Moving to a new country can bring opportunities as well as challenges. For many recent immigrants, having access to credit is essential, but getting approved for credit cards without any credit history can be difficult. Given that there are plenty of credit.
The greatest credit cards for recent immigrants to the US will be covered in this blog piece, together with pointers on how to gradually establish credit.
You may build outstanding credit that will support you in reaching your financial objectives in your new house by being aware of your alternatives and managing credit responsibly. One of the primary variables is your credit history.
Why Credit History Matters
Your credit history is one of the main factors lenders, utility companies, cell phone carriers, and even landlords use to evaluate your financial trustworthiness and reliability as a borrower or customer. If you have no credit history, it is difficult for them to assess if you are likely to pay your debts on time.
The longer your positive credit history, the higher your credit scores tend to be. Good credit means you get better interest rates on loans for big purchases like cars and qualify for more credit products overall. Investing the time to build good credit now will open more doors for you financially down the road.
Secured Credit Cards for Beginners
If you just recently immigrated to the US, secured credit cards are one of your best options for getting started.
Secured cards require an upfront security deposit that usually becomes your credit limit. The deposit shows the card issuer you can pay towards card balances responsibly over time.
Here are two excellent secured card options to consider as a new immigrant:
Capital One Secured Mastercard
- No application fee
- Refundable $49, $99 or $200 security deposit
- Reports to all three major credit bureaus
Discover It Secured Card
- $0 fraud liability
- Minimum $200 deposit
- Earns cash back rewards
- Can graduate to unsecured line of credit
We recommend starting small with your secured deposit, as little as $200 if approved. Avoid spending more than 30% of your credit limit monthly. Apply payments in full and on time to start seeing positive history on your credit reports within about 6 months.
Cards for Non-Residents and Newcomers
If you have a valid visa but are not a permanent US resident yet, there are two other good starter card options specifically geared for newcomers.
The Deserve EDU Mastercard does not require US credit history, but does evaluate international credit data and income sources. This card has unique benefits geared for international students but available to general cardholders such as:
- 0% APR balance transfer offer
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free credit score monitoring
The Nova Credit Visa Secured Card also does not require a Social Security number or US credit history. Instead, it uses international credit bureau data to evaluate applicants based on credit history from their country of origin.
Key features include:
- Reports international payment history to US bureaus
- Helps build crossover credit history
- Free Nova Credit Score tracking
While regular rates and fees apply after any initial 0% introductory offers end, responsible on-time payment can help build your US credit profile quickly with either of these card options.
Graduating to Unsecured Credit Cards
As you build at least 6 months of positive payment history and see your credit scores start to rise, you can likely graduate to unsecured credit cards with no deposit required.
Make sure your secured card issuer reports to all three major credit bureaus. Then, ask for an unsecured credit line increase about every 6 months, or look to apply for new unsecured cards instead.
Some good unsecured cards for relative newcomers include:
Petal 1 Visa Credit Card
- No annual fee
- Cash back rewards
- No foreign transaction fee
- Competitive cash rewards
- Free mobile app
- Credit limits up to $10k
Look for card terms and rewards that best match your spending. Manage new lines responsibly by paying balances off monthly. With disciplined account management over time, you can unlock better rewards, 0% financing offers, and account upgrades.
Long Term Tips for Building Credit
While getting approved for your first immigrant friendly credit card is an important first step, discipline and smart strategies over time are vital for great credit in the long run. Here are some key tips:
- Keep card balances low. Stay under 30% of available credit limits monthly across all cards when possible to avoid high utilization rate impacts on credit scores.
- Mix types of credit. Over a few years, look to add installment loan types of credit like auto, personal, or home loans. This credit mix helps scores too.
- Check reports routinely. Review your credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion annually for accuracy at AnnualCreditReport.com. Dispute errors promptly.
- Set payment alerts. For each card, set custom text or email bill reminders to avoid any risk of missed payments hurting your good standing.
Persistence and good credit habits will help new immigrants build excellent scores and access to the best US credit products in the 700+ score range over time.
FAQs on Credit Cards for Immigrants
Can I get a credit card as an immigrant?
Yes, there are several credit card options for immigrants to the United States. The key is applying for a secured credit card specifically geared for newcomers to start building US credit history. After about 6 months of responsible card usage, you can then apply for unsecured credit cards.
Which credit card is best for new immigrants in USA?
The Capital One Secured Mastercard and Discover It Secured Card are two excellent options for new immigrants in the USA. They help build your credit from scratch. The Petal 1 Visa and Surge Mastercard are also good for when you are ready to graduate to unsecured cards after establishing some payment history.
Which credit card is most accepted internationally?
The Visa and Mastercard networks have the widest international acceptance footprint. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture Rewards cards have no foreign transaction fees. This helps save on currency conversion costs when traveling or spending overseas.
Can you get a US credit card as a foreigner?
It is possible to get a US credit card as a foreigner depending on your resident status. Options like the Nova Credit Visa Secured and Deserve EDU can approve applicants new to the US without requiring an existing Social Security number or US credit file initially.
The key starting out is to look for credit cards specifically geared and marketed towards immigrants and newcomers. Then you can build crossover credit history that applies towards mainstream unsecured card approvals down the road.
As an immigrant, access to credit cards and loans may seem challenging initially. But starting with secured credit cards geared for your situation can help build a strong foundation.
With a smart credit building strategy using the right starter card for your situation, you can establish the strong credit history needed to feel financially at home in your new country over time.