If you’re ready to embark on the lengthy process of getting US credit cards (and remember to not be disheartened by baseless rumours), then you may have run into a roadblock: finding a proper US residential address.
Today, I want to give you some tips and tricks to find mail forwarders that get your cards to you quickly, cheaply, and with minimal hassle. It’s my goal that every Miles & Points enthusiast who wants a forwarder finds a forwarder.
The Elephant in the Room
Let’s address the question everybody’s asking, a proverbial elephant so large it could have changed the fortunes of Carthage: is 24/7 Parcel still working?
This company has been recommended before to Prince of Travel readers as a convenient and functional solution to getting a US address on the quick and easy. Their history of excellent customer service speaks for itself.
But as I covered in my Amex US Mythbusters article, there have been some recent data points arising from users who have been rejected for their 24/7 Parcel address when attempting a Global Transfer for their first Amex US credit card.
If you wish to use 24/7, it does still work, as the company has been proactively looking for solutions to “address” these issues.
With that being said, you might also wish to choose a mail forwarding agency that’s less prominent in the public eye, so let’s now take a look at two vital criteria you should look out for when Google-fu-ing your way to a mail forwarder.
Criteria 1: Not a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency
In your search for the perfect receptacle for US credit cards, you will often find a glossy mail-forwarding service that looks very promising. Fees are low and the location is prime compared to where you reside.
But before signing up, always punch the company’s address and ZIP code into the USPS website.
This will let you know if the company is listed as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA). If it is listed as such, then any credit card application you make will be automatically declined due to the address not being residential.
As an example, let’s go hunting in President Biden’s Senate district:
As we can see above, despite this address and ZIP code being from a publicly available mail forwarding company, they are not listed as a commercial mail forwarder.
The USPS search tool will be your friend in determining whether a company’s addresses are flagged as a CMRA. There are also services such as Sasquatch Mail that have post boxes in multiple different states.
In such cases, always contact the company directly, preferably via phone, before forking over your hard-earned USD for any services.
Cautious side note: as we’ve seen with 24/7 Parcel, certain addresses can still encounter rejections even though they aren’t listed as a CMRA. In addition to checking the USPS website, always be vigilant as to whether your chosen address might be encountering issues based on data points from the community.
Criteria 2: Credit Cards Not Banned
Basically, you want to make sure that your commercial mail forwarder doesn’t pull out Ghal-Maraz and incinerate your credit cards before they even get to you.
Many mail forwarders, for whatever reason, have decided that shipping credit cards is behaviour they will not allow. You should always check for terms and conditions to this effect before wasting money using them.
Let’s look at the fine print from the promising-looking Vyking Ship, based out of Minnesota.
Unfortunately, this isn’t unique to Vyking, and I can speak from experience that many other companies (such as Shipito and MyMallBox, erstwhile favourites among US credit card enthusiasts) will verbally deny shipping credit cards if you call them to ask.
Of course, these rules may not actually be enforced. There’s always a chance the warehouse doesn’t care what’s inside small pieces of letter mail and will simply forward your package. With so many competitors on the market, however, why bother risking it?
Read the terms and conditions carefully and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
So, How Do I Search For My Dream Forwarder?
In order to find a mail forwarder that works for you, the hard truth is you’ll have to do some legwork of your own.
In my own research, I’ve come across a fantastic little book called Moneyland. It draws some damning conclusions about the global banking system and international corporate secrecy laws. But I’m not Immanuel Kant; ethics are way beyond my scope today.
What I will state is that the author lists Delaware, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, Florida, and the Dakotas as being particularly lenient when it comes to their corporate anonymity laws. These are great places to start looking.
The reason that you want a US state with laxer corporate secrecy laws is because they are, for whatever reason, less likely to register their business (or get it flagged) as a CMRA. I’ve input a few companies from these states and they usually show as “clean” for the purposes we’re using them for.
If you can’t find anything in one of these forwarding-friendly states, I’d then suggest looking to places geographically closer to your location, as I personally haven’t found much success with companies based out of Hawaii and Alaska.
The last option available to you is to follow the advice of Shawn of the Dead.
Once we are able to host Miles & Points get-togethers again in person, I’m sure that we will have plenty of opportunities to swap data points of mail forwarders that have worked for us and our loved ones.
Failing that, Ricky is always live-streaming and dropping hints for Prince of Travel Patreon members – I even cameo once in a while and would be delighted to answer your US credit card game questions!
When in Doubt, Call In
I’ve written a lot of calling-in scripts now, but I’ll be honest: I love talking on the phone. The personal factor has allowed me to glean a lot more information than is available via the impartiality of the internet.
Here’s a winning script and some follow-ups I’ve found have worked to inquire whether a potential non-CMRA forwarder will be open to shipping my credit cards, and at what price if none is publicly listed.
“Hello, my name is Kirin Tsang. I’m calling to inquire about your postal services as I’m a Canadian who’s what we call a snowbird – I spend a lot of time down South at my dad’s winter home, but mostly I’m cooped up here in Alberta.
“I have a lot of US banking I do down South and I’m pretty worried I won’t be able to get my financial needs met when I’m up here most of the year. Are you able to forward things like bank statements, credit cards, etc. up to Canada?”
Usually, if the representative denies being able to ship credit cards, they’ll cite US Customs or a company policy as the reason. If that’s the case I politely terminate the call.
If they seem open to the prospect, I ask them:
“Is there any kind of premium for this service? I’m not shipping packages, only letters. Is there a tiered pricing system or is it based on a flat rate per package?”
If they respond that it’s courier only, I’ll usually move on due to the cost, but there have been others who are more reasonable. Companies that operate via subscription often won’t fleece you too hard on individual letters.
That being said, if you’re currently holding an American Express card with the $270 in FedEx credits, then maybe arranging for a courier from one of these more obscure forwarders isn’t a terrible idea.
Things to Always Consider
One of your biggest concerns should be monetary: am I getting value from the service I’m using?
If you’re going to be hitting that US address with multiple cards for yourself and Player 2, then absolutely consider buying a year-long membership if you’re using a company that works off the subscription model.
If you’re looking at getting only one or two cards, then maybe pausing a subscription with the option to reactivate in the future is in your best interest. You could also test your luck and look for companies that only charge by each individual letter.
My personal experience with companies that charge less for smaller items (without a subscription fee) hasn’t been great. During the present pandemic, they are incentivized to make as much money as possible, as well as free up shelf space in their overburdened warehouses.
As a result, they’ve largely chosen to move high-revenue, volume-consuming packages out of storage long before they even bother to catalogue your shiny new American Express US Platinum Card. And here I thought the grass was sweeter across the border from Alberta…
Also keep in mind that sometimes geography is going to be less relevant than you think. Would it be ideal, when mail services are running as intended, to have a mail forwarder in New York State if you’re in Ontario? Absolutely.
Right now, though, things aren’t normal. Mail is routinely delayed, and many parcels are getting routed to the same bottleneck depots regardless of their origin.
A “few-questions-asked” physical address in Idaho with low fees could be a much better idea than something that seems like it will be faster. Remember, this game is a marathon, not a sprint.
If your first US credit card comes with a six-month minimum spending window, it’s better to not rush things than potentially jeopardize your relationship with the company through an eyebrow-raising failed delivery.
Let’s face it: many of the Canadian credit card offers of the past 12 months have left a lot to be desired. While there’s some promising uptick in the market, none of our current welcome bonuses can hold a candle to the best credit card offers of the US market.
US credit card offers are an amazing way to kickstart your travel goals for when we can all move freely once again. Unless you have family or friends in the US whom you can badger into letting you use their address, the key to taking advantage is to find a reliable mail-forwarding service that lets you get the most lucrative cards without too much fuss.
Follow the hints and tricks I’ve given above, and you’ll be able to find a suitable and affordable forwarder that fits your needs.
If you’re still confused or need assistance, hop in the comments down below. Or, if you want to level up your game, I’d love to see you in the Prince of Travel Club Lounge on Discord to chat with you person-to-person.
Until next time, may your mail be rapidly delivered!