5 Things To Know About Interning in the US

Credit: Dillion Verma

If you are or will be interning in the US, this short guide is meant for you to maximize on benefits and rewards you may be missing out on.

I did my first US internship at Lime back in January 2018 and I had an absolute blast! ๐Ÿ”ฅ California has so many places to see and things to do that you can never get bored. Although I enjoyed my time, I would have enjoyed it even more if I knew about some of the following tips and tricks. ๐Ÿ‘Œ

1. Sign up for a credit card ASAP ๐Ÿ’ณ

This is definitely my biggest regret about my internship. I was a fool not to take advantage of any US credit card rewards program. I have listed a few benefits below.

Credit Card Benefits

Canadian credit cards rewards are no where near as good as these! I have been using a normal Canadian credit card most my life with a mere 1% cashback on all purchases. I was not even aware that such other programs existed! Instead, I used my chase debit card for all my purchases during my internship. ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Establishing a credit history in the US is also very important if you need a bank loan in the future or, more importantly, getting a mortgage for your house. Since there are no downsides to getting a credit card (unless you just don't pay your bills), you should apply for some starter credit cards.

The Best First Credit Card

This card is great because students with no credit history can apply for this and get approved in less than a few hours. It also has some amazing benefits including:

  • 5% cashback on rotating categories throughout the year
  • 1% unlimited cashback on all purchases
  • No annual fee

Apply now using my referral link, to get a free $50 sign up bonus as well as a $2000 credit limit!

Application Tips

When filling out the application, make sure to select that you are Employed Full-Time, enter you Total Gross Income as your internship salary prorated as an annual salary, and select your occupation to be Scientist/Engineer.

The Best Second Credit Card

Uber Visa Card ๐Ÿ”ฅ ๐Ÿ”ฅ ๐Ÿ”ฅ

  • $100 sign up bonus when you spend $500 in the first 90 days
  • 4% cashback on dining, takeout, bars and UberEats
  • 3% cashback on hotels and airfare
  • 2% cashback on online purchases including Uber, online shopping, and music/video streaming services
  • 1% cashback on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

Learn how to apply here

Chase Freedom Unlimited ๐Ÿ”ฅ ๐Ÿ”ฅ

  • 3% cashback on all purchases for first year up to $20,000
  • Unlimited 1.5% on all purchases after first year
  • No annual fee

Apply now using my referral link

AMEX Everyday cashback card ๐Ÿ”ฅ

  • $200 sign up bonus when you spend $1000 in the first 3 months
  • 3% cashback at supermarkets
  • 2% cashback at US gas stations & select US department stores
  • 1% cashback on all other purchases
  • No annual fee

Apply now using my referral link

Warning

It is important to note that most credit cards aside from Discover require you to have some established credit history. Hence, you should not simply apply to all these cards immediately as you will most likely get rejected. Do your research.

Things To Know About Applying For Credit Cards

When applying for a card, the credit card issuer performs a hard pull on your credit card history. This temporarily lowers your score but it always returns back to its original state after some time.

Hard Pull

When a financial institution, such as a lender or credit card issuer, asks credit unions for your credit history to check your credit when making a lending decision

Hence, it would seem that one should apply to as many credit cards as they can in order to maximize rewards and sign up bonuses right? Well, the answer is sort of... Some cards have restrictions on their application process such as Chase credit cards. Those applications are affected by the 5/24 rule.

5/24 Rule

In order to be approved for any Chase card subject to 5/24, you cannot have opened five or more personal credit cards across all banks in the last 24 months.

However, there are people who meticulously strategize a long term credit card application plan to get around these rules and maximize on credit card sign up bonuses and rewards. You can indulge yourself more in this niche "hobby" at /r/churning.

2. Get a cheap phone plan ๐Ÿ“ฑ

If you are in the US for 4 months for your internship, chances are you probably need a phone number to sign up and access most services. Lots of online services including banks and credits cards require that you have a phone number when signing up. In my experience, the following two options are one of the cheapest and most reliable options in the US.

Mint Mobile

  • $15 / month for first 3 months
  • Unlimited talk/text + Unlimited data, speeds capped at 3GB of 4G LTE data per month
  • Hotspot
  • Free sim card delivery

I haven't personally used Mint Mobile but my friends highly recommend their service.

Learn how to apply here

USMobile

  • Fully customizable plan
  • Unlimited plan starting with unlimited talk, text, and 5GB data for $25 / month
  • Easily add more talk/text/data on the go
  • Free sim card delivery

Apply now using my referral link to save $10 when you activate

The phone plan I used was with USMobile. I love them for their amazing customer service and great coverage + reliability.

My Recommendation

Let's face it, no one really needs unlimited talk and text. Most young adults nowadays just use internet messaging apps ๐Ÿ’ฌ and video calls ๐Ÿ’ป. So my recommendation would be to use MintMobile's $15/month for 3 months, and then use USMobile's custom plan afterwards with:

  • 100 min for $3
  • 40 texts for $1.5
  • 1 GB of 4G LTE for $10 (or upgrade to 3GB for $20)

Total will be $14.50 / month, which is around the same as the MintMobile pricing!

3. How to do 2FA ๐Ÿ”’

Since we are talking about phone numbers, it is important for you to know that if you sign up for services in the US using your phone number from your phone plan provider, you will have troubles later when you leave the US. Some of your accounts will recognize a foreign address and ask to verify a code sent to your phone number. These text message would probably go to another person who picked up your number after you leave the US.

The best free way to avoid this is to get an app called TextNow available for Android and iOS. It is a free app which gives you a US phone number. I highly recommend using TextNow for 2FA on your US services and accounts.

The only downside of TextNow is if you are inactive for a month, you will lose your number. The easiest way to get around this is just to text yourself every month or just use the same TextNow number in your home country as well. This way you will be using it all year round and you have all your 2FA in one place which you can access from anywhere in the world.

4. Splitting bills with friends ๐Ÿ’ฐ

You will definitely come across a situation where you have to split a bill with some friends for food or travel. This becomes very cumbersome to keep track of if you are doing a long weekend trip with many expenses. This is where I recommend you to use the Splitwise app for Android and iOS.

It is very easy to use, just create a new group, invite your friends and add your expenses on the go. It even comes with a feature which simplifies the number of transactions. Lets walk through an example. Say for example Alice owes bob $5, and bob owes Jim $5, Splitwise will tell Alice to just give the money straight to Jim!

uml diagram

Splitwise is the app which helps you figure out who owes how much and to whom. To actually send the money, you have a few different options to choose from. The easiest ones are QuickPay with Zelle and Venmo (available for Android and iOS). The great thing about using Venmo is that Splitwise has integration with it so it automatically keeps track if you have paid your friends or not.

Can't find Venmo on the app store?

The reason you can't access Venmo on the app store is because it is only available in the U.S app store! Try switching you app store locale to United States to install the app.

Another option is to use Venmo through any browser.

So next time you are out traveling with your friends, make sure to pay for the bill with your brand new credit card to maximize on the cashback ๐Ÿ˜‰ and then send your friends a SplitWise link so they can pay you back afterwards ๐Ÿ’ฐ.

5. Everyday Travel ๐Ÿ›ด

Have somewhere quick to go? Consider using an electric scooter to get there as it could be way cheaper than Uber/Lyft! Almost every major city now offers some sort of dockless scooter program. These companies are popping up like flies everywhere! Here are a few options you can consider using:

Lime

  • $1 to unlock + 15ยข / min

Use my referral link for 1 free unlock coupon

Bird

  • $1 to unlock + 15ยข / min

Jump (Uber)

  • Pricing varies by city
    • $2 for 30 minutes
    • Free to unlock + 15ยข / min
  • Can reserve scooters/bikes

Skip (Waybots)

  • $1 to unlock + 15ยข / min

Spin (Ford Motors)

  • $1 to unlock + 15ยข / min

Lyft Scooters

  • $1 to unlock + 15ยข / min
  • Can reserve scooters

As you can probably tell, these scooters are like a commodity - they all have relatively the same offerings and thus have low switching costs. Just use any available in your city. I personally use these over Uber/Lyft for short distance rides and just for fun too. To get an idea of the pricing, it costs me around $4.70 to get from my home to the office with Uber. The same trip costs me $2.70 using Lime. These savings add up fast if you commute everyday.


My hope is that you learnt something new which you didn't know before. Thanks for reading and I wish you goodluck on your internship!

Last Updated: 4/25/2019, 9:18:44 PM