Best Credit Cards For Non-US Citizens in 2021

Having a credit card provides many financial benefits, and non-US residents can use credit cards to have more flexible finances as they stay in a foreign country. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best credit cards for non-US citizens.
We’ll also provide some advice on how to get the best credit cards around, and what to look out for when choosing between them.

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Top 8 Best Credit Cards For Non-US Citizens in 2021

1. OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

The OpenSky secured Visa credit card is the best credit card to establish credit when you have a poor score, as you can acquire the card ]without a credit check or bank account. All payments and activities are reported to major credit bureaus, too, so you can build credit faster. Full Review

  • Accepts poor credit
  • No credit check needed
  • Reports to three major credit bureau
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The OpenSky secured Visa credit card is the best credit card to establish credit when you have a poor score, as you can acquire the card ]without a credit check or bank account. All payments and activities are reported to major credit bureaus, too, so you can build credit faster. Full Review

Requirements

5/5

Limits

4/5

Rewards

N/A

Fees

5/5

2. American Express Gold Card

The AmEx Gold card is a great US credit card for foreigners and non-US citizens who love to eat and travel. You get four points per dollar when you eat at restaurants worldwide, and you can use your international credit history to acquire the card, making it great for non-residents. Full Review

  • Great for food lovers and travelers
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Membership Rewards points are transferable
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The AmEx Gold card is a great US credit card for foreigners and non-US citizens who love to eat and travel. You get four points per dollar when you eat at restaurants worldwide, and you can use your international credit history to acquire the card, making it great for non-residents. Full Review

Requirements

5/5

Limits

4/5

Rewards

5/5

Fees

4/5

3. The Platinum Card American Express

The AmEx Platinum Credit Card is the perfect US credit card for foreigners who travel frequently and luxuriously. Apart from the 75,000 points welcome bonus and five points per dollar reward, it lets you enjoy great hotel and airport benefits. You also receive awesome ride-hailing and shopping benefits. Full Review

  • Luxury travel perks
  • High rewards rates
  • Hotel loyalty programs perks
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The AmEx Platinum Credit Card is the perfect US credit card for foreigners who travel frequently and luxuriously. Apart from the 75,000 points welcome bonus and five points per dollar reward, it lets you enjoy great hotel and airport benefits. You also receive awesome ride-hailing and shopping benefits. Full Review

Requirements

4/5

Limits

4/5

Rewards

5/5

Fees

5/5

4. Blue Cash Preferred Card From American Express

AmEx’s Blue Cash Preferred card is perfect for anyone who spends a lot at supermarkets, transit, and on streaming services. Its huge cash back rewards system makes it an awesome USA credit card for foreigners with families, and with a 0% introductory APR, you can earn 6% cashback on US supermarkets. Full Review

  • Outstanding cash back rewards
  • 0% intro annual fee for one year
  • Big supermarket rewards
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AmEx’s Blue Cash Preferred card is perfect for anyone who spends a lot at supermarkets, transit, and on streaming services. Its huge cash back rewards system makes it an awesome USA credit card for foreigners with families, and with a 0% introductory APR, you can earn 6% cashback on US supermarkets. Full Review

Requirements

5/5

Limits

4/5

Rewards

5/5

Fees

5/5

5. Deserve Edu MasterCard For Students

Deserve Edu MasterCard is the best credit card for international students who don’t have a credit history, but want to build them. SSNs aren’t needed, and there are no annual or foreign transaction fees. Payments are reported to credit bureaus, making the card a great option for growing credit. Full Review

  • No credit history required
  • No SSN required
  • No annual fee
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Deserve Edu MasterCard is the best credit card for international students who don’t have a credit history, but want to build them. SSNs aren’t needed, and there are no annual or foreign transaction fees. Payments are reported to credit bureaus, making the card a great option for growing credit. Full Review

Requirements

5/5

Limits

4/5

Rewards

4/5

Fees

5/5

6. Discover It Secured Card

The Discover It secured card is among the best secured credit cards for people without credit or a good credit history. There’s no annual or foreign transaction fees, and payments are reported to major credit bureaus. After eight months, you get the chance to upgrade to an unsecured card. Full Review

  • No annual fee
  • Reports to major credit bureaus
  • Upgrade to an unsecured card after eight months
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The Discover It secured card is among the best secured credit cards for people without credit or a good credit history. There’s no annual or foreign transaction fees, and payments are reported to major credit bureaus. After eight months, you get the chance to upgrade to an unsecured card. Full Review

Requirements

4/5

Limits

4/5

Rewards

5/5

Fees

5/5

7. Secured MasterCard® From Capital One

Capital One’s secured MasterCard is the best credit card to establish credit if you have poor credit history or if you’re just starting out. Its most remarkable feature is its credit limit offers, which are larger than your security deposit. There’s also no annual or foreign transaction fee to pay. Full Review

  • Bad credit accepted
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Higher credit limit than the actual security deposit
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Capital One’s secured MasterCard is the best credit card to establish credit if you have poor credit history or if you’re just starting out. Its most remarkable feature is its credit limit offers, which are larger than your security deposit. There’s also no annual or foreign transaction fee to pay. Full Review

Requirements

5/5

Limits

4/5

Rewards

N/A

Fees

5/5

8. First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard Secured Credit Card

The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard is among the best credit cards to build credit if you have poor credit and minimal reward expectations. All payments are reported to credit bureaus, which gives you an opportunity to increase your credit limit. The cards are also accepted worldwide, so you can use them anywhere. Full Review

  • Poor credit scores accepted
  • Reports to major credit bureaus
  • Chances to increase credit limit
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The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard is among the best credit cards to build credit if you have poor credit and minimal reward expectations. All payments are reported to credit bureaus, which gives you an opportunity to increase your credit limit. The cards are also accepted worldwide, so you can use them anywhere. Full Review

Requirements

5/5

Limits

5/5

Rewards

N/A

Fees

4/5

Our Methodology

To make sure that we recommend only the best cards for non-citizens, we checked for important factors that affect a credit card’s overall quality. Those attributes include:

Annual fee

The cost you pay for keeping your account open. Basically, this is the price you pay for the benefits you receive from a credit card. We checked which cards have the lowest and most reasonable annual fees.

Balance transfer fee

The cost of transferring existing debt from one credit card provider to another. This is common among the best credit cards used to build credit by residents and non-US citizens.

Rewards

These are incentives or bonuses you can get from using a credit card frequently. We checked for cards that offer robust rewards, like a signup bonus and cash back.

Foreign transaction fee

The cost of undertaking transactions overseas, with a foreign currency, or with a merchant. Most credit cards for non-US citizens offer little to no foreign transaction fee, making them more suitable for frequent flyers and global travelers.

Interest rates

We found the best credit cards that offer competitive and reasonable interest rates around. These interest rates can add to your overall costs when using credit cards, so it’s important to check them for signing up; One example is the annual percentage rate (APR), or the total interest rate charged to you for one year.

Detailed Reviews

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

It the best credit cards for people without credit histories, or those with poor credit scores

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  • No credit check needed
  • Accepts poor credit
  • Reports to three major credit bureau
  • No bank account needed
  • Annual, foreign transaction, and APR fees
  • No rewards
  • No path to unsecured card upgrade

OpenSky’s secured Visa credit card ranks among the best credit cards for people without credit histories, or those with poor credit scores. You can qualify for this card even without a credit check and bank account! You do need to provide your SSN or individual tax identification numbers (ITIN), though.

OpenSky reports your activity to all three major credit bureaus, so if you’re responsible for making payments, this card will definitely help you build your credit score. It’s relatively easy to get as well, so your credit building mission can be executed faster.

Similar to many secured credit cards for people without credit history, this card requires a security deposit between $200 and $3,000; Your credit limit is equal to that security deposit. Other than being easy to acquire, this card sports no other reward.

This card has an annual fee of $35, and the ongoing APR is 17.39%. If you’re using the card outside of the US, you’ll pay a 3% foreign transaction fee. On top of that, you can’t upgrade your account to an unsecured card. Once your score improves, you either have to close your account (which hurts your credit score) or keep it indefinitely.

American Express Gold Card
American Express Gold Card

It is the best US credit card for non-residents who love to eat and travel.

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  • Complicated rewards structure
  • Great for food lovers and travelers
  • Not suitable for non-travelers
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • High annual fee
  • Membership Rewards points are transferable
  • Able to use international credit history

American Express Gold is the best US credit card for non-residents who love to eat and travel. This card gives you four points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and at US supermarkets. You also get $120 per year on dining credits on top of that, as well as up to $120 a year in Uber Cash.

To apply for this card, non-US citizens need to click “I don’t have credit history in the US” on the Amex application page. They’ll then let you use your international credit history as part of your application; You also don’t have to provide a Social Security Number (SSN), as AmEx allows you to skip it if you’re a non-resident.

There are no foreign transaction fees, but there’s an annual fee of $250. This powerful US credit card for foreigners also gives 60,000 Member Rewards points if you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months of usage. Moreover, points are transferable to Amex’s travel partners so you can use their travel rewards and loyalty programs.

If you don’t travel often and don’t eat out that much, this card might not be for you. Its annual fee can be considered hefty, especially if you’re not planning to maximize the bonuses you can get by using the card.

The Platinum Card American Express
The Platinum Card American Express

It is a great premium credit card that rewards you five points for every dollar spent

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  • High credit score requirement
  • Hotel loyalty programs perks
  • $550 annual fee
  • High rewards rate
  • Luxury travel perks

Platinum AmEx is a great premium credit card that rewards you five points for every dollar spent on flights and hotels booked directly with AmEx travel.

As a USA card for foreigners, this card is on the more expensive side with an annual fee of $550. As such, it packs in many interesting benefits for high-end travelers who want to get their money’s worth.

You can receive 75,000 rewards points if you spend $5,000 on new cards within the first six months of using it, and you can also earn up to 10 points on every dollar spent at US gas stations and supermarkets. On top of all that, you’ll attain a golden status in the Marriott and Hilton hotel loyalty programs, plus access to a variety of exclusive airport lounges.

As one of the best credit cards for non-US citizens, it offers $15 in Uber Cash for rides in the US every month, as well as a whopping $200 in airline fee credits.

On the flip side, you may want to consider another AmEx card before applying for Platinum, as it requires a good to excellent credit score; You must learn how to fix your credit score first if it falls below that range. In that case, you might need to consider another card that offers similar benefits for lower credit and fee requirements.

Blue Cash Preferred Card From American Express
Blue Cash Preferred Card From American Express

It is the perfect US credit card for non-residents and their families

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  • Isn’t as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard
  • High annual fee after one year
  • Outstanding cash back rewards
  • 0% intro annual fee for one year
  • Big supermarket rewards
  • Cash back on streaming services
  • 2.7% fee on foreign transactions

The Blue Cash Preferred card from AmEx is the perfect US credit card for non-residents and their families, with its exceptional cashback rewards and generous gas and transit points.

Earn as much as $300 after spending $3,000 in your first six months, and a whopping 6% cash back on your first $6,000 spent on US supermarkets each year. You’ll also earn 6% cash back on qualified US streaming services and 3% cash back on transit and US gas stations. Overall, you can take advantage of these rates if you spend more on the card — perfect for those with a bigger family.

Although it’s a great credit card for foreigners in the USA, Blue Cash Preferred also has a downside: its annual fee is high at $95. However, you earn a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year. If you spend a similar amount at the store every week, that fee can be covered by the cash back rewards you get.

The card also has a 2.7% foreign translation fee, which could be a dealbreaker if you transfer a lot of money in other currencies. Also, specialty stores and superstores don’t count as “supermarkets,” so cash back rewards may not apply.

Deserve Edu MasterCard For Students
Deserve Edu MasterCard For Students

It is a great credit card for international students who have no credit history

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  • No SSN required
  • No credit history required
  • Reports to major credit bureaus
  • High ongoing APR
  • No annual fee
  • Limited range of rewards and features
  • Better options exist if you have credit history

Deserve Edu Mastercard is a great credit card for international students who have no credit history and SSN (though the SSN will be considered if you do have it).

International students can link their bank accounts during the application process instead of providing an SSN. The system will then use financial documents and their proprietary algorithm to determine someone’s eligibility and credit limit, which can be up to $5,000.

The ongoing APR is 18.74%, although there’s no annual or foreign transaction fee. You’ll get unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases. Other perks include free cell phone and renters insurance.

Apart from being one of the best credit cards for students, Deserve Edu MasterCard is also among the best credit cards to build credit since your payments are reported to major credit bureaus.

If you use the credit card responsibly and pay on time, you can start building up a good credit history and rating. On the other hand, its ongoing APR may be a difficult cost to maintain if you make large purchases that’ll take several months to pay off. Still, if you pay your bill in full every month, you should be alright.

To add to the negatives, there’s no sign-up bonus, and you won’t be offered a lot of rewards even if you use the card a lot.

Discover It Secured Card
Discover It Secured Card

It is an excellent US prepaid credit card for non-residents

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  • Requires a bank account
  • High ongoing APR
  • Upgrade to an unsecured card after eight months
  • Reports to major credit bureaus
  • No annual fee

The secured credit card offered by Discover It is an excellent US prepaid credit card for non-residents as it offers 0% foreign transaction and annual fees. As a secured card, you can effectively use it to establish great credit habits while earning lucrative bonuses.

Although it’s rare for secured cards to offer cash back rewards, Discover It does. They also match all cash back rewards you’ve received after your first year of using the card, essentially doubling them. You’ll also get 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in gas and restaurant expenses per quarter.

It’s not only one of the best no-annual-fee credit cards out there, it’s also among the most sought-after credit cards for people without credit. With this card, your payments are reported to major credit card bureaus.

Starting at eight months, Discover reviews your account to see whether you’ve become qualified for a regular credit card or not. When the time comes to transition, you’ll use the same account so your credit score won’t be affected negatively.

Security deposits for this card range between $200 and $2,500, and the APR is 22.99%. There’s a 10.99% intro APR for new cardholders, and because this card requires a security deposit, a bank account is necessary to fund it, which may not be possible for some customers.

Secured MasterCard® From Capital One
Secured MasterCard® From Capital One

It offers many exceptional features that you can’t find in other cards

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  • High APR
  • Higher credit limit than the actual security deposit
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • No rewards or cash back offers
  • Bad credit accepted

Capital One’s secured MasterCard ranks among the best secured credit cards around because it offers many exceptional features that you can’t find in other cards.

As one of the best credit cards for establishing credit, this secured credit card provides robust features that help you improve creditworthiness. Not only does it have a $0 annual fee, but it also lets you have a larger credit limit than your security deposit, which is unusual.

There’s no foreign transaction fee, making this card a great choice for travelers or foreigners that want to have a credit card in the US. Moreover, Capital One lets you monitor your credit through the online CreditWise tool.

However, while Capital One’s secured MasterCard appears to be the best credit card to build credit, it has some downsides. This card has an ongoing APR of 26.99%, and there are virtually no rewards given to cardholders. This card serves solely to help you increase your credit limit and credit score, so if you need comprehensive features, another card may be more suitable.

You also need to have a bank account to fund the credit card, and this can be challenging if you’re just starting out to build credit. In addition, Capital One may also need to check your credit history, which can have some short-term effects on your credit score.

First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard Secured Credit Card
First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard Secured Credit Card

It is the best credit card for starting out and learning how credit cards work

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  • Poor credit scores accepted
  • Has an annual fee
  • Reports to major credit bureaus
  • Includes a foreign transaction fee
  • Chances to increase credit limit
  • No rewards or welcome bonuses
  • Worldwide acceptance

The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard is the best credit card for starting out and learning how credit cards work. It’s fairly easy to get and provides a decent credit limit.

Like many other secured credit cards, Platinum Prestige MasterCard is best used as a tool to improve your credit score. To apply, you don’t need any credit history or a minimum credit rating. Since it’s a secured credit card, all you have to do is to meet the required security deposit, which is between $200 to $2,000. Your payments are also reported to major credit bureaus.

As one of the best credit cards for first-time card holders, this card has worldwide acceptance; You can use MasterCards anywhere credit cards are accepted. While your security deposit serves as your initial credit limit, repaying balances and being responsible can help you increase that in a matter of months.

If you’re getting this card, know the downsides: it doesn’t have a welcome offer and there are no rewards. You’ll pay a $49 annual fee, and its regular APR is 9.99%. If you’re going to use it outside the US, there’s a 3% foreign transaction fee. Also, the card provider’s reputation is less than pleasant in terms of customer service, although this issue is common with many other cards too.

Credit Cards For Non-US Citizens – Buyer’s Guide

Before you apply for any credit cards, you should take some important things into consideration. The following sections will walk you through factors you should take into account.

What Documents You’ll Need To Apply

A card issuer will check a variety of information before lending to you. Before applying for a credit card, make sure you have a copy of, or know, the following:

  • Permanent address: When preparing credit cards to non-US citizens, issuers check the applicant’s permanent address first.
  • Personal details: Gather other crucial information about yourself, such as your complete name and ID.
  • Contact information: This may include your phone number, email address, or other channels of communication.
  • Tax ID or TIN: This is a verification material issuers usually ask in lieu of a SSN.
  • Employment status and income: Issuers must know whether you have a stable form of employment and if your income isn’t exceeded by your expenses.
  • Recent monthly payments: These may be recent receipts or utility bills that reflect your financial performance over the past few months.
  • Bank account: Many credit cards require applicants to have a bank account, especially when processing a prepaid debit card for non-US residents.

Things To Know Before Applying

If it’s your first time applying for a credit card, take the time to brush up on some important concepts in terms of card applications.

  • Credit limit: This refers to the amount of credit you have and can use in your account.
  • Annual Fee: The cost you pay every year to keep your account open.
  • Foreign transaction fee: The fee you pay for transactions outside the US.
  • Balance transfer: Refers to the process of moving a user’s debt from one account to another.
  • Intro APR: The starting APR that’s usually lower than the regular APR. The best credit cards for establishing credit often offer highly competitive intro APR to entice new users.
  • Regular APR: The interest rate charged over the course of the whole year as opposed to monthly interest rates.
    • Fixed APR: Interest rate doesn’t fluctuate relative to an index.
    • Variable APR: Changes alongside a specific rate index.
  • Repayment Plan: A structured process of repaying your debt.

How To Get A Credit Card As A Non-Resident

As a non-US resident, there are ways you can apply for credit cards in the US.; You just have to look at the right places. Follow these steps:

Think About Rewards

When searching for a credit card for non-residents, know what rewards you’re looking for. Different types of credit cards exist, and each of them offer a specific set of rewards. One credit card may give rewards for frequent flyers and luxurious diners, while another may be more suitable for supermarket shoppers. Other cards are simply for building credit, so they don’t offer anything!

Compare Different Cards 

If you already know what rewards you would like to receive, start comparing which cards meet these expectations. Compare everything, from the features to the fees, as well as bonuses or rewards you may get if you maximize your card usage.

Apply For A Credit Card Without A SSN

If you’re a non-US citizen, chances are you don’t have an SSN. If this is the case, search for card providers that don’t require one. These providers use other types of verification documents to confirm your identity and background, such as other government-issued IDs, licenses, and papers.

Apply for A Credit Card With An ITIN

Instead of a SSN, residents with a foreign status are given ITINs; card providers accept ITINs as alternatives to SSNs when accepting non-US applicants. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is in charge of giving out ITINs.

Building A Credit History 

Building your credit is imperative, and the best credit cards for people without credit are great at doing so. If you’re one of those people, check out these tips below:

Find a cosigner

A cosigner is someone that agrees to legally assume your debts and balances in the event you default. Finding one that has a great credit history and US residency will help you more easily acquire a card or get better rates and terms.

Apply for a secured card

Registering for a secured card means you’ll initially deposit a certain amount of money, which will then become equivalent to your credit limit. This is one of the most effective ways to build credit, since you can control your credit utilization and your performance is often reported to major credit bureaus. Fees are generally lower, too.

Become an authorized user

The best credit cards to build credit will allow you to be an authorized user on someone else’s account. You’ll have a credit card in your name that’s linked to the primary owner’s account.

Alternatives To Credit Cards

Applying for the best credit cards for first-time card holders can be daunting, so if you want, you can also try other alternatives.

  • Debit Card: Debit cards help you make payment by pulling money directly from your bank account. These cards have fewer associated fees and therefore you avoid debt.
  • Prepaid Credit Card: Prepaid credit cards are like debit cards, but they’re not linked to your bank account. Instead, you place or “load” money onto your credit card, and that’s what you spend.

Reasons Why You Should Have A Credit Card

Although it’s quite challenging to find excellent cards for non-US residents, it’s worth the effort because of the benefits you can get, such as:

  • Cash back rewards: The best US credit card for foreigners would be one that offers high cash back rates. This is a certain amount of money that you earn whenever you use the card to buy something, which in turn effectively makes the cost of those products lower for you.
  • Rewards and points: Providers also offer rewards and points that you can redeem for other forms of services, such as travel rewards, hotel discounts, and more. Rewards and points effectively add value to your card usage.
  • Accepted everywhere: If you like to travel, eat, and shop around different places, then credit cards are your best friends; Nearly every store and restaurant in the world accepts them!

Credit Cards For Non-US Citizens At a Glance

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card – Best for those with poor credit scores
American Express Gold Card – Best for eating and traveling
The Platinum Card American Express – Best for rewards
Blue Cash Preferred Card From American Express – Best for families
Deserve Edu MasterCard For Students – Best for students with no credit hstory
Discover It Secured Card – Best prepaid card
Secured MasterCard® From Capital One – Best extra features
First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard Secured Credit Card – Best first credit card

Wrap Up

Getting a USA credit card for foreigners is always a good idea, whether it’s for traveling, dining, shopping, or simply to build credit. With credit cards, you access not only a good amount of funds, but also ample benefits like reward points and rebates; If you spend and pay wisely, you will improve your credit score and history. Finding the best credit card to do all these things may take time, but you will enjoy tremendous amounts of convenience and financial freedom.

FAQ

Can a non-US citizen get a credit card?

Yes, they can. Non-US citizens can get credit cards via service providers that don’t require a SSN and offer services around the world. Your immigration status can affect the options you have, but it’s common for non-citizens to have credit cards or be authorized users on the account of a cardholder.

Can I get a prepaid card without a social security number?

Yes! Prepaid cards are known not to require SSN from users, and it’s the reason why many people prefer using prepaid credit and debit cards over more traditional ones. As long as you have the funds to load onto the card, you can qualify.

Do you need a social security number to add an authorized user?

No, not necessarily. Most credit card providers allow you to add an authorized user to your account by providing that person’s SSN. However, you do need to submit some of their personal information, including their name, birthday, and address. Your provider may limit the number of authorized users on your account.

What credit card does not require SSN?

The most popular credit cards that don’t require SSNs include Capital One’s secured MasterCard, Discover It secured card, and AmEx’s Gold and Blue Cash Preferred cards. These are some of the best credit cards for non-US citizens that require no SSN while offering great options for the cardholder.