Credit card applications usually say "must be a U.S. resident".

If a U.S. citizen moves abroad temporarily, and he doesn't want to use his friends' or relatives' U.S. addresses to get his mail, and his foreign address is uncertain, or in a country with unreliable mail, what happens to his bank or credit accounts?

Must he give them up? Can and should he use an accountant or an attorney in the U.S. to handle his finances (and if so how much would that cost, typically)?

Is there a standard name for this service?

  • How temporarily? I certainly used my US credit cards during the year I spent mostly overseas. If they aren't chip-cards they may not be usable outside the US, but outside of that... You'll definitely need to think about finances back home; up to you how to solve that. Try the expats area for more experienced advice.... – keshlam Sep 29 '15 at 2:56
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    Many credit card companies do not wish to issue credit cards to non-immigrants such as students who may well go back to their home country after running up charges at which point the company may well have no practical way of getting its money back. The U.S. residency requirement most likely means a permanent immigrant (green card holder) as distinguished from a nonimmigrant (or perhaps, given the roiling of the masses, an illegal immigrant). If you are a US citizen, it is unlikely that you will be hassled over a foreign address. – Dilip Sarwate Sep 29 '15 at 2:59
  • @DilipSarwate I'm no lawyer, but I think it would be illegal to exclude nonimmigrants from services. My interpretation is that "resident" has nothing to do with immigration here. – bobcat Sep 30 '15 at 4:18
  • This was crossposted to and answered on expatriates.SE – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Sep 30 '15 at 14:13
  • @MaxB A credit card account is not a service and a credit card company is entitled to refuse to issue a card to anyone whom they deem to be not financially worthy. Non-immigrants, typically with very little credit history, are prime candidates for outright rejection. I do know from personal experience that in the early 1980s, many mutual funds were closed even to permanent immigrants; including several fund companies that are touted here on money.SE as good ones to deal with. – Dilip Sarwate Oct 9 '15 at 3:43

I moved abroad for 3 years, and didn't have to forego the use of my cards or bank accounts at all. I switched most of my account statements to paperless, conducted all my bill payments online, and to handle the occasional snail mail that still trickled through, got myself an international mail forwarding service -- US Global Mail is their name. They even have an option to throw out the junk mail, and allow you to look at sender information on the web, and you can decide whether to discard or forward the mail to you.

As for taxes, I did sign up with a tax preparer with international experience, but it was expensive (up to $3K per tax year) and largely unnecessary. I've found that H&R Block (or equivalent, that's not an endorsement) can provide you pretty comprehensive services for international tax issues (e.g. the income exemption, or allocation of income to US or global).

  • $3k per annum seems very high for international tax advice (within the US). I pay about 15% of that. +1, BTW :-) – Peter K. Oct 9 '15 at 12:27

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