I am an Italian citizen looking to move to the United States at some point next year; my fiancée submitted a petition for a K-1 Visa and we're waiting for it to be processed.

I have done a little reading on how credit score works in the US and I think I have a decent idea of what I can do once I have my Visa and have moved.

That being said, is there anything I can do prior to that while still in Italy, to start building a credit score? Also, I've had a prepaid card (maximum amount allowed on it is €10000) for almost 10 years now, and more recently opened an account with debit card: is there any way I can transfer that history to the US?

  • "I've had a prepaid card ... for almost 10 years now" Prepaid cards do not affect your credit score, since there's no credit involved.
    – RonJohn
    Oct 18, 2017 at 13:38
  • I'm slightly confused: I get that, yet there seems to be some confusion online: some sources suggest prepaid credit cards to start building a credit score; some specify that only some prepaid cards build one's credit score; some yet say that there is absolutely no way to build credit with prepaid cards. Do you know for certain that the latter is in fact the truth? Thank you!
    – Michele C
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:12
  • There's no such thing as a prepaid credit card, by the very definition of what the word "credit" means (buy now, pay later). This is in contrast to a prepaid card, which a stored value ("pay now, buy later") card. They're as opposite as fire and water.
    – RonJohn
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:39
  • True enough, I should have written that in quotes because I was directly mentioning what some sources call them. It's widely used as a marketing term; I suppose that's to convey the concept that yes it's prepaid, but it lets you do pretty much everything else a credit card does. Or so they are trying to tell customers!
    – Michele C
    Oct 19, 2017 at 7:57
  • 1
    Michele, nothing like that in the US.
    – RonJohn
    Oct 19, 2017 at 12:54

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you can try and obtain a credit card and establish credit history as a non-US citizen/resident.

Lucky for you, issuers can’t legally require you to provide a Social Security number if you don’t have one, according to the Social Security Administration. Instead, you can use an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), which is another nine-digit identifier that functions similarly to a Social Security number.

However, I would assume that you need a US address. In compliance with the Patriot Act, merchants are required to collect identifying information for all individuals who submit a credit application.

As far as transferring credit score:

Even if you had a positive credit history in your country of origin, foreign credit history can’t be transferred to the United States.

  • Thanks for the answer! That's what I thought, but I found this answer mentioning an alternative for Canadians: money.stackexchange.com/a/61655/63850, so I had a little hope there would be something similar for a poor European as well :)
    – Michele C
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:14
  • 1
    Can you cite a source that an SSN is required for a credit score? I question the answer because even American citizens do not have to have a social security number. The IRS will issue an EIN instead and it does not absolve the person from paying social security taxes. It also makes applying for things that require SSNs tedious.
    – Freiheit
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:26
  • SSN is not needed. An ITIN or EAN works too, And you can get an ITIN as a non-American living not in America - as soon as you owe taxes.
    – Aganju
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:38
  • @Aganju Yes, you're correct. I updated my answer after more research.
    – Michael
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:39
  • From my limited understanding,my best chance right now would be to request an ITIN either as "Nonresident alien required to get an ITIN to claim tax treaty benefit" or "Nonresident alien filing a U.S. federal tax return". My Italian brain suggests that the first could be meant as "I would be eligible to claim tax treaty benefit if I had a US-based income", but that is probably wrong... I guess I could find some freelance work with someone in the US (I'm a programmer) and request an ITIN in relation to that income, but it seems not worth it if I'm moving in 8 months or so.
    – Michele C
    Oct 19, 2017 at 9:25

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