Note: As of 2020, CreditStacks has rebranded to the Jasper Card. These two brands are one and the same. You can apply and get approved for the CreditStacks credit card before you arrive in the U.S. However, the card is intended for high-income employees and doesn’t offer as many perks as other credit cards.
While there are many new ways to build credit in the U.S. after arriving in the country, CreditStacks has taken a unique approach. Newcomers can apply for its credit card up to 60 days before setting foot in the U.S. The card can be mailed to a U.S. address once you’re 10 days away from your expected move date and will be waiting for you and ready for use when your arrive.
The CreditStacks credit card isn’t necessarily the best credit card for people who don’t have a U.S. credit history, and some applicants won’t qualify. But it offers a few perks to cardholders and is worth considering if you’re moving (or recently moved) to the U.S. for work.
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Jasper / CreditStacks credit card highlights
No U.S. credit score or history required
No Social Security number required unless you’ve lived in the U.S. for at least a year
Get approved up to 60 days before arriving in the U.S.
No annual fee, foreign transaction fees or penalty APR
No security deposit
Receive a credit limit of up to $5,000
Includes cardholder benefits from Mastercard
Created for high-earning employees
Doesn’t offer rewards
Doesn’t report to all three major U.S. credit bureau
Where the Jasper credit card shines
The CreditStacks credit card is one of the only cards that’s available to U.S. newcomers based on an employment offer rather than credit or banking history. Here’s why we like it:
Qualify without an SSN or U.S. credit history
One of the primary features of the CreditStacks is that you can apply and get approved for the credit card even if you don’t have a Social Security number (SSN) or credit history in the U.S.
If you’ve already been living in the United States for at least a year, you’ll need to share your SSN and agree to a credit check when applying. CreditStacks will consider your credit history—if you have one—when deciding to approve or deny your application and set your credit limit.
Applicants who don’t have a U.S. credit history can submit a copy of their passport and proof of employment in the U.S. You’ll also need to share your visa information and a copy of your Form I-797 if your passport hasn’t been stamped yet.
CreditStacks may approve your application up to 60 days before you’re set to arrive in the U.S. However, it will only send the card to a U.S. address (you can use your work address), and won’t mail it sooner than 10 days before your anticipated arrival date. The card should take two to three business days to arrive, so it may be there waiting for you.
CreditStacks asks that you share your SSN within 60 days of activating your card. It can then add this information to your account and report it to the credit bureaus.
No annual or foreign transaction fees
In the U.S., credit cards that are designed for people who are new to credit or rebuilding their credit may charge you an annual fee to open the card. Some cards also have transaction-based fees like foreign transaction fees, which are added to every purchase you make outside the U.S. or in non-U.S. dollars.
The CreditStacks card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. And, you won’t have to pay to get a replacement card if your card is lost or stolen. While there is a late payment fee, missing a payment won’t lead to a higher interest rate on your account—called a penalty annual percentage rate (APR) on some cards.
A (potentially) high credit limit
CreditStacks advertises that you can get approved for a credit limit of up to $5,000. A higher credit line can make it easier to use your card, especially if you need to make large purchases to furnish a new home or book travel accommodations.
While you won’t know your exact limit until after you’re approved, the high potential is nice. Other unsecured cards for people who don’t have a lot of credit may offer much lower limits. Or, with secured credit cards, you have to give the company a large security deposit if you want a high limit.
A high credit limit can also help you maintain a low credit utilization rate. Your utilization rate is a comparison of your card balances and credit limits, and it can play an important role in determining your credit scores. The lower your balance compared to your limit the better, so having higher credit limits (or using your card for less expensive purchases) can help your scores.
Basic cardholder benefits
The CreditStacks offers several benefits as the card is part of the Mastercard network. These are valuable and may be better than what you’ll receive from credit-builder secured card, but they’re also fairly basic and you can find similar benefits on most credit cards from major issuers.
Some of the highlights include zero liability on unauthorized purchases, up to one year of extended warranties on eligible purchases and a cell phone insurance plan that may reimburse you for up to $600 (after a $50 deductible) if your phone is stolen or damaged.
Drawbacks of the Jasper / CreditStacks credit card
It may be one of the few cards you can qualify for before moving to the U.S., but there are also a few cons that might make an alternative option a better pick.
Doesn’t report to all three credit bureaus
If one of your goals is to build credit, you likely want an account that gets reported to all three major credit bureaus in the U.S., Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
The credit bureaus collect and store financial and personal information and use it to create credit reports. Your credit reports can impact your ability to qualify for additional lending products, rent an apartment, buy a cell phone or get a new job or promotion. Your credit reports are also the basis for your credit scores.
When you’re building credit, having an account that reports to all three bureaus can be important because you don’t know which credit report a potential creditor will request. If your account only reports to Equifax, you won’t have that credit history in your Experian and TransUnion credit history, and it won’t help you if a creditor requests your Experian report.
Most major U.S. credit card issuers and lenders report to all three bureaus, but some smaller companies don’t. Currently, CreditStacks only reports to Equifax, although it’s working on reporting to the other two bureaus as well.
No rewards program
A rewards program might not be the most important feature in a credit card, particularly if you’re new to the U.S. and focused on building credit or having a means to pay for large purchases. However, there are many rewards credit cards available to U.S newcomers and lifelong citizens alike.
Depending on the card, you may be able to earn 1.5% to 2% cash back on your purchases—or points or miles in a rewards program—and save money overall or redeem the rewards to travel home for free. Some rewards cards, such as the Platinum Card from American Express, even offer cardholder benefits, such as status in hotel loyalty programs and statement credits to offset eligible purchases.
May be hard to qualify
Although you don’t need an established credit history to get the CreditStacks card, the card is created for relocating professionals, and you may need a good employment offer to qualify for the card or get a decent credit limit.
Can’t add authorized users
You can sometimes help a friend or family member build good credit by adding them as an authorized user on your credit card. The card company can then report the account to the credit bureaus under their name.
It’s a basic credit-building technique that depends on the card company’s policies. For example, some card companies don’t report authorized users who are under 18. Or, in the case of CreditStacks, you’re not allowed to add an authorized user at all.
Did you know?
You can use your international credit history to apply for a U.S. credit card without a Social Security Number
Credit history used to stop at the border—until now. Your existing international credit history could help you get credit in the United States. No SSN is required to start your credit history today.Learn More
Alternative credit cards to consider
While the CreditStacks card can be a good option for professionals moving to the U.S., and some professionals who’ve already arrived, you may qualify for other cards that offer more perks and fewer drawbacks.
For example, Nova Credit and American Express have partnered to allow people from Australia, Canda, India, Mexico and the UK to use their credit history from their home country to apply for a U.S. American Express credit card. There are also several cards that you may be able to qualify for based on your bank account history, rather than your U.S. credit history.
Here are several picks that you may find appealing:
American Express Cash Magnet® Card
When you use the American Express Cash Magnet® Card, you can earn 1.5% cash back on every eligible purchase. You may also qualify for an intro bonus, giving you extra cash back rewards if you meet a minimum spending requirement soon after receiving the card. There’s no annual fee, but the 2.7% foreign transaction fee may make this a less-than-ideal option if you’ll want a card for purchases outside the U.S. as well.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a tiered cash back card that offers a base 1% cash back rate on eligible purchases. You can also earn bonus cash back on purchases in specific categories—a total of 3% cash back on up to $6,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. As with the American Express Cash Magnet® Card, there’s a 2.7% foreign transaction fee but no annual fee.
A Deserve credit card
Similar to Petal, Deserve lets you connect a U.S. bank account and try to qualify for a credit card based on your banking (rather than credit) history. Deserve offers three cards, one each for U.S. newcomers, students, and established professionals. The benefits and drawbacks vary with each, but none of the three cards have an annual fee.
Petal Visa Credit Card
The Petal Visa Credit Card is a good option if you don’t have a credit history and want a rewards card. It offers 1% to 1.5% cash back on all your purchases (the rate increases after you make qualifying on-time monthly payments), doesn’t have an annual fee and reports to all three U.S. consumer credit bureaus. There’s also no foreign transaction fee pr late fee to worry about. However, you’ll need to have an eligible U.S. bank account that you can connect when applying for the Petal Visa Credit Card.
Moved to the U.S. from Australia, India or the UK?
Apply for U.S. credit cards with confidence
Access your free international credit report to see which U.S. credit cards you could already be eligible for. No SSN required.
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