My wife has absolutely no credit history. She is a permanent resident. How can we build a credit rating for her?
October 12, 2012 3:54 PM   Subscribe

My wife has absolutely no credit history. She is a permanent resident. How can we build a credit rating for her?
posted by citybuddha to Work & Money (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a credit card? You can be a co-signer for a card for her. The other option is for her to get a credit card from the bank (I assume she has a bank account) and then charge stuff on it. Anything that she would pay cash for, just charge and make sure that the cash she has will be put away for the charges. Every month, pay the balance in full. It will give her a good credit rating from there.
posted by Yellow at 4:11 PM on October 12, 2012

My friend who faced this issue started with a Sears credit card with a limit of a couple hundred bucks and bought himself a tool every couple of months ... Requirements for many store cards are very low. After a year he had enough U.S. credit history to qualify for a regular credit card (albeit small) and went from there.

Victoria's secret is also popular for starting out as a store card.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:11 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Secured credit card. After 18 months or so it reflects on the reports as a regular credit card.

See here for more discussion:

I also hear good things about FICO forums.
posted by uhom at 4:11 PM on October 12, 2012

Put the utilities in her name. Water, power, etc. Always pay them on time.
posted by purpleclover at 4:12 PM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

What purpleclover said. Go for the secured credit card first. Many store cards will refuse you if you have no credit history versus poor credit, and a refusal is a ding on your credit, which just makes things even worse. After a year or so, ask your bank/credit union to switch you to an unsecured card.

If you have the finances to do this, consider taking out a car loan or some other secured loan and paying the exorbitantly high rates for a low credit score person (with rates currently in the toilet, this shouldn't be too outrageous), and after a year, pay it off. I did this with a car loan when I first moved to the US, at the horrific rate of 14%. It made a huge difference in a year though.
posted by Joh at 4:45 PM on October 12, 2012

Get her a credit card, and use it EVERY time.

Set up on-line banking. Every other night, log-in, and pay off all your credit card transactions immediately. Transfer funds from your bank account, and pay it off immediately. Carry no balance at all for a year, but use the card almost every day.

Volume use and carrying no balance - that will establish a good credit rating.

(And, you might as well get a card that has rewards points)
posted by Flood at 5:25 PM on October 12, 2012

N-thing secured card. Another option: you might want to hit up local department stores and apply for their cards - sometimes, they'll give you a card with an absurdly low limit ($100 or so).
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:05 PM on October 12, 2012

My wife was in the same position. We added her as a co-signer on one of my cards, and that was that. Two years later, she gets as many random credit-card offers in the mail as I do.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:17 PM on October 12, 2012

Another idea, and also very handy, is a gasoline company card. We all buy gas.
posted by megatherium at 7:56 PM on October 12, 2012

As already said: credit card. If actually getting a card is proving problematic, then another path to one -

Credit unions that are a little bit restrictive about membership will often extend credit to their members even if they are people who wouldn't qualify at a bank - thus it becomes about the membership hurdle rather than the credit history hurdle.

Perhaps there is a credit union that specialises in people like you, and perhaps that credit union allows spouses of members to gain membership. Thus the membership hurdle can be transferred to you.
posted by anonymisc at 10:12 PM on October 12, 2012

I was once a new permanent resident with no credit history. Most folks don't realize how tough that makes it to get credit. All the advice to get a credit card is fine, if you can find anyone to give you one. Lenders seem to hate credit ghosts more than they dislike people with a terrible credit rating. The bank, who could see my salary being paid into my account every month, wouldn't give me a credit card at first.

In the end I bought a cheap crappy car from a dealer who advertised that they would finance anybody (but at stupid interest rates, of course). Paid it for a few months then paid it off completely as the credit card offers started arriving in the mail. Obviously not a solution for everyone, but worked for me.
posted by normy at 3:18 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had this same problem. At the time, CapitalOne were offering a 'no history' credit card (with high rates obviously) but which I got and made sure to pay off. I can't see that they still do that, but they do do a secured MasterCard as others have noted. Then as others have suggested, I got added to my spouses' credit card (make sure it's as a full responsibility share, not just a signature card). I've never had a problem since.
posted by atlantica at 4:20 AM on October 13, 2012

My husband was in the same situation. I added him as an authorized user on my credit card, which we pay off every month. After a while he applied for the Capital One Newcomers Card and was approved with a pretty good credit limit for a first credit card. It's aimed at recent immigrants, so maybe your wife would have an easier time getting approved for it.
posted by flod logic at 8:18 AM on October 13, 2012

I just went through the same - added my wife as a co-applicant on my credit card - so she basically inherits all of my credit history.
posted by bbyboi at 10:15 PM on October 29, 2012

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