Absolutely! I applied for my Bank of America BankAmericard secured credit card as an H-1B visa holders, and I wish I had obtained my first credit card when I was an international student at Colgate. By the way, to my American readers who may not be well-versed about immigration stati, any foreign citizen that is living in the US is classified by the IRS as an alien. Those like me that don’t have permanent residency either are called non-resident aliens. Someone from the IRS has a good sense of humor.
I know that I asked myself this question at some point while being a college student, and so did many of my friends who were international students. So for the future generations of international students, let’s settle this once and for all. The answer is, again: Yes you can!
In order to apply for a credit card in the US, the only strong requirement is a Social Security Number (SSN for short). In addition, you’ll be asked to provide a permanent address, for which you can use your school address. If you have a campus job that provides you with some income, great! If you have a checking or savings account, awesome! Having some income will boost your chance, and your best shot would be with your bank’s credit cards, especially their secured credit cards:
I’ve had great experience with Bank of America’s credit cards thanks to the banking relationship I have with them. Definitely talk to your bank if you are looking for a credit card.
So what if you don’t have an SSN? Well, too bad …. Actually, I know at least one bank that issues credit cards without requiring an SSN: Wells Fargo. If your bank cannot waive the SSN requirement for you, I would talk to Wells Fargo.
Feel free to check out this section of my blog: https://hiepsfinance.wordpress.com/credit-builders/ for more information on building credit. Everything I write applies to both US citizens and aliens. And of course, if you have questions please leave a comment!
It’s great to be an alien!
Richard (Hiep Tran)