Do other countries have credit scores?
March 2, 2023 7 min read
Moving to a new country can be exciting, but there are some things to consider before you leave—like visa requirements and health care. You might want to research financial options, too, because you can’t take your credit score with you.
American lenders, landlords and even some employers may review your credit history before deciding whether they want to do business with you. But what happens if you need an auto loan, mortgage or credit card while living overseas?
You might be wondering, “Do other countries have credit scores?” The short answer is yes. But credit scoring systems can vary from one country to the next.
Learn how credit works around the globe and how to build credit history with international lenders.
- Global credit scores currently don’t exist, so you can’t transfer a U.S. credit score overseas.
- Other countries might use their own systems to determine creditworthiness.
- Giving international lenders a copy of your credit report, employment history and income verification could help you build creditworthiness.
- Keeping U.S. credit accounts open may help you maintain your credit profile if you decide to move back.
What countries have credit scores?
Some credit scoring systems are similar to the model used in the U.S., but other countries may have different methods for calculating creditworthiness. And what’s considered a good credit score in the U.S. might not be a good score in a different country.
Keep in mind that some countries don’t use credit scores and reports. So if you move abroad, you may need to build credit from scratch. But before you learn how credit works around the globe, it may help to review some U.S. credit score basics.
How credit works in the U.S.
U.S. credit scores are three-digit numbers that help measure a person’s creditworthiness—or how likely they are to repay their debts.
The U.S. has three major credit bureaus—Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®. Each bureau collects information about a consumer’s financial habits, such as payment history and outstanding debts, and uses it to create credit reports.
Credit scoring companies—like FICO® and VantageScore®—pull information from a person’s report and use a credit scoring model to calculate their credit score. These credit score ranges typically start at 300 and go up to 850.
Higher scores might help borrowers get better loan terms and interest rates. But lower scores could make it harder—and more expensive—to borrow money.
Australia currently has four major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, Dun & Bradstreet® and the Tasmanian Collection Agency®. Australian credit reports may include information about a consumer’s:
- Payment history
- Recent credit applications
- Outstanding debts
- Delinquent accounts
This information is used to calculate credit scores. Depending on the scoring model, Australian credit scores can range from 0 to 1,000, or up to 1,200. Like the Canadian and American systems, Australian lenders may consider those with high credit scores to be more creditworthy than those with low scores.
Canada and the U.S. have similar credit scoring systems. But Canadian credit scores can range from 300 to 900.
Canada has two major credit bureaus—Equifax and TransUnion. These bureaus collect similar details to those found in U.S. credit reports, such as:
Like the American system, Canadian lenders may extend better loan terms and interest rates to borrowers with higher credit scores.
China uses a social credit system to determine whether an individual is creditworthy. This system also tracks nonfinancial factors, such as traffic violations and arrest records.
A low social credit score could prevent someone from being approved for a credit card or loan. It may also lead to travel bans or job restrictions.
The Bank of France is the only financial institution that tracks consumer credit activity. But it typically limits records to negative information—like missed payments or delinquent accounts.
French lenders typically base creditworthiness on a person’s income. So you may be required to submit proof of income when you apply for a line of credit.
Certain laws may prohibit French financial institutions from sharing consumer information with one another. So the lending process could vary on a bank-by-bank basis.
Germany gives each person a starting credit score of 100. The country’s credit reporting agency, SCHUFA, collects data about consumer credit behavior, which may include:
- Missed and late payments
- Court records
- Credit account balances
A SCHUFA score above 90 is typically considered a good credit score. But every time a person takes out a loan or misses a payment, their score may drop.
Japan doesn’t have a national credit scoring system, so creditworthiness is determined on a bank-by-bank basis. To apply for credit, you may need to provide proof of employment, income verification, a resident status card and more.
These requirements could vary from one financial institution to the next, so you may want to consult fellow expats, or reach out to the U.S. Embassy, for more guidance. Establishing a positive relationship with a Japanese bank can help build credit history over time.
Mexico’s official credit bureau, the Buró de Crédito, tracks consumer credit information. But a private credit bureau, Círculo de Crédito, is gaining popularity among Mexican banks.
Círculo de Crédito uses FICO score models to determine creditworthiness. This system might take the credit history of different household members into account when scoring an applicant.
If you don’t qualify for household considerations, you may have to find alternative ways to build credit. And some banks require permanent residency status, or proof of income, before they extend a line of credit.
Spain doesn’t use credit scores. But the country’s credit register, the Risk Management Center (CIR), tracks credit history.
The CIR tracks negative credit activity, such as late payments or delinquent accounts. If a consumer’s credit profile includes negative items, the consumer could be blacklisted from financial institutions. Borrowers could remain blacklisted until the debt is paid, or for a period of up to six years.
The United Kingdom
The U.K. doesn’t have universal credit scores. Instead, each of the country’s credit bureaus, or credit reference agencies (CRAs), has its own credit scoring system and score range.
For example, Equifax’s range goes up to 700, but Experian’s range stops at 999 and TransUnion’s top score is 710.
Similar to U.S. credit bureaus, CRAs track consumer financial information, such as payment history and credit limits. But the U.K. system takes additional factors—like voter registration—into account when calculating credit scores.
You may need to meet the country’s electoral registration requirements before you can register to vote. But meeting these requirements could take some time. So it might be a good idea to find alternative ways to build credit history until you can join the electoral roll.
Do I have a credit score in other countries?
Credit scores—and credit history—typically won’t transfer from one country to the next. If you move overseas, you may need to build credit history before you apply for things like credit cards, mortgages or auto loans.
Is there such a thing as a global credit score?
Global credit scores don’t currently exist. Some credit bureaus, like Experian, operate in multiple countries. But privacy laws vary by nation, so these companies typically can’t share consumer credit information across borders.
If a person moves to a new country, their lack of credit history might make them “credit invisible.” Even if someone has excellent credit in their home country, being credit invisible could make it difficult for them to get a loan or open a credit card.
How to establish credit in another country
Building credit from scratch may take some time. But here’s a list of strategies that could help you establish credit in another country:
- Bring a copy of your U.S. credit report to overseas lenders.
- Consider secured credit card options.
- Review lending requirements, such as resident status cards, income verification and proof of employment.
- If you have friends or family members in your destination country, you may want to ask for reliable sources and recommendations to build credit.
- Monitor your U.S. credit report and accounts.
Keep in mind that each country’s credit scoring system is unique. Before you embark on your new adventure, you might want to research your new country’s credit eligibility requirements. You could also reach out to the U.S. Embassy or expat groups for more guidance.
Maintaining U.S. credit scores while living abroad
You can’t take your credit score overseas, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect it. Managing your U.S. credit profile could help you reestablish credit if you ever decide to move back.
There are some steps you could take to help maintain your U.S. credit score while living abroad:
- Inform your credit card issuer of your trip so it doesn’t cancel your card.
- Consider how closing the account may affect your credit history.
- Keep U.S. bank accounts and credit cards open, and in good standing, if possible.
- Use the card for transactions to keep it active.
- Make on-time payments.
- Set up online account access.
If you’re traveling overseas, you may want to reach out to your U.S. credit card issuer to ensure that your card will work in your destination country. Also, keep in mind that some credit cards charge fees for international purchases. These fees could add up quickly, but getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees may help.
In a nutshell: Credit scores around the globe
You might wonder, “Do other countries have credit scores?” The short answer is yes. But if you’re planning an international move, you might be surprised to learn that you can’t take your credit score with you.
Some countries—like Canada and the U.K.—have credit scoring systems that are similar to the U.S. model. But other countries—like China or France—have very different methods for evaluating creditworthiness.
If you want to secure a loan while living abroad, it’s helpful to know how your destination country determines creditworthiness. Having a copy of your U.S. credit report, proof of income and employment verification may help you establish credit history with international lenders.
Want to learn more tips for managing credit? You can read about how to check your credit score and report.