My expat friend was right and my local banker was wrong. My credit card application was rejected again. (For background, see previous post on the British banking debacle.) A year in the UK, a substantial income and nearly no living expenses (work-subsidized housing) was still not enough to grant me even a baby credit card with a £300 limit. This caused me to write a very angry letter, which will probably do no good whatsoever but boy did I feel better after writing it! I was complaining about this to anyone who would listen this week and one of my colleagues suggested that the only way forward (and he knew others who had had this problem in the past) was to apply for one of the credit cards specifically for people with bad credit or no credit, the ones with an APR that’s off the scales. I probably will do so; he said that what you really need to get a proper, normal APR card like a Barclaycard was not just a year in the country but a year with any sort of credit history, and this was the only way to do it. Now I’m furious for having believed my local banker that a year in the country would suffice, because of course I could have applied for a “no credit history” credit card ages ago. So at least I have a plan to move forward but I’m MAD AS HELL.
But it doesn’t change the fact that this is completely ridiculous. In a global economy, “highly skilled migrant” programmes will always result in some movement of grown-ups with graduate degrees and substantial incomes. How is it that we cannot take a credit record from one country to another? It’s so 1880s “we only communicate by telegraph” to pretend that such things would not be possible. I know that I probably stuck a nail in the coffin of catching a high-powered exec that my institution here was trying to recruit from America–when I answered truthfully that my enthusiasm over my move to the UK was diminished substantially by this “you have no UK credit record” issue. He was stunned, had never thought about it, and I feel bad that I mentioned it but at the same time, oh how I wish someone had warned me!
Some days I wonder if this is worth it. I could probably get a good job back in the US. Ironically enough the thing that is currently keeping me here is my strong network of expat compatriates, and a sense of not letting the bastards get me down. But some days it’s not enough and I’m ready to pack up and go back to the US. Life’s too short to spend so much time and energy fighting a system that is broken beyond repair.