It's the story of working professionals who travel to the US on work visas.
Like my grandfather, who came to the country from Cuba in 1969, many immigrants leave behind their homeland for the United States in pursuit of a promising future for themselves and their families.
In fact, approximately 43.3 million people who live in the US are foreign-born—earning the country its name as the "melting pot of the world".
That is mainly because work opportunities abound for migrant workers.
However, credit-related opportunities are often a different story for these individuals.
It's particularly true for most people who travel to a country with no previous credit history.
When it comes to extending credit, most credit card issuers won't look beyond just three main components—your social security number, employment history, and credit history.
Those are all that most card issuers will look at to approve you.
Your earning potential, wealth, capability, or competency doesn't matter to them.
And without a credit history, in particular, most of these professionals sadly find that card issuers won't touch them with a ten-foot pole.
With no one providing them a line of credit, these individuals can't start to build their credit history even if they wanted to.
This means that newcomers are forced to forgo credit cards and rely on cash to pay for basic necessities, from groceries to furniture.
For a long time, there was no foreseeable solution to this dog-chasing-its-tail-type conundrum. But thankfully, that's no longer the case.
CreditStacks has created a card in hopes of solving the problem.
With CreditStacks, newcomers without a credit history are given options.
They can apply for a card, build a credit history, and get approved for a generous credit line.
Traditional card issuers are heavily dependent on your credit standing.
Unlike traditional card issuers, CreditStacks doesn't vet you on based on conventional criteria.
They don't use credit history to determine your eligibility.
The CreditStacks Card at a Glance
Why CreditStacks' simple philosophy is a boon for newcomers
Issued by First Century Bank, N.A., the CreditStacks card is a Mastercard branded credit card.
It was founded in 2015 by Israeli entrepreneurs Elnor Rozenrot, Jonathan Jacobi, and Shahar Nechmad.
The company has locations in both Tel Aviv and San Francisco.
Elnor Rozenrot, CreditStacks CEO, recalls his own credit-related challenges when he first came to the country.
When I came to the US, I couldn't get a credit card, and it just drove me nuts. I walked into a bank on my second day in the US, and they opened a bank account for me, but wouldn't give me a credit card. Six months later, I got a card that only had a $300 credit line.
CreditStacks co-founder and CTO further supports the company's initiative. He made this statement to Globes, an Israeli business site.
"Banks try to find reasons not to give you credit, but we work the opposite way: we build a model of who we do want. We construct groups, each of which has different criteria: people who have recently moved to the US, who have good jobs, who earn a certain amount of money."
Created for newcomers to the US, CreditStacks is based on a revolutionary behavioral risk model.
This model uses banking relationships, data sources, and advanced risk and behavioral analysis.
They use these factors to identify prime, high-income potential customers.
Their target customers are those who have a solid financial standing but no US financial history.
Once these individuals are integrated into the credit market, they can receive a premium credit card.
The CreditStacks credit card offers several benefits and features to its target customers:
- No security deposit
- No annual fees
- No penalty APR
- No foreign transaction fees
- A high credit limit of up to $5,000
- Approval prior to moving to the US
- Ability to build good credit
- Low interest rates
- No social security number required
- Travel benefits, which include a collision damage waiver for rental cars, travel accident insurance, lost or damaged luggage insurance, and reimbursements for trip cancellations or interruptions
- Cell phone insurance of up to $600 for cardholders who pay their monthly bill using their eligible CreditStacks card
Not Only for Working Migrants
There are two other groups of people who can benefit from CreditStacks
While this card was designed for premium working migrants new to credit, they aren't the only ones qualified to apply.
People who move to the US with working migrants, like family members and spouses, also qualify.
Recent college graduates who have no credit history can also enroll and benefit from it.
You get better perks than any other card for no-credit consumers
Several factors set CreditStacks apart from the rest of the card issuers out there.
If we had to distill it down to four main points, these are what they would be:
1. You don't need a credit score to apply. Most traveling professionals find it difficult to apply for mainstream credit cards.
This is because banks don't qualify them without a solid credit history.
Sometimes they'll even dig beyond that factor for other reasons to disqualify you.
But CreditStacks bridges this gap.
Its model is centered around serving working migrants, their families, and anyone else who doesn't have a credit history.
CreditStacks uses more than 200 data points to evaluates your credit risk and creditworthiness. These points determine your eligibility.
They including the following:
- Your debt-to-income ratio
- The company who sponsored your visa
- Any red flags in your online presence (the company founders didn't divulge any specifics on this)
Focusing on positive data points, CreditStacks is able to safely and confidently issue credit cards to applicants who have no credit history.
The icing on top is that the credit limits are liberal, going as high as $5,000.
Secured credit cards which require a security deposit, don't offer credit limits nearly as liberal.
And even other unsecured credit cards don't provide much better.
2. You don't need a Social Security number. Another plus point in favor of CreditStacks is that you don't need a social security number upfront to receive your card.
However, as soon as you are assigned one, you are required to supply it to CreditStacks.
For the application process, you can use any of the following forms of ID:
- Your passport
- A work visa
- Proof of income in the US
3. You can get approved before you even arrive in the US. Finding a place to call home and getting settled in a foreign country is already stressful enough, even for the bravest of heart.
So the last thing travelers need is another added hassle on their to-do list when they arrive.
Unfortunately, applying for a credit card often falls somewhere on that list.
This is due to the fact that most credit card issuers require you to be present in the US before you can apply for credit.
If you're planning on living in the country long-term, having a credit card is an absolute must for many reasons and should definitely be a priority.
But before you settle on one, you'll want to make sure you're asking all the right questions.
Fortunately, this is one of its greatest perks about CreditStacks.
Applicants don't have to add another item to their to-do list post-arrival.
You can apply for a credit card 60 days before you even land in the country.
This means that unlike most newcomers, once you land, you won't have to worry about applying for credit.
Instead, you can focus on purchasing living necessities and settling into your new life.
4. Low fees. With all the great perks CreditStacks boasts, you may be starting to get wary about what things might lie in the fine print, like high interest rates and hidden fees.
Unlike other unsecured credit cards, CreditStacks charges zero annual fees and boasts an APR of 16.74%—much better than most credit cards.
Plus, there's no security deposit required, unlike secured cards which typically offer you a lower limit even after requiring a deposit.
Cons you should be aware of before applying
You might be wondering: It sounds too good to be true, so what's the catch?
While the CreditStacks card does have its drawbacks, they're still pretty minimal compared to what it offers.
Here's what you should be aware of:
- You can access your account only through their mobile app—you can't sign in through a desktop computer.
- The card doesn't offer rewards, although it does boast a few travel benefits (listed previously).
- Because the card is one of a kind, there's a huge demand for it, and you have to register on an official waiting list to be considered.
CreditStacks is an excellent option for those with no US credit history
Experience is the best teacher.
One person had to learn about the credit struggles newcomers face the hard way.
Fortunately for new migrant workers, that person was CreditStacks CEO Elnor Rozenrot—who built a company whose sole focus is alleviating those troubles for others.
As someone who came from a migrant family myself, I can relate to and admire what Elnor Rozenrot has done in response to his experience to help deserving individuals.
Through my company, CreditLoan, I've strived to help consumers—newcomers and US-born alike—learn the ins and outs of a wide range of personal finance topics, while providing them the tools and solutions they need to manage their own finances.
CreditStacks has similarly gone to great lengths to offer a card that caters to the needs of newcomers.
But newcomers aren't the only ones who can benefit—dependents of migrants and even fresh college grads are also eligible to apply.
With a business model that looks beyond a simple credit score to get people started on credit, CreditStacks is truly one of a kind.
Instead of focusing on your score, it considers your international financial standing and many other important factors that even include online presence.
It also takes into account your employment potential.
If you're a well-qualified, high-income-potential individual who's planning to make the US your future home, CreditStacks might be a great option for you.
The best part about it is that you don't need a US social security number to apply; plus you can get approved for the card before you even arrive in the country.
With no requirement for an upfront credit history, the potential for a generous credit limit, no annual fees, and no hidden charges, getting a CreditStacks card is a definite win.
What's more, it offers you a great way to get and build credit and pay for things that can help make a new place in a new country feel a bit more like home.
Are you an immigrant looking for your first US-issued credit card?
Have you found it difficult to get one because of your lack of credit history?
Do you have a CreditStacks card?
What things do you love or dislike about it?
We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!