Can a Canadian Apply for a US Credit Card?

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I’m just going to say it. US credit cards are much better than what’s offered here in Canada. The welcome offers can be generous (as in, 100,000+ points generous). You get better benefits such as credits with hotels and no foreign transaction fees. And you have so many choices, so it’s easy to earn a ton of points fast. 

Now you’re probably wondering, can a Canadian apply for a US credit card? Yes, but it requires a bit of work. However, once you get one card, you can easily get more cards in the future. That said, what you need to do to qualify for US cards is arguably questionable, so you need to decide if it’s worth it. Here’s how Canadians can get US credit cards.

Get a US bank account

Before you consider applying for a US credit card, you’ll need a U.S. bank account. You’ll actually likely need two of them. The first account is easy to get, it’s just any US bank account that you can get from your current bank. All of the major banks in Canada offer this type of account so it won’t be an issue.

The second US bank account you need has to be physically based in the US. The good news is that you don’t need to go across the border to open an account. Many of the major banks in Canada have US subsidiaries that allow you to open an account in Canada. For example, you can open get TD cross-border banking by going into any TD branch in Canada.

You need the cross-border account so you can pay your US credit card bills. The US bank account based in Canada will allow you to transfer US dollars to your cross-border account (you may need to do this over the phone). How you get US dollars is up to you, but most people just purchase them. 

The other reason you need a cross-border account is that it’ll list your US address which is a requirement when applying for US credit cards. Understandably, most people don’t have a US address, but that’s where the next step comes into play.

Get a US address

Without a US address, you won’t be approved for any US cards. The easiest way around this is to use the address of a friend or family member who doesn’t mind forwarding you any mail that you get. E.g. your credit cards. 

If you don’t know anyone down south who can help with this request, you need to sign up for a mailbox or mail forwarding service. The mailbox service is great if you live somewhat close to the border, but it still requires you to physically drive down to the US to get your mail. 

Getting a mail forwarding service may end up costing you more since there are forwarding charges, but it doesn’t require you to leave your home which is ideal. You would need to do a little research, but there are many mail forwarding services in the US.

The key thing to understand is that the mail forwarding service can not be listed as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency by the United States Postal Service as those not considered eligible addresses by credit card providers.

To find out if the mailbox service you’re considering is listed as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency, go to the USPS website and look up the address of the forwarding service that you’re planning on using. As long as there’s an “N” beside Commercial Mail Receiving Agency, you’re good.

Once you have your US address, change the address on your cross-border account to show it. This way your US banking information will show your US address (after you get your next monthly statement). This may come in handy during the application process.

Apply for a US American Express credit card

Now it’s time to get real. Head to the American Express website and choose the United States as your country. You’ll now be able to see all the cards you can apply for. Alternatively, if you know someone who already has a US American Express credit card, get them to send you a referral link.

Do NOT sign in to American Express even if you have an account in Canada as it’ll affect the application process.

When you start going through the process of applying for one of the US American Express credit cards, you’ll eventually be asked for your Social Security Number which you’ll not likely have (this is NOT your SIN). Instead, click the box that says “I don’t have a credit history in the US, but have had a credit card or loan in the UK, India, Mexico, Canada or Australia.”

When you hit submit, it’ll take you to the Credit Nova portal, where it’ll ask you your country. You’ll then need to answer some questions such as where you live, what credit cards you have, etc. This essentially verifies your credit history/score which will then be used in the approval process for American Express.

Note that this process is usually easy, but they may ask you to upload a bank statement with your address to verify your identity. Good thing you changed your cross-border address right?

Call American Express

If you get approved right away, great!. But quite often you’ll get the standard response that your application is under review. Write down the reference number and call American Express.

American Express will likely need to verify your identity. How they do it may vary. Sometimes they’ll want to call your bank, (with you on the line) to verify your address. They may also want you to verbally confirm your address (the US one) over the phone. It’s also possible that they may want to call you back at the number provided to ensure you pick up.

It can be a bit random, but it really just comes down to American Express wants to verify you are who you say you are.

Final thoughts

Can a Canadian apply for a US credit card? Yes, but as you’ve seen, it takes some work. If you’re sticking to American Express cards, it can be done with a little effort. However, if you’re looking to branch out and build a full US credit history to get more cards, you’re going to need an ITIN. Check out Prince of Travel for a more detailed guide.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Bob Marley on August 16, 2021 at 10:33 AM

    Why make this article so difficult.

    The tool you are referring to at usps is the zip code look up tool that you then select address in.

    There is no “Address lookup tool”.

    Why not put a link to it, why would that be so difficult. Why not a screen shot of the N and Y you refer to.


  2. Ed on August 24, 2021 at 9:20 PM

    @Bob Marley – a little too privileged are we? Take the value that you can get from an article that you paid nothing for and move on! I’m sure a lot of folks got a lot of value from his pointers in the article. Sillyness is on you!

    • Barry Choi on August 25, 2021 at 11:07 AM


      Thanks for the support Ed.

      • Lisa on October 16, 2021 at 11:17 PM

        I agree with Ed, Barry. I’m in the process of applying for an American Express credit card and I am having problems (seems my application did not link to Nova Credit) and trying to gather as much information as possible and your article was very helpful. Thank you.

  3. Caroline on January 10, 2022 at 2:05 AM

    Is it possible to get a mail forwarding address, then apply for an American express card, without opening the cross border account?

    • Barry Choi on January 10, 2022 at 6:56 AM

      You need to cross border account so you can add your mail forwarding address to your banking info. This is required as sometimes Amex will want to call your bank to verify your U.S. address.

      • Caroline on January 10, 2022 at 12:55 PM

        Thank you

  4. Lizzy on January 16, 2022 at 12:43 PM

    Can you only apply for Amex Cards? Or can you also apply for Visa/MC?

    • Barry Choi on January 16, 2022 at 12:54 PM


      Getting a Visa or Mastercard is a lot harder since none of the companies have a global transfer like Amex does.

  5. Lewis on March 1, 2022 at 12:22 PM

    How many AMEX cards can I have in total between Canada and the US, assuming I already have cards in Canada? Would I be able to have 4 personal cards in Canada, and 4 personal cards in the US?

    • Barry Choi on March 1, 2022 at 1:07 PM

      Hey Lewis,

      I don’t have an exact answer, but I’m fairly positive Amex US treats Canada separately so how many cards you have in one country vs. the other is not relevant. That said, I believe the rule for Amex Canada is 4 Charge and 4 personal cards.

  6. Kissan Mistry on May 11, 2022 at 10:50 AM

    I opened up a TD bank US account and linked it to my TD canada account, however they never asked me to put in an american address. Im still waiting on the debit card in the mail in Canada so i can log into the account online.

    Now Amex has put my credit card application on hold because they want to call my bank to verify my address. But TD bank doesnt have my american address. I dont even have an american address yet.

    • Barry Choi on May 11, 2022 at 11:04 PM


      You should have set up your US address before applying for an Amex. Once you have your US address you log in to your US account, and simply change your address.

      • Kissan Mistry on May 19, 2022 at 5:27 PM

        I tried to change my address online for my TD bank US account, but they are now requesting proof of the address (ie a recent bill with the new address). The problem is I was using my friends address in the states.

        • Barry Choi on May 19, 2022 at 5:37 PM


          That’s weird that it’s asking you for verification. When I’m logged into the US side of TD, I can just change my address on my own. Did you call in and try to change things?

          • Kissan Mistry on May 19, 2022 at 5:39 PM

            no i tried to change it online through the update personal settings link.
            do you think i should try calling in to the cross boarder banking line?

          • Barry Choi on May 19, 2022 at 5:44 PM

            It seems rather odd that it’s not allowing you to change your address online. I updated my address the exact same way and didn’t have any issues.

            If you can’t do it online, I suppose it doesn’t hurt to call in and see if they can make the change for you. If they say they need a recent bill, say it’s a new address so you have no bills yet and you’re in Canada so you can’t get any other mail. Just say you’re trying to switch everything over.

            Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. What else you going to do right?

          • Kissan Mistry on May 19, 2022 at 6:21 PM

            well that worked. called into the cross boarder banking and they changed my address without any further questions. Says it will update in 2 business days. Then I can finally verify this address with amex to get approved.

          • Barry Choi on May 19, 2022 at 6:24 PM


            I guess it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Glad that it worked out and you get onto the next steps. I personally only have 2 US Marriott cards. I’ve been pretty lazy to go beyond that or to get an ITIN number. I might get the Amex Hilton card eventually.

          • Kissan Mistry on May 20, 2022 at 8:34 PM

            got approved for the Amex! thanks for your help!

          • Barry Choi on May 20, 2022 at 8:38 PM


            That’s fantastic news! Glad you were able to get on the US train.

  7. Victor on May 27, 2022 at 8:12 AM

    Hello Barry,
    Thank you for the info. When Amex calls you to verify your address, they must surely know it is not a residential address. I am reading online that because of KYC, the address needs to be a residential address and not a mailbox. Is that true? Also, there are so many mail forwarding services,can you recommend a few to shortlist?

    • Barry Choi on May 28, 2022 at 6:50 AM


      You basically need a mail forwarding service that doesn’t show up as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency by the USPS. It’s really a game of trial and error as you’d have to look up a few service providers and then check how their addresses are listed on the USPS site –!input.action

      • Dowsun on May 29, 2022 at 10:58 PM

        Any suggested providers that don’t show up as a commercial mail receiving agency by USPS?

    • Jazz on August 15, 2022 at 11:36 AM

      Hi there, a word of caution I ran myself into trouble by using my friends US address. I discovered that all Canadian banks have obligation to report to IRS that a person might be living in the US and may be earning income in the US that might require declaration. I received a letter and a income declaration form from my bank in Canada. It took me a while to resolve this issue with my bank. I had to finally tell my bank a truth that I used my friend’s address just to acquire a US credit card which was a crazy idea and requested them to remove it from my banking profile.

  8. Andrew on March 16, 2023 at 10:15 AM

    Thanks for the walk-through! I’ve set up my TD cross-border chequing account, but when I go to change the address it redirects me to my general profile, and will only let me enter a postal code. I’m a current TD customer, and obviously I don’t want to change the addresses on any of my Canadian accounts, only the US accounts. What’s the best way to do this? Thanks again!

    • Barry Choi on March 16, 2023 at 4:38 PM

      Hey Andrew,

      You need to log into your U.S. based TD account to change your address.

      • Andrew on March 23, 2023 at 6:23 PM

        Thanks Barry! I managed to get the US-based account set up. I applied for the AMEX card, but had to call in to verify a few details. Apparently they’ve started doing address checks, because the PMB I signed up for the person on the other end of the line immediately said this address wouldn’t qualify because it’s a PMB and not a residential address. So I guess I’m SOL.

        • Barry Choi on March 23, 2023 at 7:30 PM

          Hey Andrew,

          You’ll likely need to draw a different mail service. Alternatively, if you got a trustworthy friend in the U.S. who doesn’t mind accepting your mail, you could ask them for a favour.

          • Doehup on July 14, 2023 at 8:53 AM

            are there any suggested providers that don’t show up as a commercial mail receiving agency by USPS?

  9. Caro on April 18, 2023 at 10:56 PM

    Hi, I’m struggling to book some flights with a Canadian CC. In my Crossborder I can change one of three address fields: Permanent address, Mailing address or Seasonal/Temporary (must be for snowbirds). I assume that I would change the Mailing address to my US address and keep the Permanent address as my canadian one? Thanks!

    • Barry Choi on April 19, 2023 at 9:11 AM


      You have to input the address listed on your CC when making purchases online.

  10. Haz on July 10, 2023 at 2:56 PM

    Hello Barry

    I have a TD US account and have applied for the TD credit card which is in process, I assumed that they have put my US address on file but they didnt. Later when I was applying for my US amex they got the TD personnel on phone they refused that my US address is not my home address. I am trying to get my mailing address updated as my US address on US TD so in the future the address is on file. The issue I am having is that amex is saying they only verify with the bank once, if you fail then you have to submit a document which verifies the address. I have bought a mailing address but I am not sure how to get a verifying document which would be sufficient, can you assist?

    I came across your article after I made the mistake, I wish I came across it before 🙁

    • Barry Choi on July 10, 2023 at 2:58 PM


      If you already have a TD account based in the U.S., you should be able to log in and change your address yourself. Then just wait for your next statement to post as it’ll have your banking info plus your U.S. address. That should be enough for Amex.

      That said, a mailing address for Amex may not be enough unless the mailing address doesn’t coming as a mail forwarding address.

  11. L.Paige on September 18, 2023 at 12:50 PM

    I”m having trouble using the Nova Credit route because they are asking me (via the phone application) for a US phone number.
    Not sure how to proceed……?

    • Barry Choi on September 18, 2023 at 2:06 PM

      In the past, people have called Amex directly and given them their Canadian number and said they don’t have their U.S. number set up.

  12. L.Paige on September 19, 2023 at 3:41 PM

    They said it was not an option, unfortunately.

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