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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.

But what kind of credit card can you get?

Can a Temporary Resident Get a Credit Card in Canada?

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

Short answer: No. As a temporary resident, you can technically 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 applying for your first credit card, it’s best to apply for a card that is labelled specifically for students for a higher chance of approval.

  • If you are on a work permit, you can search for "newcomer credit cards" in the financial institution of your choice.

Can you get a more premium credit card on a temporary permit?

Yes, but it takes a little patience. Once you have built your credit score and credit history properly using your first credit card 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. Read more about "switching" a credit card here.

  • Apply for a second credit card in the same bank, another bank, or another financial institution (such as online banks, credit unions). It is easier to get approved for a second credit card when you have a good credit history.

Where to get a credit card, for a start?

All of the Big 6 banks in Canada offer credit card packages for international students and other newcomers to Canada (temporary and permanent residents). There are smaller banks and credit unions that offer them, but the Big 6 banks are a good place to start:

When getting your first ever Canadian credit card, I would suggest doing so at a local branch with a bank employee as they'll be the one filling up your application to maximize your chance of approval.

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 address information
  4. Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)—banks would often ask for this, but it's not technically required so it's up to you whether you want to provide it.

Why get a credit card?

If you are considering to stay in Canada for the longer term, getting a credit card and using it responsibly would be helpful for 2 reasons:

  1. Using credit cards responsibly can help you build your credit score. A good credit score helps you secure a mortgage, car loans, and a higher personal credit line in the future if you need them. If you are renting, it's good to know that landlords sometimes use a rental applicant's credit score to decide whether to rent to them.

  2. By using credit cards, you can also get reward perks for your expenses in points or cashbacks. This means that for every dollar you spend on the card, you could get some amount of points or perks in return that you can redeem for a reward later on.

If you are still not sure whether you understand credit cards properly, check out this page here: