international credit history
August 12, 2006 10:49 AM   Subscribe

When a person immigrates from the UK to the US, does their credit history with UK banks come with them?
posted by thirteenkiller to Work & Money (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It didn't follow me from Ireland. Or from the US to Canada. Fresh slates every time. Can't imagine it would come from the UK either.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:51 AM on August 12, 2006

Seeing as how the U.S. credit industry keys everything by Social Security number, I can't see any way that it's possible.
posted by zek at 11:07 AM on August 12, 2006

I'm not entirely sure about the US, but in Canada I don't think it does. A postdoc from the UK in my lab couldn't get a credit card here because he had no Canadian credit report. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to imagine that the US would treat UK credit history in a similar fashion.
posted by reformedjerk at 11:07 AM on August 12, 2006

When I moved from the US to the UK it was a new start. Which can either be a blessing or a PIA, depending upon your circumstances. As others have noted, it will also impact getting credit at the outset, so you might want to obtain a facility such as an American Express card (if you don't already have one).

It's not only available globally, but they've dealt with international relocation issues before. I can't find a static link, but they have a form on their web site to change country of residence. While fairly straightforward for AMEX, holding a credit card while residing in the US might present a problem for a UK bank.
posted by Mutant at 11:18 AM on August 12, 2006


What that means, if you're a recent immigrant, is that getting credit in the US is very difficult, whatever your assets or earnings. Lenders dislike credit ghosts more than those with a bad history.
posted by normy at 11:33 AM on August 12, 2006

No, it does not. I moved from the UK to the USA 7 years ago, and you have to start from scratch. When you arrive, you will have to get yourself a social security number, which is what US credit is based on (as zek says), and you will have no credit history, which unfortunately is rated worse than a bad credit history. The good news is, you can get yourself a good credit history within the space of about 18months if you really try. It does mean sucking it up and taking a high-interest rate loan in order to get established. If you want me to go into further detail, I can.
posted by Joh at 11:33 AM on August 12, 2006

Not in my experience, it doesn't. The US credit agencies know nothing of my UK affairs, and vice versa. Getting a credit record here in the US took a while after moving from the UK. I still have UK accounts and they are entirely ignorant of what's happened here financially.
posted by anadem at 11:35 AM on August 12, 2006

No. you will have NO credit.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:42 AM on August 12, 2006

Another person saying no. That can either be good or bad. In the US credit history is more important than it is in Europe (ie Having a history is more necessary in order to get loans, etc.)
posted by BigBrownBear at 12:31 PM on August 12, 2006

Generally no, as everyone else has said.

There might be some limited exceptions in the U.S./Canada area. As a U.S. resident, I personally applied for and received an Eaton's card several years ago, presumably on the strength of a U.S. credit report. I do know that TRW and other credit reporting companies have marketed their Canadian coverage to U.S. credit report purchasers in the past. But that's Canada and the U.S., where the economies are more tightly tied together.

Bit more speculative: Different laws and regulations covering credit reporting in different countries could make it difficult to coordinate the transfer of credit histories from one jurisdiction to another.
posted by gimonca at 12:58 PM on August 12, 2006

I've heard HSBC bank is good in that they will take your foreign credit into account when opening up lines of credit in a new country. You might want to look into setting up an account with them.
posted by reverendX at 1:19 PM on August 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

You know, a U.S. company could probably get a copy of a U.K. credit report, but for most people or transactions, the cost of doing this is probably much, much higher than what a company would typically spend on the decisioning process for a U.S. resident. So, it generally doesn't happen.

And for larger amounts (say, you're in Miami buying a yacht), the behind-the-scenes approval process probably involves more than a canned credit report anyway.
posted by gimonca at 1:27 PM on August 12, 2006

GMAC is the finance arm of General Motors and they've been a big help to ex-pats who've recently arrived in the states. GM sells cars all over the world and GM finances cars in most of those countries. I'm retired now but used to work in auto dealer management and GMAC was the only option to many buyers who were new to the US. Thay can rate your credit in your home country and base their judgement on that rather than your lack of credit in the US. The finance arms of other car makes may also be in position to do that.

Not only is an auto loan a great way to build your US credit rating, GMAC also offers Visa cards, real estate loans and other services.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:10 PM on August 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

holding a credit card while residing in the US might present a problem for a UK bank

I still have my UK (HSBC) Visa card and there's no issue with me being resident in the US. Very occasionally you might have a problem with an online transaction but it's normally fine. Watch out for the 2% internationl transaction fees though.

You can get a secured credit card when you first arrive - providing you have an SSN. I had to deposit $100 with Bank of America (on top of the rest of my savings) that secured a credit card with a measly $500 line of credit. That can't be extended until you've had it for 12 months.

Depending on your location I would definitely take up the above recommendation of opening an account with HSBC America if they can access your UK credit.
posted by NailsTheCat at 3:34 PM on August 12, 2006

Check with HSBC before he goes with that option. I know a lot of people who come over & "have heard that" HSBC will help you out, but the only person I know who has tried it was offered a secured card, which wasn't particularly helpful.

The thing that worked for me was getting an additional card on th'other half's account. Within a few months of using that, I was getting my own offers.
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:00 PM on August 12, 2006

I began building a credit history in the US by buying a crappy cheap car at the kind of dealership that advertises that they never refuse anyone credit. Indeed they don't, but the interest rates are brutal. Made payments on time for a few months, then paid off the remainder. Suddenly my mailbox was full of credit card offers. It doesn't take long.
posted by normy at 6:56 PM on August 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

When we moved back to Canada after 5 years in the US, we gave our new landlord in Toronto asked for permission to run a credit check on us. When the woman from the office told us that the credit check came out fine, I said something about how there wouldn't be much on the report as we had been out of the country. She said, "I know. I ran the check on your American credit."

Your UK credit will not show up at the American credit bureaus. But there's nothing to stop anyone from calling the credit bureau in the UK.
posted by winston at 7:00 PM on August 12, 2006

there's nothing to stop anyone from calling the credit bureau in the UK.

Actually, there is. As part of the EU, UK institutions maintain strict data firewalls between different account information for the same person. It's an opt-in share deal thing thanks to the notion of the privacy of your personal data.

The way US institutions operate, casually sharing your financial data with all comers and any buyers would be illegal in the EU. That's why credit bureaus are much lower key. Instead, institutions must secure your explicit permission to share data collected about you during the course of doing business with you. And this is on a named basis.

This does not prevent companies from sharing 3rd-party data obtained from public records or other non-direct business relationship. But in these cases, also, EU citizens have an absolute right to inspect, correct or, if not satisfied, petition for the deletion of the data.

On topic, I came to the US as a homeowner of 5 years and with several decades of bank and credit card history. I was declined for everything, up to and including a Sears card. I eventually got a US credit card (unsecured) bu hitting up every student card offer and putting "Other" in as the affiliate. They were expecting a US college, I guess. Student credit cards have a lower score threshold.

With a "blank slate", your credit score will be around 530 in the FICO system.
posted by meehawl at 1:36 PM on August 13, 2006

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