Can a Temporary Resident Get a Credit Card in Canada?

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Short answer: Yes. If you are on a Canadian study permit or a work permit, you are considered a temporary resident and you can get a credit card in Canada.

Can a Temporary Resident Get a Credit Card in Canada?

Why get a credit card?

If you are considering to stay in Canada for the longer term, it would be helpful to start building your credit score and at the same time, get lifestyle reward perks for your expenses in Canada. You can read more about this here:

Where to get a credit card?

Most of the big 5 banks in Canada offer credit card packages for international students and other newcomers to Canada (temporary and permanent residents). There are numerous smaller banks and credit unions as well, but the big 5 banks are usually the most accessible institutions where you can apply for your first credit card. Here is the list of the big 5 banks:

  1. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)
  2. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  3. Scotiabank
  4. Bank of Montreal (BMO)
  5. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

Are credit cards for temporary residents different from those owned by Canadian citizens and permanent residents?

Short answer: No.

As a temporary resident, you can qualify for pretty much any other credit cards that Canadian citizens and permanent residents can get.

As a new temporary resident however, the cards you qualify for would be comparable to those that can be owned by Canadian citizens and permanent residents without much credit history or those who have recently turned 18 or 19 years old.

This means that you likely won’t be able to apply for premium or high-tier credit cards right away, and you have to start small. If you are an international student, the student credit cards you can get are the same as other students who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. As an international student, it’s likely best to apply for a credit card that is labelled to be intended specifically for students for a higher chance of approval. If you are on a work permit, you can browse for a newcomer credit card that you can apply for.

Once you have built your credit score and credit history properly over the course of at least 6 months or so (meaning you make regular, on-time payments to pay off your credit card bill in full), you can then do the following if you wish:

  • Switch into a more premium card in the same financial institution
  • Apply for a second credit card in the same bank, another big 5 bank, or another financial insitution (online banks, credit unions)

How to apply for a credit card?

To apply for a credit card as a temporary resident, you would need to provide the following to the financial institution of your choice:

  1. Your ID (a passport or a provincial ID)
  2. Your study permit or work permit
  3. Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  4. Your address information

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