Multiple Identities

Just now I was online, buying Radiohead tickets for their show in Golden Gate Park and I got in a rather frazzling ecommerce loop because Ticketmaster recognized my email address. They knew I had an existing Canadian profile, which was not cosy with my new American address. I quickly aborted and went to the other online ticket seller. Also, on the weekend, when I attempted to download a free app to my iPhone, iTunes recognized my account as Canadian. My nationality immediately disqualified me from getting the free app. Why? Go figure.

I find it very interesting that American and Canadian ecommerce systems seem to talk or at least be on an acquaintance level with one another, yet credit unions (even by the same name) with oodles more money don’t even acknowledge each other. You see, my new plight is to get an American credit card. (That alone deserves its own post but I’ll instead try to paraphrase all of my wrath here.) I guess in this circumstance money doesn’t talk. Systems do. And ecommerce ones are shiny and new and ready to communicate, whereas credit systems are dinosaurs that grunt.

So that leaves me in the eyes of the American bank or credit institution in about the same credit-card-desirability category as–my guess–a high-school student with a job at MacDonald’s. Truly incredible.

Shernaz, who also just relocated here, and I are on a credit-card quest. We trade stories and tactics daily. Nothing has worked yet. That may not be so frustrating if there was some consistency to the whole system, but I have yet to find any.

Some highlights:

Wells Fargo was great at getting me set up with a chequing (I refuse to spell it the American way.) account, even at first when I didn’t have a Social Security Number. I still think Wells has exceptional service. However, they will not issue a regular credit card to a non-American resident. At least that was what I was told when my credit application returned to my banker. Instead, if I want a $2000 limit on my card, I have to give them $2000 for safekeeping. No surprise, every bank is willing to give me that type of card – a secure card.

Also at Wells Fargo, they put my Canadian Social Identity Number on the card application. My Social Security Number is only a week old and has seen no action. The banker was willing to acknowledge my excellent Canadian credit rating. However, I think the underwriter didn’t care to look. Why else did I get denied? I also was told at Wells that I if use my debit/cheque card, I will build some credit.

The woman at Bank of America (BOA) said I won’t build credit with a debit/cheque card. She wouldn’t put my SIN on the application because she said the underwriters won’t look at it. Instead, she basically explained that it’s a crap shoot. Some people on work visas get a non-secure card with a lower limit, like $500, some don’t. I actually came to like her snooty, no-nonsense attitude. She had my chequing account, my debit card, and my credit application done in about 10 minutes. In two days, I should know my luck.

The ole cellphone deposit was another crap shoot. A couple of friends who were new to the States last year had to put a $500 deposit down at AT&T in order to get phones. When I went to get my iPhone the guy told me the same amount, but then for some reason he couldn’t explain, when he put me in the system, it only asked for a $150 deposit. My lucky day.

Before today’s stop at BOA, I went to HSBC, which is touted as an international bank. Well, they’re only international if you’ve actually banked with them in Canada. I hadn’t so they couldn’t offer me any more help than BOA.

I figure that if my BOA application doesn’t work, I’ll just rely on my debit/cheque cards and my Canadian credit card for a few months. After that period of time, I hear that you usually get offered a card with a $300 (LOL) limit. I had a better limit when I was in university! I guess I need to get ready for the slow-and-steady approach to building American credit.


About gwenamon

bookworm, confidante, creative director, cyclist, global wanderer, music lover, shutterbug, shoe shopper, snowboarder, writer, yoga geek. i'm also a very proud mama of a lil mister named james.
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3 Responses to Multiple Identities

  1. Jason says:

    Ughhh. Sounds so painful.

  2. gwenamon says:

    so very painful!

  3. cami says:

    Welcome to my world, Wendy. It takes a permanent resident status and a few years worth of good credit to get a non-secure credit card and a mortgage or any loan I may want. Sucks!

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