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I get email from Canadian (and occasionally European, South American, and Australian) readers almost every day asking if they can get US credit cards.
We’ve got it really, really good in the US, because we can easily collect hundreds of thousands of hotel points and airline miles (if not millions) via credit card sign-up bonuses.
Bonuses in Canada are paltry in comparison. For example, American Express recently increased the sign-on bonus, up to July 31, 2012, on their American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) card from 10,000 points to 15,000 points, compared to the 25,000 points in the US. The annual fee is $120 (not waived for 1st year) vs $65 (waived for the 1st year) in the US.
Ben has a US Social Security number, but his wife, Irene, does not. She has a Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN).
But Ben still managed to get Irene many US issued credit cards with the large sign-up bonuses!
Read his post for to see how he did it. As always, your personal experience could be different, but it is certainly worth a try!
In short, you need to have a friend or relative’s US address which you can borrow. The next step is to make a shopping trip to a US department store by the border and apply for a department store credit card with your Canadian SIN.
Canadian SINs are 9 digits long (XXX-XXX-XXX), which is the same length as a US Social Security number (XXX-XX-XXXX).
Update: swag points out in the comments that this could cause a lot of inconvenience for some folks, so I don’t recommend doing this.
Use the store credit card and pay it off in full each month (you could make internet purchases to save you a trip to a US store) and over time your credit score should rise to the point (Ben explains how to check it in his post) where you may be approved for the large miles and points earning credit cards.
To accelerate your credit score even more, ask a US friend or relative (with good credit) to add you to his or her credit card account as an authorized user to take advantage of the longer payment history.
Bottom Line: This isn’t the easiest way for Canadians to get approved for US miles and points credit cards, but it could be worth a shot for Canadian readers who are sick of US readers complaining about how terrible it is to have sign-up bonuses decrease from their record highs in 2011, but which are still much better than the Canadian credit card offers!
Hmmm…I wonder if I can double dip with Canadian credit cards and a US social security number?!
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.