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How to Build Good Credit in the US as an International Student

Posted on April 21st, 2017 by Connor Smith

As an international student inside the US, it’s wise to know your credit score and start building your credit now.

What is a credit score? Your credit score essentially reflects how much of a financial risk you would be if you were loaned money. Building a good credit score means it will be possible (and easier) to do things like take out a loan, rent or buy a home, and get good rates on auto or home insurance.

You may be wondering how your credit score determined. Credit is determined by five factors:

  • Payment History (35%) – Lenders want to know if you’ve paid past credit amounts on time.
  • Amounts Owed (30%) – This is the amount you owe on all forms of credit. Is your credit card staying maxed out, or are you paying it off in a reasonable time frame?
  • Length of Credit History (15%) – Your credit score also factors in the amount of time you have been building credit. The sooner you start building credit, the better your credit will be!
  • Credit Mix (10%) – The mix of credit cards, retail accounts and loans is a small factor in your credit score. It is good to have multiple credit cards but better to just have a couple and be paying them off on time.
  • New Credit (10%) – By opening multiple lines of credit in a short amount of time you will be considered a greater risk, it is smart to open new lines of credit slowly over time to keep building your credit.

How do you build good credit? The best way to start building credit is by having a credit card. Many companies make it difficult to open a credit card as an international student, especially if you don’t have credit history or a social security number. However, SelfScore offers a MasterCard just for international students which means you don’t need a social security number to open an account.

If you are at least 18 years of age, have been accepted to study at an accredited US college or university, and have a valid F1, J1 or M1 visa you are eligible to apply for your own credit card through SelfScore!

The SelfScore MasterCard offers premium benefits including:

  • $0 annual fee
  • No fees on foreign transactions
  • 1% cashback on all purchases
  • 0% APR for the first six months
  • Usage anywhere in the world where MasterCard is accepted

Explore the option of opening a credit card to help build your credit, but keep in mind that having a credit card comes with great responsibility. It can be easy to charge things on a whim, but you must be mindful to pay off your purchases in a timely manner. Learn more about building credit as an international student.


Written by Connor Smith

Connor joined the Marketing and Advertising team in late 2016 as our Marketing Intern. He is originally from Jupiter, Florida and a recent graduate of the University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Advertising. He has also had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand which prompted him to get involved with marketing here at Envisage.

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