Immigrant/Non-Resident in USA? Here’s How to Get Credit/Debit Card

There are several reasons why a non-resident, not necessarily undocumented, may want to have a U.S. debit or credit card. If you are a non-resident of the U.S., obtaining a credit card will be difficult and while it can be done, there are some requirements you should meet.

1. American Credit Card for Non-Residents

Few American banks dare to issue credit cards to the non-residents of the United States because of the high risk of leaving the country with unpaid debt. If the person uses the limit of the card and disappears in another country without paying the bill, the bank will not be able to recover the money.

On the other hand, some banks that have promoted credit cards for non-residents (undocumented immigrants) have suffered great public criticism.

If you are a non-resident and need a credit card to start building credit history, we recommend that you start with a secured credit card. Or, if you do not already have one, start by obtaining a bank account with an associated debit card, as follows:

2. Bank Account and American Debit Card for Non-Residents

If you want to open a bank account there are 4 general, but not absolute, requirements to consider:

  1. American Residence
  2. Social Security Number
  3. Physical Presence in the USA
  4. Balance Sheet and Movements

American Residence

American residency is not an absolute requirement to open a savings card in the United States. You only need to show at least two forms of photo identification. Often a passport, driver’s license, visa or other document is acceptable.

Call the bank to find out what is required. You may need to bring proof of your current address, as well as an invoice in your name. Requirements vary for each bank. Some known banks where non-residents can open a savings account are Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, US Bank.


Social Security Number

You can open a bank account and have a debit card without a social security number. But remember that credit companies don’t usually issue credit cards unless you have a valid social security number.

Physical Presence in USA

Since the event of September 11, if you are not a U.S. resident, the only way to open a savings account with an American bank is by physically visiting the bank. That is to say, if you are not a U.S. resident then it won’t be possible to open an online bank account.

This rule applies to company as well. If a foreign company wants to open a U.S. bank account, the company’s legal representative or general manager must appear in person at a U.S. bank branch to open the account.

Active Balance Sheet

Normally, for these types of bank accounts, the bank usually requires a minimum average account balance and/or a minimum number of transactions per month. Additionally, when opening the bank account you must deposit a minimum amount of funds. You should call the bank to find out about these requirements.

Keep in mind that if you open an account in the United States and use it in another country, there will be additional fees and surcharges for international use of the account or card. This charge is average 2.5%.

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