Wife just got SSN, how do we start on her "credit rating"

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My wife and I are both immigrants. My wife recently came to the US and got her SSN just a couple of days back.

I added her as an authorized user on 2 of my credit cards, but her SSN was never asked as a part of the process. She received those cards,  but they have the same number as mine (and her name on front).

Something tells me her credit score isn't improving using those cards. Am I right?

If so, what is the way to make sure she starts building a credit score? Is there anyway I can use my own credit score to "help"? 

I understand there are some secured credit cards she can use, but I would rather she used one of the rewards credit cards I have (Consumers Credit Union CC for groceries, Sams Club Mastercard for food and gas, Citi Double Cash for everything else) . Is that doable at all? 

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Pretty much anyone can apply for secured card. Why do you even suggest that? That is the last resort option if all else ... (more)

Powza (Dec. 29, 2016 @ 8:43p) |

OP - you may look at this if you do have to apply for secured credit card - it provides cashback as well as may convert ... (more)

sam007 (Dec. 30, 2016 @ 4:52p) |

She can build her score by applying for credit.

TravelerMSY (Dec. 30, 2016 @ 4:56p) |

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What shows up on her Credit Karma account?

devyanks90 said:   What shows up on her Credit Karma account?
  Nothing if she just got a SSN a "few days ago."

You can be a cosigner of a card for her assuming you have good credit. If not the secured credit card is probably the only way or maybe a dept store will give her one (like Sears). They are usually very easy. They were my first card about 48 yrs ago when I bought my wife a sewing machine (before the days of Visa and Mastercard).

Nothing other than what you have done. The credit card companies will send the name and address to the bureaus. Eventually they will create an incomplete file. You need to add her ss# to your checking account, and then probably do a joint application so that her number is used together with yours. That is a way to get her approved as long as your credit is great.

It's all baby steps and it takes time.

acro2014573 said:   I added her as an authorized user on 2 of my credit cards, but her SSN was never asked as a part of the process. She received those cards,  but they have the same number as mine (and her name on front).
I'm going to assume that you added her after she got the SSN. I'm also going to assume that you added her as AU to cards that were opened relatively long time ago - at least a couple of years. In that case you don't have to do anything else. Wait card statement date + a couple of days, then it will report on her credit report.
Then register her at creditkarma.com and check out report. Once the cards are reporting, apply for any basic credit card, for example Chase Freedom. Make sure that before applying all cards on her credit report are reporting $0 balance and one card reports very small positive balance, for example $5. That is all.

Do not apply for crappy secured credit cards or store cards that you will never need. That is totally unnecessary.

Ask her to apply for a credit card. The bank may deny to offer credit. But a credit file will be opened.

or call credit card company and request her as a joint account holder

Powza said:   Make sure that before applying all cards on her credit report are reporting $0 balance and one card reports very small positive balance, for example $5. That is all.

 

  It does not make a difference if the cards have a balance of $0 or $5 or $5000 as long as the payments are current.  Just do not add her to a card that had a delinquency in the past.

 

There is nothing you need to do. The credit card companies don't need and don't use the SS number

JepJepJep said:   
Powza said:   Make sure that before applying all cards on her credit report are reporting $0 balance and one card reports very small positive balance, for example $5. That is all.

 

It does not make a difference if the cards have a balance of $0 or $5 or $5000 as long as the payments are current.  Just do not add her to a card that had a delinquency in the past.

 

It does make a difference in your credit score.  A rather huge difference when you only have a couple cards.  For optimal scoring you need to have 3+ cards and follow Powza's advice (which was spot on, for FICO purposes).  The girlfriend might not be a FICO junkie, but those points can be important when she's putting in her next card application.

acro2014573 said:   I added her as an authorized user on 2 of my credit cards, but her SSN was never asked as a part of the process. She received those cards,  but they have the same number as mine (and her name on front).Do you have any AMEX cards? If yes, add her as an authorized user. AMEX asks for SSN and issues a unique number for each AU.

When my wife came to the US from the Philippines (2005) I added her to my oldest credit card with perfect payment and it showed on her credit report. We then applied for a joint Kohls card and then she then applied for a store card on her own. Two years later when we purchased a new car her credit score was around 780.

An alternative view: keep her credit score at 0.

Even if you don't carry debt on your credit card, you will spend more with credit cards than what you would otherwise with cash.

phisher4 said:   An alternative view: keep her credit score at 0.

Even if you don't carry debt on your credit card, you will spend more with credit cards than what you would otherwise with cash.

I don't.  Cash to me is just a bunch of paper wadded up in my pocket.  On a good day you can roll it up and use it to snort things.  Whereas a credit card balance is a real number on a computer which has to be meticulously tracked.

But I accept that what you say is true for a lot of folks.  You're not taking into account all the lost 5% cash back.  The deposits you will pay to companies, sometimes for long terms.  If your credit score is zero, your insurance score is (probably?) zero, and you will pay dearly for that especially if you are a homeowner or have other pricey insurance needs.  How about not being able to do a chargeback on that purchase that didn't go as planned.  No $500 signup bonus on those Benjamins. 

You're losing real dollars when your credit score is zero, and IMHO it's far more $$$ than you'd save even if you're the perverse kind of individual that feels pain by forking over a piece of paper that's been in somebody's bra.

MisterEd said:   
devyanks90 said:   What shows up on her Credit Karma account?
  Nothing if she just got a SSN a "few days ago."

  Yep, nothing.

MilleniumBuc said:   Nothing other than what you have done. The credit card companies will send the name and address to the bureaus. Eventually they will create an incomplete file. You need to add her ss# to your checking account, and then probably do a joint application so that her number is used together with yours. That is a way to get her approved as long as your credit is great.

It's all baby steps and it takes time.

  Yeah, looks like it. Took me a long time when I was new to the US so ... 
Powza said:   
acro2014573 said:   I added her as an authorized user on 2 of my credit cards, but her SSN was never asked as a part of the process. She received those cards,  but they have the same number as mine (and her name on front).
I'm going to assume that you added her after she got the SSN. I'm also going to assume that you added her as AU to cards that were opened relatively long time ago - at least a couple of years. In that case you don't have to do anything else. Wait card statement date + a couple of days, then it will report on her credit report.
Then register her at creditkarma.com and check out report. Once the cards are reporting, apply for any basic credit card, for example Chase Freedom. Make sure that before applying all cards on her credit report are reporting $0 balance and one card reports very small positive balance, for example $5. That is all.

Do not apply for crappy secured credit cards or store cards that you will never need. That is totally unnecessary.

  
Yes, all correct assumptions.

Thanks for the info. I was hoping someone would tell me I don't absolutely need to go down the secured credit card route  

leedsutd67 said:   or call credit card company and request her as a joint account holder
  
Ultimately, this is what I ended up doing. 

NoMoneyInMyWallet said:   
acro2014573 said:   I added her as an authorized user on 2 of my credit cards, but her SSN was never asked as a part of the process. She received those cards,  but they have the same number as mine (and her name on front).
Do you have any AMEX cards? If yes, add her as an authorized user. AMEX asks for SSN and issues a unique number for each AU.

  Yes I do, and I didn't know this. I tried adding her, and it asked for her SSN. So.. all good there, thanks  

 
phisher4 said:   An alternative view: keep her credit score at 0.

Even if you don't carry debt on your credit card, you will spend more with credit cards than what you would otherwise with cash.

  
Good advise thanks. But as has been mentioned, I like using cards and not carrying cash. For me, the biggest thing is keeping track. Especially considering I use separate cards for separate purposes, not only do I max out cash back, I am also able to, at the end of the month easily tell how much was spent on each particular category without having to use Mint or any external tools, and I see a lot of value in that. So, for *my particular family's case*,  I am going to argue against your assumption of "spend more with CC than with cash". 


Thanks  for all the replies folks. For what it's worth, I called the CSR for each CC, manually had my wife's SSN added and verified that they will indeed report appropriately to the credit bureaus. So, now it's just  waiting game, and we are fine with that. I have pretty good credit, have done a couple of app-o-ramas here and there, have used 0% APR for big purchases, so I am familiar with the drill. 

My wife came from another country, and her first card was a Sears store card.

Actually, I think when I was a teenager, my first card was a store card.

When it is time for her first attempt at a card, try a store card first.

After a few years of having her own credit cards, her credit limit should eventually equal yours.

If you have cash laying around have her apply for a secured card. A relative did that, in less than a year it converted to an ordinary bank credit card.

Chase asks for getting a signed document sent back to them else they only add the add-on holder as a joint user, even after supplying the SSN. Happened to two of my family members that I added to build their credit history.

LorenPechtel said:   If you have cash laying around have her apply for a secured card. A relative did that, in less than a year it converted to an ordinary bank credit card.
Pretty much anyone can apply for secured card. Why do you even suggest that? That is the last resort option if all else fails. OP has many better options, some of which can be money makers from signup bonuses.
As far as converting to unsecured card it is very YMMV depending on issuing bank, for example Wells Fargo sucks infinitely more than Bank of America, etc.

OP - you may look at this if you do have to apply for secured credit card - it provides cashback as well as may convert to a normal credit card after 6+ months.

https://www.discover.com/credit-cards/secured/

She can build her score by applying for credit.



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