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Posted 26 September 2023

Secured Credit Cards Can Help Establish Credit

As an international student or scholar, it’s likely the credit established in your home country didn’t travel with you to the United States due to differing regulations and reporting laws. Credit can be important in the U.S. for a variety of reasons including securing loans, renting an apartment, and sometimes even getting a job. One way to begin to build credit is to open a secured credit card.  

Secured Credit Cards 

Credit cards typically begin as a line of credit where the lender is approved for a certain limit they can spend up to and then make monthly payments to pay down any charges made. A secured credit card functions very similarly, but the main difference is the limit you are typically approved for matches a security deposit to a savings share that will be held in your account.  

This means if you place $500 in a savings share, your credit limit would also equal $500. The funds held in savings cannot be used until the secured card is closed or converted to a standard credit card. As you make regular payments on the card, you begin building your U.S. credit score. 

What You’ll Need to Open a Secured Card 

While it can vary based on the financial institution or lender you’re looking to open a secured credit card with, typically you’ll need to provide the following:   

  • Valid U.S. or non-U.S. government issued identification. 
  • U.S. government-issued international residency document such as a Form I-20, Form DS-2019, or Form I-1765. 
  • A permanent address located within the U.S. 
  • Income to show you can support the possible monthly obligation of a credit card. 
  • The funds you are going to pledge for your secured credit card. 
  • A savings account with the financial institution to hold the pledged funds. 

Many international students work in the United States after graduating college to grow in their career. Opening a secured credit card will offer the best opportunity for international students to build positive credit while attending university and after.