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How to Build Credit History as New American Immigrant



By Robert Banks

As a new immigrant arriving in America, establishing a credit history may prove daunting. Building a solid credit history is important as good credit makes it easier to get the most competitive interest rates on mortgages, car loans and other financing. In America, credit history is built from scratch, regardless of how well-established you were in your native country. There are numerous ways which you can build good credit. First and foremost, you need to apply for a social security number (SSN) to be able to start building your credit history. Here are some ways to start establishing your credit history:

Rental and Utilities
If you rent or own a house or apartment, put utilities in your name (such as gas, electric, cell phone). Although it will not establish a credit score, if you pay all your bills on time and keep an excellent record, you make a good base for times when you need to take loans.

Open a Bank Account
Open a bank savings and/or checking account and keep that account in good standing. Fund it with regular deposits of your paycheck. Lenders will consider this information and decide if you are a credit risk.


Keeping your account open and maintaining good standing proves you can manage money, and this is important.


In addition, you may be able to obtain a loan through your bank in the future and gain good credit that way. If possible, take a hard copy of your history from your native country so lenders can verify your information. When necessary, have it translated into English, to offer to lenders. With that information in hand, lenders may be willing to attempt to verify information and help position you on the credit ladder.


Get a Credit Card

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen or green card holder to apply for a credit card. You can get a secured card linked to the bank where you opened your savings account. The bank will set aside a specified amount of money in your account and provide you with a credit card equal to that amount. Use the card like a regular credit card, and pay it off on time to demonstrate your credibility. However, avoid department store cards as they less valuable in establishing credit and also carry higher rates. Student immigrants may get a student credit card through school's credit union. Also, use your credit card responsibly. You will be rewarded by being offered lower interest rates.


Secured credit
When you purchase a car, you are getting a secured loan. If you make your payments on time, this is a great way to establish good credit. But if not, the lender can repossess the purchased item to pay off your debt. If you purchased a home and pay a mortgage, this is also secured credit and as long as you make your payments on time, it will reflect well on your credit history. Remember establishing good credit takes time. Be sure to make careful decisions and be patient. Do not be afraid to request a copy of your credit report and review it carefully.

Depending on your country of origin, some laws make it illegal for countries to reveal credit information to banks or other lenders with other countries. So even if you have excellent credit from your native country, it may be difficult to see that credit transferred to the U.S. In America, it is a violation of federal law for lenders and credit card companies to consider race, national origin, religion, and gender when deciding to grant credit. When you decide to take a loan, be sure to borrow from a reputable bank or lender.

Educate yourself by doing your own research at your local library or Internet. And regardless of your  appearance, language or culture, a new credit history in America can be built up with patience and the right steps.





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build credit history as new immigrant