Banking – Preparation for banking in the US

Banking – something that wouldn’t necessarily be at the forefront of your mind if you are about to move to another country, but it is something that you need to think about before you go. Luckily for us, we already knew a few people out in SF so were given some sound advice to give us the best possible start in the States and luckily for you, you are reading this post so I can share that advice with you, you’re welcome!

We had assumed that we would be able to walk straight into a phone shop and be given a phone contract without any questions, but this is not the case. If you have lived in the UK for a fair few years, you will have created a credit footprint for yourself, through your banking, bills and possibly financing cars. If you then went to get a phone contract in the UK, they would run a quick credit check on you (with your permission) to make sure that you are someone who can pay that bill each month. If you then move over to the US, that credit footprint is non-existent in their country, meaning that anything that requires monthly payment is very difficult to get a hold of. There are ways around it, which is what I wanted to share today. 

  1. Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies

Companies such as Experian can offer individuals the opportunity to check their credit footprint and will be able to inform any given company of the results. This is handy if you wanted to lease a car or begin a phone contract. They will charge for this though and it could affect your credit score, so do check the small print if you want to do this.

  2. Banking with American Banks

Another way is to do your banking with American banks or with banks that also operate in the city in which you are moving to, for example, Bank of America and HSBC both have facilities throughout the UK and the US, perfect! This way, if you bank with either of them, then they can transfer the data that they have on you over to the American branches and there is no need to build a new credit footprint with a new bank.

3. American Express

If like me, you don’t bank with two mentioned above and don’t have time to switch or open up a new account then this could be the option for you. Similar to the above, you can request an American Express credit card from their website here. Now, obviously I am not telling you to get a credit card and to get yourself into massive debt – please do not do that!! This is simply for the purposes of building a credit footprint. An American Express has strict rules in comparison to a credit card (depending on which card you get), you have to pay off the full amount by the end of the month or you will be charged – more information on this here. Just use it for a small amount each month and pay it off as soon as you can. This way, your credit score can be built and you can remain out of debt, just please be careful. Then, if all used correctly, when you are in the US, you can ring their help desk and ask that the credit data they hold on file for you in transferred to the US. 

It is then essential to build your credit footprint once in the United States. To do this, open up a bank account as soon as possible, after obtaining your Social Security number. Many are reluctant to offer one to someone without a credit footprint, but Bank of America are incredibly helpful with this process (I will cover this in a more detailed post). Within a few months of monitoring your account, it is likely that a credit card will be offered to you. These are great as you can earn cash back when you purchase goods from stores such as Costco, meaning that not only will you be growing your credit footprint but you will also earn rewards when you shop. Win win!

I just wanted this to be a quick introduction to what you can do in the run up to your departure, to put yourself in the best position possible. I hope this helps!

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