How to Apply for Credit Card in the U.S. | See Requirements

Are you a resident of the United States of America and you have been searching for a way to get a credit card for your daily shopping? Here is the article that you cannot afford to miss. In this article, I am going to show everything that you need to know about how to apply for a credit card in the USA.

Having a credit card in the United States of America USA is helpful for a number of reasons. Credit cards are safer to use than cash or debit cards, and they’re one of the easiest ways to build credit.

The best credit cards also frequently come with benefits like the chance to earn rewards for certain types of purchases, such as grocery store or travel purchases in the USA. See How to Apply and Activate SBI Credit Card.

The U.S. today is home to more than 350 million credit cards. To put that number in perspective, consider the fact that, with a population of approximately 326.6 million people, the U.S. officially has more credit cards than people.

More surprising than the sheer number of cards, may be that, despite the fact that the U.S. has more than 5,700 commercial banks; the majority of those hundreds of millions of cards are issued by only 10 of them.

If you are in the USA and you want to know how to apply for a credit card, ensure you read this article carefully to the end.

Documents Required for Credit Card Application in USA

You will need to provide your personal information and copies of certain documents to apply for a credit card, including your:

  • Legal name
  • Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Mailing address
  • Birthdate
  • Employment status
  • Income information
  • Debt information
  • Permission to pull your credit history

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act) of 2009 also requires an applicant to be at least 21 to apply for a credit card, (or 18 with proof of independent income).

How to Apply For a Credit Card in the USA

Applying for a credit card in the US can be an intimidating concept for many international students, particularly those from countries that are largely run on cash or debit cards. See How To Apply For Amazon Credit Card

The United States is a largely cashless society, and having a credit card for the length of your stay will be extremely convenient, and it is essential in establishing a line of credit (especially if you want things like a mobile phone, or to buy a house).

However, the following steps are involved in the application of credit cards in USA:

Step 1 – Apply for a Social Security Number

The major requirement that banks have for applying for a credit card in the US is a Social Security Number (SSN). SSNs are assigned to people who are authorized to work in the US, and are used to report your wages to the government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits.

If you are a student studying in the US on an F-1, M-1, or J-1 student visa, and are authorized to work in the US, you can apply for an SSN.

In order to apply for an SSN, you must first have employment in the US (for off-campus employment, you are going to have to receive authorization from the Department of Homeland Security).

To apply for an SSN, you will need to complete an Application for a Social Security Care (Form SS-5) and show documents proving your work-authorized immigration status, age, and identity. You will then take your application and documents to your local Social Security office.

If you are not employed or have an SSN, never fear! Some banks will be willing to waive the SSN requirement for you.

Step 2 – Apply for Credit Cards

When applying for a credit card, you will need to provide a permanent address; you can use your school address for this. Having a steady source of income and a checking or savings account will boost your chances of being accepted.

It is also a good idea not to apply for too many cards at once because too many rejections will negatively affect your chances of another financial institute accepting your application. Try to submit only one or two applications, particularly for cards designed for students with lower credit lines.

You should also consider applying online on a secured site. This way, your personal data goes straight to the financial institute, eliminating the risk of a third party obtaining your information and reducing the possibility of identity theft.

DESERVE provides international students like you with the opportunity to have a credit card, even if you don’t have a social security number or credit history. 

Step 3 – Wait!

Once you have followed those steps, you will just need to wait for the approval decision. As an international student just coming into the USA, it can be very hard to secure credit, and you may find that you will be rejected from many banks. A few tips to help you overcome this are:

Secured Credit Cards

For many international students, it is difficult to get a credit card in the US because they have not yet spent time building up a credit history and because they are not US residents.

You may want to consider using a “secured credit card.” The cards offer some of the conveniences of a credit card, but you secure your card with a deposit that becomes your credit line. These cards are reported as regular credit cards on your credit report.

Building a Credit History

Building a credit history is essential for many things in the US, including securing housing and utilities. To help you with this, you will want to manage your card balances wisely.

Because of the convenience of credit cards, it is easy to overspend and not pay your balances on time. Remember that when you use your credit card, you end up owing that money.

It is generally a good idea to avoid spending more than 30% of your spending limit. For example, if you have a card with a maximum spending limit of $300, you should charge more than $90 to that card in a month. It is also imperative that you pay your balance on time.

Do not apply for too many cards at once as it can negatively impact your credit!

Summary: How To Get a Credit Card

  1. Visit the issuer’s website. Or if you prefer, you can apply in person at a local branch or over the phone.
  2. Submit an application for a new card.
  3. Await approval.
  4. Receive approval decision.
  5. If approved, wait 5-7 business days to receive your new card in the mail.
  6. If denied, consider calling the credit card issuer’s reconsideration line to see if they’ll reverse their decision.

Things To Consider When Choosing a Credit Card

Once you’re ready to apply, it’s time to decide which type of credit card will be the best for your individual needs.

There is no perfect credit card, but considering where and how you spend your money may help you find a match, especially when it comes to category-based reward earning.

Decide Among Low Interest, 0% APR or Rewards

Generally, you’ll want to choose from one of the following options:

  • A low-interest card: This type of credit card has a lower-than-average annual percentage rate (APR) and is best if you think you’ll have to carry a balance from time to time, as it will reduce the amount of interest you pay. However, we never recommend carrying a balance if it can be avoided.
  • A 0% APR card: This comes with an introductory 0% APR offer on either purchases, balance transfers or both and is best for someone with some existing debt looking to pay it down or someone who has to make a big purchase and wants a little breathing room to pay it off.
  • A rewards card: These earn rewards in the form of cash back, points or miles based on a percentage of spending. The rates vary. Rewards cards typically require good to excellent credit.
  • Best 0% APR & Low Interest Credit Cards Of 2023

Cash Back vs. Flexible Reward Points

When you’re trying to decide between a cash-back card or a flexible rewards card, it’s important to determine if the card’s rewards align with your spending habits.

Someone who rarely flies, for example, may not benefit as much from a premium travel card that earns miles redeemable for future flights.

For more flexible rewards, a cash-back card might be the right choice. But for someone who is frequently on the go or who wants some travel perks, it might be worth applying for a travel card that offers benefits like airport lounge access or free checked bags.

Issuer-Exclusive vs. Co-branded Credit Card

If you think a travel card is right for you, decide between a general travel card or a co-branded one. A general travel card earns flexible rewards you can use toward any flight, hotel or many other types of travel.

Examples include an American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points or a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards® points.

Cards like these typically earn points that can be redeemed through the issuer’s travel site for travel in multiple ways.

Co-branded cards will earn rewards in the currency of the card’s brand, like Marriott Bonvoy points, Delta SkyMiles or Southwest Rapid Rewards.

With these cards, you generally get the most value in using your earnings toward future flights or hotel stays, although in some cases you can transfer your miles to another airline within the same airline alliance.

I hope you have found useful information in this article. In case of any other questions about how to apply for credit in USA, kindly make use of the comment section below.

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