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Featured American Express Cards for U.S. newcomers
This article discusses some of the best American Express Cards for U.S. newcomers, which you may be able to apply for using your foreign credit history.
If you recently moved to the U.S., you've probably experienced how hard it is to get a credit card. Since many credit card issuers require a U.S. credit history, there are limited options for non-U.S. citizens who have just arrived.
Fortunately, American Express has partnered with Nova Credit to enable newcomers from supported countries to use their foreign credit history when applying for any American Express Personal Card—no U.S. credit history required.
American Express also allows you to use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in the application if you do not have a Social Security number (SSN).
Each card has its pros and cons, but here are our top picks for newcomers:
Our pick for no annual fee: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Our pick for grocery shopping: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Our pick for dining out: American Express® Gold Card
Our pick for luxury travel: Platinum Card® from American Express
Put your foreign credit score to work in the United States
Check if you're eligible to use your foreign credit history to apply for a U.S. credit card, even without an SSN.
Our pick for no annual fee:
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Why we chose it: American Express offers several credit cards that do not have an annual fee, which could be a good fit if you don’t expect to regularly use the card. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card could be a particularly good option if you often shop at supermarkets and commute by car, since it has 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations.
Our pick for grocery shopping:
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Why we chose it: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has long been a favorite for its high cash back rate at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations. The card also includes bonus cash back categories for statement credit, U.S. streaming subscriptions, and commuting.
Before applying, review your budget to determine whether the Blue Cash Everyday® or Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express will yield more cash back after taking the annual fee into account.
Our pick for dining out:
American Express® Gold Card
Why we chose it: The American Express® Gold Card is an ideal American Express card for excellent all-around “food” rewards, since you earn 4x Membership Rewards® (MR) points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets. The card offers a few travel perks and a nice intro offer as well, but the high annual fee might be off-putting to some applicants.
Our pick for luxury travel:
Platinum Card® from American Express
Why we chose it: If you’re looking for a more luxurious travel experience, complete with airport lounge access, shorter airport lines, and complimentary upgrades to nicer hotel rooms, the Platinum Card® from American Express may be a great option.
It continually ranks among the best premium travel rewards cards from all credit card issuers. The annual fee is certainly steep, but the card’s various statement credits can help dampen the impact on your wallet.
See also: Who should and who shouldn't apply for the American Express Platinum card?
Comparing rewards cards for non-U.S. citizens
When choosing the right credit card for you, it’s important to understand how credit card rewards work in the U.S. If you’re looking for a rewards card with American Express, it will offer rewards as cash back in the form of Reward Dollars or Membership Rewards® points (Amex’s rewards programs).
Amex cards generally have a base rate of 1% cash back or 1X Membership Rewards points on purchases, and bonus points or cash back on eligible purchases from certain merchants. Many cards also have a welcome bonus offer for new cardholders, which can greatly increase the value of a card during the first year if you meet the minimum spending requirements.
The value of Membership Rewards points will depend on which Amex card you have and how you redeem your points. For example, you could redeem Membership Rewards for statement credits and receive roughly 0.6 cents per point, for gift cards 0.7 to one cent per point, or transfer them to one of the eligible hotel or airline loyalty programs to book hotel stays or flights at roughly 2 cents per point.
Consider the earned welcome offer, fees, and bonus earning rates as you compare the best Amex credit card offers and narrow in on which card will be the best fit.
How to apply for an American Express card with foreign credit history
If you have just moved to the U.S., American Express could be an excellent choice for your first U.S. credit card. Through their partnership with Nova Credit, American Express enables newcomers from supported countries to use their foreign credit history when applying for any of AmEx personal card—no U.S. credit history required.
Supported countries include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, South Korea, Switzerland, or the U.K.
You can browse all supported cards and read Nova Credit’s step-by-step instructions guide on how to apply online once you’ve moved to the U.S.
Important note (for all Amex cards): On the American Express application page, you will have the option to click "I don't have credit history in the U.S." in the Social Security Number (SSN) field of the application page. This will prompt American Express to ask you to use your foreign credit history later in the application.
Nova Credit also lets you use your foreign credit history to apply for other essential products and services from our partners, such as phone plans from Verizon, auto loans, and more.
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.
More from Nova Credit:
Credit Cards for International Students