Just because you are undocumented does not mean you cannot enjoy the benefits of credit. Many banks and credit unions will work with you to get you a credit card or even a mortgage if you are undocumented. They don’t advertise this fact because its controversial. Still if you want to build credit, you have to start somewhere. Here are our best tips for building a U.S. credit score:
Get an Individual Tax Identification number (“ITIN”)
An ITIN is similar but not the same thing as a SSN. An ITIN was created by the Internal Revenue Service to allow undocumented immigrants to pay taxes here in the United States. The IRS does not share information with immigration enforcement. Many undocumented immigrants have ITINs.
With an ITIN, you can:
a Get a drivers license in some states
b Open a bank account
c Apply for some credit cards
d Use it as proof of residency
You can get an ITIN by filling out a W-7 application and submitting it to the IRS. You can apply by mail or in person. You can also apply through an Acceptance Agent which is someone that is authorized by the IRS to help people through this process.
Open a bank account with the ITIN number
Get a credit card using your ITIN number.
Be sure to obtain no more credit than you can responsibly handle. Be absolutely certain to make every monthly payment timely. Timely made payments made up 35% of your credit score. Even if you have to get a secured credit card (one in which you have to keep a balance on account with the bank), it will help you build your credit. Capital One Platinum Credit Card or Milestone Gold Mastercard may accept ITINs for tax identification purposes. Citi Secured Mastercard is also an option.
Try to get an apartment using an ITIN.
Pay your bills, including your rent and utilities on time.
The streaming services now offer credit reporting such as Netflix, Showtime and HBOMax.
Think about a Credit Builder Loan.
Whatever you do, do NOT go for loans that will send you into credit hell such as title loans or payday loans. They are designed to keep you paying interest forever. They are just bad deals.
Once you have built a good credit score and if you become documented, you can transfer your credit from your ITIN to a social security number. Even if you never do that, you can still have good credit and live well.
If you have already established credit in your country of origin, you may already have a credit history that you can transfer to the United States through a company called Nova Credit. Nova operates in several countries including Mexico. Its worth your while to see if Nova has a credit file on you. If so, you can transfer it to the United States.
If you have questions about credit or if you are being bothered by a debt collector, call us at Credito Latino Law for a free, no obligation consultation. We have a Spanish speaking staff to help you and answer your questions.
Call us at 404-591-6680 or email us at email@example.com. We are a law firm for the Latino community. Let us help you today.