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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.
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
- Part 1 – You Can Still Get Lots of Cards!
- Part 2 – How to Setup a Bank Account While Overseas
- Part 3 – Establish, or Re-establish Credit While Overseas
- Part 4 – Mail Forwarding Services for the Overseas Expat
- Part 5 – Charge to Your US Cards, Transfer Foreign Currency to Pay Your Bills
- Part 6 – Car Rental Insurance Reductions – For US and Non-US Licensed Drivers
- Part 7 – Dual Citizens/Residents – Get Extra Points!
More Than 1 Citizenship or Permanent Residence Means More Ways to Get Points
Some folks who have lived overseas for years hold dual citizenship or have the status of a permanent resident outside the US.
This can open up some exciting opportunities for collecting miles & points! Because you can get bonuses from US credit cards AND those from another country.
While the perks aren’t nearly as good as with the US cards, some are worth getting. I’ve included a few examples.
If you have residency in Australia, or had financial earnings there, there is 1 program that stands out. Virgin Australia has a very good network and their frequent flyer program also beats Qantas when you factor in their credit card offers.
Virgin Australia partners with American Express to offer the Velocity Escape credit card which rewards you with 7,500 Virgin Australia points after you spend $300 Australian dollars (~$280) within the 1st 3 months. This card currently has no annual fee.
That’s enough Virgin Australia points for a 1-way trip from Melbourne or Brisbane, to Sydney, or some smaller cities in between. Compared to US credit card bonuses this isn’t much. But a free 1-way flight for spending 300 Australian dollars isn’t bad.
The American Express Velocity Gold card currently has an annual fee of 99 Australian dollars for the 1st year, then 199 Australian dollars in future years. The sign-up bonus is 15,000 Virgin Australian points after you spend 500 Australian dollars (~$467) within the 1st 3 months.
15,000 Virgin Australia points is enough for a short round-trip flight such as Melbourne to Sydney.
You also get 2 Virgin Australia lounge passes each year you have the card. The American Express Velocity Platinum card currently an annual fee of 349 Australian dollars that is NOT waived.
With the Platinum version of the card you get 50,000 Virgin Australian points after you spend 500 Australian dollars (~$467) within the 1st 3 months.
50,000 Virgin Australia points is more than enough for a round-trip flight from Sydney to Perth.
The considerable annual fee also gets you 2 Virgin Australia lounge pass and a free round-trip domestic flight every anniversary year, after the 1st time you spend on the card. So depending on your travel plans, this card could make sense for you.
Canada has some good credit card offers with decent bonuses such as the American Express Gold Rewards card.
The annual fee of 150 Canadian dollars (~$141) is currently waived for the 1st year. After spending 500 Canadian dollars (~$470) in the 1st 3 months, you’ll get 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. You can use those points for a round-trip flight almost anywhere in Canada and the US.
You can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points for award flights and hotel stays with partner airlines and hotels.
The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card also gives you 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points but only after you spend 5,000 Canadian dollars (~$4,700) in the 1st 3 months. The business version of the card has an annual fee of 250 Canadian dollars (~$235) which is NOT waived.
There are 3 versions of the American Express Aeroplan Plus card. All 3 are charge cards which means you must pay the balance in full each month.
The American Express Aeroplan Plus Gold Card currently has a 25,000 Aeroplan miles sign-up bonus after you spend 500 Canadian dollars (~$470) within the 1st 3 months. And the annual fee of 120 Canadian dollars (~$112) is currently waived for the 1st year.
But a Million Mile Secrets reader has informed me that you can get a sign-up bonus of 30,000 AeroPlan miles when you’re referred by a current cardholder. If you’d like a referral, leave a note in the comments and I’ll put you in touch!
30,000 Aeroplan miles is more than enough for a round-trip, coach class ticket within Canada or the continental US. Or you could use the miles for 2 short-haul coach class round-trip tickets! And because Air Canada is a Star Alliance member, you can use Aeroplan miles to book award tickets on other Star Alliance airlines, like United Airlines.
Another card to consider for folks living in Canada is the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa from Chase. This card has an exclusive Canadian offer of 30,000 Marriott points after your 1st purchase.
You’ll also get a free night stay at any Category 1 to 4 hotel after you’re approved, if it’s the 1st time you’ve had this card.
There is no foreign transaction fee and the annual fee of 120 Canadian dollars (~$113) is waived for the 1st year.
30,000 points plus a free night could get you a total of 3 free Point Saver award nights at a category 4 hotel, like the Fairfield Inn and Suites SeaWorld Orlando.
Or use the 30,000 points for 5 free nights at a category 1 hotel (30,000 Marriott points / 6,000 PointSavers points per night). And you can extend your stay for a 6th night by using the free night stay that comes with the card.
I’ve written a short post about Canadian credit cards.
There are also some OK deals for travel credit cards in the UK.
The Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express gives you 10,000 Starwood points after you spend 1,000 pounds (~$1,716) within the 1st 3 months. The annual fee is 75 pounds (~$129).
The UK’s version of the Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa card from Barclays gives you a certificate for a free weekend night after you spend 750 pounds (~$1,286) in the 1st 3 months. This card has no annual fee.
You could use your certificate at some of the most desirable Hilton hotels such as the London Hilton on Park Lane. This hotel can sometimes cost ~400 pounds (~$686) per night.
If you have residency or citizenship with another country in addition to the US, you can sign-up for more travel reward credit cards! You can get good deals that others can’t!
Please share your experiences applying for credit cards in multiple countries in the comments!