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Credit cards for new immigrants

You can get some credit cards without a credit history or Social Security number.

Our pick for new immigrants: Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

SSN not required

  • Apply if you're new to credit
  • 1% cash back on all purchases or up to 6% cash back by referring friends
  • No annual fee
Apply now
As a new immigrant to the US, getting a credit card can be a problem. The biggest road block: a lack of US credit history.

Luckily, you have options. Some card providers don’t require credit histories for card approval, and you may not need a Social Security number either. In time, you can build a credit profile and qualify for better products.

Compare credit cards for new immigrants

If you’re new to the country, here are some of the credit cards available that can help you find your footing. Click on “View details” for more in-depth information about each card.

Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Recommended minimum credit score
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Starting at $200
22.49% variable
New to credit
A no annual fee secured card for people who are new to credit or have limited credit history.
Petal® 2
12.99% to 26.99% variable
New to credit
Build your credit with rewards and no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score of 600 or higher. See if you prequalify with no impact to your score.
Petal® 1
19.99% to 29.49% variable
A high-limit no-annual-fee credit card that's ideal for rebuilding scores as low as 550. See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit.

Compare up to 4 providers

Can I use my non-US credit score when applying?

It depends. In late 2019, Amex announced a partnership with Nova Credit that lets users from select international countries use their existing credit histories for Amex personal-card applications. This means you won’t need a Social Security number to apply, though you’ll still need a US-based address.

As of this writing, these countries include Australia, Canada, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Amex and Nova Credit say they’ll add more in the future.

If you’ve recently moved from one of the countries listed above, you may now have many more cards to choose from. Amex currently offers nearly 20 personal credit cards, and you’ll find many excellent products in that mix.

Credit cards for new immigrants

Consider the following four options when looking for your first US credit card. The first two are unsecured cards, meaning you don’t have to put down an initial security deposit. The last two are secured cards.

Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®
Apply now

This card is aimed at relocating professionals. You don’t need a credit history or Social Security number to apply, and you can apply for it up to 60 days before you arrive in the US. Plus, you can earn up to 6% back on all purchases by referring friends.

Deserve® Classic Card

Deserve® Classic Card
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Deserve looks at a variety of factors besides credit scores when evaluating applicants. That said, its Deserve® Classic Card can be a good choice for immigrants. You don’t need a credit history or US citizenship to apply.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
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This is one of the best secured credit cards you’ll find. It can be especially valuable because it comes with no annual fee.

You may be able to deposit just $49 or $99 and still get a credit line of $200. After five months, Capital One will raise your credit line if you make your first five monthly payments on time.

Contact your current bank for US credit card offers

If you already have a relationship with a financial institution in your home country, check if it offers credit cards in the US. Since you’re already a customer, you may be able to open a card without a US credit history.

American Express and Barclays are two companies that might lend a hand for your move. Each company will check your existing payment history to see if it can extend credit to you in the US.

Do I really need a credit card if I’m a new immigrant?

Consider these factors before deciding whether or not you really need to get a credit card in the US:

  • What will your spending look like?
    If you’ll be making frequent or large purchases in the United States, it makes a lot of sense to get a credit card. Otherwise, you might simply stick with simpler options such as debit cards and cash.
  • How long will you stay in the US?
    If you’re staying in the country for just a short while, it might not be worth applying for and maintaining a new credit card.
  • Are you ready to use credit responsibly?
    While you don’t have established credit in the United States yet, you won’t help your credit if you don’t make payments on time or if you rack up high levels of debt.

How to choose the best credit card for new immigrants

These factors can help you decide on your new credit card:

  • Will you be working?
    The Jasper Cash Back Mastercard® is aimed at relocating professionals.
  • Do you live in a country such as Australia, Canada, India, Mexico or the United Kingdom?
    You may be able to use your existing credit history to apply for a personal Amex card.
  • Do you feel you have potential red flags, such as low income or high existing debt?
    If you feel you might have trouble getting approved for an unsecured card, consider secured cards such as the the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®.

What do I need to apply for a credit card in the US?

Required information for your card application depends on your credit card provider. It might include:

  • Permanent address. A mailing address for the provider’s records.
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). You can apply for one with the IRS and use it in place of a Social Security number.
  • Source of income. Most likely, a provider will ask about your employment and annual income.
  • Bank account. A provider may ask for your bank account details so it can evaluate your income, spending habits and other risk factors.
  • Immigration documents. After you apply, your provider may ask you for some immigration documents, such as your visa.

Establishing credit history as an immigrant in the US

When you have a good credit score it does you much more good than boosting your chances at being approved for a credit card. It can help you secure housing, give you a lower interest rate on a loan, make you a more attractive candidate for a job and more.

By using your credit card responsibly, you’ll slowly build a credit history.

What about secured credit cards?

Getting a secured credit card is another great way to build credit. Because you can only get this type of card by putting down a security deposit, more providers are willing to offer it to consumers without credit histories.

Bear in mind that secured cards tend to have smaller maximum credit limits, typically tied to your security deposit. They also tend to have fewer perks and features. But if you don’t mind these limitations, a secured card is just as good as an unsecured card at building your credit score.

Bottom line

Card providers like CreditStacks and Deserve welcome applications from immigrants, and look beyond your credit score when deciding whether to lend to you. Also, consider one of the top secured credit cards, among which there are many choices.

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