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Best Credit Card Options For Immigrants In The UK

Updated on Mar 08, 2021
Credit cards in UK

Many immigrants in the UK face a difficult financial situation because of not having a credit history. Credit history allows you to borrow money to buy a home or a car, or get approved for a loan or a credit card.

Good credit history gives you access to better terms on financial products such as current and saving accounts, mortgages, better credit card options, and more. The higher your credit score, you have access to better interest rates.

When you move to the UK, you are basically starting from scratch. This is especially true for international students. Additionally, you can't transfer your credit rating from your country of origin. Credit ratings are not transferable even between countries like the U.K.and the U.S. where top credit agencies like Experian and Equifax do business in both countries.

Your card issuers in the UK have no idea how you have handled your credit in the past and can't do a credit check to be able to lend you money. It is most likely that they will reject your credit card applications.

The first thing that an immigrant can do to start building a credit history and score is to get a credit card. In this blog, we have listed the best credit card options for immigrants in the UK.

But before we get to the list, check the minimum eligibility requirements and how you can maximize your chance of getting accepted for a credit card as an immigrant.

Minimum Eligibility Criteria for Applying for Credit Cards in the UK

  • Must be at least 18 years of age (some lenders have a higher minimum age)
  • Must be a UK resident (proof of a permanent address)
  • Must be earning a certain amount of income (may vary between lenders)

Keep in mind that meeting the minimum requirements doesn't guarantee your card application will be accepted.

Fortunately, there are ways to increase your chances of getting accepted. As an immigrant with no credit history but looking to build one, doing the following things before applying for your credit card is highly recommended.

  • Registered to Vote 

In the UK, getting on the electoral roll means you have proof of address which is vital for establishing your credit history. This is how you document your identity and residence. It will boost your credit score.

In case you are staying in the UK for a short period of time, it is better to get in touch with the credit reference agency used by your lender and request them to take a note of the file explaining why you are not registered to vote in the UK.

You can register on the electoral roll as long as you have a UK address, who are citizens of the UK, the Commonwealth, and the EU. Citizens of the U.S. or China are not eligible to register for the electoral roll.

  • Open a Bank Account 

Having a current account can improve your chances of getting approved. This shows you do have a banking history.

One simpler way is to open a UK bank account in your home country with banks like CitiBank, HSBC, or financial institutions that offer such services before coming to the UK. 

If you have an account with a bank in your country that also has branches in the UK, check if you can activate an account in the UK as well prior to leaving. Keep in mind that there are charges for opening an international account.

  • Have a Job

Having a regular income shows that you will be able to pay back the credit. So lenders are likely to consider your application. It might be difficult when you don't have a job.

  • Pay Bills on Time 

Paying your phone bills, utility bills, gas, electricity on time, at least for 6 months shows that you are financially responsible and will help convince your lenders that you will pay back the credit and thus get you accepted. Paying through a direct debit card can build a good credit profile. This is also helpful for people who are new and are unable to get on the Electoral Roll.

  • Get Other Forms of Credit  

Sign up for a UK mobile phone contract as a form of credit that will help you build a credit score.

Now, there are options available even if you are a first-time borrower with zero credit rating.

Make sure when you apply for a credit card, choose a provider that is suitable for your current circumstances and who is likely to accept applicants that are in your situation.

The most suitable option is to apply for a credit builder credit card or a bad credit credit card. These cards are specifically designed for people who are such in situations. These cards often come with a higher interest rate and a low credit limit because of the risk involved with a first-time borrower or a bad credit score. But they are the best as a starter card.

The interest rates can range from 24% to 50% or more. The credit limit is low and is generally between 100 pounds to 250 pounds. You can move on to cards with better interest rates, perks once you have a good credit score.

Here are top credit building credit cards for immigrants in the UK.

Chrome Credit Card: Build Credit Score at the Lowest APR


Chrome

The Chrome credit card is Vanquis Bank's lowest APR credit card. Vanquis Bank is the largest specialist credit card provider in the UK.

Chrome credit card is specially designed for customers who want to build or rebuild their credit score.

Do the Eligibility check within 60 seconds on your mobile or tablet or PC.

Features, Rates, and Charges at a Glance

  • Representative APR: 29.5% (variable)
  • No annual fee
  • Balance Transfer fee: NA
  • Cash Advances: 3% or 3 pounds, whichever is higher 
  • Foreign cash transaction fee: 2.99% of the sterling value of the transaction
  • Manageable credit limit starting from 250 pounds up to 1,500 pounds
  • Increase your credit limit up to 4,000 pounds over time with timely payments 
  • Manage your account using online servicing through Vanquis's website or download the mobile app on Apple or Android   
  • 24/7 protection from fraud

Aqua Classic Credit Card: Repair Bad Credit


Aqua

Aqua Classic credit card is meant for people who have had a bad credit history and are looking for improving their credit rating by making payments on time and keeping within the credit limit. The representative APR can be quite high but this is expected as they accept applicants with no credit history or bad credit.

To apply for an Aqua Classic credit card, besides the minimum eligibility requirements, make sure that you haven't filed for bankruptcy in the last 18 months, there is no County Court Judgement (CCJ) in the last year, or haven't taken out an Aqua card and/or marbles, opus or Fluid card in the past 12 months. You also need to have a current UK bank or building society account.

Check your eligibility with no change in your credit score.

Features, Rates, and Charges at a Glance

  • Representative APR: 37.9% (variable)
  • No annual fee
  • Balance Transfer fee: Up to 3% of the transaction (minimum 3 pounds)
  • Cash transactions: 5% of the transaction (minimum 4 pounds)
  • Foreign exchange conversion charge: 2.95% of the amount of the transaction
  • Initial credit limit between 250 pounds-1,200 pounds (subject to change)
  • Increase your credit limit after 4 months of timely payments 
  • A 48-day interest-free period when the balance is paid in the full amount 
  • Text alerts to stay on track 
  • Full-time UK-based customer support 
  • Facility to manage your account online or via the mobile app
  • Accepted widely in the world for being a Mastercard

Capital One Luma Card: Credit Builder Card for New Immigrants


Luma

The Luma credit card is brought to you by Capital One (Europe). If you are new to the UK, this is a great option to go for credit building when used responsibly. If you are new to credit or have issues with your credit rating even with CCJs or defaults in the past, you might get accepted with some UK credit history. Check your Eligibility and get a response in 60 seconds

Features, Rates, and Charges at a Glance

  • Representative APR: 35.9% (Variable)
  • No annual fee
  • Balance Transfer fee: 3%
  • Cash transaction fee: 3% (minimum 3 pounds)
  • Foreign transaction Fee (Non-sterling transaction): 2.75%
  • Credit limit: 200 pounds- 1,500 pounds 
  • 56 days of Interest-free period for purchases if balance is paid on time and in full
  • Automated fraud alerts and free identity theft protection
  • Provide guides to use the card responsibly and help improve credit rating 
  • Hassle-free account management online and on the mobile app
  • Streamline your household's finances and keep track of your overall expenditure

Marbles Credit Card: Build Credit from Scratch


Marbles

Marbles credit card is designed for people who have not used a credit card before or have no credit history. People with low credit scores can even apply for it. You are much more likely to get accepted for a Marbles card than other options if you are an immigrant with no credit history in the UK.

Moreover, if used responsibly by paying the bills in full and on time, and staying within the credit limit, your score will improve and thus get easier to get approved for other cards in the market with better rewards and features in the future. Check your Eligibility in seconds.

Features, Rates, and Charges at a Glance

  • Representative APR: 34.9% (Variable)
  • No annual fee
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% (Minimum 3 pounds)
  • Cash Advances: 3% (Minimum 3 pounds)
  • Money Transfers: 3% (Minimum 3 pounds)
  • Cash Transactions: 5% of the transaction 
  • Foreign exchange conversion fee: 2.95% of the amount 
  • Credit limit: 250 pounds-1,200 pounds 
  • Increase your credit limit after 4 months 
  • Get free credit report and credit score 
  • No interest on purchases with full and on-time payment 
  • Marbles Mastercard are accepted worldwide
  • Access to online account management tools
  • Get Free SMS alerts to keep you updated 
  • UK based customer helpline 

Barclaycard Forward Credit Card: Credit Builder for No or Limited Credit History


Barclay

The Barclaycard credit card is a smart choice for new immigrants who have little or no credit history. It makes a great first choice to foray into the credit card world. You also can get access to Barclaycard Entertainment discounts on days and nights out with the card.

Use their free eligibility checker before you apply to find out if you are likely to get accepted for the card.

Features, Rates, and Charges at a Glance

  • Representative APR: 33.9% (Variable)
  • No annual fee
  • Balance transfers: 33.9%
  • Cash Transactions: 2.99% 
  • Foreign Transactions fee: 2.99% 
  • Credit Limit: Between 50 pounds to 1,200 pounds
  • Purchases: 0% for first 3 months then 33.9%
  • Purchases interest-free period: 56 days 
  • With Price promise, get a 3% reduction in the interest rate on timely payments for the first year and another 2% reduction on the second year if continued paying on time
  • Manage account with text or email alerts to help you stay on track 
  • Track your spending and improve your credit score
  • Being on a Visa network, the card is accepted worldwide

Conclusion

Credit building credit cards are basically to demonstrate that you are responsible with your finances by using the care sensibly, paying your dues on time, and spending within your credit limit.

Use your credit builder credit card to pay for small purchases each month like home supplies, groceries and pay off the balance each month. Over time, it will help improve your credit rating and better financial conditions going forward.

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