The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.
Whether you are a citizen of the USA or a newcomer to this country, credit history is just indispensable for you to go in for full-fledged financial activity and live an adequate life. As of today, a really fast and unfailing method to start and build a credit history is through using a credit card, a plastic payment tool ruling in the States and influencing its economic development.
If you are a Native American citizen, applying for a credit card and getting approved for it could be as easy as turning your hand over, except when you are recognized as insolvent. What about those who have just moved to the States? What difficulties are they facing on their way to a solid US credit history?
One of the most common obstacles on the way to building a good credit history abroad is put in by the newcomer's Social Security Number, or SSN. This number is given to US citizens, permanent or working residents with the primary purpose of tracking individuals for taxation, enabling them to legally live, work or study in the country.
As a matter of fact, your SSN is a compulsory-to-fill-in item in your credit card application and without it your application would never pass. How can this 9-digit number affect your ability to attain good payment records in the USA?
Let's see into a rather common situation that a newly arrived customer gets stuck in. Imagine you are a British resident moving to the USA. Partly for the reason of saving time and partly - for avoiding troubles - you open up a credit card account with your bank in Britain and even put some purchases on it.
Imagine your bitter surprise when, having stayed in the States for quite a time already, you discover that your British payment records are not updated and not reported to the national credit bureaus!
Addressing your bank's customer service for explanation, you find that the SSN issued to you in America and marked as "Only valid for work with DHS authorization" is somehow improper for updating the credit card records you made in your country. Thus, your credit history is worse than it might be, should your payment records be reported to the bureaus.
What nonsense! You make federal, state, medical care and social payments, but your bank's representatives insist that they cannot report your credit card activity as you are not a permanent resident.
At first sight, it all seems really ridiculous, considering that some banks, such as Bank of America, caters for illegal immigrants without SSN, tax ID and credit history, offering them credit cards and reporting them to credit bureaus.
However, if you get deeper into the matter, you may dig out some very important factor that influences the validity of your SSN and your ability to build credit. If you have just been issued your SSN, the Social Security Administration might not have it on its list yet and your bank will not accept it for this reason.
It can take you a while after the arrival to become a US resident alien and get your new numbers to become valid in the system. Then, all the credit card information will be updated and you will be able to add it to your credit report in the USA.
As soon as your SSN becomes valid and accepted by credit reference agencies, check if all the information is updated correctly. Dispute whatever inaccuracies there might be on your file and set it right. You would not want to make a bad start in your venture of establishing and building credit in the USA, would you?