Insurance in USA Basics: Auto, Tenant, Home, Life

There are several ways to purchase private insurance to cover incidents and emergencies. You can get information on the various types of insurance from insurers or brokers/advisors.

Keep in mind that most advisors work on commission, so their advice can be distorted. If you want good advice, contact an independent advisor. Some banks offer insurance advice with their financial advice.

Automobile Insurance

In many states in the United States, auto insurance is mandatory. Before you sign a contract, insurance companies usually make a thorough investigation that includes your driver history and claims history. If your record is bad, chances are your insurance will be more expensive.

Tenant Insurance

The landlord provides you with accommodation, but you need insurance to cover your belongings. Also, if someone is injured in your apartment, you may have to pay their hospital bills. Even if the accommodation is not yours, it is important to buy insurance.

Home Insurance

Home insurance covers you in the event of burglary, vandalism, storms and other incidents. It often reimburses damaged goods at their current value, such as furniture, appliances and money up to a certain amount. The insurance must correspond to the true cost of the insured items in your apartment. If you have valuable assets, it is recommended that you take out additional insurance.

Life Insurance

A life or “whole life” insurance policy guarantees that a fixed sum of money will be paid to the family upon the death of the insured. There is also term life insurance which do not include the sum of money as life insurances but which cover a person during a determined period which can go from one year to 10, 20 or 30 years. You can also purchase term insurance that covers you up to a certain age, often 65 or 70. Term insurance expires on a specific date.

This type of insurance is normally used to protect your loved ones from potential debts. For example, if you and your wife own a home, your wife may still have to pay the credit alone after you die. With this insurance, she will have enough money thanks to the insurance to finish paying the credit.

Health Insurance in USA: Disability, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Welfare & more

As a rule, you can be insured by your employer. Large companies and universities in particular offer very good and relatively inexpensive health insurance. However, the health insurance does not include the dentist and the ophthalmologist or optician. A dental insurance or optical plan is available for this purpose.

Protection against inability for work

It is important to take out disability insurance, which pays a certain percentage of your salary if you become unable to work. This insurance is most important because the employer is often not obliged to continue paying the salary if you are ill for a longer period of time. Short-term disability insurance is for health problems lasting several weeks, and long-term disability insurance for long-term disability. These insurances are often offered by the employer and are not expensive.

Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare is a federal program that pays a large part of the treatment costs for people over 65 years of age and people with disablement of all ages. It is financed primarily from the social security tax, which is deducted from salary.

Medicaid is a joint programme of the Federal Government and the individual states and pays for part of the treatment costs for people living below the poverty line.

While most Americans have health insurance or receive benefits through one of the two programs mentioned, there are also many people who are not insured and unable to take Medicaid because of low income. These people can be treated in public hospitals in emergencies, but are particularly disadvantaged in the area of prevention and early detection.

Redundancy Payment

If you have lost your job with no fault of yours, you can claim unemployment benefits. This unemployment benefit is not paid automatically, but must be applied for at the responsible state unemployment office. The conditions for entitlement, such as the amount of income and/or length of employment before loss of employment, as well as the duration and amount of unemployment benefit, depend on the provisions of the respective federal state.

In most countries, up to a certain upper limit, which can vary greatly from state to state, half of the last salary is paid for a maximum of 26 weeks.

Social Welfare

In the USA, it is assumed that a healthy person should find a job, regardless of whether or not he or she corresponds to his or her professional qualifications. The payment of welfare benefits to able-bodied person is limited to five years in life. And as a rule you cannot be unemployed for more than two consecutive years. Social assistance is only paid to those whose income is below the poverty line and who do not have enough money for food, clothing and accommodation.

Public housing and food stamps as well as health care for children are also part of state aid measures.

Private charities financed by donations also help people (and animals) in need. Many Americans give money to such organizations.

Pension Provision

The Social Security Administration (SSA), which issues the Social Security Card, keeps a record of every employee’s income and taxes in the USA.

To qualify as a subsequent beneficiary, you must have worked for at least ten years. The amount of social security benefits that you ultimately receive depends on how much you have paid into the fund by deducting from your salary, i.e. how long you have worked and how much you earned.

Although every American receives a state pension, private financial provision via 401(k) plan or Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is advisable for everyone who wants to have more than a minimum to live on in old age.

Credit Cards in USA that Earn You Money: Cash Back & Miles

Credit score is the most important thing to have in United States and having a good score is essential to live a better life in the USA.

Let’s discuss about credit cards because they allow you to earn money, without even changing our consumption habits and without spending more than usual. Remember, credit card is the starting point in building credit score in USA.

To have a good Credit Score, it is advisable to have at least 3 credit cards and to use only 30% of the capacity of these cards. At the end of each month (or every fortnight), it’s best to balance all your credit cards so you don’t pay interest on them.

Credit Cards to Earn Cash Back

Many organizations and banks offer credit cards that earn a percentage on each transaction made. In general this percentage is between 1 and 3% but it can rise up to 6%!

For example: Bank Americard Cash Rewards card. We earn cash back throughout the year and use it at the end of the year to buy gifts. That usually gives you a nice bonus of a few hundred dollars.

This card also offers deals on certain stores (including Five Guys, Starbucks, …) that can earn up to 15 or 20% of the amount spent.

Credit Cards to Earn Miles

These cards let you first earn miles/points which can be later redeemable for FREE flights. Points can be earned by using card for buying air tickets, booking rental cars or hotels depending on the card.

One of the best credit cards to earn miles is the Chase Saphire Preferred Card and is a good way to travel cheaper. By applying for this credit card, and using it to make your purchases, you will earn between 1 and 4 miles per dollar spent. These miles can then be used with various airlines: British Airways, Delta, American Airlines,…

By spending $4,000 during the first three months of this credit card, you will earn a bonus of 50,000 points, which is equivalent to $625 in airline tickets. This is quite big. Isn’t it?

No need to have an incredible lifestyle to get there… Just use this new credit card instead of your usual card to pay for all your transactions for 3 months… And then you can use this card to pay for everything related to travel and restaurants because the points will be multiplied by two.

Other Cards to Earn Miles

Other co-branded cards that allow you to earn miles are:

  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card for individuals travelling from British Airways.
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express for Delta Airlines. This card earns a bonus of 60,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months and $1,000 in the first 6 months!

These cards do not carry any annual fee, foreign transaction fee, and many other benefits. However such cards require excellent/good credit score.

All About American Credit Score: Guide for Migrants

In the United States, when migrants arrive they quickly discover that the country’s system works on credit and insurance! As soon as you go shopping in a store, you are offered the store’s credit card, and you quickly realize that Americans buy everything on credit… even (and especially) gas and food! There are even often discounts if you buy on credit rather than cash.

For individuals (from other countries) who are not used to credit, this is not easy to understand. So you try to understand and get caught up in the game of wanting to build a credit score and increase it.

When arriving in the US for the first time, you have neither SSN, nor credit score. And this creates hindrance for many services for example: renting an apartment. Without credit score, organisations (real estate agencies, gas and electricity companies, shops, etc.) will not trust us and are reluctant to get deal with us.

What is a credit score?

The credit score is a score that is assigned to each person in the United States with a social security number. It is supposed to reflect its ability to repay its debts. In other words, it establishes your financial profile to know if you are a honest person (if you pay your bills and pay off your debts on time) or a bad payer.

The higher your rating, more banks will appreciate you and easier it will be to get a credit card or any type of credit (personal loan or car loan and others), and better would be the borrowing rate.

Three credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) are responsible for calculating the credit score and each has its own way of calculation. When you wish to obtain your credit score, you will be able to obtain these 3 values but the median value will be taken into account by the organizations.

How to build a good credit score?

At first it’s like snake biting its tail. Without a credit score, organizations will not trust you and without a credit card, it is impossible to have a credit Score. So you have to start slowly and take your time. This is why secured credit card in USA is the best starting point, especially for migrants.

At the beginning, it is good to ask your bank for a credit card (it is important to have one credit card per person in the family so that both can work towards their credit score). After a few months, you can apply for another credit card (from another organization or bank), then a few months later for another one.

To build a good credit score, you must

  • Pay rent and all bills on time: Ask your bank for a credit card, make payments using it, and pay it back every month before the due date. Your bank will be the first organization that can trust you and give you a credit card because they receive your salary every month.
  • You shouldn’t wait until after your credit score. You just have to live.
  • It is also advisable not to use more than 30% of your credit limit and to have at least 3 credit lines (and therefore, 3 credit cards)! Repayment of all your credit cards every month before the due date is recommended and will prevent you from paying extra “fees” (charges/interest and late payment penalties).

After a few months of good payment of your bills and proper functioning of your credit card, you will start to have a credit score and can have new credit cards, which will allow you to improve your credit score (and so on). You will know soon enough when you get there because you will receive many letters from different organizations offering you credit cards! Stores will also allow you to have their credit cards.

What is the credit score for?

As you have just seen, living in the United States, it is very important to have a good credit score. Because it allows you to obtain a credit card, a loan (home loan for example), and more generally it facilitates many transactions in everyday life.

A good credit score will allow you:

  1. To get a better interest rate
  2. Save on your car or home insurance
  3. To open an account with various service provider (electricity, gas, mobile, etc.) without having to post a deposit.

How is it calculated?

The credit score is calculated based on several parameters:

  1. 35% of the credit score is based on the regularity of payments made (rent, consumer bills, credit card refunds…)
  2. 30% of the credit score is based on your credit card usage percentage. It is therefore more advantageous to use only 30% of your credit card rather than going up to the maximum limit (which then corresponds to 100%).
  3. 15% of the credit score is determined according to the age of the credit history.
  4. 10% of the credit score is based on the type of credit you have: consumer credit, home loans, car loans, student loans, credit cards,…
  5. 10% of your credit score is based on your credit score requests (when you want to know your Credit Score, when you request a credit, when you apply for a credit card, …). All this affects your rating negatively.

So don’t try to know your credit rating frequently and request it only when needed.

How to save with the credit score?

Generally, when a store or bank offers you a credit card, you can take advantage of the situation.

  • There are credit cards for cash back, rewards, miles, and others. For each amount spent, you will earn a % in cash or miles.
  • Cash back can be recovered whenever you wish.
  • Store credit cards generally offer multiple payment facilities or coupons (Target offers 5% discount on any purchase made with their store card).
  • You even have a special credit card to pay your bills and the bank offers $30 every 3 months if you pay bills on time.
  • You can therefore choose the most advantageous solution in relation to your consumption habits.

You imagine that despite all these rewards/cashbacks related to credit cards, banks and stores must also find your account there. If only to build customer loyalty!

Where to get credit score from?

CreditKarma is the site on which you can get your credit score free and unlimited times. Simply register by entering your SSN and each week, your credit score is updated. However, this is only an estimate of your true credit score which is usually slightly different from the one announced on CreditKarma.

Good to know: You have the right to get 3 credit reports once a year on It’s free and allows you to make sure there are no anomalies (bad information, identity theft,…).

USA Credit Card Basics for First Timers: Limit, Due Date, Rewards, more.

Credit card is America’s widely accepted payment method more than debit card, cash or cheque etc. So anyone already in the US or planning to migrate should have basic understanding of credit card system in the USA before applying for it.

And here’s the guide for everyone wanting to know more about this plastic money.

To make it simple, a credit card has:

  • It’s own attached account (one card for one account), which can be created on the Internet
  • A fixed credit limit (maximum amount of expenses per month)
  • A fixed repayment date per month (by which the minimum amount must be repaid).

What is the monthly spending limit?

Once your bank accepts your credit card application, they will send you your credit line or credit limit, which is the maximum amount they will lend you per month. The credit limit is the spending limit you cannot exceed per month. It can range from $500 to several thousand dollars, depending on your credit score. The higher your credit score, the higher would be the credit limit. So for the first timers, expect to have the lowest credit limit of only $500 and possibly the most basic credit card. But remember very few banks offer credit card for first timers especially when you don’t have credit history. Other option is to get Secured credit card in USA.

Be careful, the credit limit does not mean that you have target of spending it to the maximum! Experts advise you not to spend more than 50% of your credit line. If it is $500, you will not have to spend more than $250 with this credit card. Some even say that it is even better to spend only 20% of the credit line. Although there is no proof to these recommendations.

So if you ask why to follow these rules then frankly there is no answer yet! Apparently, this is because the good payers are considered as people who do not consume all that is made available to them. Basically, it is to be sure to repay at the end.

One question that will seem important to you is…

Paying on credit is good, but do you have to pay interest?

Answer is NO. If you repay your credit correctly, that is, the total amount you owe your bank every month on/before the due date, then you won’t have to pay any fees. To know your payments, you can check your account online or call the credit card company. You will have information on the minimum amount to pay, and your deadline.

However, be careful not to forget to repay before the due date! If the minimum amount is not paid, high penalties apply. And if you pay only the minimum, interest will be charged for each day of delay, and rates can be very high, depending on your credit score. The lower it is, the higher the rates will be. For some it could be 12.5% whereas for others it could be 25%.

So at first, be very careful! Forgetting will also negatively impact your credit history. Don’t forget you’re traced, it will mean you’re not a good payer! So hope you have understood, the credit card requires regular monitoring and a certain discipline.

Aspects to be taken into account in order to be reasonably indebted

There’s a saying – Don’t consume what you don’t have!

And the same applies with credit cards. In the United States, you have to get into debt to exist. And this system carries risks!

Be careful not to fall into the credit spiral! You can have multiple credit cards, so multiply the borrowing limits (credit limit). Remember, this amount of money, which you see on each of your credit card accounts, is not yours!

As mentioned above, you can only repay the minimum amount set by the bank per month. Be careful not to abuse this system! You’ll have to pay that money sooner or later, plus interest on every day, if you’re late! Moreover, you will continue to consume, so be careful not to accumulate your debts! This game can become very quickly dangerous… And more cards you have, the more dangerous this game becomes!

Remember the primary purpose of the credit card, is to build your credit history, in order to have the best credit score possible. So for reasonable use, it is advisable to use it as a deferred debit card for your domestic purchases, and to refund your credit every month, in full, a few days before the deadline. This is how you will increase your credit score! That’s what honest card users do and never have a problem. It is also possible to set up direct debits (usually online).

The advantages: the different types of rewards

We have seen the risks and dangers above, but if you use your card wisely, you can even save/earn good amount of money! Credit cards offer certain rewards in the form of points, when you have consumed correctly, which can then be converted into money. Cool, right?

5% cash back – Discover it® ­- Cashback Match™

For example, here’s one such card. User is entitled to earn cash back up to 5%. From January to March, 5% cashback at gas stations. The following month, it is for the purchase at grocery stores. To summarize, you pay through your card, and then, have the refund, called “cash back”. It’s not bad, is it?

Be careful not to confuse the cash back of the credit card with the cash back of the debit card. When you arrive at a store checkout to pay with your debit card, the card reader will ask you if you want cash back. This is if you want to withdraw cash from your account (like at a ATM) free of charge, which is by the way, very convenient!

But rewards do not only concern cash back, but also miles (loyalty points) for airlines. It all depends on the type of card and your needs. If you often fly, you will need a credit card with loyalty points, miles, etc….

But remember! If you don’t have a credit history yet, then you won’t have too many choices at first… One thing is for sure, this system reflects the consumer society well! And everything is based on this banking system! But that said, don’t buy any more than usual…

Finally – a quick summary of the US credit card basics for everyone

Once you have your credit card approved by the bank, you must know:

  1. Your credit limit, spending limit per month (do not spend more than 50% of this limit per month).
  2. The repayment due date per month (date on which you must repay the total amount, if possible).
  3. Access to your account to track your card spending, and pay off your debts online every month, before the due date.
  4. Your rewards that will guide you on when and where it makes the most sense to use your card.

For Immigrants – Open Bank Account in USA Step by Step

If would you like to immigrate to the USA or have already arrived for work, study, or to live the American dream, at some point you will need an American bank account.

Can I open an account in the USA online?

If you are already established in the USA, you can open your checking account either online or in a branch office. However, if you have only recently arrived, it is likely that your online application will be rejected. This is mainly because US banks have no way to check your creditworthiness. It is therefore easier to complete the application for opening an account by visiting the branch. You can also talk to customer support executives and get your queries answered.

What documents are required to open an bank account in USA?

The rules and regulations in banking vary from state to state. It is best to call the branch first and speak to a customer executive to make an appointment and ask which documents are required to open an account.

Normally the following documents are required:

  • Passport, identity card, or driving licence
  • Social security number
  • Proof of your American address (P.O. boxes are not accepted)
  • Immigration papers

Passport and immigration papers should not be a problem, but proof of address and social security number will be a little more complicated for a newly arrived individual. As proof of your address, the bank would normally like to see a rental agreement or a current electricity bill. If you are a student, you can also submit a copy of the confirmation of enrolment that you will receive from your university. The social security number must be applied for in advance, this can take up to 2 weeks.

Application passed! What’s the next step?

Once your application is accepted, you must make a deposit to activate your account. If you want to transfer money in Euros or Indian Rupee to an American bank account, it is worth using TransferWise. This avoids expensive bank charges and transfers at the real exchange rate.

Depending on the amount and payment method (e.g. cash deposit) you may have to prove that the money was not generated by criminal activities.

Can an American bank account be opened from native country?

Nothing better than opening American bank account before entering USA.

If American bank has a branch in your country then it could be possible. For e.g. Deutsche Bank, Bank of America and HSBC are good examples as they have presence in India. If you already have an account with one of these banks, bank executives may be able to help you open an account before entering the United States. Perhaps your house bank also has partnerships with other US banks, it’s worth asking and taking their help.

Many banks also offer an international bank account to manage US dollars. It is convenient, if you already have a dollar account before immigrating to the USA. However, these international bank accounts often come with certain requirements (e.g. minimum deposits) and/or are subject to charges.

Choosing the Right Bank

The financial industry in America is enormous. There are thousands of banks where you can open a current account. So which bank is the right one for you? The best known banks are probably the best solution, as they probably have the most experience dealing with the immigrants.

The 4 largest American banks in the USA are Chase, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo.


The largest American bank and the sixth largest bank in the world. Chase operates over 15,000 ATMs and more than 5,000 branches in the USA. Each account is equipped with a Visa card and free online and mobile banking. Chase also offers special accounts for students and small businesses.

Bank of America

Bank of America’s regular bank account costs $12 per month, but is free for deposits of $250 or more per month. It is also free for students under 23. Bank of America issues a Visa Debit Bank Card linked with the bank account.


Citibank’s bank account is different from others because no minimum deposits are required. Citibank also offers additional benefits, such as exclusive tickets to many concerts and range of other benefits to the account holder. Unfortunately, there are no special accounts at Citibank for students.

Wells Fargo

Regular bank accounts at Wells Fargo are not free. An account starts at $10 per month, and for a 17-24 year old student, an account costs only $5 per month. You get a Visa card and can do online and mobile banking at any time.

Fees and Expenses


Withdrawing money in the USA is similar to withdrawing money in your country of origin. If you withdraw money at your bank’s counter or ATM, it is free, but if you use ATMs from other banks, you usually have to expect a fee. Some banks also offer only a limited number of free cash withdrawals per month.

Account Closure Fee

Many banks require your account to be active for at least 90 days before it can be closed. If you wish to close your account before this deadline, you will be charged a fee of approximately $25.

Fee for Foreign Bank Transfers

Costs for international bank transfers can often be high. For international transfers, banks usually charge a fee between $10 and $25, but they also charge a worst exchange rate, which ultimately results in some money being lost on an international transfer. To avoid unfair fees, you can use various money transfer services such as TransferWise, WesternUnion, XOOM. With these services, your currency is converted at the official average exchange rate for foreign transfers, and at an absolutely fair price.

List of Organizations Helping Immigrants in the U.S.

Did you know that there are many organizations that help immigrants in the U.S.?

And interestingly, it’s not just one but several organizations that can help you. This even includes individuals with grant programs seeking immigration assistance. So do you wish to know them?

Then keep reading…


Among the organizations that help immigrants in the U.S., you should first address USCIS. This organization provides you with technical assistance, all the information you need about grant programs and you can also find help from USCIS to obtain citizenship.

You can order the free toolkit with educational materials for immigrants from USCIS.

Community Organizations

Community organizations provide citizenship classes in English and assistance during the naturalization process, as well as resources in support with USCIS.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services provides you with information, educational materials and other resources to train you on citizenship and immigration. All these resources are available from libraries.


If you are working, your employer can help you as an eligible immigrant by promoting citizenship. Talk to your employer because there are resources available with them to advise you on citizen awareness and education.

Local Government

All local governments provide assistance to immigrants. In the municipal government you will find help on civic integration in your community with activities on outreach, education, and citizen awareness.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services provides museum support with public information, educational materials, immigrant participation opportunities, and citizenship and immigration training resources that you can receive at a museum.

Free Immigration Legal Help

Community organizations and social service providers can offer help with the naturalization process and citizenship classes. You can attend classes on weekends and in the evenings and they also offer programs with immigrant support services.

If you have problems with immigration, you can go to a licensed immigration attorney or an accredited representative of an organization that is recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

You can get advice on the official USCIS Legal Aid website so you can get required legal help you and make a good decision.

Immigrant Advocacy Project

Since 1986, the Immigrant Advocacy Project (IDP) has been working to combat mass criminalization, detention and deportation through policy advocacy, impact litigation, communications and strategic training.

It also provides you with tools and resources for your immigrant advocacy and pro bono legal services.

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee is located around the world and in 29 U.S. cities, and helps you, if your life is in conflict and works to provide you with immigration and health care services.

United We Dream

United We Dream is an organization that gives you information about customs control and problems with immigration raids.

Welcoming America

It is an organization that can help you with economic opportunities whether you are an immigrant or a refugee, thanks to its integration work with a network of over 150 communities.


HIAS is an immigrant advocacy group led by Jewish people that aims to provide international resources for refugees and immigrants including registration searches, assistance with the citizenship process. It offers you legal protection and also assists you in finding employment and training.


ACLU has an immigrant rights website where you can get information with case examples, videos and a blog related to immigration.

Public Law Centre

It is a law firm that provides assistance to low-income, vulnerable residents of Orange County.

Catholic Legal Immigration Network

The Catholic legal immigration network offers help with programs that target vulnerable families, victims of domestic violence or trafficking.

Organizations Helping Undocuments Immigrants in the U.S.

If you are an undocumented immigrant, you can also get help from certain organizations as listed below:

National Immigration Law Center

The National Immigration Law Center, NILC, is responsible for protecting and enhancing the rights of immigrants.

To do this, it counts and offers you lawyers who have already won lawsuits against discrimination in the workplace and also assert your rights in the event you are an immigrant in detention.

Young Center

Young Center, subject to the DACA program, Deferred Action for Children’s Arrivals is charged with helping children in the immigration process to be considered as children, providing temporary protection against the deportation of undocumented youth in the United States.

Families for freedom

Familias for Freedom (FFF) is responsible for the protection of families from deportation. This organization is made up of a group of people specialized in the situation of the undocumented.

Network of Immigration Advocates

The Immigration Advocacy Network (IAN) offers legal services to the undocumented immigrants with the support of regional partners and local groups working together.

Border Angels

Border Angels with its from San Diego extends its assistance to the entire border between Mexico and Texas. It offers you help and information about immigration, gives you bottles of water on traffic routes and also organizes community events.

Butterflies Without Borders

Butterflies without borders works together with immigrants who suffer discrimination and violence in their country of origin.

There are definitely many other organizations in the U.S. that offer help to both documented and undocumented immigrants, ranging from global human rights organizations to small groups working in the city, state or county such as Make the Road New York or Amnesty International.

They are groups that mobilize through protest to protect undocumented immigrants by lobbying politicians to change immigration policies, as they are organizations that work to protect the most vulnerable populations.

BankAmericard Secured Credit Card for Immigrants from BoA

Most of us have heard or used traditional credit cards and debit cards. But not many people (especially US immigrants) know of the existence of credit cards with security deposits or also known as “secured” cards.

Debit and Credit Card

As you know, the debit card is a card that uses the money we have deposited in the bank, that is, when you make purchases with that card you are actually using money available in your account.

Credit cards, unlike debit cards, use money from the bank that lends to us for certain number of days and if you pay the total amount purchased in the period, no interest is charged. Interest is only charged when the total amount utilized in the previous billing cycle is not paid fully.

What is a Card with Security Deposit?

This card is most recommended especially for immigrants in the U.S. wanting to build a credit history in USA, as it gives the advantage of being able to purchase services that only people with a history can get.

You basically deposit the amount you want to have as a credit limit, say $500, into an account at the issuing bank. The bank puts this money into a special account that you do not have access to, as long as the card is valid and the bank does not decide that it “already trusts” you and returns the money, changing the card from “secured” to a “regular” credit card.

Why not ask for a regular credit or debit card?

Using a debit card in the U.S. does not help in building credit history. It can only be built by utilizing a credit product, whether it’s a regular, secured, personal, auto, or home loan card.

In the absence of credit history, it is difficult to get a regular credit card (but not impossible), so a good alternative is a secured credit card especially for immigrants.

BankAmericard Secured Deposit Card

One of the best secured cards in the USA is the BankAmericard Secured Credit Card offered by Bank of America and highly recommended for migrants.

This card comes with many advantages:

Credit limit from $300 to $10,000* dollars

The limit is $300 to $4,900, but you can talk to the bank and increase the maximum limit to $10,000*.

Cash Back Rewards Program

This card has the advantage that when you buy gas with it, 3% of what you spend accumulates as cash. Shopping in supermarkets returns 2% of what you buy and everything else 1%. But it is worth mentioning that 3% and 2% requires a quarterly spend of $1,500. If you increase your spend then it drops to 1%.

Extra bonus when cashing out rewards to a Bank of America account

If you have a Bank of America account, either checking or savings, and you request that the accumulated rewards be deposited into that account, you get an extra 10%. So considering the above the rewards, you would actually get 3.3%, 2.2% and 1.1%.

Extra reward program with participating companies

There is an extra bonus program called BankAmeriDeals, these rewards are targeted to specific merchants, usually with some validity and are only for a single use. For example, 5% cash back at Autozone or 10% cash back when paying with the card at Chili’s.

The card can be converted to a regular card after 12 months

Other secured credit cards never change their status and no money is recovered until the card is cancelled. With Bank of America, this card can change to regular after 12 months of good use of the card. This “conversion” is automatic. But people who change their credit card after 10 months and others who ask that their change be considered before 12 months, their applications are marked in their credit report. This lets other credit bureaus know that they made the request. This is known as a ‘hard pull’ in the history which affects the score.

Some of the disadvantages of this card are:

You have to pay an annual charge

The annuity on this card is $39. Not much, if we consider all that it offers and with the rewards you can pay that annuity and most importantly it helps (especially US immigrants) in building credit history. However, there are many cards in the U.S. that do not carry annual fee. On the other hand, even when the card becomes regular, negotiating for waiving-off the annuity in some cases is not possible.

Increasing the limit puts a mark in the credit history

This doesn’t seem right. If you deposit more money to increase the credit limit of the card, you put a hard pull on your credit history in credit report bureaus that registers individual’s credit information (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian). So it is recommended to set the limit at the time of application to avoid any sort of negative points in the history. This helps later when ordering other unsecured cards from BoA or other card companies.

The money deposited is not available for 12 months

This is a point that puts many people at a disadvantage. In the event of an emergency and a need for money, the card must be cancelled (if less than 6 months old) to receive the deposit back. Remember also that, if the card is not used properly, the bank may not want to change the card to a regular one since you are a risky customer.

They usually issue a card with no rewards.

Even though you receive a regular card with no rewards, you can log into your account online and request a secure chat to have it exchanged for a rewards card. If all goes fine (and you are lucky) they will send you a new card.

How do I get my card as a foreigner?

Bank of America allows foreigners to obtain checking accounts, savings and even credit cards with security deposits.

The requirements are:

  1. Physically visiting Bank of America branch
  2. Valid passport
  3. Valid visa
  4. U.S. Address (indicates that the permanent address is in the country of origin and that you are not a U.S. citizen)
  5. Mention if you want a savings account too (recommended to get an extra 10% reward and to be able to pay your credit card online)
  6. Money to maintain the average account balance ($300* in the savings account)
  7. Money for the desired limit (minimum $300*)
  8. You do not need to have a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).

FAQs on BankAmericard Secured Credit Card

Is it true that building a credit history is not possible, if you do not have Social Security Number (SSN)?

Bank of America reports to all 3 major agencies and it reports – the person’s name, date of birth, U.S. address, type of product (credit card and identifies it as a “secured credit card”), card usage, limit, maximum usage and payments (also any delays in payment, which greatly affects history).

Does BoA report information to my origin country?

If there is an agreement of financial communication between country of origin and BoA and the requirements for such exchange are met, then the account, amounts, interest, etc. that generates the money deposited in the U.S. will be reported. Please see your country’s requirements. Sometimes it’s because you have X amount of money deposited and sometimes it’s because you generate Y interest in the account. U.S. savings accounts give very little interest on the money kept in the bank account, so if it’s only for interest, it’s hard to report.

What to mention when there is no income in the United States?

In the United States, people are trusted, and just as there is trust, people who lie in their applications can face many problems. So recommendation is to always speak truth with the bank executive, indicating that there is no income in the U.S. and that the income is equivalent to monthly or annual dollars as requested.

Why proof of income is not asked?

Normally if you report income within the normal range and the use of the card does not show anything different, they do not require proof. If anything changes, this may generate alerts to the bank and may require proof of income or the bank may cancel the credit product.

All About Credit History in USA: Report, Score, Importance, Agencies

Checking your credit history is the best way for lenders such as banks, credit officers, homeowners, and others to measure the risk of doing business with you. Your credit history determines whether or not you will qualify for a loan and the price you will have to repay for that loan, whether you will be able to rent an apartment or whether you will get good auto insurance.

Credit History (Credit Report)

A credit report is a report that documents everything related to how an individual has managed his or her credit. It includes information about credit card loans and payments, bank loans, mortgages, car loans and any other debt owed to a creditor. Credit history includes not only open accounts, but also all credit card and loan accounts that have already been closed. It details late payments, loan defaults and bankruptcies, if any.

What information does credit report contain?

Your personal information: Name, current and previous addresses, social security number, date of birth, employment and income history, and ownership of the home.

Credit information: About each account you have or have had, such as opening date, credit or loan limit, monthly payment and recent payment history. This information is collected from a wide range of sources; including banks, credit unions, credit card issuers, mortgage and loan companies, homeowners, insurance companies, professional services organizations, and others.

Public record information: This includes information from government agencies, including the Federal Bankruptcy Registry, county or state court records, debts or liens, money judgments, family pension commitments or child support (in some states). All this information remains on file for a period of 7 years, but in the case of bankruptcy the time is 10 years.

Inquiries about your report: The names of any person or institution that has requested a copy of your Credit Report in the last year (or the last two years for employment-related inquiries).

Credit Reporting Agencies (Credit Bureau)

The companies that collect and sell credit history information in the United States are called Credit Bureaus.

The three major credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Here are the addresses and telephone numbers:

  • Equifax, P.O. Box 74024241, Atlanta, GA from 30,374 to 0241 (888) 766-0008
  • Experian, P.O. 2002 Box, Allen, TX 75013 (888) 397 3742
  • Trans Union, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022 (800) 916-8800

Why Credit History Matters

Having a good credit history will be a critical part of having personal and financial success in the U.S. Your credit history can help open or close doors for you. Telephone companies, landlords, lenders, insurers, even potential employers often make decisions about your future based on your credit history.

It’s recommended that you review your credit history at least once a year, and immediately before making a significant loan. Checking your credit report is not always free, but it is cheap. Credit bureaus may charge no more than $8 for your report. However, there are 2 ways to get your credit history for free:

  1. If a company takes adverse action against you based on information in your credit report, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you are a victim of a crime, you have the right to request your Credit Report within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. This notice will tell you the name, address and telephone number of the credit bureau so that you can contact them.
  2. You are also entitled to one free report per year, which you can order at Here you can request a report from the 3 agencies listed above.

How to Build Credit History in the United States

If you do not yet have Credit History in the United States, follow the steps below to obtain it:

  1. Open a bank account and use it responsibly. This is the first step in establishing a financial history. This will not appear on your credit report, but are often required on credit applications.
  2. Put utilities in your name and pay for electricity, gas, telephone and cable TV bills on time.
  3. Apply for a credit card. If you are having trouble qualifying for a credit card, a secured credit card is a good option. These cards have credit limits based on a required deposit made by you into a savings account. You use the card as you would any other credit card. You can also consider department store cards.
  4. If you can get a cosigner for a joint card withdrawal is another option you should consider.
  5. Make sure you “pay on time” for a few months. Then the credit history will be established.

Credit Score

Another important feature of a Credit History is that it generates a Credit Score. This information is sent to creditors. A Credit Score is a quantitative assessment of a person’s creditworthiness based on an analysis of his or her credit history.

The calculation of this is based on a complex weighting of many factors, including payment history, outstanding debts, credit history, application for new credit, and the types of credit in use.

Although there are different credit scoring systems in place, the most common is Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). Credit scores range from 375 to 900, with 650 being the average. A higher score indicates better credit quality. As your credit history changes, your credit score will change and so will the interest rate that you pay.

Immigrant/Non-Resident in USA? Here’s How to Get Credit/Debit Card

There are several reasons why a non-resident, not necessarily undocumented, may want to have a U.S. debit or credit card. If you are a non-resident of the U.S., obtaining a credit card will be difficult and while it can be done, there are some requirements you should meet.

1. American Credit Card for Non-Residents

Few American banks dare to issue credit cards to the non-residents of the United States because of the high risk of leaving the country with unpaid debt. If the person uses the limit of the card and disappears in another country without paying the bill, the bank will not be able to recover the money.

On the other hand, some banks that have promoted credit cards for non-residents (undocumented immigrants) have suffered great public criticism.

If you are a non-resident and need a credit card to start building credit history, we recommend that you start with a secured credit card. Or, if you do not already have one, start by obtaining a bank account with an associated debit card, as follows:

2. Bank Account and American Debit Card for Non-Residents

If you want to open a bank account there are 4 general, but not absolute, requirements to consider:

  1. American Residence
  2. Social Security Number
  3. Physical Presence in the USA
  4. Balance Sheet and Movements

American Residence

American residency is not an absolute requirement to open a savings card in the United States. You only need to show at least two forms of photo identification. Often a passport, driver’s license, visa or other document is acceptable.

Call the bank to find out what is required. You may need to bring proof of your current address, as well as an invoice in your name. Requirements vary for each bank. Some known banks where non-residents can open a savings account are Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, US Bank.

Social Security Number

You can open a bank account and have a debit card without a social security number. But remember that credit companies don’t usually issue credit cards unless you have a valid social security number.

Physical Presence in USA

Since the event of September 11, if you are not a U.S. resident, the only way to open a savings account with an American bank is by physically visiting the bank. That is to say, if you are not a U.S. resident then it won’t be possible to open an online bank account.

This rule applies to company as well. If a foreign company wants to open a U.S. bank account, the company’s legal representative or general manager must appear in person at a U.S. bank branch to open the account.

Active Balance Sheet

Normally, for these types of bank accounts, the bank usually requires a minimum average account balance and/or a minimum number of transactions per month. Additionally, when opening the bank account you must deposit a minimum amount of funds. You should call the bank to find out about these requirements.

Keep in mind that if you open an account in the United States and use it in another country, there will be additional fees and surcharges for international use of the account or card. This charge is average 2.5%.