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Cross-Border US Banking and Credit Cards Mega-Thread

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[OP]
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Sep 20, 2010
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Cross-Border US Banking and Credit Cards Mega-Thread

Edit: READ THREAD SUMMARY. All info there, please read it a few times before asking questions.

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.
Last edited by titaniumtux on Aug 20th, 2018 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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.
*********** 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 ***************** This thread will only cover certain options available for people without relative-qualification and optional ITIN/SSN ****************

I. Banks
Where to start?
Don’t want to cross the 49th parallel? Consider popular Canadian banks that operate state-side:

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.

TD Canada Trust >>> TD Bank N.A.
Google
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 through app. Easy southbound and northbound money transfers.
Cons: Mainly northeast operations. No national ATM. $100 needs to be locked to avoid monthly fee.
There's a comparison between BMO Harris N.A. and TD Bank N.A. here.
Note: you do not have to be a TD Bank client to be eligible for the credit card. Cash VISA and Aeroplan VISA. https://www.tdbank.com/exc/pdf/Foreign- ... cation.pdf

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.

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.

Desjardins Bank:
https://www.desjardinsbank.com/en/
Pros: Free & Decent FX conversation rate. Let's you use your Canadian credit history to get a credit card
Cons: Need to be a customer of Desjardins in Quebec/Ontario. Desjardins USA branches are only in Flordia.


US-based Alliant Credit Union:
Credit to @[X360] and @[Catapult] for their instruction.
No US-visit required, you could if you’d like to. Complete the application package:
Membership Application form: http://www.alliantcreditunion.org/image ... llment.pdf
“I would like to support Foster Care to Success (FCS) charity and have Alliant donate in my name”
W8BEN: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw8ben.pdf
Copy of: Passport/Driver’s License and Utility Bill.
Initial deposit: US $15 minimum. A money order or check would be accepted
Mail to: PO Box 66945, 11545 W. Touhy Avenue Chicago, IL 60666-0945
Approximately 1 month for your membership, account, debit card and starter checks to arrive.[/i]
Pros: free, great ATM access (MoneyPass/Co-op which can take deposit). No ITIN/SSN required. Easy to deal with.
Cons: no credit card!

In person visit:
I can only say for the West Coast (WA state) due to my experience, feel free to comment of different options in your areas and I’d add into this thread.

Banner Bank WA:
Free!!! Checking account and credit card (TransUnion pulled). Free starter checks.
Friendly and professional services. Free rebate on US ATMs.

People’s Bank/SaviBank/HomeStreet Bank:
Free checking, free bill pay, MoneyPass ATM!!! For SaviBank, you need ITIN for bill pay as they’re too small and the 3rd-party-outsourced platform won’t work without ITIN.
They both could help you easily deal with PIN change on your debit card.

Umpqua Bank/KeyBank:
Free account, easy with Canadian, not much to complain except I need wide range of ATM and KeyBank is mostly present around border states. No credit card as far as I know.

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.

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

HSBC USA:
Offers an array of cards, several with no annual fees with easy opening services:
https://internationalservices.hsbc.com/location/destination3/are-you-moving4/services2/international-account21/

Card details: HSBC USA credit cards

Only for WA state area:
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.

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.

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 ;)
10600 replies
Banned
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Dec 10, 2008
1659 posts
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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
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Nov 22, 2002
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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.
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Dec 10, 2008
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Magoomba wrote: 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.
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Aug 7, 2010
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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
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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.
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Mar 30, 2004
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Durham Region
Harris Bank lets Canadians open up accounts on their website without stepping foot in the states.
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Oct 9, 2005
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nauru wrote: 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: 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: +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 .
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Sep 22, 2009
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Canadia
jpm88 wrote: +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.
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Jul 5, 2006
153 posts
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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
78 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
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guessaaa wrote: 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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Oct 16, 2008
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Bank of America also opens accounts for Canadians, and they didn't require a US address. My Canadian address worked fine for them. They also give you up to $50 signing bonus if you have been referred by an existing BoA customer. If you need a referrer PM me.

In response to the above post, I believe if you open an RBC USA account, you must also open a RBC Royal Bank Canadian account.
[OP]
Newbie
Sep 20, 2010
66 posts
78 upvotes
I went into my local RBC branch and applied for a US account. RBC doesn't approve it. It goes to the US for approval and takes about a week. The account costs $3/month. It is a true US based account and not just a US dollar account in Canada, however I can transfer funds to my US dollar account here in Canada if I want to withdraw $ in Canada.

Thanks everyone once again for the info.
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Sep 22, 2009
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zoicca wrote: I went into my local RBC branch and applied for a US account. RBC doesn't approve it. It goes to the US for approval and takes about a week. The account costs $3/month. It is a true US based account and not just a US dollar account in Canada, however I can transfer funds to my US dollar account here in Canada if I want to withdraw $ in Canada.

Thanks everyone once again for the info.

FYI there are two US based accounts you are able to choose from. One is $0 per month, and one is $3 month (waived if balance is higher than $700). RBC staff will try to deny the existence of the $0 per month account, but it is indeed available.
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nauru wrote: FYI there are two US based accounts you are able to choose from. One is $0 per month, and one is $3 month (waived if balance is higher than $700). RBC staff will try to deny the existence of the $0 per month account, but it is indeed available.

I think you need to go through RBC Bank USA to get the $0 account opened.

RBC Royal Bank will only open the $3/month account. The backdoor to this is to call RBC Bank USA and get them to change your $3/mo account to the full account once you have it all set up.
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May 16, 2006
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wrote:RBC Royal Bank will only open the $3/month account. The backdoor to this is to call RBC Bank USA and get them to change your $3/mo account to the full account once you have it all set up.
Corster, could you explain, from my understanding there's 2 US accounts we're able to choose from, one's $4, and the others $30.

Which number do I call, and what account am I supposed to be changing it to?

Appreciate the help, god I hate bank fees.

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