Getting handle of your Credit Score as an Immigrant

In United States a good credit score opens up the doors to many privileges like cheaper mortgage rates, comfortable loans and better credit cards.

As an immigrant, one should have a prior credit history. In case of lack of any credit history, it is not said to good by several financial organisations and one has to build it slowly over the years.

No Credit History
Most of the reputed banks are not ready to offer credit cards. But even then you have these options:
1. If you have a check account with some bank, then you are allowed to open a secured credit card account with them. They can extend you a credit limit based upon set minimum balance in your check account.
2. You can use credit cards like Capital One that doesn’t charge you any annual fee but are still offered to people having bad or low credit scores. These cards don’t give you a huge credit limit but it is reevaluated in every six months & within a period of time you will have a good credit limit.

Good Credit History
At this stage many banks would be ready to offer a credit card. Choose a credit card that offers cash back without any annual fees or maintenance fee. You should be within your credit limits and see your credit history building nicely. When your score reached around 700s, You can open an American Express credit card (1% cash back).

Excellent Credit History
Just after building your credit score around mid to high 700s, then you can try to own some great credit cards. Here are a few of them:
1. Blue Cash from American Express: Even after having an annual fees of $75.00, it offers 6% cash back up to $6000 for all grocery store purchases. There is also a sign-up bonus of $150 (after spending $1000 within 3 months) which in a way equals 2 years of annual fee. Moreover, you can also buy gift cards from some grocery store, which in turn would give you a 6% cash back on many other retail products.
2. Citi Double Cash Card: This credit card has no annual charge or maintenance charges and also offers a 2% cash-back for each type of shoppings with no exclusions.
3. Discover IT Card: Dispite having zero annual charges it offers 1% cash back. Moreover, it has a rotating categoriespolicy for 5% cash back, which enables you to get greater cash back every quarter.
4. Chase Freedom Credit Card: If you do bulk purchasing from the stores like amazon, GAP etc then it will create an affinity with these stores. You can check that weather having a gift card can benefit you.

Few Other Things to Keep In Mind:
1. In case you have dependents, you can choose to have add-on cards for them, It doesn’t matter weather they have a SSN or not.
2. Always use the free credit reports from these 3 reporting agencies. You are allowed to have one report from each reporting agency in every 12 months.
3. Keep track of the credit score (free credit reports don’t have your score). It’s free and helps you to be on top of the game.
4. Sites such as fatwallet, ebates etc can be used to earn additional cash back.