Having an American bank account and a credit card comes with plenty of advantages. The US has the world’s largest economy and leads the world in sectors such as trade, technology, fintech, etc. Not to mention the fact that the US dollar is the world reserve currency in which over 80% of global trade is traded in.
If you want to get in on some of this action, having a US bank account and an American credit card will be a good start. To be clear, as a foreign citizen you don’t need a US bank account to transact with dollars, you can simply open a domiciliary account in your home country with which you can deposit, withdraw and perform other dollar transactions.
But if you need a US bank account for other reasons, such as to be able to trade on Amazon or other legal reasons, then this article is for you. Having a US bank account as a foreign citizen living in a foreign country is not illegal, it is a grey area. Big corporations such as Apple set up shelf companies as their headquarters in foreign countries in other to avoid paying taxes in the US. The steps listed in this article exploit similar financial loopholes to help foreign citizens set up a bank account in the US.
Step #1: Open up Mercury Online Banking Account
Mercury is an American fintech company that can provide you with a savings or checking account as well as a physical or a virtual card according to your needs. Start your application on Mercury here.
Step #2: Get a US LLC
US LLC simply means you have a business registered as a limited liability company in any of the 50 US states. You want to register in a state with no income tax and that is business friendly. The state of Wyoming is perfect for his purpose.
Next, you will need an agent to register your company. Many different services can help you do this, I recommend Buffalo Registered Agents. For $149/year you have an agent that will register your business in the state of Wyoming.
Step #3: Get US Address via Registered Agent
You will need a physical address to receive legal documents and that address must be located in the United States. Luckily, any service you register your LLC with will offer the service where they receive legal documents on your behalf in the US. Buffalo will offer you a US address for $49/year.
Step #4: Get an EIN Number
To get your EIN, you simply have to register your business (which you have via LLC) with the IRS. An employer identification number is a unique nine-digit number that is assigned to a business entity. EINs allow the IRS to easily identify businesses for tax reporting purposes. All businesses that meet certain criteria must have an EIN before they can begin operating.
Step #5: Enter LLC & EIN Info in Mercury Account
Return to your Mercury profile to add all the LLC and EIN info you just obtained. Also hookup any payment service to your Mercury account including Amazon, Shopify, Stripe, or PayPal and you have a fully functioning US bank account that can send and receive USD and other currencies.
Now that you have a fully functioning US bank account, the next step is how to get an American credit card if you need it. A credit card allows you to withdraw money from ATMs or spend money on credit and pay it back later, with small interest.
Here are the steps to get a credit card;
Step #1: Find Credit Card that Does Note Require SSN
The Social Security Administration (SSA) assigns nine-digit Social Security numbers (SSNs) to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and eligible nonimmigrant workers in the United States. SSA uses SSNs to report wages to the government, track Social Security benefits and for other identification purposes. You need to find a credit card that does not require an SSN to obtain. WalletHub always has a current active list.
Step #2: Apply for Credit Card
Apply for the one that best suit your needs. Some of the factors that guides your decision should include annual fees and credit score.
Step #3: Have Credit Card Sent to Registered Agent Address
The Wyoming registered agent address that you purchased earlier, you can have the credit card sent there and then later shipped to your country of residence if you need a physical card. Or you can simply request a virtual card if you don’t need the physical one.
You can open an American bank account as a foreign citizen from your home country. Although a domiciliary account will allow you to transact in USD, it does not offer a US credit card. All the processes to open a US bank account can be done securely and legally online without leaving your home country.