I have generally been pretty good with my credit. I pay all my balances off every month and my US credit has been pretty good for years.
I knew when coming to the UK that my credit doesn’t carry over. I also learned that I might be in the lucky position to be using services from companies that would transfer my credit to their corresponding divisions in the UK.
My usage of American Express cards is measured in decades. It makes me feel old. I also remember fondly that my dad thought it was amusing that I had an American Express Gold card in college. He gave me one on his account for any emergency purchases. Thinking about that, it might be its own post at some point. Needless to say after school that was one of the first cards I got. I was thankful to find out that American Express will issue me cards in the UK based off of my history with them in the US.
Process to get my American Express card in the UK was seamless. I filled out an online form and the cards arrived at our house in London. The cards were literally waiting for us when we got to our house. I cannot say enough nice things about the process from American Express. In this situation membership does have its privileges. Pun intended. The only thing I would comment about my experience with American Express isn’t really a negative since I got something for free. I was going to downgrade one of my cards in the US however I got hard sold into not doing it. They basically gave it to me for free however it’s yet another conversational have to have with them later this year. I know they’re expecting me to forget and just pay for it. Even warned Annex I will not forget to call to downgrade that account.
The thing with American Express is even in the United States it’s not excepted everywhere. I heard mixed opinions from British friends on how widely accepted AMEX was. My experience is it is generally accepted the vast majority of the time we go to use it. Is it less widely accepted as in the states? I don’t know, maybe. Either way having it is your only card does limit you. Even in the US I would always have a backup just in case.
That leads me to trying to get a card from my bank. We opened an account with a multinational bank that was one of the few that have accommodations for people in my situation moving to new countries. I am writing about my experience in getting accounts created them in another post, so I won’t go into that here. I did sign up for a MasterCard in the United States specifically so I could build up credit history bank so I could transfer that history over to their UK division.
I waited several months to apply for the credit card via my bank. I delayed partly because I wanted to see how far we can get with AMEX. I also was pretty lazy. I feel that all the forms to apply and then didn’t hear anything for several weeks. Then I get a letter saying I been declined. I was a little surprised. On one hand I do not keep very much money in the UK branch of this bank. I do my day-to-day banking with an online only bank. I didn’t think that would matter since I have a decent amount of funds in other locations with them. The way their whole system works is having funds at one location counts towards the other.
I was rather annoyed by being declined. I was also curious why. I called them to ask and got a bunch of runaround. Finally they filed an official appeal on my behalf. They told me that would be something like 6 to 8 weeks before they got back to me with an answer. Over a month later I got a letter telling me that three weeks after that they should have a response to me. When I finally got a written response all it said was I was declined and they couldn’t really say specifically why. But it may be one of many different factors. I get not having a lot of a credit history would prevent me from getting something from a service provider that I’ve never used before however these guys were supposed to be different. I should not be surprised since the general feedback about them in all of the expected some part of are negative.