As An Immigrant, Here’s How You Can Build an International Credit Score in the US

If you are planning immigration to the US, credit score is probably one of the last things you would worry about. However, in the US, many of the essential expenses such as renting an apartment, buying a car, signing up for a cellphone plan or applying for a credit card, requires you to have a personal credit score.

Worrying whether it’s possible or not? The great news is that it is possible to establish credit in the U.S. It may take work but with right credit decisions, you can definitely sail your boat. This guide can help you get started with the steps you need take to build your credit in the United States:

Apply for a secured credit card:
The international banks are not likely to provide you any credit card directly, considering they cannot have a credit check on you without a credit history. The only option you have is to apply for a secured credit card (one that is backed up by funds) with a credit union or a local financial institute. If you manage to get yourself a credit card like a Macy’s or an American Express card, it can be used to purchase at the Macy’s retail stores or online, wherever the cards are accepted. Once in possession, try to make minor bills such as $30 to $50 with the card and repay back the full amount immediately. In this way, you will start creating a good credit history.

Subscribe for auto payments: Subscribing yourself for auto deductions ensures that your bill payments are done in a timely manner. The credit information companies in the US consider mobile and utility bill payments while building your credit report.

Use your spouse’s good history: If your spouse happens to be a US citizen with a good credit history, rejoice, for they have won half the game for you. You can apply for a joint account with them or become an authorized user on your spouse’s credit card. You can then buy a car or rent a house together!

Talk to the lender in person: It is always better to talk to the lender in person as then you can better explain your situation. This also helps establish your legitimacy with the lender and they can better analyze you.

Report your rents: Make sure you are paying your house rents electronically as you can now report the rent to the credit bureau. This is one good way to build your history.

Leverage your home bank relations: If you were a credit card owner with an international bank in India, you might be able to call the bank and get them to issue you a U.S. credit card based on your past relationship.

Do not share your SSN: The social security number in the US is like the Aadhar number in India. It is a unique number assigned to each individual and is connected with all your dealings. Your Social security number is required while buying something. Let’s say you share the number with someone who requires a telephone connection on that number. In the case that they were to default on paying their bills on time, it would reflect badly on your credit report and will hamper your credit score.

If you follow the above pointers, you will be smartly prepared for your stay in the US. But wait, there’s more! Always keep an eye on all accounts so you can identify and resolve problems quickly. Check your credit score regularly to track your progress. Pull your credit reports at least once a year from any of the approved credit bureaus. It’s free and seeing what is being reported about you is illuminating. All the best!

What Are The Five Cs of Credit?

A bank or any other lender evaluates a potential borrower before granting a loan and handing out the money. This evaluation can be called credit risk assessment as the bank is trying to understand the risk of potential default by the borrower on this line of credit. The Five Cs of credit is a widely popular framework which considers five characteristics of the borrower to helps lenders gauge the creditworthiness of the borrowers.The 5 Cs of credit are Character, Collateral, Conditions Capacity, and Capital in no particular order. Let us understand what these 5 Cs stand for.

1. Character:
Sometimes also referred to as the credit history, a character is the first among the C’s (in our list). If you are one of those who thinks “what has good character got to do with a loan?” then oops! Your character is, in fact, one of the most apparent parameters by which lenders gauge your risk and trustworthiness. In financial terms, the character represents a borrower’s reputation for repaying debts. This information appears on the credit report generated by the credit information companies such as CRIF. Apart from credit score, the credit report also contains information about how much an applicant has borrowed in the past and whether they have repaid loans on time. Information from these reports helps lenders assess the borrower’s credit risk.

Beyond your credit, lenders may also take a literal approach to the word “character” and analyze your personal attributes. They may conduct an interview or require references. Be polite, prompt, and prepared when you approach a lender. That might just make the difference to your loan approval.

2. Capacity:
Every lender must make sure that it is lending money to someone who has the capacity (or simply income or wealth) to repay. It is a measure of the borrower’s ability to repay a loan by comparing income against recurring debts and assessing the borrower’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. The DTI is calculated by adding together a borrower’s total monthly debt payments and dividing that by the borrower’s gross monthly income. The lower an borrowers DTI, the better the chance of qualifying for a new loan. Every lender is different, but many lenders prefer an applicant’s DTI to be around 35% or less before approving an application for new financing.

3. Capital:
Lenders consider any capital put by the borrower in their investment, in other words, the own contribution or the down payment. A large contribution by the borrower minimizes the chance of default. Borrowers who can place a down payment on a home, for example, typically find it easier to receive a loan. Down payments indicate the borrower’s level of seriousness and whether the borrower’s goals are realistic and in congruence with the paying potential. Down payment amount can also affect the rates and terms of a borrower’s loan. Larger down payments may result in better interest rates and terms.

4. Collateral:
Collateral is any personal asset that the borrower pledges in order to support the loan. It acts as a lender’s back up in case you abscond or are genuinely unable to repay your loan. After all, it’s a business and none of the two parties would want to be at a loss. In the case of a loan default, the lender will have to liquidate your assets which have been put as security against the loan. The collateral can be your house property, land, equipment, inventory, real estate, accounts receivable, or any other item holding monetary value in the market. Banks measure collateral quantitatively by its value and qualitatively by its ease of liquidation. The simple formula is; Risky collateral = difficult to liquidate = more expensive loan. Most obvious examples of collateral include houses, cars, stocks, bonds, and cash, basically, all things that are readily convertible into cash to repay the loan.

5. Conditions
The conditions of the loan, such as its interest rate and amount of principal, influence the lender’s decision to finance the borrower. Conditions can refer to how a borrower plans to use the money. For instance, if a borrower applies for a car loan or a house loan the lender is more likely to approve the loan because the intent is specific and clear. Additionally, lenders may also consider factors such as the state of the economy, the trends in your business’s industry current environmental conditions, and even geographic or political events. The point is that, for conditions, lenders look for factors beyond your business alone that might affect whether you can make good on your debt.

Understanding what your lenders are looking for will help you prepare a better loan application. And, hopefully, this carefully-crafted application will help secure a better loan for your personal or business use. CRIF is a consumer credit bureau providing free credit report & credit score for both persons and businesses.

How To Review Your FREE Credit Score Report? – An Infographic

Credit reports provides information about your credit activity, payment history and the status of your credit accounts based on reporting from creditors and other sources. These reports are crucial because credit card issuers and lenders check them to help determine things like whether you’re a credit risk, what interest rate they’ll offer you, and the amount of your credit limit. With so much information, where do you even start when it comes to reviewing your credit reports? Let’s take a look.

Personal Credit Score

Ways To Maintain Your Credit Score – An Infographic

If you need to maintain your credit score, it won’t happen overnight.Credit scores take into account years of past behavior you can find on your credit report, and not just your present actions. But there are some steps you can take now to start on the path to better credit, read our infographic to know more..

Why Do Banks Love To See The 750+ Mark On Your Credit Report?

When you apply for a loan of any kind, irrespective of your background or your ability to pay a lump-sum in your down payment, one important tool that helps the bank trust your ability and your intent to repay is a good credit score. Since the time credit bureaus have come into the picture, a credit report has become a financial bible for the banks.

A credit score is an aggregation of all your loans and credit cards. It reflects your creditworthiness and credit health. A score between 750 and 900 is the equivalent of an A/A+ on your school report card. It implies you’ve been very responsible with your credit, paying your EMIs and dues on time and in full each month. Even if you had a low score at one point, you’ve worked hard over time to reclaim a top spot on the credit score charts. In short, you’re very mindful and responsible when it comes to credit.

Your score also reveals that you’re a relatively safe bet when it comes to borrowing money from a lender or availing credit card facilities. According to credit bureaus, the lowest interest rates tend to go to borrowers with credit scores in the 750-900 range, which means your high score will also help you save money down the road. Besides these advantages, a 750 above score is also loved by banks. Below are the some of the reasons:

1. Judging your reliability becomes easier: The credit bureaus like CRIF are RBI regulated and for scoring an individual they employ sophisticated statistical analysis of your repayment performance on loans and credit cards listed in the credit report. A credit score takes into account many parameters, and helps bank predict future riskiness of a customer. The credit score thus becomes one of the major criteria for the bank.

2. Saves the bank a lot of time: The credit score is a sum of your loan repayment behavior so the bank saves a lot of time in analyzing how your credit behavior is or your ability to repay. The loan sanctioning process is simplified and is a lot faster. As a customer, you get your loan decisions fairly quickly.

3. Accuracy is on point: Initially, the traditional ways were adopted to verify an individual’s credibility which differed as the process depended on varied sources thus making the results volatile in nature. Since the time credit bureaus like CRIF have come into the financial world, the decisions have become more objective, data driven and also standardized. Therefore, the accuracy of the decisions have improved and also more dependable.

A good credit score is the magic wand that does the trick on banks when you apply for your loan to fulfil the most awaited dreams. The banks come across thousands of application for loans and the credit score helps them accept or reject applications in a more organized way and also quite quickly. A bad credit score can make you a risky bet while a strong credit score is encouraging to banks, ensuring you get the best deals out there, which saves you time, money and worry.

What’s In Your Credit Score?- An Infographic

Check out our infographic to know what affects your credit score and how your actions could improve or hurt your creditworthiness. While various credit scoring models may weigh each factor differently, we’ve listed out the most important ones for you.

Checking My Credit Report Affects My Credit Score? Or Not?

We know how important a credit score is in our everyday lives especially in our ability to take loans. Did you know it is equally important to check your credit score at regular intervals? There are a number of reasons to do so – some of them are to keep a track on your credit standing and take necessary steps to improve or maintain the credit reports and credit score. While we all know that checking your credit score is important, one thing that bothers a lot of consumers is if checking their own credit report will hurt their credit scores. We are breaking down the entire process to give you a crystal-clear view.

What does ‘credit report check’ or credit score check mean?
A credit report check, also known as an inquiry for credit score is either done by you or by the potential lenders of loan or credit cards such as banks, NBFCs and other financial institutions. A bank checks your credit score usually when you apply for a loan or a credit card to know the creditworthiness of the applicant. Further, a bank can also check your credit history and credit score while you are a loan or card customer of the bank to monitor its portfolio of customers.

Credit Report Check shows or not Hard Inquiry Vs Soft Inquiry
A credit report check or a credit inquiry can be classified into a hard inquiry or soft inquiry. Hard inquiries occur when you apply or request for a new credit card or a new loan or a line of credit like increasing the credit limit on a card. Such inquiries leave a footprint on your credit history and show up on your credit reports. Too many hard inquiries over a short duration have a negative impact on your credit score, especially if the credit keeps getting denied.

Hence, it is advisable to limit your applications for credit card or loan. Make sure you’re only applying for credit only when it really is necessary. Select a credit card and a bank after doing research rather than blindly applying for credit with many banks. Want to know about the ways that can positively impact your Credit Score? Read our blog, “4 ways to Build a Great Credit Score.”

On the other hand, soft inquiries occur when an individual checks his own credit report and credit score. These are the type of inquiries that do not show on the reports, no matter how many times you check your credit report. Even if these appear on your credit report, these will never affect your credit score despite you checking five times in a single day.

When you are pre-approved for a special credit card offer or personal loan, it is very likely that the Bank would have carried out a soft inquiry on its existing customer base, such as you. Banks periodically review its existing pool of customers for assessing risk of its loan portfolios and finding out good customers whom to make pre-approved loan offers. Since these are soft inquiries, you do not need to worry on any negative effect of these checks on your credit score.

If you want to still keep a record of the inquiries just to stay more informed about them, CRIF can help you with the annual credit report with details of hard inquiries in your credit report.

Keep a check, always.
Consider your credit scores as a pie that represents your financial being. Your pie is divided into slices, each of which constitutes of different factors. One large slice is your timely payments, another is your length of credit history and yet another is total credit used. And then there is a tiny slice which represents your hard inquiries. It is essential to control your hunger and not to bite this slice. This diet won’t help you to lose weight but can definitely help you gain some points on credit score. It is essential to keep your credit on a check as it gives you an accurate position of your credit standing.

To ease out the hassle of keeping a check on your credit score, you can contact CRIF. It is an RBI-approved credit information bureau that gives trusted and accurate results of the credit score.

Just entered your first job – Start Building your Credit History too

It is simply a great feeling when your first salary gets credited into your bank account. Getting financially independent is certainly an achievement, but at the same time, it comes with equal responsibilities. Knowing one’s urge to spend and more so these days over digital means, banks start approaching you for credit cards and you also start getting excited and apply for a couple of most rewarding credit cards. But alas! the credit card application gets rejected. The Reason, you don’t have any credit score – i.e. no history found in credit bureau. However, you shouldn’t worry, as building a credit history is not a tough thing to do.

The first steps to Building a Credit Score

The best thing you can do is to just start off with applying for a credit card with the banks you are holding a Savings Account already or where you open your Salary account. You can also apply for one of the basic cards, to begin with rather than going for the most premium card the bank has to offer. Specially designed credit cards are now being offered by banks to those who have just joined the workforce. If you are employed in the public sector or with reputed private companies, you may be eligible for a credit card based on your salary slip. If you are not getting a credit card even from the bank where you have salary account, you can apply for a secured credit card against a fixed deposit – you can begin with as low as Rs. 20,000.

Another way of building your credit score could be exploring the exciting zero-cost EMI offers offered by financiers for mobile, bike or laptop. These also require a credit score for approval, however, many of the lenders approve loans for people with no credit score.

Maintaining a good Credit Score: Since now you have begun building your credit history, here are a few tips to maintain a good credit score too:

  • Use your Credit Card, though control your spends: Just getting the credit card will not get you good credit score. Try spending only up to 40% of your credit limit to keep the balance low it will help you repay the full amount on the due date.
  • Repay your card dues and EMIs in time: A consistent regular repayment on your card dues and EMIs will definitely help you with a good score. If you took an education loan, repaying when EMI’s become due also helps you build a credit score. If you become delinquent and default on your education loans, your credit score will be negatively impacted because the lender will report that you are not in compliance with the terms of your loans.
  • Limit Your Applications for New Card or Loan: Too many credit inquiries on your profile by banks whether they be for a credit card or a loan also can also bring down your score, so make sure you’re only applying for credit only when it really is necessary. Select a credit card and a bank after doing research rather than blindly applying for credit with many banks.
  • Checking your Credit Score regularly: Don’t lose the good credit score you’ve worked for! Just like a car that fails to work if not maintained, credit history too can fail to work if it is not maintained. Tracking your credit score every quarter helps you stay on top of your own credit report and thus, maintain a good credit score.

Now that you have mastered the art of building and maintaining a good credit score, pat yourself on the back and start dreaming for the better things in life, right from the newly launched bike to the latest I-Phone to a swankier car and a beautiful house, you can have it all…!!

4 Proven Hacks to Build a Great Credit Score

Building a good credit score is very similar to building a good reputation; both require an immense amount of work and patience. Loans are a crucial part of the modern man’s life and building a rock-solid credit history is of paramount importance for getting a big loan approved. If you are successful in maintaining a high credit score your quality of life will take a 180-degree turn as you will be able to buy all the luxuries in the world for yourself and your family.

But the sad part of the story is that your scores can drop real quick for the smallest of the reasons. It can be disheartening to know that you have a low score when you open your credit report. But hey, do not be discouraged, you can still work things out! Wondering how? Look no further, we have compiled a list of 4 things you can do to build a great credit score.

Repay your card dues and EMIs in time:
Yes, however stereotypical this suggestion sounds it is actually true. Every credit risk analytics expert swears by this strategy. A consistent regular repayment on your card dues and EMIs will definitely help you with a good credit score. If you become delinquent and default on your loans, your credit score will be negatively impacted because the lender will report that you are not in compliance with the terms of your loans. Even if you missed a payment, do not sulk in worry. Get up and bring your loan to regularity now.

Utilize your card with caution Don’t use the card to its full capacity:
Having a credit card is not your ticket to go overboard on shopping! Things can take a detour and you may soon find yourself in a pool of debt. Using the card to its full capacity is never the right thing to do. Try spending only up to 40% of your credit limit to keep the balance low it will help you repay the full amount on the due date and also keep your credit score in low.

Limit your credit card applications or loan:
Too many credit inquiries on your profile by banks ‘whether they be for a credit card or a loan’ also can also bring down your score, so make sure you’re only applying for credit only when it really is necessary. Select a credit card and a bank after doing research rather than blindly applying for credit with many banks.

Checking your Credit Score regularly:
Don’t lose the good credit score you’ve worked for! Now’s definitely a good time to ask yourself if you’re being proactive about protecting your financial health. Management guru Peter Drucker said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. To manage over your credit and your financial life, you must measure your creditworthiness through the credit score regularly. Tracking your credit score every quarter helps you stay on top of your own credit report and thus, maintain a good credit score.

So there you have it, all you need to do is blend these simple steps together and make a great recipe for a good credit score! If you still feel uncertain about how to build and maintain your credit score, you can read our BLOG or feel free to get in touch with us!

 

4 Ways Credit Score Can Impact Your Financial Life

Credit Bureaus such as CRIF are dedicated organizations set up to assess the risk of a loan being given to an individual or a business by banks and financial institutions. Various factors like paying your EMI’s and card dues on time, how long you have had and used credit, number of credit inquiries you have made in a particular amount of time etc. are considered to determine a person’s credit score.

Having a good score with credit bureaus is one of the most prominent characteristics of a responsible person. A good credit history indicates that a person is in control of his/her finances and has made past payments on time without any negative remark. Generally, the higher the number, the more trustworthy you appear to lenders. The lower your score, the more difficulty you will face. We take you through the potential effects a credit score can have on your financial life:

1. Incurring Lower Interest Rates on Loans
If you are in the good books of credit bureaus, then you’re most likely to incur lower interest rates on loans while, on the other hand, you might not get a loan at all if you have a poor credit score. For a score with a range between 300-900, a credit score of 700 or above is generally considered good. People who keep paying timely installments on their loans and credit card dues get extensions on limits subsequently when their credit limit gets stretched. A good credit gives you the negotiating power when applying for a loan in terms of interest rate and loan amount.

2. Get Home Loans Processed Swiftly
Owning a home sweet home is the dream of every individual. If you are looking to buy your dream apartment, there are two things you consider: a pretty home and a not-so-pretty home loan. However, what matters the most in swift approval of your home loan is your credit score. Home loan limits are dependent on income but a poor credit history might cancel out / nullify your chances of getting one irrespective of how much you are currently earning. On the other hand, with a good credit score, the chances of loan approval are higher. This is because the lenders consider you as trustworthy. Read our blog 4 things to consider Before You Apply for a Home Loan to land into your dream apartment.

3. Employment Prospects
The penetration of credit score has gone beyond as an integral part of the loan approval process for banks. It is increasingly being used as the selection criteria before scheduling interviews. Employers in banking and financial services (BFSI) are checking credit scores of candidates as a part of their employee verification process before hiring them. So if you are searching out for a job, then not only preparing for the job interview but checking your credit score and improving it also becomes indispensable. A lower score can thrash your desires of a dream job.

4. Others
Globally a credit score is also used by the insurance firms to set the premium charges on their policies. Even telecom companies use it to set the security deposit that they require before giving a connection or decide the credit limit. this is beginning to happen in India as well, as insurance and telecom companies have begun using credit scores. We are already seeing early use of Credit Scores to establish credibility of the groom in case of arranged marriages and of the tenant in case of rentals.

Hence a bad credit score affects many more aspects of your life than what you must have imagined. Any bad credit decisions will keep you on the back foot. It may not put an end to your financial journey, but it definitely slows it down. Though there are lenders who might be willing to offer loans even with a low credit score the rate of interest tends to be significantly higher in such cases. Hence it is prudent to maintain a good credit history. Like an annual health check-up do a regular credit score check too, to take charge of your financial life. You can get your credit scores in a few simple steps by visiting https://cir.crifhighmark.com