Do most mileage cards require you to have a $5,000 card for a least a year? I know that the Venture card (although it is points not miles) requires that, and I have read on some other posts that some "thought" that was the case on most mileage cards.
No. Most visa signature cards (which require a minimum 5000 cl) are easier to obtain if you already have limits greater than 5k. But cards that aren't visa signature, such as Amex Starwood Preferred Guest, Amex Delta Gold or United Explorer do not have such requirements. Since you will be living overseas, you really need to pay attention to what the card charges for foreign transaction fees and how widely the network is accepted. For example, I generally recommend the Amex starwood preferred guest card as a good all around travel card (starwood points can be converted to miles with multiple airlines), but they charge a foreign transaction fee, which pretty much negates the reward benefit.
Honestly, the ideal card for you would be the Chase Sapphire Preferred: You get 2 points per dollar for travel expenses and restaurants, you can convert those points to miles on many airlines (including United and Southwest) and there is no foreign transaction fee. Unfortunately, CSP is a visa signature card and you are more likely to get one if you already have a card with a limit greater than 5k. Still, if you don't have many inquiries, I'd apply for that one anyway. If you get rejected, Chase is really good about reconsideration. Call the number in the sticky and explain that you are moving overseas.
If you can't get that card after recon, then consider one of the cobranded cards such as amex delta gold, united explorer or US airways barklaycard (or look for an airline card that routinely services the country you are moving to).
That is a good point I had not yet considered...international charges. Thank you.
If I were to decide on Chase, I already have a good, long standing relationship with them (paid car loan and several active checking and savings accounts), so hopefully that will help with a recon, if even needed.
having a relationship with them is really good, that is why they gave me the Freedom with an average credit score and no other prime card.