If you’re new to the US, you have your hands full adjusting to your new life. It’s temptingly easy to ignore your credit. But that would be a mistake, and here’s why.

In the US, your credit score is a big deal – it’s a measure of your financial credibility and general trustworthiness. It’s a quick snapshot that tells people and companies whether it would be smart to do business with you. A good credit score is the key to smooth business deals and huge savings over time. For example, it opens the door to easily renting an apartment, buying a car, or opening a mobile phone account. A poor or nonexistent credit history, on the other hand, makes it harder to take these basic steps to settling into your new life in the US. Your credit score can mean the difference between a 0% loan and a 24% loan on your next car . When you’re talking about financing a big purchase, that’s a huge difference.

Building your US credit history

So, what you really need to do if you’re new to the US is to build a great credit score as quickly as possible. But here’s the catch. As a newcomer to the US, you have to build your credit from the ground up. No matter how strong your school, work, or financial history was in your home country, when you move to the US, none of that travels with you. How are you supposed to build good credit if lack of credit disqualifies you from getting a credit card in the first place?

Not all paths to good credit are the same: How to do it right

The fact is, the US credit industry has a “chicken or egg” problem. In trying to navigate it, most expats take one of two approaches: one ineffective, and the other, slow and inefficient.

Approach #1 — Ineffective: Take no proactive steps and hope for the best

Like me, you can cross your fingers and hope that if you just pay your rent and utility bills on time, the credit gods will eventually smile upon you. Unfortunately, unlike credit card and loan payments, rent and utility payments are not routinely reported to credit bureaus. So, you don’t get “good credit” for making these payments on time. On the other hand, if you are ever late with your rent or utility bills, and the company you owe sends the bill to a debt collector, it may end up hurting your credit.

Approach #2 — Okay, but slow and inefficient

Hands on steering wheel of car

Your credit score can be the difference between a 0% loan and a 24% loan on your next car.  Picture: Edvin Johansson.

Use lines of credit such as credit-builder loans or secured credit cards to demonstrate your creditworthiness. A credit-builder loan is like a forced savings plan, or a loan in reverse: you make regular payments to a bank before you receive the loan amount. The lender releases the loan amount to you, minus interest, after you have paid off the loan. A secured credit card requires a cash deposit to guarantee that you will not default on your bills. Either of these can help you build credit as long as you make payments on time. Whenever you make payments against a credit-builder loan or a secured credit card, your payments are reported to the credit bureaus, potentially boosting your credit score.

If you think the above two approaches just aren’t good enough, you’re probably right. Fortunately, there is now a third approach that offers a direct, effective, and painless path to a great credit score.

Approach #3: — Get a credit card of your own and start building your credit — from day one

Today, thanks to Jasper, expats in the US can start to build good credit from the day they arrive on US soil— faster, and painlessly. Unlike other US credit card companies that refuse to issue a card to expats with no credit history, Jasper looks at new-to-credit applicants and sees not just a credit score, but potential. This is a game changer. Approved Jasper customers receive a no-compromise, premium credit card with a high monthly credit limit, no annual fees,¹ with no SSN² or credit history³ needed to apply.* Applicants can submit applications up to 60 days before they start a new job in the US, then find their new Jasper Mastercard waiting for them on their desks on day one.

Sign up for a Jasper Mastercard now ¹

Anyone relocating to the US has a lot on their plate. With a Jasper Mastercard, expats are empowered to fully enjoy their new life in the US from day one. They can start building credit immediately, with every transaction. And, through the Jasper app and emails, they receive guidance to keep strengthening their credit over time, continuing to build a stronger financial future as they navigate their new lives in the US.

¹Review the Jasper cardholder agreement and fee schedule.

²SSN is required within 60 days of card activation. Card can only be activated from within the US. Applicants who have been living in the US for one year or more must provide SSN at time of application and undergo a credit check.

³If applicant has been living in the US for more than one year at time of application, SSN must be provided and application review will include a credit check.

Jasper offers up to 6% cash back by referring friends! Start with 1% and get an extra 0.5% for a full year for every friend you bring on board. Terms apply.

Receive cash back automatically every month as a statement credit after three on time payments. Your cash back maximum will vary based on your credit limit. Earn cash back as long as your account is in good standing. If your account is past due, cash back will be locked.

**Terms apply. *Review the Jasper fee schedule at www.jaspercard.com/fees

How to build credit history in the USA

**Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these links you don’t pay a cent more, but I receive a small commission, that is put towards the running of this blog.