Is it worth getting started with US credit cards?

Getting into the US game is a long-term investment in your ability to travel the world on points. That's because there's quite a bit of work involved to get things set up, but the sheer breadth of the US credit card market means that you'll be able to benefit from:

  • A higher volume of points that you can earn from US credit cards
  • A wider range of points currencies and frequent flyer programs that you can access

For newbies, I'd recommend making sure that you're comfortable with the Canadian side of the game before looking to the US.

If you’ve read my in-depth guide to Getting US Credit Cards for Canadians, you’ll know that there’s quite a bit of work to do before you can start applying for US cards. In particular, you’ll need:

  • A US mail forwarding address, unless you have a US residential address you can use

  • A US bank account

  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), unless you have a Social Security Number (SSN)

Each step requires a bit of legwork to get set up. In light of this, many people often wonder whether it’s worthwhile to go through the process.

The truth is that Canada as a credit card market will always be relatively limited compared to the US, given the much larger population base and appetite for spending south of the border. Indeed, while there are maybe a handful of compelling offers in Canada at any given moment, there will be dozens upon dozens of credit card offers with huge signup bonuses in the US for you to choose from.

Therefore, one of the main benefits of dipping your toes into the US market is to gain access to a much larger volume of points through credit card signup bonuses than if you only applied for Canadian cards.

Meanwhile, the other benefit is that you get to enjoy a much wider range of points programs and earn different types of points that wouldn’t be accessible here in Canada.

For example, if you wanted to collect hotel points as a Canadian, you really only have the choice of Marriott (via the Amex SPG Card or the Amex Business SPG Card) or Best Western (via the MBNA Best Western Rewards MasterCard). If you expanded your portfolio into the US, you’d be able to earn additional points with Hyatt, Hilton, IHG, etc.

Moreover, once you’ve gotten past the initial process of getting everything set up, then there’s really not much work to be done besides waiting for your credit history to age as time passes.

I’d therefore say that it’s definitely worthwhile for intermediate-to-advanced points collectors to look towards the US for further bonuses. Meanwhile, I’d recommend beginners to make sure that they full grasp the Canadian game before taking that extra step.


Last updated 23 November 2018. Any questions?
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