Author Topic: Help with US Credit Cards for Canadian  (Read 706 times)

MissMuffins

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Help with US Credit Cards for Canadian
« on: February 04, 2019, 08:54:43 AM »
Important background information:
I am a Canadian citizen. I live in Canada and work in the US. Each day I cross the border to get to my job in the US, then cross the border again to go back home. I don't live in the US and have no plans to.
I hate paying bank fees.

I have a TD Canada Trust bank account (CAD) and a TD Bank (US) bank account (USD). TD's cross border services make it easy enough to move money from one account to the other. Although the fees to transfer money are waived/refunded, there is still some money going to TD through the retail exchange rates. I don't like it, but I accept it.

My problem comes with credit cards. Since I don't have a US residential address, I'm not able to sign up for a US based credit card. I was specifically looking at a super basic card with no annual fee.

I could get a Canadian based USD credit card ($40 annual fee), but I would need to pay the balance from my TD Canada Trust bank account. So basically my money would go: TD Bank (USD) --> TD Canada Trust (CAD) --> Pay Credit Card (USD). I have no interest in paying TD for currency exchange twice just because I don't have a US address.

I can see a few options:
1. I could open a TD Canada Trust US dollar account, then I would avoid the currency exchange. But the account has a $1.25 fee for each transaction, so I'm still paying stupid stupid fees.
2. Just give up on getting a USD credit card and just use my bank card whenever I'm buying something in the US.
3. Figure out some sort of way to get a US based credit card. ???

Really I want to know if you have any suggestions for how I could make #3 work, OR if there is some other better option that I haven't thought of.

daverobev

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Re: Help with US Credit Cards for Canadian
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2019, 02:02:49 PM »
Without an actual US residential address you're stumped with a lot of places; you can get a mailbox but unless you have a residential address (the card companies know which addresses are not homes!) you are a little bit stuck. If you have any friend, relative etc that would let you, you could be ok...

Other options/thoughts:

1. Use a forex company to transfer money back and forth and get a decent rate

2. Alliant Credit Union are great. If not them, then some other regional credit union will give you an account I'm sure. And I'm pretty sure Alliant would give you a credit card after having a checking account for a while.

If you have a Canadian Amex you may be able to do a Global Transfer, but you'll still need a US residential address. Bank of America will also open accounts for 'snowbirds' if you have that US residential address.

If you're wealthy enough or it makes sense, Interactive Brokers do at-spot (nearly) currency exchange; better rates than the forex houses. You'll be paying $10 in account fees if the balance of the account is less than $100k USD but I *think* that is offset against any trades you do.

So for example if you're transferring $4k USD -> CAD, with a forex house you might pay 1% = $40, with IB you'll pay one 'trade' of ~$3 (but you'll be paying the $10 minimum a month, assuming you don't have $100k unregistered funds...).

Catbert

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Re: Help with US Credit Cards for Canadian
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2019, 11:46:50 AM »
Just brainstorming...might not actually work.

Do you have an American friend or relative who really, really, REALLY trusts you?  Could you get them to get a credit card and make you an Authorized User?  You would be the sole user of the card.  Both of you could see the monthly statement so they'd know your not running up a balance.   You could pay with US dollars.

MissMuffins

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Re: Help with US Credit Cards for Canadian
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2019, 02:20:11 PM »
So I figured out my solution today. It might not be the best one, but I think I will be happy with it.

I will open a Canadian based USD account with preferred exchange rates for a small monthly fee. Annoying, but it looks like the better exchange rates will more than offset the account fee. That account also waives the annual fee on the Canadian based USD credit card.

I've also had a few Canadian friends tell me that they were able to apply for those retail loyalty credit cards without an address, but I'm not sure if they were talking about store-specific cards or store branded credit cards.

terran

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Re: Help with US Credit Cards for Canadian
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2019, 02:38:08 PM »
Not actually your question, but this might help you: https://www.millennial-revolution.com/invest/norberts-gambit-how-to-exchange-money-without-paying-fees/

You'd have to compare the cost vs the currency exchange rates you get.

MissMuffins

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Re: Help with US Credit Cards for Canadian
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2019, 03:19:30 PM »
Thanks @terran! That is some interesting information that could prove to be useful for me down the line.
Do you happen to know of any good resources for tracking spending and income when multiple currencies are involved? I've been meaning to do an overhaul of my tracking spreadsheet, and this seems like a pretty good time to do it!

CanuckExpat

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Re: Help with US Credit Cards for Canadian
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2019, 10:38:10 PM »
If you just want a US address, a mailbox service will work. We use traveling mailbox. The address they use will work for most credit cards and financial institutions, except in your case you won't have a credit in the US that lines up with that address, and you won't have a US credit history at all, so you will probably be rejected for the credit card for lack of credit history, and lack of address verification.

What you would have to do is probably get a US address anyways, then find a bank that will give you a US credit card based on your Canadian credit history. Amex has a program that lets you do that, TD may? RBC used to, but they sold their US division. You can use that first credit card to build a US credit history which would ideally report with your SSN and American address you chose. Then you can apply for more credit cards. I'm half speculating here, but that is roughly the gist of it

(I'm assuming since you work in the US, that you have a SSN)

Some more background here, but it might be dated: US credit cards as a Canadian

snacky

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Re: Help with US Credit Cards for Canadian
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2019, 11:47:21 PM »
Why not a Canadian credit card with no foreign transaction fees?