Canada is the second best place in the world to earn points and miles. But, compared to the USA, the travel hacking opportunities for us Canadians is minuscule. We all know that the holy grail of travel hacking lies in the land of the free. That is why it is very important to learn how to get American credit cards as a Canadian.
In this upcoming series, we will go step-by-step on how to get American credit cards.
How to Get American Credit Cards as a Canadian articles:
- How to Get Your ITIN Number
- Opening a bank account in the USA (so you can pay off your credit card balance)
- Getting an American mailing address
- Your First American Credit Card
- Getting a US Phone Number
As of writing this article, I haven’t gotten any American credit cards yet. However, I do qualify to get an American credit cards now because I just received my ITIN number.
How to get an ITIN number as a Canadian
In order to qualify for an ITIN number as a Canadian, you must send these three documents to the IRS:
- Accurately completed W-7 form
- Supporting document – proof of identity
- A signed proof from an American company stating you will be earning income in the USA
How to fill out the W-7 form
Here is a guide on how to fill out the W-7 form if you feel too lazy to read the official instructions:
- At the top right corner, tick the box that says “Apply for a New ITIN“
- Under “Reason you’re submitting Form W-7“, tick box “h“. To the text box right of “Other (see instructions), type “Exception 1(d) – Royalty Income”.
- To the right of “treaty article number” type “TIAS 11087”
- At the “Name” section, put your First name, Middle name (if you have one), and Last name. Also, if you had a different name at birth, fill out the section below.
- On the “Applicant’s mailing address” section, type in your mailing address in Canada.
- At the “Birth information” section, type in your birthday, country of birth, city and state or province you were born and then tick the box of your gender.
- On the “Other information” section, type in your Country(ies) of citizenship on 6a. Then, tick the “Passport” box on 6d and fill out your passport information as shown below.
- Finally, on the “Sign Here” section, sign your name, fill out today’s address and also your phone number.
After you have filled out this form, make sure to double check it to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes. It’s a pain in the ass to have to mail it again if you mess up so make sure you accurately fill out the form the first time!
Supporting document – proof of identity
Next, we need to prove your identity to the IRS. There’s two ways to do that which I’ll explain below:
- Send in your passport
- Send a certified true copy of your passport
I personally went with option A and I will go into detail what happens when you send in your actual passport.
However, if you are a paranoid individual, you can also send a certified true copy of your passport. You can download the form here (you can only download the form using Windows Explorer). Fill it out and submit it at a Passport Canada Service Location.
A signed proof from an American company stating you will be earning income in the USA
In order to get an ITIN, you must have proof that you will be earning income in the USA. The easiest way to prove this is by getting a signed document from an online publishing company in the USA.
I personally went with Smashwords and my email to them looks something like this:
In order to access the window above, you want to go to Smashword’s contact page. At the very bottom, click “support” and the window above will appear. They recently did this change because I think too many Canadians are requesting a document for ITIN purposes.
Before sending the email, make sure you have made an account with Smashwords first. Many people publish an ebook of their University of College paper and have one of their friends buy one to legitimize that you actually made a sale through Smashwords. I personally didn’t do that but you can certainly go that route if you would like.
I receive my Smashwords document within 2 weeks of submitting this form and speaking with one of their representatives via email.
Another way of getting this signed document is through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. I didn’t go the Amazon route so I wouldn’t be able to give you additional information on this but many people certainly has made this method work.
Packing and sending all your documents
After you’ve gathered the three important documents (W-7 Form, Passport, letter from Smashwords or Amazon) that are required in order to qualify to get an ITIN, it’s time to submit them in!
If you plan on sending your documents by regular mail, send it to this address:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
If you plan sending it by courier (UPS, DHL, FEDEX), send it to this address:
Internal Revenue Service
3651 S. Interregional, Hwy 35
Mail Stop 6090-AUSC
Austin, TX 78741-0000
Don’t forget to photocopy or scan all your documents before sending them just in case they get lost in the mail or if the IRS needs you to resend those documents again for some reason.
My own experience getting an ITIN number and timeline
When I went through the process of getting an ITIN, I personally decided to send in my actual passport. I didn’t want to wait until I get that damn Certified True Copy of my passport. Because I am a risk taker, sending in my passport did not bother me whatsoever. And, I also saved $45 by not getting a Certified True Copy of my passport.
I chose to send my documents by courier. I went to the UPS store which for some reason, used DHL to send in my documents. Here is the timeline of what happened during this whole process:
- I sent in all my documents on February 1, 2018
- On March 9, 2018, I called the IRS to double check the status of my ITIN. Apparently, it’s been approved as early as February 23, 2018. They also mailed out my ITIN the same day it was approved. Because my ITIN has been approved, they gave me my ITIN number over the phone so I can technically start applying for American credit cards as soon as I received the number.
- The actual ITIN document arrived by mail on March 13, 2018.
- I got my passport back in the mail on March 20, 2018 – the IRS will send it back to you separate from your ITIN document.
That’s my experience getting the ITIN. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email. Otherwise, on the next article coming up in the future, I will talk about opening a bank account in the US as a Canadian. The next step is also very important because you need a way to pay off your American credit cards!