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International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?


International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?

Hello everyone,


I'm an international student and only recently got a social security number. I've had a Wells Fargo credit card with a $300 credit limit since April of this year. I don't have much of a credit history established since I'm an international student. I looked up my credit report on the 3 agencies and Experian reported that Wells Fargo is the only one reporting me. I've had good payment history (not a single bill was overdue). Equifax can't find me for some reason and they requested I send them my SSN copies to update their files. TransUnion won't show my report online, but they said they would said it via snail mail.


The problem is the low limit on the Wells Fargo card. Getting lunch alone is putting my balance at $150 easily. I'm paying it off in full but I heard since I'm using 50% of my available credit, this is bad. I was just wondering what I can do to build my credit fast. I would request Wells Fargo to increase my limit but on their website, they say I should wait for a year. In fact, they initially denied my application. I went into the bank and asked them to reconsider and they gave me this card with a low limit. It's a regular card (unsecured).


I also have a checking account with Bank of America (a very modest balance). Should I apply for a card with them? I applied for a credit card in March (when I got my SSN) and was rejected by them and this appears on my Experian credit report.


Any tips? Any cards that are easy to get?

Message 1 of 13

Re: International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?

Sorry for being so wordy. I'm essentially seeking for advice on the following two things


1. Should I bother asking Wells Fargo for a credit limit increase (or should wait another 6 months)? I recently found out that they are very conservative.

2. Should I re-apply for a Bank of America card? When I was rejected I didn't have an account with them, I do now. I don't know if this is a factor.

3. Are there any credit cards that are relatively easy to get?


Unfortunately, I can't get a FICO score. They told me they can't verify my identity. When I called, they told me to sort out the matter with Equifax and try again after 3 months...


Btw, I'm making around $1000 at my current job and that will end in December. So I was thinking applying for a card now might be a good idea since I have some income to show. After December, the income will go to $0.

Message 2 of 13
Frequent Contributor

Re: International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?

Hello and welcome the best thing for you to do is making sure you have fico scores from all  bureaus. No bank will approve you if they can't identify who you are. Im happy for you about the one card you do have but this will take some time.Focus on the card you have. Do not apply for another card. Wait at least 6 months. I know you are anxious but trust me it takes time to build.

Message 3 of 13

Re: International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?

Okay Smiley Sad I guess I should take care of the issues with Equifax and Transunion then

Message 4 of 13
Frequent Contributor

Re: International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?

yes you should first. your goal is achievable it just takes some time. you have to crawl before you can walk. Once you get your identity taking care of with the other 2 credit bureaus you are a step closer. Think about opening up a unsecure card for your second step.

Message 5 of 13
New Contributor

Re: International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?

I'm an international student as well and I wasn't aware that Wells Fargo gave out un-secured credit cards out to non-permanent residents/citizens... So I'm going to assume that you are on a secured card.


Keep the card for 3-6 months then apply for a Capital Journey Student card. No AF, 1% cash back, and no forex fees. It'll be the best you can get for now. Then after 6 months you can apply for some other store cards or AMEX Zync (they discountinued) or Chase Amazon, etc.. Then after a year you can enter the Chase Freedom/low prime land.


After that you should be knowledgeable enough to go on your own.


1) They are super conservative. Don't bother. They do their periodic reviews twice a year.

2) They are less conservative compared to WF. 

3) Capital One. They have a bad rep but hey, they give out credit to those who can't get any. Beggers like us can't be choosers. Smiley Sad


Also your SSN won't be in the full database for a few weeks but definitely get in contact with credit bureaus and get it CLEARED UP. That was the biggest PITA for me. There's a good thread somewhere here that helps you settle it with Equifax.

Message 6 of 13
Regular Contributor

Re: International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?



Nice to hear from an "international student"  -- I have been in your position - several times: once in Europe, Mexico and now US.  


One thing you can do is try to get a secured card from Bank of America - you just need a small deposit - maybe $300.  They will hold it an an account and use it to secure a card for you.  If yo have a friend, you can politely ask to be an authorized user on their account.   Both will help.  Avoid getting cards like First Premier Bank at all cost;  they can help.  Otherwise, wait for a year and apply to WellsFargo again.  


Hope this helps - Oyiwaa

font=times new roman,times,serif][color=#0000ff][b]Current FICO Scores (Feb 2016)[/b][/color][/font]
[size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif][b]EX FICO-8 (AMEX) = [i]647[/i][/b]
[b]TU FICO-8 (Discover) = [i]640[/i][/b]
[b]EQ FICO-5 (DCU) = [i]654[/i][/b][/font][/size]

[font=times new roman,times,serif][color=#ff0000][b]Personal Credit[/b][/color][/font]
[*][size=3]B[font=times new roman,times,serif]arclaysMC: $750 [size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]Merrick Bank: $700[/font][/size][/font][/size][/font][/size][/*]
[*][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]CapitalOneMC: $400 [size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]Milestone: $300[/font][/size][/font][/size] [/font][/size][/*]
[*][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]CapitaloneMC-Secured: $700 [size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]Kohls=$400[/font][/size][/font][/size][/font][/size][/*]
[*][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]Amazon Chase: $2500 Macys: $100[/font][/size][/*]
[*][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]BestBuy MC: $2000 JC Penny: $1500[/font][/size][/*]
[*][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]DCU Visa: $3000 Walmart: $300[/font][/size][/*]
[*][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]WellsFargoVisa: $800 Lowe's: $400[/font][/size][/*]
[*][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]Discover: $5000 HomeDepot: $1500[/font][/size][/*]
[*][size=3][font=times new roman,times,serif]AmericanExpress-Costco: $2000 NissanMAC (3.5%) Auto Loan: $40,000 + Mortgage[/font][/size][/*]
Message 7 of 13

Re: International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?

Since you have a bank account with BofA, your best bet would be to apply for a secured card with them. In general, the banks that you already have a banking relationship with will be the most generous to you. I would suggest talking to your personal banker and see what he/she suggests. If you could get the BankAmericard Rewards secured card from them, it'd be top notch. BofA is very flexible about the credit line for their secured card; you can deposit up to $10,000 towards your credit line. That being said, if you're not concerned about the low credit limit of the Wells Fargo card, I would just wait for your credit history to mature before applying for an unsecured card. The credit utilization ratio depends on the balance at the statement cut-off date, not on the daily balance. As long as you pay off your balance before the statement is due, your credit utlization will be great. 

Message 8 of 13
Established Contributor

Re: International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?

It takes 6months of history before your generated a FICO score so don't be surprised, but you can usually go to any credit union and request a secured card. Most local credit unions these days from my experience have their own credit card printer so they can print it for you on the spot. $1,000 deposit and they give you $1,000 card in about 10 minutes at my credit union. Once your credit score is good at my CU will unsecure the account. =)


But the FASTEST way to generate a FICO score into great territory is to be added as an AU (authorized user) or ACM (Amex's term for AU aka Additional card member)


Another person, friend or family adds you on their credit card, allowing you access to use it. As an authorized user you are not responible for paying the debt, but you can spend it. (quite nice right?) best part about this process is they don't even have to give you the card to use, and their credit report for that card will copy and paste into your credit file. I had my friend add his 16 year old son onto a 30 year Amex account.... the result? 807 credit score... and yes on the report it stated 30 years.

total credit limits $108,400 Credit scores Ex 728 EQ 738 TU 758
Message 9 of 13

Re: International Student - What can I do to improve my credit?

Good advice, but hasn't FICO recently stopped considering AU accounts in their scoring model?

Message 10 of 13