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If you are a Canadian who frequently purchases US goods, a US credit card could be beneficial to your budget. Sure, the Canadian Dollar is currently slightly stronger than the US Dollar, but that benefit will be negated by the typical 2.5 percent conversion fee. Thus, it may make sense to use a US card and avoid that fee.
The easiest way for a Canadian to obtain a US credit card is through a Canadian financial institution. The process is the same as applying for a Canadian credit card, except that you’ll be able to make purchases in US dollars. You’ll need a Canadian credit history and have to meet the same requirements as you would for a standard Canadian credit card, but there isn’t much else to it.
Canadian Credit Cards That Use US Dollars
There are a few cards on the market for Canadians who make frequent US purchases. The following are a few such cards and a brief overview of each:
BMO US Dollar Credit Card – Recommended
In my opinion, this is the best Canadian-issued US dollar credit card. It has the lowest annual fee of the mentioned cards at $25. Also, if you spend at least $1,000 during a given year, the annual fee for the following year will be rebated. The interest rate on purchases is 19.5 percent, which is slightly lower than the rate found on the other mentioned cards. The US Dollar Credit Card also comes with purchase and fraud protection. It is a low-frills card, but it will get the job done for a low cost if you use it wisely.
RBC US Dollar Visa Gold
This card has an annual fee of $65 and an interest rate of 19.99 percent. The fee structure is moderate when compared to other RBC rewards cards.
You’ll get to use the Dollar Visa Gold card without conversion charges as long as you spend in US Dollars. Also, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent with this card. Additionally, you’ll have travel benefits such as travel accident insurance, auto rental insurance and more.
TD US Dollar Visa Card
The TD US Dollar Visa will also allow you to make purchases in US dollars without incurring a conversion fee. The annual fee on this card is $39 and the interest rate on purchases is 19.99 percent.
The US Dollar Visa Card does not offer any points or similar monetary rewards. However, you’ll have travel benefits such as auto rental insurance, travel accident insurance and more. Overall, this is a decent card for someone who wishes to keep expenses down while making purchases in US dollars.
CIBC US Dollar Visa
The CIBC US Dollar Visa has an annual fee of $35. On purchases, the interest rate is 19.99 percent. You’ll be able to make purchases in US dollars with this card. Other benefits include auto rental discounts and travel accident insurance.
How To Obtain an “Actual” US Credit Card.
1. Secured Credit Card
Instead of going with a Canadian-issued US credit card, you could go with a US-issued card.
Some US credit cards are issued to those with no credit – making it possible for a Canadian with no US credit history to get a card. Such cards are typically issued as secured credit cards, meaning that you’ll have to make a deposit to acquire one. The interest rates and credit limits may not be the most enticing on the market. However, if you would like to use a US credit card and build a US credit history, a secured card may be the way to go.
Note: Many credit card companies require US citizenship, so this may be a good route only if you have dual-citizenship.
2. Prime Card with Co-Signer
If you can find a co-signer, you may be able to secure a US credit card. Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Discover allow co-signers to help applicants secure cards. You may wish to contact these companies for further information based on your specific situation.
The Bottom Line
Like many other cases in the financial world, applying for a US credit card as a Canadian can be a bit of a headache. The easiest way is to do so through a Canadian issuer. However, if that doesn’t work for you, give one of the other methods a try.
Also, it may be worthwhile to consider the value of the Canadian Dollar. A Canadian Dollar will currently get just over $1.01 US worth of goods, making it worthwhile to skip the 2.5 percent conversion fee that many Canadian cards assess. However, if the Canadian Dollar becomes a little stronger, it may be worth it to just pay the conversion fee.
Whatever the case may be, there are several ways to obtain a US credit card. Once you’ve done so, be sure to keep up with currency values and conversion fees to determine when it is worthwhile to use your card.
Credit Shout is a community of personal finance experts dedicated to helping you save money and make smart financial decisions. Learn how to master your credit card rewards, improve your credit score and start eliminating your debt.