You made it through the immigration process and now you are able to live freely and without fear of removal in the Land of the Free. However, now that you are here, you have quickly discovered that life in the United States is not as easy and carefree as you thought it would be. In fact, it is downright difficult, and a large part of what makes it so difficult is your lack of credit.
To get ahead in the United States, you need excessive amounts of capital or great credit, two things that the average American does not even possess. To buy a house, finance a vehicle, rent an apartment in a nice part of town, or even apply for a good job, you need decent credit. According to MarketWatch, immigrants may now need to show proof of their credit scores just to live in the U.S. But how, when U.S. born-and-raised individuals struggle to build credit, can immigrants generate enough credit to build the life they imagined for themselves before ever being granted green card status? Our Chicago immigration lawyers at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC may have a few tips that can help.
Secured credit cards are cards that individuals with little to no credit, or with poor credit, can obtain by putting down a sum of money with the lender as collateral. Sometimes the sum of money is equivalent to the awarded credit limit and sometimes it is significantly less. The sum of money is then held by the bank until it either needs to be used to make up for missed payments or until the borrower proves his or her creditworthiness. Because lenders have little to nothing to lose with secured credit cards, they are easy to obtain, making this one of the best ways for you to begin building your credit score in the United States.
The key to maintaining a positive credit score is paying your bills on time or before their due dates without fail. “Bills” include everything from your phone bill to your cable bill, and from your rent to your credit card balances. Of course, with credit cards you can pay a “minimum balance,” but if you set the precedent of doing just that, you risk accruing excessive interest and falling behind on your payments. The best thing you can do is pay all your debts in full by the due date. If you spend only within your means, this should be easy to do.
If you can not, for whatever reason, obtain a credit card of your own, ask a parent, sibling, close family member, or your spouse if you can become an authorized user on his or her account. You do not actually have to use the card, which may be a relief to some, but the account can help you to build your credit, as it will be in your name, as well.
Maintaining a strong credit score can be immensely helpful when you decide to take the next step as a U.S. immigrant. Whether that next step is finding gainful employment, buying a home, or going to university, you will be happy you took control of your credit sooner rather than later. For help paving the way to a better future in America, contact Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC, today.
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