Keep track of monthly expenditures in each category and be frugal. If applicable, show a student I.D. to save money when going to the movies, riding the bus, attending events and purchasing clothing and food. Stay financially secure by not sharing your Social Security number or bank pin number, and review credit card statements, bank statements, phone bills, etc. for unauthorized use.
In the U.S., credit cards are almost an essential part of daily life and are commonly used for transactions such as renting a car or purchasing airplane tickets. Credit card usage is also the primary means of establishing a credit history. People with no credit often have the most difficult time getting approved for the credit card. That’s because they don’t have a credit score yet, and they won’t have one until they have at least one active account on their credit report for six months.
To acquire a credit card, first check with your bank or credit union where you have a checking and possibly savings account to see what their policy is for getting a credit card. It is common for Foreign Nationals to get a credit card through their bank. Make sure to not overdraw your account or let any checks bounce so the bank can see how well you manage your money. Getting an apartment / home, telephone service and other utilities in your name will also help build credit. Make sure to pay the bills on time.
If your bank or credit union refuses to give you a traditional credit card, ask about secured cards. With a secured card you receive a credit line equal to the amount of money you’ve paid to the bank. This way the bank or credit union avoids risk.
You can approach local stores like Target, Sears, JCPenney, Macy’s, Kohl’s, etc. These types of cards are easier to get. Do not get too many, and pay off the balance completely each month. Before getting one of these cards, be aware of all of the interest rate and repayment options. Find out whether they report to a credit bureau. Otherwise there is no point in getting such credit if you’re trying to establish credit history.
You can also try applying for a credit card from American Express. With their classic card you have to pay off the entire balance every month, and there is no revolving credit, so it’s relatively easy to be approved.
If you’re a student, research student credit cards. These cards are designed for students who may not have a large income or a credit history. Choose carefully. Some student credit cards have high interest rates and lots of fees.
NOTE: Avoid putting in a lot of credit card applications. If you are turned down for a major credit card, even if it’s a student credit card, don’t keep applying. Instead, look for a store credit card or a secured credit card. Pick these credit cards ahead of time, so you’re not desperately searching for a credit card that will approve you. Watch out for any credit card that guarantees approval without first checking your credit score. There’s probably a catch in the form of high fees or high interest rate or both.
All foreign nationals receiving income from U.S. sources are subject to special U.S. tax withholding and reporting regulations. Any international visitor/employee in H1B, TN, or O-1 status, or in J-1 status and who is receiving any type of pay from National Jewish Health for services offered, must meet with the Payroll department (Anna Talon: 303.398.1068 or Karol Feltman: 303.398.1007) for information on tax treaty benefits. Payroll will make the appropriate decisions regarding U.S. tax withholding and reporting for any payments made. Also, visit the Internal Revenue Service website at for detailed information on international taxpayers.