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Building Credit for New Immigrants

Updated on May 13, 2014

Having a pristine credit history from your country of origin has no bearing when you move to America. You have to start from scratch in building credit which means you can’t easily rent an apartment, buy a car, or even get a credit card. It can be very frustrating… kinda like the chicken and the egg. You can’t get a credit card because you do not have a credit history, but you can’t start a credit history when you don’t even have a credit card to start with. Well, although building a strong credit takes time, there are couple of ways you can do to get started.

Social Security Number (SSN)

A social security number is not a requirement for credit history. However, you wanna make sure that if you get credit it will be referenced to your identifying information and that it will be included in your credit report.

Apply for a Secured Credit Card

A secured credit card can help you establish your credit and it works like the regular credit card except that the credit card company requires you to place a security deposit as collateral. Most likely, your credit limit will be equal to the amount of security deposit. Use the secured credit card for purchases but don’t exceed the credit limit and make sure to pay on time, every time.

Keep in mind that your purpose of getting a secured credit card is to qualify to move to an unsecured credit card down the line.

TIPS: Stick to one account for a few months until your credit rating went up because applying for multiple new credit lines in a short period of time results in a lower credit score.

Find a Cosigner

If your spouse or family member has a good credit rating, you can ask him/her to become your cosigner for a new loan or account. The only important thing to keep in mind is that if you miss any payments, it will affect you and your cosigner’s credit.

Other TIPS

If you have an excellent credit history back home with an international bank, it may be worth your while to talk to them and ask if they are capable of issuing a U.S. credit card.

Experian allows you to incorporate rental payment in your credit reports via the RentBureau. Your landlord or property management company needs to sign up with Experian RentBureau for you rent payment history to be reported.

Lastly, building credit score means monitoring your progress and keeping your personal information safe. Being a victim of fraud is not an excuse for having maxed out credit card or delayed payment which can ruin your credit rating.


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