WES Advisor Blog

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How to Use Your International Credit Score in the U.S.

Thursday | December 20, 2018 | by Nico Barawid

Man making an online purchase with a credit card.

One challenge for expats, recent immigrants, and international students is that being included in the financial sector in the U.S. is incredibly difficult. Often, if you want to get a credit card, be approved for a loan, or make other financial transactions, you can’t because banks don’t always treat you like the well-educated professional that you are.

The story is the same for so many: You keep getting rejected for credit cards because you have no U.S. credit history. You keep calling banks and landlords a million times only to be told to go through another labor-intensive and paper-filled process or that you have to pay significant cash deposits.

In the absence of a local card, you’re using your international one and paying foreign transaction fees and missing out on local points and benefits. And all the while, it’s hard because you need a credit history to get a card, but you need a card to build a credit history. The great news is that a startup in San Francisco, Nova Credit, is solving exactly this set of challenges for recent arrivals by helping expats and immigrants bring in their credit history from abroad.

Here are a few commonly asked questions about how to build credit in the U.S.

I’ve recently moved to the U.S. Did my credit score move with me?

Up until very recently, no. But now, Nova Credit has built a solution to solve this problem. They were founded by folks like you: immigrants who came to the U.S. and, despite a fantastic financial track record abroad, found themselves locked out of the financial sector in their new home. Their product allows immigrants and expats to apply for financial products and housing using their international credit score.

I’ve been rejected for every credit card in the U.S. Are there any banks that can help me out?

Yes! And it’s not just banks—Nova has partnered with property managers and car lease companies to help expats and immigrants start their new life in the U.S. You can reach out to Nova directly to see what products would be a good fit for your personal situation.

How do I know if I’ve built credit history in my home country?

If you have a financial product (a credit card, student loan, mortgage, etc.) with a large financial institution, then you likely have credit history. Even if you haven’t had one of these products, you might still have credit history. Most bureaus will list accounts on which you are an “authorized user” on your credit file as well. What this means is that if your parents or your partner added you on their account, then you may have credit history!

Will this help me build local U.S. credit history?

Yes, it will! If you get a card using your international credit history, you will begin using local U.S. credit history even if you don’t have a Social Security number yet. That way, you can continue building your life in your new country.

Moving to a new country is hard enough, and the difficulty of setting up your financial life makes it even harder. Companies like WES, Nova Credit, and others are passionate about helping you out at a time when everyone else is telling you no. We’re going to host more information sessions and webinars in the future specifically about the financial aspects of moving, so stay tuned!

Nico Barawid

Nico Barawid is Head of International Business at Nova Credit.