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How did you get a credit history in the US?

How did you get a credit history in the US?

Old Oct 15th 2011, 3:02 pm
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Default How did you get a credit history in the US?

Hi all

I was wondering what you all did, on arriving in the US, that enabled you to have a credit history and credit score.
Now that I have actually been turned down for a job, on the basis that I have no credit history, I need to do something positive about this so I'm looking for ideas.

I'm sure someone will wonder what I have already done - well, I have debit and credit cards and utility bills in my name, and make regular payments. Naively I assumed this would be enough.

Last edited by bivlover; Oct 15th 2011 at 3:04 pm.
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Old Oct 15th 2011, 4:24 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Hi there

Establishing credit in the US is always one of those things that gets most expats when they first arrive.

You've done the right thing initially by setting up your basic banking with the debit and credit card. Make sure you use the credit card as much as you can, ensuring that you either pay it off in full each month, or at least make regular and on time payments onto it.

You don't say how long you've been in the US, but doing the above should give you a good start on your credit foundation after about six months.

Do not apply for store cards or car dealership loans as these will be turned down and you will then end up with negatives on your score before you've even started, which will not be a good thing!

If you want to purchase a car, getting a loan via your bank or credit union is another good way to build credit. It's strange that even if you have the cash to pay for it the "system" here wants to see you have some debt that you're able to pay in order for it to like you! Strange.

Another good thing is a mortgage, if you have one or are looking to purchase. This is one of the biggest things you can have and so the system again will like to see you're managing that.

You do need some patience initially, which is a little frustrating, but you will get there.

Interesting that you've been turned down for a job because of a lack of credit history - I've not heard of that before. What job was it? I'm also presuming you already have your Social Security number?

Hope this helps a little. Am sure others will be along to give you there input too.
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Old Oct 15th 2011, 4:47 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

The biggest problem new immigrants have is not credit score or really the content of their credit history (number of cards, utilization etc). It is length of history. Depending on who you talk to, expect this to be a problem for a while (2-3 yrs).

I'm not sure if this applies to jobs, but whenever you are refused credit you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. Take advantage of this, check everything is being reported correctly. A lot of the time with new immigrants when you do a credit check there just isn't anything in the system which is as good as a fail. So your job application may just have been automatically bounced because the computer said it couldn't find a report. Try to talk to a real human in HR.
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Old Oct 15th 2011, 5:11 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Old but still useful


http://britishexpats.com/articles/us...nce-in-the-us/
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Old Oct 15th 2011, 10:22 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Originally Posted by bivlover View Post
I was wondering what you all did, on arriving in the US, that enabled you to have a credit history and credit score.
There is only one thing you can do.

Go into debt, and pay it back.

Your credit score is actually an 'I love debt this much' score. The more you go into debt and pay it back on time, the higher your score.

You can have a gazillion dollars in the bank, but if you have no debt, your credit score is (or will shortly be) zero.

The FICO score actually has little to do with one's ability to pay, and is a stupid system.
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 1:34 am
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Thanks for the replies every one.

Originally Posted by ukintexas View Post
Interesting that you've been turned down for a job because of a lack of credit history - I've not heard of that before. What job was it?
The company would have issued me with a laptop, because of this they stipulate that to get the job you need a credit score above 610. I don't pretend to understand the logic of this but there's no point arguing with them.

Originally Posted by Sireccles
So your job application may just have been automatically bounced because the computer said it couldn't find a report.
No, they asked me to bring a print-out of my credit report, showing my great score, to the orientation day, and it's a condition of starting the job. They said not to bother coming if I couldn't prove that my credit score matched their requirements. I spoke to a couple of different credit checking companies.

Originally Posted by britishguy
Go into debt, and pay it back.
If only it was that easy! I've been in debt in this country since before I arrived 6 months ago, and make regular payments.

Originally Posted by ray
Thanks, that was an enlightening read! But aimed, I think, at people richer than me.
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 1:46 am
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

We got a couple of store cards and used them once in a while and paid them off in full each month.
Sears was one (Dh's work tools)
Mervyns was another for clothes (no longer in business)
JC Penny was pretty easy to get. Great sales and clearance racks if you have kids.
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 1:58 am
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Originally Posted by Mummy in the foothills View Post
We got a couple of store cards and used them once in a while and paid them off in full each month.
Sears was one (Dh's work tools)
Mervyns was another for clothes (no longer in business)
JC Penny was pretty easy to get. Great sales and clearance racks if you have kids.
Hmmm, might try this store card thingy, thanks.
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 2:38 am
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Originally Posted by BritishGuy36 View Post
There is only one thing you can do.

Go into debt, and pay it back.

Your credit score is actually an 'I love debt this much' score. The more you go into debt and pay it back on time, the higher your score.

You can have a gazillion dollars in the bank, but if you have no debt, your credit score is (or will shortly be) zero.
I would argue with this approach. I have not carried any debt since about 2007 when I paid off my last student loan. I actively use two credit cards and pay the full balance every month. I recently (this month) changed banks and they did a credit check on me and the person doing the check said it was the second highest score she'd ever seen. I have never carried a balance on my cards longer than the end of the month that the charge was made, except for one month in 2004 when I forgot I had charged a dollar to do the USPS address change online thing. And other than student loans I have never had a loan. By the theory above, my rating should be in the basement, but it isn't.

By all means charge things to your card, but you don't have to carry the balance over to the next month to earn credit history.

Last edited by avanutria; Oct 16th 2011 at 2:47 am.
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 2:34 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Many stores offer six months interest free credit (Badcock furniture for me here). I bought a recliner that was $400 and had the money available, so I got it on credit and paid it off on schedule, which helped. I also got a loan for a car for which my Father-in-Law co-signed.

It took a couple of years, but I built my credit score up considerably so that now it's close to 800 and I can buy just about anything I want without worries. I even qualify for the "for very well qualified applicants" offers you see on TV!!!
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 3:53 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Originally Posted by bivlover View Post
No, they asked me to bring a print-out of my credit report, showing my great score, to the orientation day, and it's a condition of starting the job. They said not to bother coming if I couldn't prove that my credit score matched their requirements. I spoke to a couple of different credit checking companies.
No, if they want a credit check on a potential employee they should get it themselves. Probably not worth working for them.

If only it was that easy! I've been in debt in this country since before I arrived 6 months ago, and make regular payments.
(
DING DING DING winner winner chicken dinner! 6 months is too short, you don't have any history. Some might report after 6 months, but most places won't even report your credit worthiness back to the agencies until you've had the credit card or whatever for a year.

Recommend you do not carry a balance, pay off in full each month.
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 5:49 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

I got a Credit Card with Capital One pretty easily after having my SSN for like 2 weeks.

I also had issues with credit checking for employment. I did explain my situation though and my employer worked around it for me.
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 10:29 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Originally Posted by avanutria View Post
I would argue with this approach. .... I actively use two credit cards and pay the full balance every month. I recently (this month) changed banks and they did a credit check on me and the person doing the check said it was the second highest score she'd ever seen. I have never carried a balance on my cards longer than the end of the month that the charge was made, except for one month in 2004 .....

By all means charge things to your card, but you don't have to carry the balance over to the next month to earn credit history.
Perhaps you need to read my post again. It seems you reinforced my point, rather than disagreeing with it.

I never said anything about not paying off credit cards every month ..... I do the same. And my score is also quite high (740-ish). Going into debt every month, and paying it off, every month.

If you don't have ANY debt, then your score WILL be zero.
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 10:34 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Originally Posted by bivlover View Post
Hi all

I was wondering what you all did, on arriving in the US, that enabled you to have a credit history and credit score.
Now that I have actually been turned down for a job, on the basis that I have no credit history, I need to do something positive about this so I'm looking for ideas.

I'm sure someone will wonder what I have already done - well, I have debit and credit cards and utility bills in my name, and make regular payments. Naively I assumed this would be enough.
This is causing me a little concern. I have been offered a job by a large multi-national, and I am due to begin work on 24th - dependent on drug test, background check, and credit check.

No concerns on the drug or background, but as I have 0 credit in the US (only lived here since April), and had very little use for credit in the UK (so unlikely to have much history there), I am now worrying this might have a negative impact on my new job

Surely an employer knowing I have just relocated here is going to understand I won't have a history yet?
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Old Oct 16th 2011, 11:31 pm
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Default Re: How did you get a credit history in the US?

Originally Posted by BritishGuy36 View Post
If you don't have ANY debt, then your score WILL be zero.
I do not have any debt, and my score is not zero.

I don't want to get into an argument, I just don't want to have newcomers to the US think that the ONLY way to build a US credit rating is by going heavily into debt. My DH started with no US credit history in late 2009 and he got a secured credit card for 12 months, and is now off the 'secured' part and has a regular card. He has never carried any debt in the US. If, when we eventually need to have his credit checked (which may be a long time), it is bad, I will come back here and apologize to you.

ETA - perhaps the problem here is a difference in definition. I don't consider using a credit card and paying it back in full within the month to be debt. Perhaps I should be considering it as such for the purposes of this discussion. I consider carrying a balance from month to month to be debt, but not paying it off in full.

So I think I may have misinterpreted your original post. Sorry!

Last edited by avanutria; Oct 16th 2011 at 11:33 pm.
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