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US bank account and credit card for Canadians

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  • Jul 15th, 2018 9:40 pm
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[OP]
Newbie
Sep 20, 2010
66 posts
36 upvotes

US bank account and credit card for Canadians

Does anyone know how I can get a US bank account and US credit card? I am a Canadian who does not officially reside in the US but I often do work US companies who will only pay me in USD if I have a US bank account.

I would love to just set up a bank account IN THE UNITED STATES and have a US based credit card. (Note: I know Royal Bank and most other Canadian banks have US dollar accounts, but this is not the same as having a US bank account.).

Many thanks.
Thread Summary
Please do not use your SIN for SSN. It would lead to identity theft of the person with that same SSN.

Credits to @[dekvitaly]
Travelling to the US? Living part time in the US? Avoiding USD/CAD PayPal currency exchange? Multiple reasons for Canadians considering US-based services for their secondary account. This thread is a huge summary and notations for every Canadian resident looking for US-based services (banks/credit cards product).
What to prepare?!
  1. Passport/Driver Licence/Provincial Photo ID (similar to STATE ID)
  2. US Billing Address (for future convenience, zip code verification) – PO BOX is accepted
  3. SSN/ITIN (OPTIONAL) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – CONSIDER for a magical US ID.
    PLEASE NEVER USE SIN FOR SSN/ITIN.
    Click here for Smashwords/Amazon Digital Method.
    *** Amazon has changed ITIN Letter delivery method. Please Go to Amazon Kindle Page and register a Kindle account. You'd then contact customer service and request an ITIN Letter

    *********** If you have direct relatives living in certain areas, local credit unions are happy to have your business, as long as ITIN/SSN is available *****************

    I. Banks
    Where to start?
    Don’t want to cross the 49th parallel? Consider popular banks below:

    TD Canada Trust >>> TD Bank N.A.
    Google / RFD thread
    Pros: quick and easy online application (10min at most). Low minimum balance ($100). Available cross border credit cards (Aeroplan VISA and Cash VISA). Easy PIN change, professional. Easy CAN to US money transfer. ** Need a US Billing address for Bill Pay - External Transfer **
    If you park $2.5k in the account for Premier Checking, unlimited US ATM rebates.
    Cons: Mainly northeast operations. No national ATM. Minimum $100 needs to be locked to avoid monthly fee.

    Note: you do not have to be a TD Bank client to be eligible for the credit card. Cash VISA and Aeroplan VISA. RFD thread for TD Cash Visa. https://www.tdbank.com/exc/pdf/Foreign- ... cation.pdf

    If you didn't apply for either accounts with a SSN, you will need to call in after receiving your credit card to bind the two profiles together (checking and credit card). In the system, you're technically seen as 2 different people. You will need to ask them to do a "profile merge". At the end of this process, you should see both accounts listed under the same web banking login. This way, you can make bill payments/transfers from your checking to pay your credit card bill like you normally do.

    RBC USA
    https://www.rbcbank.com/index.html
    Pros: easy to open, all online. Great credit card to build US credit history.
    Cons: monthly fee. Has to be a Royal Bank client. PNC-ATM shared is not nation wide.

    BMO >> BMO Harris Bank.
    https://www.bmo.com/main/personal/bank- ... er-banking
    Pros: Low Initial Deposit (US $25), free account with eStatement, free start checks. Free Allpoint ATM withdrawal. 30min phone conversation with a cross-border banking rep.
    Cons: Checking/Savings Account only. No cross-border credit card. Mainly the Midwest. Only recommended for SSN/ITIN holder (no remote PIN Change without)

    CIBC USA
    CIBC Cross-Border Banking
    Pros: easy to open, all online.
    Cons: monthly fee... or 3k minimum balance >"< No credit card.... RBC model...

    HSBC Canada & USA:
    https://www.hsbc.ca/1/2/personal/bankin ... nt-opening
    Pros: Offers an international account opening service that smooths the opening of the accounts in the US, let's you use your Canadian credit history to get fee free HSBC USA credit card, and also provides free instant transfers between your HSBC Canada and HSBC USA bank accounts. No minimum balance required in HSBC USA.
    Cons: Minimum relationship balance in Canada of $100K CAD (includes bank accounts and investments with HSBC Investdirect) to waive all fees - available with lower relationship with additional fees.

    EverBank
    now TIAA
    Very simple and straight forward for ITIN holder. Decent website and support! Free starter checks!
    If no ITIN, please use the paper form
    Reason provide: Snowbird/Frequent Visit/Shopping/Paying US credit card
    MoneyPass ATM network! Minimum balance of $25 (even lower than TD)

    Alliant Credit Union:
    As of April 2018, Alliant CU no longer accepts non-ITIN Canadian.
    Snail mail your application
    "I would like to support Foster Care to Success (FCS) charity and have Alliant donate in my name.
    Attach all your Canadian information, including Utilities Bills/Cable Bill and W8BEN.

    In person visit @ BC-WA State

    Banner Bank:
    Free!!! Checking account and credit card (TransUnion pulled). Free starter checks.
    Friendly and professional services. Free rebate on US ATMs.
    Personally, found Banner Bank the best for all I look for.

    Umpqua Bank:
    Free Checking account. Easy account opening process. Blaine/Pt. Roberts branches would be the most ideal.
    Cons: very limited amount of ATM. Banner Bank is hands down better but you may want some alternatives, this aint bad.

    Peoples Bank and HomeStreet Bank:
    Free checking, free bill pay, MoneyPass ATM!!!.
    They both could help you easily deal with PIN change on your debit card.
    Peoples Bank is closer to all of BC residents (branches available @ Ferndale, Lynden, Bellingham to Burlington.
    The closest Home Street is in Marysville (Seattle Prem Outlet), which doesn't make much sense unless you're on your way back to Canada or enjoying a shopping day trip.

    SaviBank:
    Free!!! Free Checking account, Free starter checks & Money Pass ATM. Friendly service.
    A very local and community type bank. Closest branch in Bellingham or over Burlington/Mount Vernon area.
    CSR/branch people could help you with online banking account/Debit card PIN change.
    MasterCard Credit Card is provided by Card Assets vendor who accepts Canadians. Pick up a paper application when you're in branch, fill in your information with Canadian SIN/Address and you're good
    Downside: their website is very basic. SaviBank Bill Pay is provided by the same vendor as TD Bank USA. As such, you do have to tell your banker to use US address on file to by pass this restriction. You should also use ITIN for this reason. If no ITIN, please consider a pull.

    Key Bank:
    Free account, easy with Canadian. KeyBank is only available around Canada/USA border states. Online banking isn't available for non ITIN holder. Debit Card activation requires a branch visit if no ITIN. So if you have ITIN, yes. Majority of us don't have ITIN, please consider other options.

    In person visit @ ON-MI/NY State
    So far, Hutington Bank and Citizens Bank do offer free account for Canadians. If anyone knows good option, please feel free to update.

    II. Credit Cards

    Now, banking is incomplete without credit cards!!! What’s available for Canadians without legal status in the US and without US Credit History?!?!!?

    Canadian bank:
    TD Bank N.A, RBC Bank would definitely pull your Canadian history for the US cards! You should definitely have these to begin building your history without a secured deposit, etc.
    ***** TD Bank N.A. has no restriction on the Aeroplan VISA but 2nd year annual fee sucks.
    Cash VISA requires a footprint address, no exception!
    As of 2018-03-21, the following states are listed: PA, NY, NJ, CT, NH, ME, MA, FL, VT, DE, MD, DC, NC, SC, VA or RI. One way to get around this is to use a non-commercial address via mail forwarding services.
    ***** RBC Bank VISA requires at least a Canadian RBC Royal Bank account, you can open a lame e-Savings to bypass.
    To apply, please call 1-800-769-2553

    AMEX Global Transfer:
    I know AMEX is AMERICAN Express. There’s a reason behind. You can transfer globally to a US card as soon as you’re intending to reside in the US (even temporary, part time, snowbird)
    All you need is to quickly apply under their Global Transfer program. https://www.americanexpress.com/global- ... tates.html
    **Have a valid residential US-address and a PO Box as mailing address is fine** If you have a friend/family member/relative down south, that’s good enough. No proof necessary. Once in a while you might have to prove your ability to pay, a US-based account statement showing your mailing address is accepted** Direct # for AMEX Global Transfer -- USE THIS #, not what's on Amex Website: 1-866-929-5160

    American Store Credit Cards
    There's a handful of American lenders who have access to Canadian credit bureau.
    - Macy's (store card/credit card)
    - JC Penny (store card/credit card)
    - Comenity. Now, Comenity is huge, they have over 100 cards to choose from. So far, the most attainable one would be Orbitz Rewards VISA (for use on Orbitz booking) and IKEA VISA (if you happen to be near a US IKEA... which is not the case for me in BC/WA where the only US IKEA is near SeaTac)

    HSBC USA:
    Offers an array of cards, several with no annual fees with easy opening services:
    https://internationalservices.hsbc.com/ ... account21/
    HSBC USA credit cards

    For BC/WA residents:

    Banner Bank can pull your Canadian history over TransUnion and grant you a card. This is similar to TD and RBC.
    However, it’s definitely not an option for our folks living in AB, MB, ON, QC and the Atlantics – unless you’re coming to BC to visit and planning to cross the border.

    SaviBank As mentioned above, the card is provided by a partnered vendor, who would accept Canadian under Canadian SIN/address and Equifax Canada. At Bellingham branch, Taylor and Rangine would be the most helpful persons as I've been annoying them quite a bit LOL. Application form here

    Secured Credit Card from American bank:
    Since I don’t like the idea, I refuse to take this route as I do not have enough liquid assets. But definitely BoA, Wells Fargo, Chase could potentially help you with this.

    Cross Border Money Transfer
    Peace of cake for TD Canada Trust/TD Bank as well as RBC Royal Bank/RBC Georgia.
    Other alternatives?
    1. Third-party services: XE, TransferWise, Xoom, OFX, etc.
    @Snuupy Thanks for your contribution, so far the best rate belongs to VBCE and KBFX+CTFS MC (>2k CAD) || MTFX+ CTFS MC || TransferWise (1%) || TD preferred rates on cross-border banking (0.06%)
    For folks in in person, the best in person rate is Happy Currency Exchange (vancouver) and EverForex (vancouver/toronto)
    2. Scotiabank USD Draft: indeed drawn from US-based Deustche Bank! free if you have 200 USD in the account.

    What next? An established credit history of approximately 1 year with proper SSN/ITIN and reporting address would open your door for better card such as BoA Cash Rewards, Chase, Amazon.com, City VISA, etc.
    Have fun and happy be a bad Canadian ;)
5885 replies
Banned
User avatar
Dec 10, 2008
1659 posts
49 upvotes
Take a day off and cross the border. Most smaller banks will open an account for you. I have one with Community Bank. Key bank is Canadian friendly too.

Everything else is hit and miss.

BTW, you mean VISA/MC debit card, right?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 22, 2002
2697 posts
469 upvotes
Opening a bank account in the US requires a passport and a mailing address.
I used a friend's address and managed to open an account with Bank of America in Bellingham, WA.

Currently I am working on getting an American Express card. I'm doing it through their Special Handling department.
This is all done over the phone. Presumably, if you have an AMEX card in Canada, they can transfer your credit history over.
My application is still "in processing" stage according to their rep.

I'll create a new thread on this topic if everything goes successfully.

PS: Somehow Capital One already has my info (either culled from Bank of America and/or AMEX) and they have already sent me TWO credit card applications to my US address. Hilarious.
Banned
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Dec 10, 2008
1659 posts
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Magoomba wrote:
Sep 21st, 2010 8:08 pm
Opening a bank account in the US requires a passport and a mailing address.
I used a friend's address and managed to open an account with Bank of America in Bellingham, WA.
I just opened a PO box in the States and it worked wonderfully.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Aug 7, 2010
737 posts
146 upvotes
If you go with Harris Bank, you can use the BMO ATMs to withdraw cash fee-free, whenever the exchange rate seems acceptable to you. They also have a true US based mastercard, but you have to call them to apply (no online).
Deal Addict
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Sep 22, 2009
2740 posts
207 upvotes
Canadia
Just do RBC Bank USA. You don't even have to go to the US. It's a true US-based bank account, and they'll give you a true US-based credit card, line of credit and other stuff. No fees at all for any of this.

Can be opened at a local RBC branch in Canada (even though the account will technically be based in Florida).

Also if you keep a balance of 700 bucks, they will give you free ATM withdrawals at any ATM in America, and refund the fee charged by the owner of the ATM. So you when you are in the US you can use Citi ATMs, Bank of America ATMs, JP Morgan ATMs, etc all for free; you never have to think about finding an RBC ATM (max 4 times a month I think though, so don't overdo it).

I've yet to see another US bank that offers all this with no fees whatsoever, and no requirement to show up in the United States to open the US bank account. That includes the "US divisions" of all the other Canadian banks.
Deal Addict
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Mar 30, 2004
3261 posts
522 upvotes
Harris Bank lets Canadians open up accounts on their website without stepping foot in the states.
Deal Addict
Oct 9, 2005
1819 posts
176 upvotes
nauru wrote:
Sep 21st, 2010 8:55 pm
Just do RBC Bank USA. You don't even have to go to the US. It's a true US-based bank account, and they'll give you a true US-based credit card, line of credit and other stuff. No fees at all for any of this.

Can be opened at a local RBC branch in Canada (even though the account will technically be based in Florida).

Also if you keep a balance of 700 bucks, they will give you free ATM withdrawals at any ATM in America, and refund the fee charged by the owner of the ATM. So you when you are in the US you can use Citi ATMs, Bank of America ATMs, JP Morgan ATMs, etc all for free; you never have to think about finding an RBC ATM (max 4 times a month I think though, so don't overdo it).

I've yet to see another US bank that offers all this with no fees whatsoever, and no requirement to show up in the United States to open the US bank account. That includes the "US divisions" of all the other Canadian banks.

The best part is online banking "one sign in" that lets you transfer to/from and access the account along with your Canadian-based ones.
Jr. Member
Jul 5, 2006
153 posts
12 upvotes
Magoomba wrote:
Sep 21st, 2010 8:08 pm
Opening a bank account in the US requires a passport and a mailing address.
I used a friend's address and managed to open an account with Bank of America in Bellingham, WA.

Currently I am working on getting an American Express card. I'm doing it through their Special Handling department.
This is all done over the phone. Presumably, if you have an AMEX card in Canada, they can transfer your credit history over.
My application is still "in processing" stage according to their rep.

I'll create a new thread on this topic if everything goes successfully.

PS: Somehow Capital One already has my info (either culled from Bank of America and/or AMEX) and they have already sent me TWO credit card applications to my US address. Hilarious.

+1. I've done that successfully also and Amex is the only one that will export your Cdn credit history and give you a card. I would be interested to see if you can get those other applications to go thru though, I had "pre approved" applications that didn't, and this was at the height of the easy money so I am not sure it would be easier now. The other thing you might want to try to build up a US credit history is to apply for dept store credit cards like at Macy's or Saks. They should be ok with Cdn applications especially at the outlet malls near the border. Try to get at least 3 items on your US credit records and you'll be on your way to bulding a credit history there.
Newbie
Aug 10, 2010
45 posts
5 upvotes
AB
jpm88 wrote:
Sep 23rd, 2010 4:48 pm
+1. I've done that successfully also and Amex is the only one that will export your Cdn credit history and give you a card. I would be interested to see if you can get those other applications to go thru though, I had "pre approved" applications that didn't, and this was at the height of the easy money so I am not sure it would be easier now. The other thing you might want to try to build up a US credit history is to apply for dept store credit cards like at Macy's or Saks. They should be ok with Cdn applications especially at the outlet malls near the border. Try to get at least 3 items on your US credit records and you'll be on your way to bulding a credit history there.

In order to have , or "build" , US credit file , you MUST have SSN
Without SSN , you don't have US credit file , period .
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 22, 2009
2740 posts
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Canadia
jpm88 wrote:
Sep 23rd, 2010 4:48 pm
+1. I've done that successfully also and Amex is the only one that will export your Cdn credit history and give you a card. I would be interested to see if you can get those other applications to go thru though, I had "pre approved" applications that didn't, and this was at the height of the easy money so I am not sure it would be easier now. The other thing you might want to try to build up a US credit history is to apply for dept store credit cards like at Macy's or Saks. They should be ok with Cdn applications especially at the outlet malls near the border. Try to get at least 3 items on your US credit records and you'll be on your way to bulding a credit history there.

Are you sure that just having US credit products such as credit cards will start you building a credit history in the US, even without a social security number and without an ITIN? If so, please post credible source. I have been wondering this myself and have received conflicting reports. Thanks.
Jr. Member
Jul 5, 2006
153 posts
12 upvotes
Good point on the SSN, I forgot about that little detail cuz I got one from working there and so was just trying to share the parts after that to eventually get enough credit to get loans there. Let me see if I can find a definite answer but it sounds like it would be tricky. However I guess it wouldn't hurt to get the products, then if you get a SSN# in the future then maybe you can just join the card histories to the SSN.
[OP]
Newbie
Sep 20, 2010
66 posts
36 upvotes
Thanks for all the replies. You all rock! I will try RBC's US based account since I already bank with them. Failing that, I will give harris a try.
Jr. Member
Mar 10, 2003
143 posts
13 upvotes
guessaaa wrote:
Sep 22nd, 2010 12:40 am
The best part is online banking "one sign in" that lets you transfer to/from and access the account along with your Canadian-based ones.

Does anyone know if you can do email money xfer from another bank account into the RBC Bank US account or you have to have RBC Royal Bank to perform a fund transfer? I dont really want to open up an RBC Royal bank acct too ...

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