Consumers who move to Georgia from outside of the U.S. often face many important decisions at once. They must establish homes, start new jobs, find transportation, and learn how everything works in an unfamiliar culture. Often, establishing a credit history is the last thing on an immigrant’s mind. However, these Georgia newcomers must eventually understand that building and maintaining good credit scores is a crucial part of success in the U.S. With a good credit score, it is much easier to finance a home or car, rent an apartment, take out credit cards, and get loan approvals. Other perks of a positive credit history include lower car insurance premiums and better job opportunities.
Of course, building a good credit score from scratch takes time and effort. Yet, there are ways to speed up the process. Luckily for Georgia immigrants, establishing a credit history with a blank slate is a little easier than fixing bad credit and rebuilding good credit scores.
A Brief Tutorial for Georgian Immigrants on How Credit Scores are Calculated in the U.S.
Understanding how credit works in the U.S. is tricky even for those who’ve lived their entire lives in Georgia or one of the other 49 states. In a nutshell, when you take out loans or open credit cards, all of the information associated with these accounts is reported to one, two, or all three of the major credit bureaus. These are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
Primarily, the credit bureaus collect information about your payment activity, the types of credit you take out, and how much of your available credit you use. All of this information goes on your credit reports, and you have a credit report on file with each major credit bureau. You also have credit scores, which are three-digit numbers calculated from information contained in your credit reports. There are different scoring models, but credit scores normally range from 350-850.
Lower credit scores are usually assigned to those with a history of late payments, charge-offs, repossession, or bankruptcy. On the other hand, Georgia consumers with high credit scores have used credit responsibly. They have made payments on time and kept their credit card balances low. Also, more often than not, Georgia residents with exceptionally high credit scores have a good mix of loans and credit card accounts on their credit reports.
Once consumers establish credit reports and credit scores, lenders pull them and use them to make loan and credit card approval decisions.
Tips for Georgia Immigrants Working to Build Good Credit Scores
Starting out in the U.S. with no credit history limits your loan and credit card options. This is because lenders have no way of knowing how responsible you are as a borrower. Fortunately, there are credit building options for Georgia immigrants who want good credit scores.
Become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card.
If you have a family member who has already established good credit, you can “borrow” their credit to start building your own credit score. If this credit card holder makes you an established user on the account, you can make purchases with the credit card. Then, all activity associated with this shared credit card is reflected on both the primary holder’s and the authorized user’s credit reports.
Apply for a secured credit card.
In order to open a secured credit card, you must provide a cash deposit. This is why secured credit cards are typically easier for Georgia consumers with no credit to get. Typically, the amount of the deposit becomes the spending limit associated with the card. After it is issued, a secured credit card is used just like a “regular” card. Also, after several months of responsible use and timely payments, many secured credit card holders are able to transition into an unsecured card with a higher spending limit.
Pay all of your bills on time.
This tip is really important for Georgia immigrants working to build good credit scores. In fact, your payment history largely determines your credit score. After all, lenders want to see that applicants are responsible with their obligations before approving them for loans or credit cards. So, always be sure to make every payment in full and on time.
Keep your credit card balances low.
This is often tricky for newcomers with no credit history. Chances are, your first credit card will come with a low spending limit – possibly $300-$500. Ideally, you should use no more than 30% of your available credit. Therefore, when Georgia immigrants are just starting out with credit cards, they have very little flexibility. A good strategy to use is to pick one expense, like gasoline, and only use your credit card to pay for that. Then, pay off your credit card balance every month.
Why Georgia Immigrants Who are New to Credit in the U.S. Should Regularly Check their Credit Reports
Once you have credit reports, you should check them regularly. Sadly, identity theft is a big threat in the U.S – especially in the wake of the Equifax data breach. Georgia consumers with good credit scores must protect them by finding and reporting evidence of fraud on their credit reports.
In addition, errors on credit reports are incredibly common, and often harmful to credit scores. Creditors and the credit bureaus frequently mishandle consumer information and create credit report inaccuracies. Fortunately, Georgia residents with credit reports are protected by a federal statute called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA entitles all U.S. consumers to error-free credit reports from all three major credit bureaus.
Of course, these mistakes must first be found and reported. So, this is another reason to keep tabs on your credit reports. Another federal statute, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) entitles consumers to one free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus every 12 months. You can easily request all three at once by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you find either fraudulent items or inaccuracies on any of your credit reports, contact Credit Repair Lawyers of America. When you ask for our help, one of our experienced credit attorneys will take care of your credit issues and get you clean credit reports – for FREE.
The Free and Legal way to Get Better Credit
Don’t let errors on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (404) 591-6680 or sending him a message through our contact page.
For more information about Free Credit Repair, please visit www.creditrepairlawyersam.com/credit-repair-free/. Or, for more information about Free Credit Repair After Identity Theft, check out www.creditrepairlawyersam.com/fixing-identity-theft/.