How Do Credit Scores Work Internationally?

Credit Scores Do Not Travel

Although our economy is very global, your credit score is one thing that you cannot pack up and move with you to another country. Your United States credit score is a measure of your US creditworthiness, so even if you have an 850 FICO score from all three bureaus, it will not benefit you outside our boarders.

Other nations have their own system for judging creditworthiness, so if you plan on moving be prepared to rebuild your credit through their system.

One reason for this is that rules and institutions for credit information vary from country to country. Some countries can only report negative information and are government-run, while others (like the U.K. and Canada) are very similar to the U.S. bureaus, but still only report information from institutions within their borders. Some countries don’t even have a system set up for credit information.

In addition, information from “global” creditors, such as large banks, won’t usually transfer. Most credit bureaus only take information that uses an address based in their country, so your loans in the U.S. would be rejected from the report. Except that is for debts, usually countries can track down whether you’re moving to escape paying off debts. This will impact your creditability with them and they have caught on to this ‘trick’.

Credit cards are also difficult to transfer over because of currency differences (except for the European Union). Agencies that are in control of credit scores will report amounts owed/paid in their respective currency. Using a U.S. credit card in another country isn’t practical because it would be reported in U.S. dollars and subject to a hefty exchange rate and fee each time.

However, there are some limited options you have when moving. First, if your credit card issuer also reports to that country, you may be able to change your mailing address to that country and use it to create a credit file in that country. If that isn’t possible, you should contact a financial institution in the country to which you are moving to determine what you can do, such as a secured credit card that is backed with the same amount as the credit limit.

Consider keeping your U.S. accounts open if you plan to move back at some point so your credit and reports remain active here. Keeping an address in the US where you can receive mail can be very helpful if you plan to come back and do not want to have to re-build your credit profile. Many people don’t think about their credit while in midst of a major move, but it’s important to do research and consider the laws/regulations of the country you’ll be living in.