My record of building a credit history in the U.S.

See all stories 2014/02/25
My record of building a credit history in the U.S.

This is my record of building a credit history as an alien. If you are an alien or an immigrant, this post is useful to think about your credit history, score and time to apply new card. In this post, scores are from TransUnion Credit Score.

1st month: Got a SSN and opened my first bank account in the US

Credit Score

None

Cards

  • [New] Sun Trust Debit Card

I got my Social Security Number and opened a bank account at SunTrust. When you open your first bank account, you should visit a branch and open an account in person because you have no credit history in the US and need to prove that you are a right person to have an account.

2nd month: Applied a secured card, but declined

Credit Score

None

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card

I applied a secured credit card of Sun Trust Bank, but it was declined.

3rd month: Applied another secured card and approved

Credit Score

None

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • [New] Capital One Secured Mastercard (Credit limit: $500/ Deposit: $349)

I applied Capital One Secured Mastercard (Related: How to get the first credit card for foreigners and immigrants) and it’s approved! According to information on the Internet, Capital One approves easily compared to banks’ secured card and it’s true. Since I got the secured card, I’ve been caring credit limit and payment date. I use at most 30% of the credit limit and set auto payment to avoid missing payment.

4th month: Applied Simple Bank and declined

Credit Score

None

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard (Credit limit: $500/ Deposit: $349)

I applied Simple Bank but it’s declined because I have working-only visa.

5th month: Got my credit score on Credit Karma

Credit Score

726

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard (Credit limit: $500/ Deposit: $349)

Finally, I got my credit score on Credit Karma which provides your credit score for free. It was 726 (Credit Rating: Good).

6th month, 1st week: Applied a credit card, but declined

Credit Score

726

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard (Credit limit: $500/ Deposit: $349)

I applied CHASE SAPPHIRE Visa Signature credit card, but it was declined. According a letter from CHASE, the reason is “Not enough accounts opened long enough to establish a credit history.”

6th month, 2nd week: Applied GAP and Walmart store cards and approved

Credit Score

733

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard (Credit limit: $500/ Deposit: $349)
  • [New] GAP Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • [New] Walmart Store Card (Credit limit: $400)

I applied credit cards at GAP and Walmart and both of them were approved instantly. But these two cards can be used at only their stores. After they’ve approved my application, my credit score got better.

6th month, 3rd week: Opened a bank account of Ally Bank

Credit Score

733

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard (Credit limit: $500/ Deposit: $349)
  • GAP Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • Walmart Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • [New] Ally Bank Debit Card

I opened a bank account of Ally Bank, which has no branches, monthly maintenance fees and waves ATM fees at any ATM nationwide. I’ve had no credit history in my first month in the US, so I couldn’t open a bank account through the Internet, but now, I can do that.

8th month, 3rd week: Increased credit limit of Capital One Secured Mastercard

Credit Score

688

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard ([Increased] Credit limit: $800/ Deposit: $349)
  • GAP Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • Walmart Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • Ally Bank Debit Card

I earned a higher credit line of Capital One Secured Mastercard.

8th month, 4th week: Applied Chase Freedom and approved

Credit Score

688

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard (Credit limit: $800/ Deposit: $349)
  • GAP Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • Walmart Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • Ally Bank Debit Card
  • [New] Chase Freedom (Credit limit: $1,200)

Finally, I got a normal credit card, Chase Freedom Visa Card which has 1% cash back.

9th month, 1st week: Increased credit limit of GAP Store Card

Credit Score

714

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard (Credit limit: $800/ Deposit: $349)
  • GAP Store Card ([Increased] Credit limit: $600)
  • Walmart Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • Ally Bank Debit Card
  • Chase Freedom (Credit limit: $1,200)

I earned a higher credit line of GAP Card.

12th month, 1st week: Applied Discover it and approved and Increased credit limit of Chase Freedom

Credit Score

730

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard (Credit limit: $800/ Deposit: $349)
  • GAP Store Card (Credit limit: $600)
  • Walmart Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • Ally Bank Debit Card
  • [Increased] Chase Freedom (Credit limit: $2,400)
  • [New] Discover it (Credit limit: $2,000)

I applied Discover card which has 1% cash back and no foreign transaction fee. That was so helpful to travel Canada! The limit of Chase Freedom was increased to $2,400.

13th month, 1st week: Applied Capital One Platinum and approved

Credit Score

730

Cards

  • Sun Trust Debit Card
  • [Close] Capital One Secured Mastercard
  • GAP Store Card (Credit limit: $600)
  • Walmart Store Card (Credit limit: $400)
  • Ally Bank Debit Card
  • Chase Freedom (Credit limit: $2,400)
  • Discover it (Credit limit: $2,000)
  • [New] Capital One Platinum (Credit limit: $2,000)

I applied Capital One Platinum which has MasterCard logo and no foreign transaction fee. Discover card also has no foreign transaction fee, but it’s not popular outside the U.S., so I applied this card as well. In addition, to get my deposit back, I closed secured card.