Best credit cards for international students
How to choose an American credit card as an international student
Here’s what to look for as an international student when comparing credit cards:
- No annual fee: Your first credit card shouldn’t incur unnecessary fees because you don’t want it costing you money. Look for a card with no annual fee or monthly maintenance fee. These are fees that some cards have just to keep the account open, but there are a lot of no annual fee credit cards that don’t.
- No credit history required: Your credit history is the financial data that the U.S. credit bureaus have about you, such as loan or credit card payments you’ve made. As an international student, you probably don’t have much or no credit history yet. Look for student credit cards that you can get without a credit history. You can also look for a secured credit card. This type of card requires a security deposit equal to its credit limit. Or choose a card that authorizes a co-signer – someone who has built their credit history and is willing to take responsibility for the card with you.
- No foreign transaction fees: Some credit cards add an additional fee, usually 3%, for transactions abroad. This includes all purchases made outside of the United States or that go through a foreign bank. A card with no foreign transaction fees is preferable for international students. If you return home or elsewhere abroad, you can continue to use your credit card without paying extra.
Learn more: How to choose the right credit card
Why should international students get a US credit card?
The main benefits of getting a US credit card are building credit and having a secure and convenient way to pay for purchases.
If you are planning to live in the United States, your credit history will be very important. This and your credit score (which is based on your credit history) are used in a variety of ways.
Here are some examples:
- Rental: Landlords do a credit check to decide if they are renting from you when you apply for rental accommodation.
- Loans: Lenders decide whether or not to approve you for a loan and, if so, the interest rate on your loan based on your credit.
- Car insurance: In most states, auto insurance companies can use your credit to help set the insurance rates that drivers pay.
- Works: Employers can review your credit history before deciding to hire you.
Finally, by getting a good credit score, you can qualify for the best credit cards. These have a lot more benefits and can help you save money.
One of the easiest ways to build credit is to get a credit card. Once you have a student card, you just need to use it regularly and pay the bill on time. This will put positive activity on your credit history.
Besides building credit, a credit card is also a useful tool for paying for purchases. Credit cards are widely accepted in the United States, and it is safer to carry a credit card rather than cash.
Just make sure you pay your bill in full each month to avoid credit card debt. Even if you have a card with a good credit card APR (interest rate), it’s still not worth paying interest charges.
How to get an American credit card as an international student
The easiest way to get a U.S. credit card is to use a Social Security number or an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). International students are generally eligible to apply to these. You can apply for a social security number from the Social Security Administration if you are employed. Otherwise, you can apply for an ITIN with the IRS.
Here are the basic steps to apply for a credit card:
- Find a credit card available to applicants with no credit history.
- Go to the credit card page and choose the “Apply Now” option.
- Complete and submit the application to the credit card company.
If you are having trouble getting a Social Security number or an ITIN, you have a few alternatives. One is to visit a branch of the bank that offers the credit card. Some banks require a Social Security number or ITIN if you apply for a card online, but will allow you to apply with other documents in person.
You can also choose a student card that allows you to apply online using your passport and student visa, such as the Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students.
Another way to get started with credit is to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. Many card issuers only need a name and address to add someone as an authorized user. But they usually need a Social Security number or ITIN to report card activity on your credit history, which allows you to build credit.
Can I get a credit card if I’m not a U.S. citizen?
Yes, you can get a credit card if you are not a US citizen. Credit cards are available to legal residents, and some card issuers approve applicants of any citizenship status.
Keep in mind that the credit card issuer must verify your identity before approving you for a card. The documentation accepted for identity verification depends on the card issuer.
Can I get a credit card if I don’t have a social security number?
You don’t need a Social Security number to get a credit card. Credit card companies ask for a social security number during the application process to verify your identity. Most will also accept an ITIN as an alternative.
Some card issuers allow international students to apply for a card using their passport and student visa.
What do i need to apply for a US credit card?
Here is the personal information that credit card companies ask for during the application process:
- Last name and first name
- Home Address
- Phone number
- Date of Birth
- Social security number or individual tax identification number (ITIN)
- Annual gross income
If you do not have a Social Security number or ITIN, the card issuer may accept other types of identification.