I am 30 and looking serious at moving to the United States to take a lucrative (career wise) job. Assuming I get the job offer and accept it, how can I go about getting credit in the US?
I am from Australia. I have perfect credit here. I have never missed a payment on anything. I bought and sold a $360,000 apartment and have maintained a $450,000 mortgage for 5+ years at > 5% interest. I own everything else outright (I took a personal loan from my parents for my car but paid it back years ago, my wife's car was bought with cash, home improvements all paid for in cash, etc). I have never paid a bill late in my life, and I pay off my credit card in full every month. I have a wife who works and earns good money and two young kids (one 5 years old, one 1 year old).
Should I arrive in the US on an E3 visa (similar to a H1-B visa but allows my wife to work), what options do I have for earning credit? From what I understand a good credit score is required for a lot of things, like getting a rental apartment, getting a credit card, leasing a car, etc.
How important is credit? The biggest issue that I see is that for a period of time there will be huge expenditures - maintaining the mortgage on my Sydney home, combined with the expenses of getting established in the US before my family comes to join me here and we can rent out our Sydney home.
Eventually the goal is to be cashflow positive and resume the same position I have right now, where I don't have to borrow for anything, but short term this may not be an option. However I have no idea how long I would be staying in the US for. It could be 3 years, it could be 30.
Two years later, I want to put a followup to this. I followed the advice I was given here, and the quote "money talks and bullshit walks" by CQM absolutely rang true. I had a lot of trouble finding a landlord who would rent to me once they ran a credit check. But when I eventually found someone who was willing to take me on face value (and my money), I was able to find a place to rent.
Then Verizon didn't want to give me FiOS - until I paid them a chunk of money to bypass the credit check. I took pre-paid phone contracts to avoid the credit checks. Opening a bank account was slightly problematic due to my lack of a SSN, but TD Bank were very helpful and I had an account within 48 hours of landing. I have not applied for a credit card, and I don't think I will (debit cards and cash have been sufficient), but that hasn't stopped banks from sending me countless credit card applications in the mail.
I was able to find a company who would lease me a car based on my Australian credit history. It was expensive - I am sure I am paying far more than I would if I had an established presence.
After what I think is a fairly short time I have managed a credit score of nearly 700 (according to Credit Karma). But the irony of this is that apart from my car, I have not used my credit score (and once this lease is up I will be buying a used car with cash).