We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Living or Working Overseas: Part 4 – Mail Forwarding Services for the Overseas Expat

Living or Working Overseas: Part 4 – Mail Forwarding Services for the Overseas Expat

Million Mile SecretsLiving or Working Overseas: Part 4 – Mail Forwarding Services for the Overseas ExpatMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

This series of posts is written by the Wandering US Expat, who’s lived in Australia and Panama.  And applied for cards from there!

Don’t let living abroad stop you from getting miles and points bonuses from credit cards!

It’s no secret that US banks lead the world in promotional point bonuses for new customers.  They give away lots of points to get a new customer in the hopes that you’ll remain, and spend, with them for years.  Lots of non-US folks wish they could get access to the same deals!

But many US citizens and ex-permanent residents, known as expats, often wonder whether they can still get credit cards if they leave or have already left the US.  Perhaps they’ve relocated for a job or have gone for an extended trip abroad.  Some expats have left permanently to start a new life.

The US Postal Service May Not Be the Best Way to Forward Your New Credit Cards to Your Overseas Address

Are you or someone you know in this category?

Figures are hard to determine because the US does not track expats who are traveling or living abroad.  But a recent report estimated the number to be living overseas at about 2 to 7 million.  There are millions more who leave, or “visit” outside the US for months at a time all year round.

This series will help folks living outside the US have Big Travel with Small Money!

“Living or Working Overseas” Series Index

Activate Your New Card

By now, you’ve established or re-established your credit while overseas.  You want to apply or have applied for cards and listed an address where someone can receive your mail.  But the next challenge could be easy or difficult, depending on where you now live, or are visiting long-term.

The person you’ve listed as your address is someone you trust.   Or at least I’d hope so because they’re getting your mail!  When a new card (or cards!) arrives, you will be eagerly waiting for your friend or relative to let you know so you can activate the card.

With the Help of a Friend You Can Activate Your Card Before You Get It in the Mail

Instead of waiting for your trusted friend or relative to mail you the card, you can activate it immediately.  That way you can begin using the card to meet the minimum spending requirement to get the sign-up bonus.

Ask for the

  • card number
  • 3 digit security code on the back of the card
  • expiration date
  • card activation instructions

Or your friend could take photos of the front and back of the card and send them to you by email or text message.

Now you can use it for purchases online or anywhere that doesn’t require the physical card such as Amazon payments.

And when your card is activated, if it gets lost in the mail from the US to your overseas address, the bank may assist you with a replacement card.  Some banks are willing to expedite by mail a replacement card to folks on an “extended” trip overseas, wherever they are.

Do You Need the Physical Card?

You don’t really need to have the card in your hand if you plan to meet the minimum spending requirement through online purchases.

But if you prefer to have the actual card, 1 way to do this is by timing your applications ~2 weeks before visiting the US.  This can save you the trouble of having your cards mailed to you.

Depending where you live, mail can be tough to get.  There are some places where mail service barely exists.

In that case, you can get the card when someone visits you.

Or your friend could mail it to you via US Postal Service, UPS, etc.  But this can be expensive.  There are much more economical and secure ways of sending things.

Mail Forwarding Services – Physically Receiving

If you’ve ever spent long periods abroad, or lived abroad, you’ve probably investigated ways to receive your mail.  This post is not intended to cover EVERY possible scenario for every foreign country where you might be, but to familiarize you with different ways you can get your mail.

Mail forwarders do the following:

  • clear your mail through customs
  • send items from a specific US address to a specific foreign address (like their office)
  • send 1 package or letter only for a 1-time fee
  • send multiple items per month for a bulk monthly fee

Most forwarders are country-specific, so they know all the ins-and-outs, rules, and ways to get mail from the US to a certain country.  And they know how to do it far cheaper than the big companies such as FedEx and UPS.

For example, consider Mailboxes Etc., a known US brand.  They have a service inexpensively forwarding mail overseas to places such as Panama, which is growing in popularity as a place where US retirees are moving.

FedEx Is Sometimes More Expensive Than Smaller Mail Forwarding Services

They have a monthly package which provides a US post office box in Miami.  All mail arriving at the PO box is immediately forwarded to 1 of several local offices within the foreign country for folks to pick up.  Packages bigger than a large type letter may generate a fee.

Once the letter or package arrives, the mail forwarding service will contact you.

There are lots of services like this around the world.

Mail Forwarding Services – With Online Management

You may find online mail management services to be more convenient than traditional mail forwarders.  One worth considering is is Earth Class Mail.

Besides being handy for businesses, they’re helpful for expats too.  The price is a bit more than traditional mail forwarders, but the extra services and convenience may be worth it for you.

With Earth Class Mail You Can See Scans of Every Envelope You’ve Received Then Decide Which Pieces to Forward to Your Overseas Address

You can check the current Earth Class Mail prices and packages.

Earth Class Mail will scan the outside of the envelopes you receive so you can view them in your online mailbox.  Then you can you filter through your items to see what has arrived.

You can choose to discard or forward mail.  However, if you need further information you can request they scan the contents of a letter so you can make a decision.

Another useful service is mail and parcel forwarding.  You may find this helpful for those really important items like your new credit cards!

One downside to Earth Class Mail is they only ship with USPS or FedEx which could cost more than other mail forwarders.

But if you want to quickly view your mail and want to choose what to send overseas, Earth Class Mail could be a good choice.

Bottom Line

You can use a mail forwarding service to ship your new credit cards to you from the US.  But if you have a trusted friend, you can activate your new cards right away!  This would give you more time to complete the minimum spending requirement to get the sign-up bonuses.

In the next post of this series I’ll go over the most cost effective ways to pay your US credit card bills while you’re abroad.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

21comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

the best service i found is: http://www.usglobalmail.com. cheap shipping rates, reliable and been around a long while

I’ve use http://www.usglobalmail.com and found them to be professional and reliable. international shipping can be very expensive but they give very discounted shipping rates so thats a big plus.

You can have US address for such a situation that will be used as your State’s address. All your mail will be received and forwarded from this address. There are services that provide such services to get you over with such concern.

I have been using Traveling Mailbox for over two years now while my wife and I travel the Country. It has been great. They scan all of my mail so I can see the envelopes and the contents and the prices are very reasonably. I have even needed them to mail something for me before and they have done that as well. The biggest kicker is their customer service. Its fantastic. I always get prompt responses to my emails and when you call, they actually pick up the phone. Not many companies offer this type of customer service anymore. Their website is https://travelingmailbox.com

I am an expat having lived and worked across asia most of my career; Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. During much of this time my wife and I have used a service called American eBox which provides various service levels with differing benefits. Last year we upgraded to the Platinum level, which reduced our costs and offers a cashback. Its worked out well for my wife who orders a lot of stuff from Amazon, Macy’s, and other merchants.

They offer many hidden incentives to reduce your shipping cost and generally our shipping cost in negligible due to discounts and incentives offered. I’m only offering my opinion, having used various services over time, but if you do sign up, feel free to mention my name. http://www.americanebox.com

Load more