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My AMEX Global Transfer Experience (CAN -> US)

The American Express Global Transfer program allows you to use the relationship history that you’ve built with AMEX in a foreign country as a basis to apply for a card in a new country, where you presumably have little to no prior credit history. I recently went through this process, applying for an AMEX card in the United States using my Canadian AMEX history as a basis for the application.

In order to use the Global Transfer program in the United States, you have to have the following:

– An AMEX card that you’ve held in good standing for at least 3 months in a foreign country

– A US Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the latter of which is very easy for a Canadian to get.

– A US address, and if requested, a verification document thereof.

– A US bank account (it’s easy to open a TD Bank USA account online).

I applied for the AMEX Gold card with a 50K sign-up bonus, an extremely generous offer, one that is far better than what is available in Canada. The typical recommendation is to note your Canadian AMEX number on the application to get the ball rolling, however, that field was not available when I completed the application. When I applied, my ITIN was issued that same day, and not too surprisingly, the application was denied.

I called the Global Transfer department and explained that I had this application and wanted them to reevaluate the application under the Global Transfer program. They said ‘no problem’, took my Canadian AMEX number, and 5 minutes later, said my application was approved pending the submission of the verification of address letter (which you can submit online). The next day, I got an email saying I was fully approved, and the AMEX was rush delivered to me.

The Global Transfer program is amazing, not only for the fantastic sign-up bonus, but because this helps me build my US credit history. A number of US banks, like Chase, Citi, and AMEX, allow applications using an ITIN and not an SSN. AMEX has helped me enormously on the track of being able to get some great US credit card options, and is a program I’d recommend to anybody who knows how to get the requisite documents (trust me, it’s easy).


  1. Good stuff! The Global Transfer Program is indeed an excellent and easy way for a Canadian American Express Canada card holder to obtain a U.S. issued Amex card. However, the fine print does say that if the applicant is recognized as a current AMEX card holder, and using your Canadian Amex account as your credit history would do so, the applicant does not qualify for sign up bonuses. Lucky you if you managed to get the points/bonuses as I used the same method to obtain the Delta Platinum card last month and although the card was approved immediately, the bonuses were not, and it is clearly stated on my Amex log in page in red! But it is a stepping stone to other cards, to be sure!

      1. Did you have an offer code?
        I only got 25k despite asking for 50k and yelling there was a promotion on their site.

  2. Very interesting. What was your approach to providing a US address? I assume that you normally live in Canada.

  3. Does having the ITIN number mean now you have to file US taxes every year (even if you don’t have US income)?

    1. I believe that in order to get the ITIN, you must have a US filing requirement for year 1. However, after that, there is no requirement, but if you don’t file for 5 years, you lose the ITIN – as always, this is not professional advice, consult a professional, etc.

  4. Hi

    How long did it take you to get the ITIN?

    Can you apply by phone?

    I am considering getting one and it says you need to provide a certified copy of a passport so it may be time-consuming to arrange for that.


  5. So are you now paying US taxes on your foreign-earned income? And do you actually reside at your US address? It seems the intention of this document/registration is to cover those non-Americans who must file US income tax returns. Is this any less unprincipled as the Prime Minister suggesting Canadians should not use a government document (a passport is not yours, it belongs to her majesty and is issued on her behalf by the government to allow you to visit certain other countries that may or may not let you in) to visit countries identified as supporting terrorism?

    1. I will be filling US tax returns (indeed, I am required to), and I have never misstated the use of my US address to anybody (indeed, on the telephone, I clearly explain the use of it).

      Regarding the latter part of the comment, I would assume the offence wouldn’t occur as a result of using th passport as a tool for entry into those countries. Rather, I would assume that the criminal code provision would make it an offence to be geographically present in those locations. Honestly, I believe that any extrajurisdictional application of laws is inherently unsound, but the government has no business to tell me where I can and can’t go. It has nothing to do with the use of the passport.

  6. Hey Avery,

    Can you share your timing of how long it takes to get the ITIN? I also am interested in applying for one and would like to know your experience.
    Thank you

    1. Took me a couple months, but that was exceptional. The IRS made a mistake, and I had to get the Taypayer Advocate involved. I believe turnaround time should be around 6 weeks.

  7. BEWARE!
    Your eligibility for travel insurance (auto rental, accident, etc) depends on your “Permanent Residence”. So don’t count on any of the insurance coverage offered by your US card if you actually live in Canada.

  8. Did you have to provide any verification for ITIN? I just moved from Canada to US and Amex is asking me to verify both address and social security number. They want me to provide letter from social security office verifying my number and SSN office says they don’t give out letters like that. Heard of anybody getting through this?

      1. No I do have the SSN. May be they are asking for SSN verification because my Canadian Amex is less than one year old?

  9. Interesting post. I was told by the Chase Bank Manager to apply at Bank of America, since they are very careful to give cards to non residents( Canadians ).
    But if I was to apply for the AMEX 50 000 points offer, can I still transfer them to British Airways? I recall reading something where BA doesnt allow you to transfer into Avios from 2 different countries? Anybody tried this? Thanks

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