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As a new immigrant, there are some basic steps you can take to begin the process of building your credit history.

First, and most obviously, you need to open a savings and chequing account at your local bank or credit union. This shows that you have money and are starting to establish roots.

Another step you can take is to apply for a secured credit card (a card you put your own money on). MasterCard and other major credit card companies offer this option. Depending on your income, you can start with a small amount and you can use it like a regular credit card. By making payments on time, you begin building a good credit rating.

If you have a larger sum of money to work with, the bank can hold a certain amount as security (a fixed deposit) and give you a credit card against that amount. For example, I negotiated with my bank and they eventually agreed to a $2,000 deposit (at first they wanted $3,000) and gave me a $1,000 credit card limit.

As you begin to establish your credit by paying your bills on time, you can apply for credit cards at major department stores such as the Bay, Sears or Canadian Tire. If you use the card wisely, by paying it off each month, for example, you should be able to obtain more cards before too long.

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