Before I go any further, let me go ahead and make the disclaimer that any statements I make here should be merely treated as anecdotes and not facts. Also, the discussion below is primary concerned with international students. Seriously, American credit card companies couldn’t be more confused. I mean, first of all there are like a zillion of them chasing unsuspecting customers in their mailboxes. Sometimes I wonder if even they understand all of the jargon they throw into those card agreements.
Anyways, what got me really irked was the difference in policies across the companies. On one hand of the spectrum we have our beloved American Express. Those of you who have read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would recall that even Ford gets an AmEx card!! So there’s this general feeling that you know, if nothing else, you’ll definitely get an AmEx card :)
Now I’ve had an AmEx card since last year, and a Visa card as well. What was missing in my repertoire was a Mastercard. (don’t ask me why, but I’ve always wanted to have one card each from AmEx, Visa and Mastercard) . So I thought I’d apply for a Citi card. This was a long time back (6 months+). I went to their website, filled out the application for a college credit card and sat back. Few days later I get a letter saying that they can’t issue me a credit card coz I have a permanent address outside the United States. Go figure.
So then I talked to the people at my school, and they said that international students on F-1 Visa’s are **required** by federal law to maintain a permanent address outside the United States. So that left me nowhere. I called up Citi cards, told them the problem. The response I got was that Citicards was prohibited (again, by Federal law) from accepting applications for credit cards from any international student!
So I asked them how come AmEx and so many other companies are giving away credit cards to students? Infact, a lot of my friends have Citi cards as well. To that, they didn’t have any appropriate answer, other than to keep repeating that they can only comment on Citi’s policy. Anyways, so they gave me this number to call up at, saying it was specifically for international students. Apparently, that number **did not go through**, it was preposterous. And here were these people happily giving away that number. And this happened not on one occasion, but on multiple occasions — I even had one of their customer service representatives try and call up, and even he didn’t get through. So far so not good.
Eventually I left all hopes of getting a student credit card from Citi, but just for the heck of it, I applied for a regular (non-student) credit card from Citi, and guess what, I got it in 2 days! Can you believe that?!!