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How Do I Establish Credit as a New US Citizen?

Question – John, I was wondering if you had any advice for my wife who is originally from Colombia. She has been in this country for 4 years now and so far, she has no credit history. She’s never held a credit card or any kind of credit account in this country. We do share a joint bank account. What is the best way to establish credit as someone new to this country. She does have an SSN and expects to become a citizen in the next 5 to 6 months.

Answer – I’d add her as an authorized user to one of your existing credit card accounts. Choose one that has a long history of on time payments and a modest balance relative to the credit limit. Normally this would result in a record of that account being reported to the credit reporting agencies, thus creating a credit report for her. However, the fact that she isn’t a citizen yet could delay the process. It doesn’t sound like you’re in a big hurry to get this done so I’d wait until she has become a US citizen and then add her as an authorized user. Good luck!

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