Life in USA

How to Start Building Credit History for Newcomers to USA


(Last Updated On: November 5, 2018)

Did you know, about 1.4 million foreign-born persons moved to the US in 2015 alone? And, this number is rapidly increasing. This is majorly because America is known as “The Land of Opportunities.” However, one of the biggest hurdles once you do move to the US is building a strong credit history.

Someone with a good salary and job in a reputed company might get a credit card easily, while a student might face a lot of problems in establishing a good credit history, even before getting a credit card. Here are some ways how newcomers can start building their credit history in America.

Get a Credit Card

Credit reports consist of both positive and negative data of how a user handles their credit card. The first official step in building your credit history is when you get yourself a credit card. You can start with getting a secured credit card from a local or union bank. In a secured credit card, the credit line is equal to the amount you have deposited. Make sure that the issuer of the credit card reports to the credit bureaus.

Get a Co-signer

If you have a friend or relative with a good credit history and is willing to help you, you can ask them to be your cosigner. This means that if you default on a payment, your cosigner will have to pay for your bills. Make sure to have a clean payment history, since if neither of you pay, both your credit histories will be ruined.

Share Rental History

If you have found accommodation on rent, ask your owner to report your payment history to Experian. Experian adds rental payment data reported to the Experian Rent Bureau to it credit reports, says an article by Experian. So, by paying your rent on time, you will create a positive credit history.

Buy Store Cards

You can try applying for cards at the local stores or gas station. These cards are easier to get than credit cards. Once you receive the local store card, make sure you pay the entire balance on time and that the store reports this to a credit bureau, says an article on immihelp. This will help you build a good credit history. Once you have achieved that, you can cancel these store cards, since they generally charge high interest rates.

Get Small Loans

It is often advised that newcomers take on small loans in order to start off their credit history. Some newcomers might get small personal loans, based on documents like their salary slip, rent agreement, etc. The important thing here is to make payments on time to make a good impression on the credit bureaus.

You can talk to others who had moved to the US before you and learn about their experiences of creating a credit history. Also, when you access your credit report, it is important to lookout for any mistakes and monitor your progress, since you never know what could affect your credit history.


Having lived in 3+ countries, worked for companies small and big in USA, Middle East & India, I have a lot of stories to share about international travel, immigration and living as an NRI in the US. Add me on WhatsApp if you have any queries (+001-408-489-4785)