When you’re new to the US, you have options to build your credit with responsible spending.
You may have a dazzling credit score in your home country, but that history doesn’t follow you when you arrive in the United States. The reason being is that there’s no international credit report agency — it’s all country specific. While many of these countries rely on the same factors to weigh someone’s credit, the scoring system may be vastly different than here in the US.
So that good news is, now’s the time to start building your credit — the earlier the better. Over time, you can build a strong credit score, which can help you get approved for housing, credit and more.
Build credit with a secured credit card
You build credit by making debt repayments on time. Here’s the problem: Few lenders will approve you for a loan, and few card providers will approve you for a credit card. However, your situation is not hopeless, and your best option is a secured credit card.
With a secured credit card, you put down a security deposit — typically $200, but you can find lower deposits — before opening an account. Your deposit then becomes your credit limit. Because this money serves as collateral, your card provider is guaranteed to get your money even if you fail to repay your debt.
For this reason, secured cards are much easier to get than unsecured credit cards. Once you obtain a secured card, you gain a great opportunity to build credit. With timely payments, you could steadily increase your credit score.
Funding your secured credit card
Compare secured credit cards
Which secured credit cards to choose
Without a credit history, you could still be denied for a secured card. Also, each time you apply for a card, the respective lender initiates a hard pull on your credit report.
To avoid too many hard pulls, apply for one card at a time. Also, apply with card providers who are likely to approve you.
The following cards are relatively easy to be approved for. The OpenSky Secured Visa and Primor Secured Visa Classic Card are especially accessible, as neither comes with a credit check.
Discover It Secured Credit Card
- No annual fee; customers with new credit welcome to apply
The Discover It is a solid secured card that can help you build credit. But it also comes with cash back — rare for secured cards. After eight months, you could qualify for a return of your security deposit.
Compare reviews of the Discover It Secured Credit Card
Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card
- No annual fee; easy approval with soft credit check
The DCU Visa Platinum comes with a low 12.25% APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. It also has no balance transfer, cash advance or foreign transaction fees.
You can get this card by joining the Digital Federal Credit Union. To do that, just join Reach Out for Schools for $10 when you open a DCU account. Then fund your DCU savings account with a minimum of $5. In total, it can cost as little as $15 to open your secured card.
Review: Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Card
State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) Secured Visa Platinum Card
- No annual fee; easy approval
The SDFCU Secured Visa Platinum has a low 13.49% variable for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. It also offers point rewards on all purchases.
To get this card, you must become a member of the State Department Federal Credit Union. To do that, you can join the American Consumer Council for $5. You also must open an SDFCU savings account with a minimum of $1.
OpenSky Secured Visa
- $35 annual fee; no credit check
The OpenSky Secured Visa has an annual fee, but it doesn’t require a credit check. You have a great chance of being approved as long as you put down a security deposit of at least $200.
Review: OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
Primor Secured Visa Classic Card
- $39 annual fee; no credit check
The Primor Secured Visa Classic costs $39 a year, but it has a relatively low purchase APR of 13.99%.
Review: Primor Secured Visa Classic Card
What languages can Customer Service representatives speak?
Most lenders will offer English or Spanish speaking options for over the phone customer service. Larger companies like Visa or Mastercard may be able to offer a wider range of languages since they’re based throughout the world.
However, if you’re in need of another language option, your best bet is to have a translator.