May I obtain a U.S. issued credit card if I have an excellent credit history in another country?
Yes, you might be able to use your past excellent credit history to obtain a U.S. issued credit card. However, it will take some time and effort on your part. Many people come to the U.S. with a positive credit history. Normally, this credit history is not transferred to the U.S. As a result, when you apply for a credit card the creditor will not see your excellent credit history. They will then deny you credit based on the fact you supposedly have no credit history established. Getting a social security number is the first step you should take. You must have a social security number to get a U.S. issued credit card. Next, contact Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (the three major credit reporting bureaus) to see if they will transfer your excellent credit history from your home country. This usually does not happen, but in some cases it can. For example, TransUnion does transfer Canadian credit histories to the U.S. If you can get your credit history transferred, this will make it much easier for you to get a U.S. issued card. If you find that you cannot get your credit history transferred, you will have to start from scratch and build a new credit history in the U.S. You can look into applying for secured credit cards, bank-issued credit cards and other credit cards that can get you started. These cards may charge fees or high-interest rates, so be sure you understand all the terms before applying. Whenever possible, try to apply by phone. This way you can explain your situation in person and possibly get approved or denied on the phone. If denied, you can apply in writing and state in your letter application that you have an excellent credit history in another country. If possible, include a copy of your credit report with the application. The creditor may then be able to approve you after some investigation. If there has been no response in 30 days, contact the creditor to check on your application.
I'm a foreigner and need a credit card to establish credit. I have a Social Security number, but I?’m not a U.S. resident. Are there any cards that I may apply for and get approved?
There are many cards you can apply for, as long as you have a social security number. However, you may find it difficult to get approved because you do not have a credit history in the U.S. To start building a credit history in the U.S., you need to obtain credit from a credit card company or bank that reports to all three of the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). You might have to consider credit cards with higher interest rates, security deposits, lower credit balances or application fees. Read all the terms and conditions thoroughly to protect yourself from a card that will cause you more harm than good. If you have a checking or savings account, apply for your bank?’s credit card. They may approve you since you have a financial history with them. Also, they may add a stipulation that late or missed payments will be withdrawn automatically from your checking or savings account. Remember: always avoid any credit card offers that charge high fees. There are plenty of options out there to help you establish credit. You do not have to go into high debt to do so. Once you establish a positive credit history, you can then get approved for credit cards that cost you less and offer you more.
Debit or Credit?
Once you become a student, you?’ll hear this question almost every time you go to pay for something. If you don?’t know the difference between debit and credit, learn fast. A debit card (sometimes also called a check card) is basically cash, not credit. Any time you use a debit card money is withdrawn right out of your checking out. When you pay for an item, your checking account balance goes down. Be sure to keep track of what you spend. Even though you might have $100 in the account today, you might have written a check for $50 yesterday that hasn?’t posted yet. If you spend $60 with your debit card, your check will bounce when it makes it back to the bank. This can lead to all kinds of fees and penalties.
Previous Balance. As the name suggests, this balance is simply the amount that you owed at the end of the previous billing period. Payments, credits, or new purchases made during the current billing period are not taken into account. Some creditors also exclude unpaid finance charges in computing this balance. If you do not understand how the balance on your account is computed, ask the card issuer. (An explanation of how the balance was determined must appear on the billing statements the card issuer provides you and on applications and pre-approved solicitations the card issuer may send you.)
Avoid a Late Fee Punishment
Remember the times in your childhood when asking your parents for forgiveness calmed their anger and compelled them not to punish you. If it worked, it just might work once again, only this time with your credit card issuer. Being late on a credit card payment is now a ?“punishable offence,?” that will cost you at least $15. However, if you?’ve been ?“good?” on your previous payments, you will most likely get a break from your credit card company. Usually, if you call and ask for ?“forgiveness,?” your card issuer will oblige. If your only excuse for being late on your payments is that you?’ve never been late before, this will probably work as well, as most banks usually forgive first-time offenders.?’
How can I find out what, if any, international surcharges credit card companies apply on top of the 1% exchange fee already charged by either MasterCard or Visa International charging or currency exchange in foreign countries?
Paying with a credit card is safer than carrying large sums of cash. If your credit card is stolen, you can stop charges on the account and get a new card. However, if your cash is stolen there is little you can do. Some credit cards offer valuable travel-related perks too. American Express offers its cardholders help finding an English-speaking doctor, an accident insurance policy and car rental insurance. Check with your credit card issuer about cardholder travel benefits they might have. When you use any credit card internationally you are charged a 1 percent fee by the credit card issuer (Visa or MasterCard). Most people are not aware of this fee. It is imposed at the currency exchange level as part of the transaction. You can find the current currency exchange rate at http://www.xe.com/ucc or by calling your bank. But in addition to this fee, some credit card companies have begun to charge an additional 2 to 5 percent fee for international credit card transactions. For example, American Express charges a 2 percent fee for international transactions with its card. Check with your credit card issuer to learn more about its fees before you make international charges.
Credit Protection Overseas
The Fair Credit Billing Act does apply to overseas purchases, which is one reason why you may choose to pay by credit card instead of cash or check. To dispute a charge under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you must write to your credit card issuer within sixty days of the postmark date of the bill on which the charge appeared. Complete instructions for disputing a charge are usually listed on your credit card bill.
What can you afford using your credit card
However, there are times when it might be wiser to use a credit card. For example, any time you make a purchase online, you should try to use a credit card. Why? If there ever is a case of someone stealing your credit card number and charging on it, you will usually only have to pay up to $50 of the stolen amount. If someone steals your debit card number and uses it, you will rarely get any of that money back. Some banks do offer theft protection on debit cards as a courtesy, but they are not legally obligated to refund the money stolen. It is up to the customer to close their account in order to stop withdrawals. Check with your bank to find out what their liability policy is on debit card theft. If you do use a credit card, you can always pay off your balance immediately and avoid ever paying any interest.
Secured vs. Unsecured Cards
As a new college student you might be too busy finding your way around campus to worry about credit card management. But the sooner you learn the ins and outs of credit cards, the better. By the time you find your way to the campus post office and check your mail box, there will be plenty of approved credit card offers waiting just for you.
Correcting Billing Errors
Federal law provides specific rules that the card issuer must follow for promptly correcting billing errors. The card issuer will give you a statement describing these rules when you open the credit card account and, after that, at least once a year. In fact, many card issuers print a summary of your rights on each bill they send you.