Credit score: how to get a credit card in the United States?


Living in the USA is the dream of many Brazilians. The good salaries added to the quality of life attract many who travel in the hope of putting together a “sock” and acquiring goods that, in Brazil, they could not even dream of, due to the high interest rates and taxes.

In the US, however, the reality is different. Here, you don’t have to be a millionaire to have a nice car or a nice house, nor sweat your shirt to pay absurdly high interest rates on a loan that lasts a lifetime. To make your dreams come true in the land of Uncle Sam, you only need one thing: a good Credit Score.

The American credit system is very different from the Brazilian one, and in this post, we are going to teach you everything you need to know about how it works and how to get a credit card in the United States. Let’s go?

How does the American credit system work?

In Brazil, to get any line of credit, you must not have a “dirty” name, that is, not have any outstanding debt, have a stable job or money in the bank.

The less debt a person has, the greater their credit in the square and, therefore, the easier it is to finance a house, car or get a loan.

However, the US is going the opposite way. They use the number of debts a person has acquired to analyze whether or not he is a good payer.

That is, if you have a “clean” name, but do not have any history of debts incurred (and paid, of course), you are unknown to the American credit system and, therefore, you will not have approved credit.

To change that, you need to build what’s called a Credit Score. There are three companies that work in the same style as Serasa Experian around here: they are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

They provide banks and financial institutions with a person’s score when applying for a line of credit, for example, buying a car .

According to the system, everyone starts with a low credit score, whether you’re an American or an immigrant, or whether you have $10,000 or $10,000 in your account.

As you acquire debts and pay them on time, the system recognizes that you are a good payer and gives you scores that go up if you maintain the posture.

Even if you have a history of paying everything on time, but make your payments by debit or cash, because you don’t want to get into debt, you won’t get a good score on your Credit Score.

As a Brazilian, all this may seem very strange, since in Brazil getting into debt is a “hole”. Brazilian credit card interest rates can reach more than 500% per year, while in the US they are much lower, stimulating much more consumption.

What are the Credit Score ratings?

To start building your Credit Score, you need to have your Social Security Number, which is the equivalent of the Brazilian CPF. After taking your number, your Credit Score automatically starts counting from your payment and debt history.

A person’s Credit Score is marked by a score divided into four classification levels, obeying the following rule:

  • Bad Credit: 300-629 points
  • Average Credit: 630-689 points
  • Good Credit: 690-719 points
  • Excellent Credit: +720 points

That is, the higher the score, the greater your credit. Establishing good credit in the US starts with building a good score history, which guarantees you, to a certain extent, the confidence of the financial system in your ability to accumulate debt and, therefore, to pay it off on time.

How to get a credit card in the United States?

But, if to get a good Credit Score, I need a credit card, and to get a credit card, I need a good Credit Score, what to do?

This may seem like a dead end, but the truth is that there are alternatives for you to be able to build your history, get an American credit card and buy the one you dreamed of. Below are some tips we have for you:

  • Pay your bills on time. Ever! Water, electricity, telephone, cable TV and internet bills are important. When your history is checked and there are overdue bills, this creates insecurity for the bank, and your credit remains low.
  • Ask for a prepaid credit card and use it. There are financial institutions in the US that grant this type of card, such as Capital One, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. They work as follows: you leave a deposit in the bank that will cover the card debts for 6 months. After that period, and if you have behaved well, this money is reversed and you have a regular credit card.
  • Research interest rates and doubt miraculous offers! The higher the interest, the easier it will be to get a credit card, however, you need to be careful not to get into debt and end up messing with your score.
  • The limit on prepaid cards is usually low, but one of the things that influences your Credit Score is never spending more than 50% of it. That is, if your limit is US$400 per month, do not use more than US$199.
  • This should be clear by now, but it’s always worth remembering: pay your invoices on time! Any delay will be computed as a negative score in your history.
  • Don’t apply for a regular credit card before you have a good credit score. Each time you make the request, the bank checks your Credit Score and, if this is denied, you will have the so-called Hard Inquiry in your history. The more Hard Inquiries you have, that is, the more requests denied, the worse your score will be. That’s because financial institutions assume that if you’re asking for too much credit, it’s because you’re out of money, and if you’re out of money, you’ll be a bad payer.

Now that you know how to get a credit card in the United States, you can use Credit Karma to check your score before applying. The site shows your Credit Score for free through the information you provide.

Another important point to improve the Credit Score is to have an account in an American bank.