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How to apply for an American Express card with your international credit history

Moving to the U.S. used to mean that you have to build credit from scratch to apply for credit cards. Now you can apply for American Express cards in the U.S. with your international credit history through Nova Credit.

American Express is a Nova Credit advertiser. This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

If you’ve recently moved to the U.S., you likely won't get around applying for a U.S. credit card. Even if you’re not in the habit of using a credit card to make purchases, establishing good credit history in the U.S. can be necessary to accomplish basic tasks like getting an apartment lease, student loan, car lease or cell phone plan. Getting a credit card can help you accomplish both of these goals - it can get you the card itself, and also help you to start building a U.S. credit score. 

You can now apply for American Express Personal Cards by selecting the option to share your international credit history in the American Express online application. Below, we’ll walk you through various steps of the application process to help you get started. 

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 higher 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 Featured 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.

Complete 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 the "Apply Now" button to fill out the application form.

Two important things to keep in mind before you begin your application:

  1. Confirm that you have a good or excellent credit score in your home country: Your credit score could affect your chances of approval of an American Express card. If you’re from Australia or India, you can use Ellis by Nova Credit to check your home country credit score. If you’re from Canada, Mexico or the UK, you can check your credit score on the websites of your home country bureau (click for Canada, Mexico or the UK)

  2. Confirm that you can prove your U.S. residential address: This is usually done via a U.S. bank account, phone bill, utility bill, or an SSN. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of documents required to complete your application

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. 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 home country 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 home country credit file through our partnerships with credit bureaus in those five countries (Australia, Canada, India, Mexico or the UK). If your information is successfully authenticated by Nova Credit, American Express will use your home country credit data to evaluate your application. If you are approved, you typically will receive a decision instantly. In some cases, your application may be marked as pending until you’re able to share more information requested by American Express in order to verify your information. 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.

New! You can use your international credit history from Australia, Canada, India, Mexico and the UK to apply for an American Express ® Personal Card in the U.S.