Why I Recommend Capital One to Fellow Immigrants (This Is Not an Ad)

Last week, I shared the unfortunate news that I would have to delay publishing my novel due to immigration and relocating. I also mentioned my banking issues despite being a legal immigrant, and that I would follow up with a post about why I highly recommend Capital One as a bank for immigrants in America.

Let me precede all other content in this article by making the following things clear. This is not an ad. I am not a representative of Capital One. Neither do I have any marketing affilitations with the bank. Any links to the bank that I included are only to help those interested. I am a genuine customer who has two savings, one checking and one auto loan account with the bank.

This article explains why I give Capital One my money and why, if you are an immigrant, you may want to consider them too. I am not a financial expert and cannot guarantee that you will have the same results I did. Now, let’s continue.

Getting a Credit Card Was Easy

When I became a U.S. resident in 2016, my mother did me the favor of adding me to her Capital One account. After becoming a U.S. resident herself, this was one of the first credit cards she had ever owned and she believed it would help me grow my credit. She was right. By being added to her account, I was able to get a boost to my credit score and gained some of her credit history.

I then applied for my own credit card with Capital One and had zero issues. I was immediately approved and for a while that was the only credit card I owned. My father then told me I needed at least another card or two to boost my credit history, so I decided to apply for a Wells Fargo card. I have a savings and checking account with them, so besides making me come into the bank to show proof and legitimacy of my social security card, they did not hassle me much.

When my credit score recovered yet again, I then went for credit card number three in early 2018: the Mastercard offering from Uber. I was denied despite a credit score of 720+ at the time. Why was this? Well, according to the letter that I very angrily tore up and tossed in the bin, my credit history was too new.

When I spoke to my other immigrants friends, I learned that I was not alone. This is an excuse for credit denial that you will get often. Unfortunately, “immigrant” is not a protected class and discimrinatory practices that negatively affect us are not regulated. So, if possible, you may want to start your history out with Capital One like I did.

The Only Business Checking Account I Could Afford

In 2016, when I transformed my business from freelance practice to a team under an LLC, I went hunting for a business checking account. There are many offers on the market, but unless you plan to keep thousands and thousands of dollars in that account, you get hit with expensive monthly fees. I couldn’t afford any of them.

Then, my Dad recommended Spark Business by Capital One. No monthly fees. No minimum amount in my account. It was too good to be true — except it wasn’t. I have had my business checking account with Capital One all this time and have never paid monthly fees.

I’m also glad I got it when I did because Capital One is no longer taking applications for it. I got in at just the right time and I would not change my bank to another one even though I probably can afford it now.

At the time of publishing, their Spark Business credit cards were still available. I don’t own one of these, but I imagine they offer the same great experience as the rest of their business.

The Only Company Willing to Fund Me for a Car

Fast-forward to the summer of 2018, I had the brilliant idea to purchase a car after two months of going over my Uber/Lyft budget. I had been saving for a down payment for two years just in case this brilliant idea did come to mind, but a down payment and a full car payment is not the same. My parents were both waist-deep in their own financial entanglements at the time, so I couldn’t borrow from them. That meant I needed bank funding.

Capital One was the only bank that was willing to provide me with a car loan via their Auto Navigator program. When I visited Georgia’s Own, the credit union told me they would not be able to provide me with a loan until I had renewed my green card, even though I had a formal written extension from USCIS. I appreciated the woman’s honesty, but nonetheless told her that her bank’s processes were very unfair to immigrants.

Luckily, I still had Capital One, so I called the car dealership that had my beloved Seth in their lot. The salesman I spoke to was a Mexican immigrant who had been in the United States for 40 years and empathized with my frustration.

“When you come here, we won’t even bother checking for better deals with other lenders,” he told me. “Capital One is the only bank that will fund you. I know a lot of other immigrants who didn’t listen to us and went with credit unions or other banks because the interest rates were lower or they already banked with them. Within weeks the banks revoked the loan and went back for the car. Stay with Capital One and you’ll be safe.”

I stuck to his advice and accepted the 6.07% APR on my car with gritted teeth. It has been about eight months now. I still have my car and I am six months ahead of my payments. I do not regret my decision. Georgia’s Own told me to refinance with them for a rate of 4% when my green card was renewed. I will keep my 6%. I have learned the value of supporting businesses that support my community.

Allowed Me to Save With Them

You probably think that banks are always eager to allow you to save with them, so they can take your money. If you are in America, this is only true when you are American. The rest of us — believe it or not — may be denied for a savings account even with excellent credit. Yes; I am serious.

I mentioned before that I have accounts with Wells Fargo. That was thanks to my part-time job. When you have a job, you need an account, so you get a fancy little letter from your company that most banks honor unless there is some very good reason for them not to.

However, the more finance savvy I became, the more I realized that accepting 0.01% interest on my well-earned money was garbage. I write for a lot of clients in the finance arena, so after several articles completed for them on high-yield savings accounts, I decided to take my own advice and open one.

I had ranked Marcus by Goldman Sachs as the best in my most recent article for one of my clients, so I decided to bank with them. Bad decision. During the application process, the bank asked me, “What is your country of citizenship?”

I felt my hopes wither in that moment. This is always a bad sign no matter what you are applying for. The appropriate question is, “Are you a legal U.S. citizen, U.S. resident or authorized to work in the United States?”

When the only question asked is about your citizenship, you already know how this is going to go. Naturally, I was denied and the bank gave me some hogwash response about how the reason for denial was confidential due to “federal restrictions”. I was furious! You mean to tell me I couldn’t even give banks my money in peace because I was not American?

I decided to try Capital One even though they offered only 1% interest compared to Marcus’s 2.25%. Capital One accepted me for not just one, but two savings account: their 1% savings account (ten times what Wells Fargo was giving me!) and a 1-year Certificate of Deposit at 2.7%.

For the record, they did ask me what my country of citizenship was, but they also asked if I was a U.S. resident or citizen. Capital One also did not ask me to supply any proof of my SSN beyond entering the numbers on their website.

You Should Also Try Synchrony Bank

Thanks to Google Financing, I have a credit line with Synchrony Bank, so I also applied for their high-yields savings account with bated breath that night. I hoped they would look at my flawless payment history with them and have mercy on me. I had paid off my Pixel phone in 4 months instead of the 24 months they allowed, and I had just bought the Google Pixelbook. I hoped that was enough.

It was. I don’t remember if they asked me about my country of citizenship. I think I was too anxious to take note. I received immediate approval and Synchrony Bank has also never asked me to supply any proof of my SSN beyond entering it in on their website. For the record, neither did Google.

PayPal, Wells Fargo, Chase, Ambetter and almost every other financial and health care institution I have ever worked with has made me supply a scanned copy or bring the physical thing in to a branch. Regular citizens are rarely asked to do this. But when you are an immigrant, well… welcome to ‘Murica!

Again, I am not a financial or immigration expert and I am not in any way affiliated with Capital One besides being their customer. I cannot guarantee results or favourable treatment from any company, and I truly don’t know if Capital One is deliberately or coincidentally good to immigrants. Even so, if you are an immigrant struggling to navigate the financial market in America, I hope you find this information helpful. Good luck!

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32 thoughts on “Why I Recommend Capital One to Fellow Immigrants (This Is Not an Ad)

  1. This was great information and I pray it helps those who are struggling to get established as well. I love Capital One, they even take chances on you if your credit is sub-par….they’re a great company.

    1. I didn’t know that! They truly are a great company. I’m glad they’ve been good to you too. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you’re also one of their happy customers. I don’t know what I would do without them! I certainly wouldn’t have Seth parked in my driveway.

  2. US institutions – and probably those in many other countries as well – always find new and creative ways to discriminate; I’m glad you found at least one bank that was willing to give you a fair shake.

    Also, noob question here, but when you were working as a freelancer (prior to forming a team under an LLC), did you have to register a formal business? Asking for a friend…

    1. I can see that. I’m sure if asked they will have excellent excuses to why I was rejected, but I stand by my own guess.

      Prior to registering as an LLC, I wasn’t a US resident. Jamaica doesn’t require citizens to pay taxes on remote freelance work, especially when I’m not even in the country. America, in turn, could not task me because I wasn’t a resident.

      I timed my LLC formation perfectly so that I had my LLC established with the IRS before my client’s paycheck hit my account for the first time with me as a resident.

      That said, I chose an LLC for a number of reasons. The first is that I wanted a team. The second and more important reason is that LLC taxes were less complicated to me than freelance taxes.

      1. Ah yes, I was wondering about the taxes. I’ve noticed that a freelance writer friend of mine has her own LLC even though she’s her only employee, and I figured it was due to the tax structure.

      2. Taxes and liability, I would say. It’s always good to keep everything separate. I do. That way the company stands by itself and falls by itself. Otherwise, your personal assets can go with it.

      3. Yup, best person to talk to is a CPA/accountant. They can give you the best advice based on the benefits you’re looking for.

  3. I have a sh!t credit score thanks to my years of addiction/alcoholism and student loans, and I agree that Capital One is definitely a company worth supporting

    1. I’m glad they’ve been good to you too! I’m sure your score will recover in time. Credit bureaus forgive derrogatory marks after a few years, don’t they? Or, are there exceptions?

      1. I have student loans, and I’ve only gotten them out of default a couple years ago. Thank heaven we didn’t need a mortgage to build the house😆 or we would still be living in the RV

      2. I wish I could say the same re the mortgage! I definitely need one! I don’t have student loans though, so I guess we each have one of the other. 😂

      3. Building a house and getting an education are good reasons for debt, so I won’t complain too much. The people I wonder about are the people who run up store cards and such.

      4. Well, I may not have a mortgage, but I did rack up a little bit of credit card debt building the house. Not an obscene amount, just a little bit

      5. I figure furnishing the house is when that will slap me in the face. That’s a good reason for credit card debt. I hope you get that paid off soon too.

      6. I’m chipping away at it. It’s going slower than I had planned since my new job pays less than the one I had when I was doing the buying. But slowly is better than not at all😁

      7. I’m starting to think the bank won’t fund me for the amount I need to build my home, so now I feel kind of stuck. What do you suggest?

      8. Well, in your market, the best suggestion is to start looking outside the metro area. I don’t know if that’s doable for you guys, like would you have to consider a commute or can you work remotely?
        My other suggestion is long winded. What’s the best email address to send it to?

      9. I’m just seeing this! You know how to reach me know for long-winded suggestions haha. As you know now, I’m looking outside metro areas. I’m getting a USDA loan so it’s a must.

      10. I can’t even remember what the long winded suggestion was now, but we probably covered it already when we chatted. This is my brain on the heady cocktail of tiredness + unmedicated shoulder pain😶

  4. I am so glad that Capital One has been so good to you and helped you with all your money commitments. That’s how I feel about NatWest in the UK: ever since I settled down here back in 1985 they have been very helpful and never denied me anything. Very courteous service too. You can’t beat peace of mind when it comes to money.

    1. If I ever end up moving to the UK, I will be sure to keep them in mind! What about Barclay’s? They are fairly popular here.

      1. Yes, it is one of the top banks here too. We have a credit card with them, but I tend not to use those too much, preferring to spend money on my current account. Credit cards only for big purchases.

      2. I run everything through my credit card and then pay it off every 2 weeks. I like the points I get 😄

        I’m not sure Barclay’s would take me. I’ll wait a bit and then try them one of these days. Right now I have enough accounts open.

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