Login / Signup


Best 10 Credit Cards for Immigrants

Updated on April 8, 2024

At a Glance

  • A credit card is beneficial for US immigrants, allowing spending beyond available funds and building a good credit reputation.
  • Credit cards offer rewards, cash back, air miles, and fraud protection, making them universally accepted, especially for travel and online purchases.
  • They provide the flexibility of buying now and paying later.
  • Recommended credit cards for immigrants include Capital One Secured Mastercard, Discover It Secured Mastercard, US Bank Secured Credit Card, First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard Secured Credit Card, and OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card, depending on individual needs and preferences.

Adjusting to life in the US is difficult. Everyday demands to survive are stressful enough, yet immigrants must face those demands on top of figuring out the ins and outs of a new culture.

Most immigrants arrive with no US credit history, and credit is essential for setting up a life in the US. Without credit, lenders will not consider you a viable candidate for just about any loan. Credit cards are a fantastic opportunity to build your credit and establish yourself in the US.

There are multiple ways to get a credit card as an immigrant but the most common ones are to:

  1. Apply for credit cards with companies that are specifically focused on immigrants
  2. Get a secured credit card with any major bank like Bank of America, Discover, etc.

Read on to learn more!

10 Best Credit Cards for New Immigrants in the U.S.

Below, you will find our picks for the best credit cards for immigrants in the U.S.!

Capital One Platinum Credit Card (Best for Fair Credit)

Ideal for immigrants with fair credit, the Capital One Platinum card offers a chance to build credit history without an annual fee. It also comes with travel accident insurance, which can be a plus for immigrants who travel.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

3.6
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

630

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

30.74%

Overview

  • Minimum Credit Score: 630
  • Variable APR: 30.74%

Qualifications

  • Fair to good credit score (typically 580 or higher)
  • Proof of income
  • U.S. Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • U.S. resident with a valid address

Pros

  • Eligible for those with average credit
  • No yearly fee
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Higher than average APR
  • No rewards program

Capital One Quicksilver Card (Best for Good Credit and Cash Back)

For immigrants who’ve established good credit, the Capital One Quicksilver card provides a simple cash back program on all purchases and has no foreign transaction fees, making it great for those who travel back home or internationally.

Capital One Quicksilver Card

4.5
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

690

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

19.99%-29.99%

Overview

  • Minimum Credit Score: 690
  • Variable APR: 19.99%-29.99%

Qualifications

  • Good to excellent credit score (typically 690 or higher)
  • Proof of income
  • U.S. Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • U.S. resident with a valid address

Pros

  • No yearly fee
  • Attractive rewards rate
  • Intro APR period
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Requires a good to excellent credit rating
  • No specific bonus reward categories

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card (Best for Rebuilding Credit)

This is a secured credit card that doesn’t require a credit check, so it’s suitable for immigrants with poor credit or no credit history. A refundable deposit sets the credit limit. It can be an excellent tool to rebuild or establish credit in the U.S.

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

4.4
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

300

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

25.64%

Overview

  • Minimum Credit Score: 300
  • Variable APR: 25.64%

Qualifications

  • No credit check required
  • Must provide a refundable security deposit ($200 minimum)
  • U.S. resident with a valid address
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must have a source of income to cover credit obligations

Pros

  • Qualify with limited/bad credit

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Requires minimum deposit
  • No rewards program

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card (Best for Cash Rewards)

This secured card allows immigrants to earn cash back while building or rebuilding their credit. Users can earn higher cash back in categories of their choice, which is useful for tailoring rewards to spending habits.

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

4.3
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

670

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

28.24%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 670.
  • Fixed APR: 28.24%.

Qualifications

  • No specified minimum credit score required.
  • Good to excellent credit score enhances approval chances.
  • Existing relationship with Bank of America beneficial.
  • Good standing with current Bank of America accounts aids approval.

Pros

  • No membership fees
  • High rewards rate, including bonus categories
  • Accessible to those with poor credit

Cons

  • Rewards capped by spending limits
  • High regular APR
  • Foreign transaction fees
  • Mandatory security deposit

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Secured Card (Best for Cash Back)

A secured card that offers cash back on every purchase, with higher rates in categories you can choose, which is ideal for managing spending and earning rewards in areas that may be more relevant to an immigrant’s needs.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Secured Card

4.5
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

No minimum

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

29.49%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: No minimum
  • Variable APR:29.49%

Qualifications

  • No specific qualifications required.
  • Targeted at individuals with fair credit.
  • Suitable for those looking to improve their credit score.

Pros

  • No membership fees
  • High rewards rate, including bonus categories
  • Accessible for individuals with bad credit

Cons

  • Rewards limited by spending caps
  • High regular APR
  • Foreign transaction fees
  • Mandatory security deposit

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard (Best for Average Credit)

This card may be an appealing option for immigrants who have established some credit history in the U.S. and find themselves in the “average” credit category. It offers cash back rewards on everyday purchases, such as groceries and utilities, which can help with the costs of settling into a new country. Additionally, rewards don’t expire, providing flexibility in redemption.

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard

4.7
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

630

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

30.74%

Overview

  • Minimum Credit Score: 630
  • Variable APR: 30.74%

Qualifications

  • Good to excellent credit score (typically 700 or higher)
  • Proof of income
  • U.S. Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • U.S. resident with a valid address

Pros

  • Eligible for those with average credit
  • Attractive rewards rate
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Higher than average APR

Citi Rewards+ (Best for Good Credit)

Immigrants with good credit can benefit from the Citi Rewards+ card, which rounds up points on every purchase to the nearest ten and offers ThankYou points, which can be redeemed for a variety of rewards. This card also provides a bonus on points earned after spending a certain amount in the first few months, which can be advantageous for those making initial large purchases.

Citi Rewards+ Credit Card

3.7
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

690

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

14.49%-24.49%

Overview

  • Minimum Credit Score: 690
  • Variable APR: 14.49%-24.49%

Qualifications

  • Good to excellent credit score (typically 690 or higher)
  • Proof of income
  • U.S. Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • U.S. resident with a valid address

Pros

  • No yearly fee

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee

Wells Fargo Active Cash Credit Card (Best for High Cash Back)

For immigrants who have a strong credit history and are looking for straightforward high cash back rewards, the Wells Fargo Active Cash card is a strong contender. It offers a flat cash back rate on all purchases without category restrictions, making it simple and rewarding for everyday use. However, immigrants should be aware of any foreign transaction fees if they travel abroad.

Wells Fargo Active Cash Credit Card

4.4
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

670

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99%

Overview

  • Minimum Credit Score: 670
  • Variable APR: 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99%

Qualifications

  • Good to excellent credit score (typically 690 or higher)
  • Proof of income
  • U.S. Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • U.S. resident with a valid address

Pros

  • 2% cash rewards on all purchases
  • Introductory APR for purchases/balance transfers
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • 3% fee on foreign transactions
  • Better perks may be available with other cards
  • Lower value for travel rewards redemption

Discover it® Student Chrome (Best for Average Credit)

While it’s tailored towards students, the Discover it Student Chrome could also be suitable for immigrants who are starting to build their credit history in the U.S. It offers cash back on gas and dining out, which can be beneficial for those who are commuting to work or school. Moreover, Discover is known for its U.S.-based customer service, which can be a significant advantage for those who may need assistance navigating their credit card terms.

Discover it Student Chrome Credit Card

4.9
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

630

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

18.24%-27.24%

Overview

  • Minimum Credit Score: 630
  • Variable APR: 18.24%-27.24%

Qualifications

  • Designed for students with limited credit history
  • Proof of income may be required
  • Must be a college or university student
  • U.S. Social Security Number
  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • U.S. resident with a valid address

Pros

  • No yearly fee
  • Intro APR period
  • Eligible for those with average credit
  • Bonus categories

Cons

  • Complicated rewards

Our Pick: Chase Freedom Rise Credit Card (Best Overall Credit Card)

Although this product doesn’t seem to be widely recognized as of my last update, generally, Chase Freedom cards offer cash back and bonus rewards in rotating categories. They are well-regarded in the credit card market and could be a good option for immigrants who have a Social Security Number and have managed to build a decent credit history.

Chase Freedom Rise Credit Card

4.9
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

No minimum

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

26.99%-29.99%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: No minimum.
  • Fixed APR: 26.99%-29.99%.

Qualifications

  • Best suited for those new to credit and students.
  • Approval chances increase with a minimum of $250 in a Chase checking account prior to applying.

Pros

  • No membership fees
  • Accessible with limited or no credit history
  • No security deposit required

Cons

  • High regular APR
  • Foreign transaction fees

What are the common ways to get approved for a credit card?

1. Become an authorized user

If you are new to the U.S. but have family members, relatives, or really close friends, you can become an authorized user on their credit card. This will help you kickstart your credit history. Many credit cards offer an option to add an authorized user without any extra annual fee. After you have built your own credit history, they can remove you as the authorized user.

You should remember 2 important things when asking to become an authorized user:

  1. The credit card provider may charge an additional fee for each authorized user. The fee is paid by the primary owner of the card.
  2. Not everyone is comfortable adding an authorized user because the primary owner is responsible for making payments. If you spend too much and don’t pay them back, they may be late on payments and it will impact their credit history.

2. Get a cosigner

Another way to get a credit card is to ask your relatives in the US to be your cosigner. They will need to have enough credit to act as a co-signer. If they are willing to be a cosigner, it will help you start building your credit history immediately. In this case, you will get your own credit card, maybe one for beginners, and will have a lower limit.

Note that you will be responsible for making payments and if you are delayed, it will negatively impact the credit score of your co-signer. Once you establish enough credit, they can be removed as a co-signer.

3. Sign a lease with roommates

If you are going to stay with roommates and the roommates can rent an apartment, you can become a signer on the lease. If your rental company reports monthly payments to the credit bureaus, you will start building credit history.

The only thing to make sure of is that your rental company actually reports to credit bureaus. In many cases, a small landlord or a local rental company does not report to credit bureaus. If that’s the case, you will not be able to build credit by signing a lease with roommates.

6 Reasons US Immigrants Should Get a Credit Card

A credit card can help you spend more than you have so that you can get what you need now, and pay back the rest later. By putting purchases on a credit card, and successfully paying off the debt later, you begin building a reputation as someone who is good with credit.

Here are six more reasons for getting a credit card:

1. Rewards and Points

When you use your card to make purchases, most credit card companies offer points depending on how much you spend. As you make purchases on your credit card and those points accumulate, you can trade in those points for gift cards or special cataloged items.

Paying with your debit card or with cash does not offer this side benefit, and this is just one of the many ways a credit card can add value to your purchases.

2. Cash Back

Some credit card companies offer cash back; Discover was the first to offer a 1% rebate on purchases, for example. And as mentioned in the previous point, using cash or a debit card will not offer you savings on your purchase. Then, whatever you save while building up your credit score is a bonus — money that can go towards other things, or reduce the debt you have to pay off.

There are bonus incentives for using a credit card, like cash back and points. While these may not be earth-shattering, they do add up, and every bit of value one can get when starting life in a new place is helpful.

3.  Air Miles

In the 1980s, American Airlines came up with the idea of giving away air miles with their associated credit cards. Like cash back or a point system, this offers incentives for those who use the American Airlines credit card. Depending on your needs, air miles and the potential for free flights may even be more valuable than rewards or cash back.

In a country of fifty-two states, the possibility for discounted (or free!) travel is enticing. Being able to take flights across the country means more economic opportunities. If you are new to this country, one of its benefits is access to all fifty-two states. It may be overwhelming getting a footing in the US, but there are tremendous advantages to having made the move to America.

4. Fraud Protection

If someone takes your debit card and makes a purchase, the money comes directly out of your account. Any form of direct payment is harder to protect from theft and fraud. Once you make a transaction, that money must be retrieved. Investigating cases of fraud can take some time, during which your credit score will unnecessarily take a hit. On the other hand, a credit card is not a direct payment. You can alert your credit card company that a theft has taken place, and if they consider it valid, they remove that payment from your account.

It is much easier to protect against fraud when no money has left your account.

5. Universally Accepted

You cannot book hotel rooms or rent a car with a debit card. Hotels and rental car companies want the added guarantee of being able to charge someone in the rare that you incur damages.  If you’re planning on traveling, a credit card is practically necessary: the mobility you’re afforded in the United States is greatly hampered if you’re unable to rent a car or a hotel.

Almost any online vendor takes credit cards, whereas some do not take debit. It’s frustrating to want to purchase something online, only to find that your debit card is not accepted. With a credit card, that worry becomes an afterthought, because all online vendors accept major credit cards.

6. Buy Now, Pay Later

Sometimes life’s demands are greater than your existing budget — this is why a credit card can be extremely useful. If you know that you can pay for your purchases at a later date, particularly if you are starting a new job in a new place, then you can set yourself up before your paychecks start coming in.

If you know how much debt you can take on, then you can safely use this advantage to get things you need before having to pay for them.

So, Which is the Best Credit Card for Non-U.S. Citizens?

The answer to this question really depends on the needs of the non-citizen. If you’re looking for a lower amount credit line to establish a credit history in the U.S., you might want to apply for CapitalOne Secured Mastercard. If you’re looking to earn some rewards for your credit use, then the Discover It Secured Mastercard might be the best option for you.

Once you know what you’re looking for in a credit card, you can determine which is the right fit for you!

Read More

Conclusion

Being an immigrant in the US can be extremely overwhelming. You’ve got to do what you need to do to survive while adjusting to a new culture. Major purchases like homes and cars take financing, and financing is provided to those with a good credit history — and as a new arrival to the US, you’re likely to have no credit history — or even worse, bad credit history.

That’s why it’s important to get a credit card and start building your credit reputation. Along with building your credit history in the US, there are many additional benefits to getting a credit card. And as long as you can manage the amount of debt you take out, getting a credit card is one of the best first steps as an immigrant to building a strong financial foundation here in the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can immigrants in the U.S. get credit cards?

Yes, immigrants in the United States can typically apply for and obtain credit cards. Whether you’re a permanent resident (Green Card holder), a non-immigrant visa holder, an international student, or an undocumented immigrant, there are credit card options available to suit different immigration statuses.

What types of credit cards are available to immigrants?

Credit card options for immigrants may include:

  1. Secured Credit Cards: These cards are an excellent option for individuals with limited credit history or no credit history in the U.S. They require a security deposit, which acts as collateral and determines your credit limit.
  2. Student Credit Cards: Designed for international students studying in the U.S., these cards are tailored to individuals with limited credit history. They often have lower credit limits and may offer student-friendly features.
  3. Credit Cards for Non-U.S. Citizens: Some credit card issuers offer cards specifically designed for non-U.S. citizens, including immigrants and visa holders. These cards may have more flexible eligibility criteria.
  4. Retail Store Credit Cards: Retailers sometimes offer credit cards with less stringent credit requirements. While these cards are specific to particular stores, they can help build credit when used responsibly.
  5. Credit Builder Loans: Some financial institutions offer credit builder loans, which can help establish or improve credit scores. These loans work by holding the loan amount in a savings account and releasing it after repayment.

What are the eligibility requirements for credit cards for immigrants?

Eligibility requirements for credit cards may vary by issuer and card type. However, common eligibility factors include:

  • A valid Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
  • Proof of income, which can include employment income, scholarships, or financial support from a spouse or family.
  • A U.S. mailing address.
  • Compliance with U.S. immigration laws (for non-U.S. citizens).

Can immigrants without an SSN get a credit card?

Yes, immigrants without a Social Security Number (SSN) can sometimes get a credit card. Some credit card issuers accept an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or other forms of identification. Secured credit cards, student credit cards, or credit cards designed for non-U.S. citizens may be available to individuals without an SSN.

How can immigrants build credit with a credit card?

To build credit with a credit card as an immigrant, follow these tips:

  1. Apply for a Credit Card: Choose a credit card that matches your credit profile, whether it’s a secured card, a student card, or another suitable option.
  2. Use the Card Responsibly: Make small, regular purchases on the card and pay the balance in full and on time each month to establish a positive payment history.
  3. Keep Credit Utilization Low: Try to use only a portion of your credit limit to keep your credit utilization ratio low, ideally below 30%.
  4. Monitor Your Credit: Keep an eye on your credit report to ensure accuracy and to track your credit-building progress.
  5. Avoid Late Payments: Timely payments are crucial for building and maintaining good credit.
  6. Apply for Credit Sparingly: Avoid applying for multiple credit cards at once, as too many inquiries can negatively affect your credit score.
  7. Be Patient: Building credit takes time, so be patient and consistent in your credit management habits.

Are there any credit cards that do not require a credit check?

Secured credit cards are one option that may not require a traditional credit check. These cards are secured by a deposit, making them accessible to individuals with limited or poor credit history. However, other credit cards, such as retail store cards, may also have less stringent credit requirements but may have limited usability outside of specific retailers.

Can immigrants with no credit history get credit cards?

Yes, immigrants with no credit history can often get credit cards. Secured credit cards and student credit cards are commonly available to individuals with limited or no credit history. These cards are designed to help individuals establish and build credit.

Can immigrants with limited income get credit cards?

Immigrants with limited income may still be eligible for certain credit cards, especially secured credit cards or cards with lower income requirements. However, the credit limit you receive may be based on your income and ability to repay the debt.

What are some tips for responsible credit card usage for immigrants?

To use a credit card responsibly as an immigrant:

  • Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees and negative impacts on your credit score.
  • Keep your credit utilization low by not using too much of your available credit.
  • Monitor your credit card statements for any unauthorized charges.
  • Use your credit card for necessary expenses and avoid overspending.
  • Make at least the minimum payment each month to maintain a positive credit history.
JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 100,000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn more about finance, immigration, and more!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

Get the Checklist