American Credit Card Guide for International Students

American Credit Card Guide for International Students

American Credit Card Guide for International Students: How Can Apply for U.S. Credit Cards

Why Apply for a U.S. Credit Card?

Hey there, dear international students! Just landed in the United States and feeling confused about the credit card system here? Fear not, with my guidance, let’s explore the world of American credit cards together, starting from scratch!

  1. Credit History, the Key to Life: Did you know? In the U.S., your credit history is like the key to your life. Credit card companies report your card usage to credit bureaus, shaping your credit score. A good credit score eases various aspects of life, like buying a home, a car, or job hunting. Thus, mastering credit card use is akin to holding a master key in the U.S.!
  2. Rewards for Spending: Credit cards offer rewards for spending. As you enjoy dining and entertainment, your card accumulates points. These can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, shopping vouchers, and more, adding color to your life! Not to forget the unique sign-up bonuses, some as high as a thousand dollars, like Chase’s CSP.
  3. Extra Protection, Your Safety Net: Besides purchase protection and travel insurance, most credit cards offer zero liability protection. It means if your card is fraudulently used, timely reporting usually results in the credit card company resolving it immediately, protecting your wallet and credit record. Thus, a credit card acts as a safety net in your life!

But remember, despite these benefits, credit cards have another side. Remember to spend wisely and avoid overspending – a crucial rule for all credit card users!

American Credit Card Guide for International Students –

What’s the Best First Card? Discover Credit Card

  • SSN Required
  • Credit History Required for Application: None

For students new to the U.S., applying for your first credit card can be challenging. Credit card companies might find it hard to assess your credit risk, often leading to declined applications.

However, some cards, like Discover, are designed for those without a credit history. With relatively lenient application criteria, even those without a credit history can succeed in obtaining a card, provided they have an SSN. That’s why Discover is recommended as your first credit card.

Benefits:

  • No Annual Fee: This means no extra fees to maintain the card – a great way to save!
  • Up to 5% Cashback: Discover offers amazing 5% cashback in specific categories each quarter (useful ones like Walmart, Amazon, Gas stations) and 1% on other purchases.
  • First-Year Cashback Match: For new cardholders, all cashback earned in the first 12 billing cycles gets doubled!
  • Sign-Up Bonus: Applying through a referral link can earn you a $100 bonus.
  • Ideal for Those with No Credit History: Especially suitable for students without a credit record.
  • Global Use Without Fees: Discover has no foreign transaction fees, making it worry-free for use anywhere in the world.

Characteristics: Perfect as the first credit card for new immigrants with an SSN, it helps in quickly building a good credit history, paving the way for future premium cards!

American Credit Card Guide for International Students –

The Ultimate Shopping Card for Students American Express’s BCP Card: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express (BCP)

  • SSN Required
  • Credit History Required for Application: None

Benefits:

  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn a $250 bonus by spending $3000 within six months.
  • 6% Cashback at Supermarkets: Up to $6000 annually, the highest in its category! Note: Places like Walmart and Sams are excluded, but others like local supermarkets are included.
  • 6% Cashback on Streaming Services: Get cashback for subscriptions like HBO, Netflix, etc.
  • 3% Cashback on Gas and Transit, 1% on Other Categories.
  • Easy Application: Can be applied for without an SSN.

Drawbacks:

  • Annual Fee: $95/year, waived for the first year. For monthly supermarket expenses over $260, BCP is more beneficial than the no-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday Card.
  • Foreign Transaction Fee (FTF): Remember to switch cards when traveling abroad.

Characteristics: The BCP card is a money-saver, especially for those passionate about cooking and frequent supermarket visits. Even without an SSN, it’s a viable option.

American Credit Card Guide for International Students –

Essential Advanced Card: The Sapphire Card Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (CSP), aka the Sapphire Card

  • SSN Required
  • Credit History Required for Application: >6 months

Benefits:

  • Huge Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 60,000 UR points, worth about $960, by spending $4000 within three months.
  • Annual Hotel Expense Reimbursement: Get an easy $50 reimbursement each year.
  • Multiple Cashback Opportunities: Ideal for travel enthusiasts with its varied cashback rates on different categories.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Use it abroad without extra charges.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: A metallic card that catches the eye.

Drawbacks:

  • Annual Fee: $95, not waived for the first year.
  • Higher Credit History Requirement: If initially declined, a phone call may be required for reconsideration.

Summary: CSP is highly recommended for those who travel frequently and indulge in dining and online shopping. Its valuable rewards and sign-up bonus make it a key player in the Chase family.

American Credit Card Guide for International Students – 

The Most Cost-Efficient Premium Card :American Express’s Hilton Aspire Card

  • SSN Not Required
  • Credit History Required for Application: >6 months

Benefits:

  • 150,000 Hilton Honors Points as Sign-Up Bonus (worth about $600).
  • Annual Free Night: Redeemable at almost any Hilton hotel.
  • Up to $250 Annual Resort Stay Reimbursement.
  • $250 Annual Airline Fee Credit.
  • Permanent Hilton Diamond Membership: Offers benefits like free breakfast and room upgrades.
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select Card.

Drawbacks:

  • Annual Fee: $450/year, not waived for the first year, but effectively a “negative fee” card considering the benefits.

Characteristics: The Hilton Aspire Card is a “negative fee” high-end card, ideal for hotel enthusiasts. Despite its high annual fee, the card offers outstanding value and benefits.