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Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Old Aug 17th 2010, 6:51 am
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Default Dealing with initial lack of credit history

I'm moving from the UK to the US to start a new job in early October. My employer's recommending that I use Wells Fargo International Personal Banking, supposedly allowing the account to be opened in advance and to start building a credit history early.

Sounds good in theory but the website for the service is severely lacking in information, and I wondered if anyone had used it, and if so, had any thoughts on how useful it was.

I was also thinking of just keeping our UK credit cards and sending money home to pay them off. Obviously that's incurring a double currency exchange for every transaction, not ideal ... but could be a good short-term solution.

If anyone's got any other advice on good ways to deal with the initial lack of credit history, I'd love to hear it.
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 7:59 am
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Originally Posted by lucius View Post
I'm moving from the UK to the US to start a new job in early October. My employer's recommending that I use Wells Fargo International Personal Banking, supposedly allowing the account to be opened in advance and to start building a credit history early.
Is simply having the account going to build a credit history? I suspect you'll need to make transactions for any credit rating, which would probably be in US dollars, and therefore might attract foreign transaction fees... But it probably wouldn't hurt to have an account ready for when you move; just make sure there's a branch in a convenient location to where you're living/working/playing in the US.

Originally Posted by lucius View Post
I was also thinking of just keeping our UK credit cards and sending money home to pay them off. Obviously that's incurring a double currency exchange for every transaction, not ideal ... but could be a good short-term solution.
That's not going to help you establish a US credit rating though!

Originally Posted by lucius View Post
If anyone's got any other advice on good ways to deal with the initial lack of credit history, I'd love to hear it.
It's a bit late for you now but American Express allow a transfer to the US after one year and allegedly gains you some credit rating when you transfer. Having said that, look at the foreign transaction fees - if they're lower than your current bank's fees then your idea of using UK credit cards (ie AMEX) could pay off in a years' time when you can transfer it along with credit history. Maybe, just maybe.
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 11:37 am
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Hiya
Amex is the way to go. When we phoned they said they would transfer our credit history and didn't mention a required time period to us.
Wells fargo international is recommened as they give you a full credit card linked to your wage by using the international service. Otherwise, you get given a basic card where you have to put credit on it. Then after a year they will consider putting you onto a normal credit card. You're employer might be able to give you a contact name and number for wells fargo international rather than the website. We were given one for OHs company.
Don't know if you've lived in US before but I was suprised by the banking system. Think 1980s UK. They have just introduced bacs payments for your wages. Everything is still cheques and direct debits don't seem to exist. Please correct me if I'm wrong people, just going off what Wells Fargo told me! You do get coffee and cookies though so it's not all bad! We weren't told anything about how we could build up a credit history with them before we moved.
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 12:28 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Hi Lucius, welcome to BE

Hope you are finding your way around ok, there have been lots of threads about establishing credit in the US, also the Wiki's have some good info in them too, take a little time to do some research in older threads etc, it may help put your mind at ease

Good luck with your move, if there is anything you need help with, give us a shout
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 12:35 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Originally Posted by Weeze View Post
Amex is the way to go. When we phoned they said they would transfer our credit history and didn't mention a required time period to us.
Did you already have your Amex card for more than a year, or how long ago did you do your transfer to the US? Currently their website states:
To be eligible for a Card transfer, your Consumer Card must be issued by American Express. You must be the Basic Cardholder, and have held the Card for at least 12 months.
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 12:42 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Hiya GeoffM. This is where it could all go wrong! We don't move for 3 weeks so are hoping that they'll do what they said they would and transfer it. We have only had the card a few months but have had Amex in the past. We were told over the phone that it wouldn't be a problem, but being told it is very different to them actually doing it. I'll let you know if they actually do it. Maybe because we have had them in the past and already have a rating with Amex?
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 1:49 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Originally Posted by Weeze View Post
Maybe because we have had them in the past and already have a rating with Amex?
Do your statements say "Member Since [a few months ago]" or "Member Since [a year that corresponds with one of the cards you had in the past]"?

Lucius - one thing you'll notice, when you read the older threads etc is frequent advice not to over-obsess on credit scores etc. Yes, it can make a difference to some things, but it's not the life-or-death, overhyped matter that the agencies would have you believe.
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 2:07 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Originally Posted by lucius View Post
I'm moving from the UK to the US to start a new job in early October. My employer's recommending that I use Wells Fargo International Personal Banking, supposedly allowing the account to be opened in advance and to start building a credit history early.

Sounds good in theory but the website for the service is severely lacking in information, and I wondered if anyone had used it, and if so, had any thoughts on how useful it was.

I was also thinking of just keeping our UK credit cards and sending money home to pay them off. Obviously that's incurring a double currency exchange for every transaction, not ideal ... but could be a good short-term solution.

If anyone's got any other advice on good ways to deal with the initial lack of credit history, I'd love to hear it.
We have just arrived here, and opened an account with Wachovia/Wells Fargo. They could provisionally open the cheque account before we arrived, but couldn't complete the process and give us a debit card until we had a confirmed address. We have also been told not to even consider asking for a credit card until we have a SSN.

Patience is, apparently, a virtue. I'm not very virtuous!

We are using 'old world' credit cards at the moment.
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 3:03 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Originally Posted by lucius View Post
If anyone's got any other advice on good ways to deal with the initial lack of credit history, I'd love to hear it.
It's rather old these days, but most of the ideas still hold true.

http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Fatbri...it_and_Finance
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 3:15 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

[QUOTEI'm moving from the UK to the US to start a new job in early October. My employer's recommending that I use Wells Fargo International Personal Banking, supposedly allowing the account to be opened in advance and to start building a credit history early.
][/QUOTE]

We were recommended HSBC as they have lots of branches in the USA.
We opened a premier account in the UK, online, then an international premier account based in the USA, again online, we had to take ID into our local HSBC branch here in the UK. The whole thing was quite straightforward and quick.
When I need to get a mortgage next year they will take into account my UK credit history which will make things a whole lot easier.
We also have Amex cards which we can transfer and we joined AIG insurance to get cheaper deals on house/renters or car insurance, again very straightforward, just a few phone calls and emails.

Good Luck!! our packers came today and we move to CT next week!!
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 7:08 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Originally Posted by chartreuse View Post
Do your statements say "Member Since [a few months ago]" or "Member Since [a year that corresponds with one of the cards you had in the past]"?
Oh dear, checked online and it says a member since 2010. Well, we'll see when we get there if will keep to their word!
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 9:22 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Ok, thanks everyone!!

I'm going to get more detailed info from Wells Fargo and also look into some of the other suggestions made here.
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Old Aug 17th 2010, 10:14 pm
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Plenty of threads to read over with info.

A bank account alone won't do anything.

xe.com etc if you have to transfer money to pay bills back in the UK, get better rates etc.
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Old Aug 22nd 2010, 1:37 am
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

Hi Lucius, I used and am still using Wells Fargo International Personal Banking and they are great. I opened the account in London before arrival. I have posted about it. See my other posts too. Had an unsecured HSBC credit card waiting for me on arrival in Florida too, weeks before an SSN number thanks to AIG/Chartis. Check my posts, financial matters i wouldnt have played any different in hindsight, I am now 7 weeks in and I learned it all here on Brit Expat. Trying to give something back to the site these days. Good luck.
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Old Aug 23rd 2010, 2:41 am
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Default Re: Dealing with initial lack of credit history

You can open an checking (current) account without a SSN I believe, at least I was added onto one without. That gives you a place to pay from - using UK cards may incur a foreign fee that will add 3% or so to your costs.

Practically speaking though, I don't see what starting up credit a few weeks or months will really achieve - it takes a good 18 months to get a normal credit card (If you aren't leveraging these interesting sounding International Banking services in the thread).

A GREAT way to build credit is with Citibank Secured Credit Card - that one does require a SSN, but is such a great deal that you actually make money from it.

The idea is that you pre pay a CD for that amount equal to your credit limit - there is an annual fee for the card, but the rate of interest on the CD pays a dividend on top. I opened one last year when 18 month CD rates were about .7% and was offered 4.3% interest (when the base rate was around 0%).

Ultimately though, you should consider why you need said credit - are you planning to stay and buy property and require a mortgage? If so that will take several years, and if not then you should be able to survive just fine with crappy credit and a decent paycheck.
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