International Student Blog
Refinancing Education Loans

Building Credit to Get a Non-U.S. Citizen Loan Option

Needing U.S. Credit History to Get A Personal Loan Option

Many non-U.S. Citizens (including H1b visa holders) in the United States need loans such as personal loan options, refinancing education loan options, or an auto loan option. If you fall into this category, you may have been able to get those products back in your home country but are now facing difficulty finding them in the United States.

Refinancing Education Loans

Many non-U.S. citizens realize the following chicken-or-the-egg conundrum:

  • They can’t get a personal loan option or credit product because they do not have a U.S. credit history.
  • But the only way to build up a credit history is to get a personal loan option or credit product in the U.S.

The good news is that many international visa holders do find credit products and that there is a way to get them.

In fact, we detailed the options for non-U.S. citizens getting personal loanoptions or refinancing their education loan options.  

Why does credit history matter?

Credit history shows a prospective lender your past ability to pay back your credit.

  • This history forms the basis of your credit score, which lending partners then use to determine how risky it would be to give out a loan option to you.
  • If you don’t have credit history, it can be very hard for a U.S. lending partner to lend to you.

The problem for new international arrivals to the United States is, while you may have credit history back in your home country, you don’t have a U.S. based credit history, which is what U.S. lending partners look at.

Even if you don’t currently plan to take out a personal loan option, or plan to refinance your education loan options, having credit history will open options to you if the need arises.

It is something that takes time to build, so it is better to be safe than sorry.


How to Start Building Credit? Get a Secure Credit Card

One way to start building credit is to use a secured credit card.

  • A secured credit card requires you to put down a security deposit and then get a line of credit that is typically the same amount as your deposit.
  • With timely payments, the issuer will allow you to change to an unsecured credit card.

Make sure your payment history is being reported.

  • Before you apply for your secure card – ask the lender whether your payments will be reported to the credit reporting agencies.
  • Most do, but it is good to be sure, especially as if you are getting the card to build up your credit history.
  • This is important as lenders will look up your history from these agencies in future personal loan option applications.


Getting a Bank Account May Be Helpful

While getting a bank account, checking account or savings account won’t build your credit, it can help you get other credit products.

  • Many banks offer secured cards among other credit products
  • Building a relationship with a bank can help you build trust so they are more comfortable lending to you down the road.
  • You may be able to take out a starter personal loan option with a bank to help you build your credit.

Different bank accounts will require different things but typically, you will need:

  • Name, Address, Date of Birth and an ID number – Social security number or Taxpayer identification number.
  • Being a U.S. citizen is not a requirement.

Top Companies that Hire MBA International Students 

Check Your Credit Score

After you’ve been paying your secured credit card bill off on time, you will want to request a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, the three major credit reporting agencies.

  • Check to see if your payments are showing up and that they are accurate.
  • You can get one free report once a year from each agency

Credit reports contain your payment and borrowing history, and a score that shows how likely you are to pay back debts on time.

  • This score will prove to be important as future lending partners, potential landlords, and employers may pull this score when determining your creditworthiness.


Manage Your Payments and Balances

It is important to be financially sound and smart with your money as most, if not all, financial decisions will affect your credit report.

Some tips to do so are:

  • Make sure you pay your balances on time and fully.
  • Make sure you have a low balance – a large amount between the balance on your card and the credit limit allowed. This may help your credit history.


Alternative Ways to Establish Credit

If you do not have a U.S. credit score, there still may be a way to for a lender to determine your creditworthiness to get a personal loan option or to refinance your education loan option:

  • Some lenders will look at alternative methods to qualify for a loan option.
  • Rent payments, phone or utility bills, tuition payments, etc.
  • This is not a guarantee, and may result in a higher interest rate than a loan option given with traditional underwriting.
  • It will help if you can provide documentation and proof of how long you will be able to remain in the country. A statement from your employer or sponsor could be useful.


Nomad Credit Can Help

At Nomad Credit, we can help you find personal loan options and education loan option refinancing options as a non-U.S. citizen (including H1-B visa holders) as well as answer any questions or concerns you may have while trying to attain loan option products while in the United States.

For more information, visit Nomad Credit. In addition to personal loan options, we will help you find the best option for international student education loan options or study loan options as well.

If you have any questions, send an email to and we will happily help!

Nathan Treadwell

1 comment

  • You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!



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