American Express, Nova Credit extends credit opportunities to more newcomers to the US

AmEx and Nova Credit's Credit Passport platform enables credit-worthy newcomers to the US from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Kenya and Nigeria to immediately build their credit in America.
Written by Marc Wojno, Senior Editor

Today, newcomers to the US from four African, Central and South American countries will have the financial opportunity to pursue their American dreams by building their credit in the US.

American Express, in partnership with cross-border credit reporting fintech company Nova Credit, announced today that it has expanded credit access to immigrants from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Kenya and Nigeria with global credit scoring and reporting platform Credit Passport, enabling newly-arrived immigrants to the US from these countries to use their credit history to apply for personal American Express cards immediately and to start building credit history in America.

How it works

Credit Passport enables a newcomer's credit history to be translated easily into a US credit report and score, which American Express can use to make decisions when processing their application and assigning a credit line. People applying for an American Express Card can authorize Nova Credit to translate their raw international credit bureau data into a US-equivalent credit report.  

Just like a US credit report, Credit Passport generates a credit score, trade lines and inquiry history. The information is then shared with American Express, where it's used as an additional data point in their underwriting model to make an instant decision about the person's creditworthiness. According to the company, if approved, American Express will share their 15-digit Instant Card Number, so people can start shopping online or where digital wallets are accepted, even before their Card arrives in the mail.    

"When deciding whether to approve or decline an applicant for an American Express Card product, we consider many factors, such as the applicant's credit score, delinquencies and defaults on their credit report, their debts with other lenders, our experience with them as a former/current American Express customer (if any), fraud review, and other eligibility requirements," said Sara Milsten, Senior Vice President of New Member Acquisition, US Customer Service at American Express. "In our experience, on average, these card members have excellent credit scores between prime and prime plus," Milsten told ZDNet.

New opportunities for newcomers

Launched in 2019, Credit Passport has already helped newcomers to the US from Australia, Canada, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Today's announcement brings the total number of countries serviced by Credit Passport to nine.

Milsten noted that establishing a financial credit history is a big point of frustration for many newcomers and can prevent them from renting a home, buying a phone or a car, and even getting a credit card. "We're removing a barrier for millions of people who've been otherwise shut out of the US financial system," Milstead said. "This expanded partnership between American Express and Nova Credit is a cornerstone of our commitment as one of the first companies in the credit card issuing space to meaningfully solve this problem," she added.

American Express said that it plans to extend services to more countries in 2022 but didn't name the countries.

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