If you’re new to the United States. and have a credit history in Australia, Canada, India, Mexico or the UK, you can apply for an American Express card without a Social Security number by selecting the option to share your international credit history in the online application. Below, we’ll walk you through various steps of the application process to help you get started. 

Whether you’re temporarily moving to the U.S. for school or work or relocating for the long-term, it may be wise to get a credit card. Even if you’re not in the habit of using a card to make purchases, establishing credit is necessary to accomplish basic tasks like getting an apartment lease, student loan, car lease or cell phone plan. Crossing the border used to mean losing the credit history you built at home, but thankfully you can apply for a card with your international credit card through a partnership between American Express and Nova Credit. 

Getting a credit card can help you accomplish two goals -- it can get you the card itself, and also help you to start building a U.S. credit score, which usually takes about six months of card use. 

Determine your needs 

Before applying for a new American Express card, think about your top priorities for your card. Are you focused on earning rewards such as miles or cash back on purchases, or would you prefer a card with minimal fees? (Cards with reward programs often charge higher annual fees, which can be worth the cost if you value the rewards involved.) What kinds of purchases will you be making with your card and will those purchases help you earn the rewards you’d prefer? American Express has several cards that meet various needs. You can explore different options by reading Best American Express Cards for Newcomers.

Make sure to carefully review the card terms, conditions, benefits, and fees before selecting the card that’s right for you.

Begin your online application

Visit the Nova Credit credit card shop to explore cards we recommend for newcomers. Once you’ve selected the card you’d like, click "Get Started," then hit the "Apply Now" button to fill out the application form.

When you begin your application, American Express will ask you for information including your name, email address, date of birth, phone number, address, and an estimate of your annual income. If you don’t have a Social Security number, you have the option to click a box that says  “I don’t have a credit history in the U.S. but have had a credit card or loan in Australia, Canada, India, Mexico or the UK.” Clicking this box will allow you to enter a form of driver’s license, passport, green card or visa to allow Nova Credit to share your international credit history with American Express as part of your application.

Enter information in your Credit Passport®

At this stage, Nova Credit will search for your file through our partnerships with credit bureaus in those five countries. If your information is successfully authenticated, American Express will use your international credit data to evaluate your application. If you are approved, you typically will receive a decision in less than a minute. If not, your application may be marked as pending until you’re able to share a little more information with American Express. If you don't qualify for the card of your choice, consider exploring other American Express card options. The best way to address questions about your status is to speak to an American Express representative.

Look out for your card in the mail

Applicants who are instantly approved will receive their card numbers digitally. A physical card will come in the mail within seven to 10 business days. For some cards like the American Express Platinum Card®, however, you can request expedited shipping to shorten the delivery time. 

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More from Nova Credit:
Credit Cards for No Credit

Credit Cards for International Students

Credit Cards Without SSN

American Express Cards

How to Build Credit

How to use your international credit report to get credit in the U.S.