.

In general, residency in the country where you want to get a credit card is crucial, and it’s no simple task to just move to a different country. On top of that, even if you have good credit in your home country, that’s not necessarily going to transfer to wherever your new home is. While it can be tricky to stay on top of your bills and accounts in your nation of citizenship, it may be easier to apply for a credit card suited for international travelers, rather than trying to get a card in another country. For example, we’ve rounded up some of the best U.S. credit cards for travel, which have no foreign transaction fees and can be really helpful if you don’t want to deal with lots of cash in other countries. (Remember to check your credit before applying for a credit card, to get a sense if you qualify for its requirements. You can see two of your credit scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com.)

You might also see if your existing credit card issuer has operations in the country to which you’re moving. For example, American Express has a program called Global Transfer, which allows people with existing American Express credit cards to apply for an American Express card in another country, as long as they have an address and phone number in that country. That still involves establishing residency elsewhere, but in the case of moving to the U.S., you wouldn’t have to wait for a Social Security number to get a credit card.

At publishing time, American Express credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund

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Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

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