Making a big move to the U.S. can already be a challenge for newcomers, but it’s even more difficult when you can’t get credit. It’s been a longtime obstacle for immigrants up until recent years, and Nova Credit is one of the financial technology companies clearing the path.
Nova Credit offers immigrants from certain countries a chance to use their credit history from their home country to apply for credit cards or an auto loan in the U.S. The company can translate data from your country of origin to a U.S.-equivalent score and report that can be used to determine eligibility for different financial products.
It can be useful, especially for those who need to buy new furniture, appliances or any number of essentials for their move. Having access to credit can make it easier to plant roots in a new country, whether you need a car to get to your job or a credit card to buy some time while you pay off some must-needed purchases.
Here’s what you need to know about Nova Credit.
1. Nova Credit shares your credit history
“Nova Credit makes its money through its partners. In some cases, applicants may be required to pay fees.”
Nova Credit can share your credit history from abroad with certain U.S.-based lenders. It translates your credit report into a Credit Passport that lenders can use to evaluate your creditworthiness for some types of credit cards or an auto loan. Nova Credit currently offers a Credit Passport only for newcomers from certain countries, but availability in your region depends on individual U.S. creditors.
The financial products you can qualify for also depend on your country of origin. Every time you consent to share your Credit Passport to qualify for a product, the lender pays the company for that information.
2. It’s possible to qualify for AmEx credit cards and more
Credit cards for credit beginners don’t typically pack healthy rewards or introductory offers, but qualifying for an American Express card through Nova Credit can give you that access. For AmEx cards, you may complete an application through AmEx’s website or Nova Credit’s website. Through the latter, you can also apply for other credit cards or an auto loan.
The application process for an American Express credit card is similar to that of most credit cards, but you’ll have to check a box confirming that you have a credit history in a different country. You’ll find this box under the section that requests a Social Security number. AmEx then requests information to get your credit history from your country to make a decision.
Nerdy tip: A Social Security number is not required, but adding one makes it easier to verify your identity and process your application. If you get a Social Security number later on, you can call the issuer and ask for the number to be added to your account.
Pulling your credit report from another country is typically a soft inquiry with no impact on your credit score, but exceptions do exist. If you’re from Brazil, Kenya, Mexico or Nigeria, for example, there will be a temporary impact on your credit score in your home country. In the U.S., applying for a financial product will not temporarily impact your credit score if you’ve not established a credit file in the country.
3. Proof of identity may be required
You won’t need a Social Security number to qualify, but depending on the creditor’s policies, you may need to provide proof of identity. For instance, if you’re applying for an AmEx card, you might be able to verify your U.S. home address through a bank account, driver’s license, utility bill, phone bill or other official documents like government-issued identification. You may also have to answer questions about your foreign credit history.
4. Good or excellent credit in your home country may be required
A good or excellent credit score in your home country is generally needed to qualify for Nova Credit’s card offerings. Try checking your credit score on the websites of your home country’s credit bureau to know where you stand.
If you’re from Australia, Kenya or South Korea, you can use Ellis by Nova Credit to check your credit score in your home country for free. Ellis is a financial marketplace that allows U.S. newcomers to apply for credit cards they’re likely to qualify for based on the credit report in their country. These recommendations are based on your NovaScore, a U.S.-equivalent credit score based on your credit report from your country of origin.
5. A U.S. credit file older than six months disqualifies an international credit report
It’s possible that you may have established a credit file if you opened a credit account elsewhere. If you’ve already begun establishing credit during your short time in the U.S., a credit file longer than six months will get in the way of being able to use your credit history from back home. If you’re unsure of where your credit history stands, you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com to check whether you have a U.S. credit report for free.