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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!

John is Interviewed by FOX and Discusses Results of Credit Report Accuracy Study

What’s a Good Credit Score?

John , I have a 670 FICO score. Is that good? What’s a good score to have? Beverly

Answer – Beverly, a 670 FICO score used to get you anything you wanted, about 5 years ago. Today it doesn’t get you much. 750 is the new “black” so you’ve got some work to do. Anything below 650 is currently considered subprime. There is no blanket answer to what’s a good score. But, a good score is any score that gets you approved at the best deal the lender or insurance company is offering. For some lenders that’s 700, for others it’s much higher. I’d work on getting your scores to at least 750 and then you won’t need to worry about good scores and bad scores. Good luck!! John

John’s Mint.com video about whether or not you should take out a loan to pay off credit cards

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