Getting a US Credit Card for Canadians

Getting a US credit card can come in handy in many cases especially if you want to claim the high welcome bonuses that is offered with a US credit card for travel.  Here are the steps to get your first American credit card.  Note that these instructions are valid in the time of writing and we do not hold responsibility for any outcome with these instructions.

Air Canada International Business Class on Aeroplan Redemption

Step 1: Getting a US Mailing Address

Step 2: Opening a US Bank Account

Step 3: Applying for a US Based American Express Credit Card

Step 1: Get a US Mailing Address

Use 24/7 Parcel’s mailbox account service at

You need to sign up for an address that is not a CMRA by signing up for a virtual mailbox at the Lynden location either online or in person.  CMRA is a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency and the bank will not allow a CMRA address on the application.  The price for a virtual mailbox is US$90 for 12 months.  You cannot share one mailbox with multiple people.

You will need to set up mail forwarding service so your mail gets forwarded to you in Canada.  The price is $1.50 per letter plus postage.

Step 2: Open a US Bank Account

Open an account with a US bank or with CIBC Bank USA.  CIBC has made it simple for Canadians to open a US bank account.  You will need a US bank account to pay your credit card balances since Canadian banks usually do not give you the option to pay foreign credit cards.

They offer their USA Smart Account ( so you can manage your US banking seamlessly from Canada.  At the time of writing, there are no monthly fees for this account.  There are of course transaction fees.

Vinpearl Landmark 81 Autograph Collection on Marriott Bonvoy Redemption

Step 3: Apply for a US Based American Express Credit Card (You will need to be a Canadian American Express card holder)

Apply for a personal US based AMEX card such as the Hilton Honors Card with no annual fee and get 100,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending US$2000 in the first 6 months.

Go to and make sure you are on the US site.  Choose the card you want to apply for and log into your American Express account.  Upon logging in, they will ask if you want to share your data with American Express in the USA. 

If you choose ‘Yes’, your data from American Express in Canada will be shared to supplement credit checks with AMEX USA then you can continue the application process.


Getting your first US credit card as a Canadian can be very rewarding.  The process may be complicated at first but after applying for your first card, applying for additional cards will be easier.

Maple Leaf Lounge YVR International Terminal