Non-US Citizen options

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Credit Cards' started by WilliamQ, Jan 27, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    I travel to the States for conferences once or twice each year for work and has always been using my Singapore based credit cards for all my expenses.

    I have always been told that getting a CC in US is not a given even for citizens with SSN as credit score and history is important. In my case (and probably most business travellers not from US), I think our greatest stumbling block would be the lack of a SSN.

    Is it possible to open a savings / fixed deposit account without a SSN in a US bank and then get a debit card and subsequently progress to a CC?

    If I can get an account started, building a credit history to increase credit limit should be "simple" enough if the international banks can share my the history (e.g. Citibank Singapore and Citibank US) .

    My ultimate goal is to get a card that can help with mileage / hotel points / status earnings.
     
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  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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  3. B1BomberVB

    B1BomberVB Silver Member

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    It will help to get a US address, perhaps that of a client, a hotel where you often stay, or a mailbox at The UPS Store or Mailboxes Etc., which are accepted by some banks such as Chase while they don't accept Post Office Boxes.
     
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  4. adrianors

    adrianors Silver Member

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    Simple like that guys, no SSN, no credit. You can open a bank account and have a debit card, but thats it. They need your SSN in order to track your credit history (which is pretty important, otherwise they wont be able to determine the amount of credit to give to you), as well as if you miss a payment they can report this to the agencies and alert other people about the way you manage your debts. There are secured credit cards, but those also require a SSN, the secured card works like a regular credit card, but you have to deposit a certain amount of money and that amount becomes your credit limit, which you will have to pay monthly and in this way you start building a credit history, which will lead you to be able to get a unsecured (regular) credit card after a couple months (three months for me).
     
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  5. philatravelgirl

    philatravelgirl Silver Member

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    I've had an employee who is UK citizen get an AMEX card w/no SS - we used US office for mail - he had card for almost 20 years w/o issue. It was an individual card paid in US by the company on his behalf - he participated in membership rewards too.
     
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  6. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    This is strange. I am definitely not "liking" what you said but yet I am... "liking" your post. Talk about irony.

    It actually boils down to - If only I have card options back home that offers the perks I am hungering for... I would not be looking on with teary eyes at fellow travellers based in the States.

    I mean there are certainly cards from banks like Citibank that allows me to earn generic miles / points but just no card that closely partnered with my preferred US airlines / Hotel chains that can earn both miles / points and status. Yikes. Here, they are all mainly SIA partner cards.
     
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  7. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    True and additionally, as I do not pay income taxes in US (just a "regular" visitor), neither do I have a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
     
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  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Well, you could presumably apply for a TIN. We always welcome additional taxpayers :D
     
  9. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    Not a prob... Just as soon as I strike the sweepstakes! :D
    You guys have one of the biggest lottery pools EVER.
    With great wealth comes great taxes which I will be HAPPY to pay provided the above happens? :cool:
     
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  10. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    That will also take care of your mileage needs. Either fly revenue or buy a green card.
     
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  11. thesatishk

    thesatishk Silver Member

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    Bank of America does let non US citizens get credit cards. No SSN required. I don't think you can do it online though, has to be at a branch.

    History is often an issue, so you can start with a secured card that's backed by a deposit and then get a credit line after you've established some history with them.
     
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  12. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    Before my wife was a permanent resident/citizen, she was able to get an account/card at B of A, however, due to their shoddy business practices, I don't advise it.
     
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  13. adrianors

    adrianors Silver Member

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    Let me know how that works.. my wife doesnt have a SSN yet.. do you have a link or any place where this information is available?
     
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  14. Tinkerer
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    Tinkerer Gold Member

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    It definitely is possible to get a credit card (and also checking/savings accounts) if you don't have a SSN. It may take a bit of effort because not all employees necessarily know how to do it, but if you persevere you should succeed. If you get checking/savings accounts (will make payment easier and may facilitate the credit card opening process) you'll need to complete W-8 forms annually so there's a bit of paperwork 'burden' but other than that it shouldn't be an issue.

    Citibank unfortunately doesn't seem to really 'care' if you have a bank account in another country (or they didn't when I tried to open an account abroad) but I'd still get reference letters from your branch managers you can show. If it becomes too much of a headache, look into HSBC Premier banking (one of their services is to open bank accounts, credit cards, etc for their clients in other countries).

    You may need to do open the accounts in person so they can 'authenticate' who you are with your passport. However, HSBC can do that in their branches abroad. I also know TD Bank can link up with their Canadian counterparts to authenticate folks with their Canadian databases if you call their cross-border banking line.

    This doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have an 'official' credit history since those are linked up with your SSN. However, once you have a credit card, you can get letters of reference that you could use to open other specific products you may want.

    I don't know if they'll ship statements abroad, so you may need to get a US-based address (could even be a PO Box, UPS box, etc).
     
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  15. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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    Before I was a US citizen, AMEX was the approach I took. Because I had an AMEX card in Australia, they could check my creditworthiness. As others have said, you need a US street address. And it is highly recommended to have a US savings and checking account (see your local credit union for the possibility of a no-fee account).
     
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  16. thesatishk

    thesatishk Silver Member

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    I don't know if this is published information. I do know that if you walk into a branch, they will be able to assist. If you get a credit card without SSN and later do get one, you can update the credit profile with the SSN.
     
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  17. adrianors

    adrianors Silver Member

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  18. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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  19. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    Appreciate all the responses and suggestions. I can now see how a non citizen with a US address preferably with 'sponsors' / reference can probably get a credit card. But for someone like myself who only visits often but not a resident would unlikely get a card under the present regulations. Thanks all the same. It has been a good read.
     
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  20. Tinkerer
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    Tinkerer Gold Member

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    FWIW, my post above was about visitors, not people living in the US. Once you are legally living in the US, you can get a SSN based on whatever immigration status you have.
     
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  21. ffitalia

    ffitalia Silver Member

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    Wonderful thread.. I live in Italy and I have the same problem. I think the first US bank to offer this service will get many new customers:) If someone succeeds, let me know how!!!!!! ..
     
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  22. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    You can get a US bank account but it will be far easier if you have a US account opened as an adjunct to your Singapore accounts. Several banks have practices taht make that easier. The most well-known one for simplicity is HSBC. With HSBC Premier in Singapore they will refer you to HSBC US for reciprocal Premier status, which makes opening a bank account far easier, and eliminates Premier balance requirements in the US. However, you'll need at least S$200,000 in total relationship to qualify for premier in Singapore. With the US account you'll get a debit card. Getting a credit card might be possible, might not. Many US issuers do not directly check SSAN but they do check credit reports. You absolutely will need a US mailing address, which can be a UPS Store or otehr mailbox provider
     

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