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Establishing Credit: A Guide How to Establish Credit in Colombia - Medellin Guru
We provide a guide how to establish credit in Colombia for foreigners and how to build credit that is needed for establishing Internet and other services.

Establishing Credit: A Guide How to Establish Credit in Colombia

We provide a guide how to establish credit in Colombia for foreigners and how to build credit that is needed for establishing Internet and other services.

Getting established in Colombia’s credit reporting system is easy for foreigners once you have a visa and cedula extranjeria identification. Unfortunately, your credit score in our home country doesn’t doesn’t help with anything in Colombia, no matter how high it is.

Note the above photo is courtesy of Bancolombia.

Why Establish Credit in Colombia?

With relatively high interest rates for loans in Colombia it is unlikely that many foreigners establish credit to get a loan.

While you might not need credit in Colombia for a loan, credit is typically needed to establish postpaid (postpago) cell phone services and also to establish Internet/TV/phone services.

What is Colombia’s Credit Reporting System?

DataCrédito runs the credit reporting system used in Colombia. DataCrédito is a business unit of Experian Colombia S.A. and has 40 years of experience and manages the main credit information centers in Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.

How to Sign Up with DataCrédito?

This is easy, go to a DataCrédito office. And you simply need:

Once you are in the credit reporting system in Colombia, you can check your credit report using Midatacredito and the first month is free.

The DataCrédito office in Medellín is located in the Colmena office buildingon Avenida Poblado

The DataCrédito office in Medellín is located in the Colmena office buildingon Avenida Poblado

How to Get to DataCrédito

The DataCrédito office in Medellín is located in El Poblado in the Colmena building on the main part of Avenida Poblado, which is also known as the Milla de Oro (Golden Mile).

The nearest Medellín metro station is Aguacatala on line A. But this is located about a 25-minute walk from the Colmena building where the DataCrédito office is located.

DataCrédito reportedly has at least four offices in Colombia listed below:

  1. Medellín – Colmbana building, El Poblado, Medellín; Hours: Monday to Friday 8 am to 11:30 am and 2 pm to 3 pm.
  2. Bogotá – Transversal 55 # 98A-66, Local 215 and 216, Centro Comercial Iserra; Hours: Monday to Friday 8 am to 4 pm, Saturday: 9 am to 1 pm.
  3. Cali – Calle 22N # 6AN-24, Torre B, Office 301, Edificio Santa Monica Central; Hours: Monday to Friday 8 am to 3 pm.
  4. Barranquilla – Calle 74 # 56-36, Office 706, Centro Empresarial Inverfin; Hours: Monday to Friday 8 am to 11:30 am and 2 pm to 3 pm.

Ways to Build Your Credit Score in Colombia

There are several ways to build your credit score in Colombia.

  1. Enroll in a postpaid (postpago) cell phone plan in your name and pay your bill on time.
  2. Enroll in Internet or Triple-Play (Internet/TV/phone) services in your name and pay your bill on time.
  3. Apply for a store credit card and pay on time. These can be easier to obtain than credit cards.
  4. Apply for a credit card at a bank in Colombia and pay on time. A bank credit card can be more difficult to get until you are more established in Colombia.

Many foreigners do not see a reason to build a credit history in Colombia due to the high interest rates on loans. But you need to be in the credit reporting system to sign up for a postpaid cell phone plan or for Internet/TV/phone services at your home.

My Experience Establishing Credit in Colombia

Not long after I received my first cedula many years ago, I went to the DataCrédito office in Medellín to get established in the credit reporting system. This took only a few minutes.

Establishing credit wasn’t very important for me, as I paid for everything with cash or credit cards from the U.S. But a few years ago, I decided to get a postpaid cell phone plan from Claro. And this was easy to establish, as I was already in the credit reporting system.

Also, when we moved early this year to a new casa (house) in Sabaneta, I established Internet/TV/phone service in my name instead of my Colombian wife’s name as in the past. Claro ran a quick credit check and there was no problem establishing service in my name.

The Bottom Line: A Guide How to Establish Credit in Colombia

It is relatively easy to sign up to be in Colombia’s credit reporting system that permits you to start to establish credit in Colombia.

But most foreigners living in Colombia don’t get loans due to the high interest rates. Also, mortgages are extremely difficult for foreigners to obtain in Colombia.

However, credit is important for foreigners living in Colombia, as obtaining a postpaid cell phone plan or Internet or Triple-Play (Internet/TV/phone) services in your home normally requires being in Colombia’s DataCrédito credit reporting system.

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16 thoughts on “Establishing Credit: A Guide How to Establish Credit in Colombia”

    1. Thanks Jeff. Your articles are always helpful. Getting a credit card in Colombia, as opposed to a debit card, will not be possible until you have some credit history. I haven’t even been able to signup for postpaid internet or phone services and was told that I would not be able to until I have some credit history. One of the advantages of opening a banking account, so I understand, is that you create a sort of credit history simply by paying with the debit card and by making regular deposits. I will have to see about that since I just opened a bank account for that and other reasons.

      While I could use my US based credit and debit cards in person at stores in Colombia, they were being rejected online. This was an issue for me because sometimes products or sale items are only available online. Also it was not possible to pay online for services like utilities without a Colombian based debit or credit card. I therefore opened a Bancolombia savings account so that I could have a Colombian debit card that I could use online in Colombia. In my case, a Colombian cédula de extranjería was required to open the account which in turn requires a non-tourist visa. They also wanted proof of income. Tax returns should work but I own a rental apartment in Colombia and so all I had to provide was a certification from the inmobiliaria that manages the property that in fact I owned the rental property and certifying how much rent I was collecting. The account was supposedly active when I left the bank but in fact the card would not work until after a full working day had past. While at the bank, I would also ask about setting up the account for “abono automático” which as previously mentioned is required for direct deposits from foreign accounts. Finally, you will want to activate “clave dynamical” which is required for making online payments through Colombian services like PSE.

      I recently learned that my US bank, TD Bank, as of March 2019 has been charging a 3% foreign transaction fee on top of a $3 fee on foreign ATM withdrawals. That is nuts! Needless to say, I am moving my money to another bank/brokerage. After researching the issue, I found that the Charles Schwab high interest checking account was the most recommended. They don’t charge foreign transaction or monthly maintenance fees and ATM fees are reimbursed. To receive a signup bonus of $100 from Schwab go to http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/refer-prospect.html?refrid=REFERHYX2XDR6

      In the meantime, I researched several money transfer services including XE, ShareMoney, Transferwise and WorldRemit to transfer money to myself in Colombia. So far I find WorldRemit https://www.worldremit.com/ the cheapest and fastest, especially if you use promo codes. You can send money from a credit card, debit card or bank to bank for direct deposit or for cash pickup. The exchange rate was better than XE or Sharenoney. The transfer cost is usually $2.99 to $3.99 per transfer but if you use the promo code 3FREE, 3GRATUIT or 3GRATIS at the checkout, you get the first three transactions fees waved. You must apply the code to your first, second and third transactions each time at checkout in order to benefit from the discount. Also, if a person signs up with a referral code, they get a $20 credit for the first $100 that is transferred and so does the person who gave them the referral code. Learning that I searched on the web for a referral code when I first signed up. I have no idea who the person was that offered the code but sure enough, I got a voucher for $20 credit for my next transfer. If you do sign up, you can use my referral code JORGEQ43 and you will get the $20 voucher as well. Once you’ve registered you can get your own referral code to give to people that need to transfer money to you.

      One thing I learned when transferring funds using Worldremit directly into a Colombian bank account, the account needs to have been pre-authorized to receive funds from outside the country. My experience has been primarily with BancoColombia. In their jargon, the recipient account must be authorized to receive an “Abono Automático”. This can be authorized in person at the bank by completing a form. Otherwise the money needs to be sent for cash pick up and the recipient must pick up the cash at a local branch. In that case, they will make the recipient fill out a special form if there is not already one on file.

      • Jorge Quintero July 12, 2021

        Update on my previous comments. I just had my worldremit account closed without explanation when I tried to use some of the credits I received from referrals. What a bunch of dirtbags. They give you credits to encourage you to refer people and when they try to use more than one they cancel your account. Also lately the exchange rate they are providing sucks. The only reason reason I continued to use them was because the credit made up for the bad exchange rate. I suggest you use Wise, formally transferwise instead.

        • Geoffrey July 13, 2021

          I understand your frustrations Jorge Quintero. Five years ago I joined Euro supermarket’s points program and held off redeeming them with the idea that I would one day exchange them for something really, really nice. Each and every time I bought something they asked me my cedula # to register the points under my name. The other day I went in to check on exactly how many points I’d built up and they told me that the points program was terminated. I get nothing, nada, zip, bupkus, zilch.

          I set up a points account with Funant. It’s a health food vitamin chain with kiosks in a lot of the stores. I saved up points for one year to redeem them for free stuff but when I went to cash in the points they told me the points plan was cancelled.

          For five years I have had my cellular and internet service with Tigo. During that time they lowered the price for both services but they didn’t tell me and didn’t lower my prices. I only found out because a friend in the same estrato down the block signed up with them. Yet during all that time Tigo was bombarding me with ploys to get more money out of me and they were telling me how important I am and how much they value me, what terrific deals they have for Amazon Prime, etc.

    2. Paulette October 7, 2020

      You don’t need to go to register at Datacredito at all. I’m a Colombian citizen and my husband is a foreigner with a cedula de extranjeria that says MIGRANTE and he has a Bancolombia bank account. Just so you know, after about 3 months of having a Bancolombia bank account the bank will automatically forward that information to Datacredito and you will start appearing in their system so you don’t actually have to go to their office to sign up. My husband never went to DataCredito to sign up. After about a year of having his account he registered at https://www.midatacredito.com/ and opened up his account and he was already in the system and has a credit history.

      Also, another way to get in good with Bancolombia is to have money coming into your account every month. Do you also have a bank account abroad? Great, just use xoom.com or another money transfer service and transfer yourself money every month into your Bancolombia account. Demonstrating monthly income every month is a good way to show the bank that you might be eligible for small loans like car loans or personal loans. You will most likely never qualify for a mortgage, but I know foreigners who have qualified for car loans. As a foreigner, they only care about the income coming into the country, not your holdings abroad.

      Additionally, if you have a Colombian spouse and they have a good credit card, your spouse can separate part of his/her credit limit and issue their foreign spouse a credit card in their own name which will appear in Datacredito after a few months. I had a 10 million peso gold mastercard and the asesora at Bancolombia flat out told my husband they are not going to give him a credit card BUT since I had a 10 million peso gold mastercard what I could do was take part of my credit limit and have a credit card issued separately in my husband’s name, and that’s what we did. So now my foreign husband appears with two entries in Datacredito, one for having his Bancolombia bank account and one for his Bancolombia credit card.

      Finally, we were approved for a mortgage together but again, bear in mind that I am Colombian and both my foreign husband and I have excellent credit in Colombia with very good income so we were able to qualify for the mortgage.

      The moral of the story is that if you have a Colombian spouse with a good credit history your life will be much easier.

    3. Hi Jeff, i regret to say that I’m just back from Data Credito and the lady told me that she couldn’t register me. Told me to register in Transunion on the internet. Which I did. Transunion refused me just the same. Though I’ve been living here for 2 years, own 3 apartments and so on. The Colombian nightmare again (concerning administrations).
      Any help will be gratefully accepted

    4. Myself and some other people I know have been rejected a postpago cell phone plan (Claro & Tigo) because as cedula de extranjeria holders, we aren’t registered on the biometrics system. Do you know anything about this?

      • No, haven’t experienced that. When I signed up for a postpago plan with Claro a few years ago just needed to show my cedula and sign some paperwork and this was a few years after I was signed up to be in the credit reporting system. I will ask around and update our article about cell phones if find out more.

    5. I’ve signed up with both Claro and Tigo on postpaid plans for cell phones and Cable/ internet/ land line phone without ever being in Colombia’s Data Crédito. Also Bancolombia had offered me a credit card after being here permanently since June. But, then I own two apartments where the services were installed. I also bank with Bancolombia and hold 3 investment accounts with Allianz.

      • Likely was able to due to owning the apartments where services were installed. I have talked to many expats who have had problems getting Internet services.

        • When renting apartment in Colombia do they check your credit score of if you have high monthly income is that sufficient??

      • I have had both postpago cellphone service and postpago internet without ever knowing DataCredito even existed. Good information to have, however.

      • Hello Jeff my name is Frankie. So the question is do all Colombian credit cards have a monthly service fee even if you dont use it. My wife is a Colombian national she is establishing her credit history. She is telling me that all credit cards have a monthly fee just to have the card. Do you know of any cards that dont have a monthly service fee. Can you give some insight as to how credit cards work in Colombia.

    6. geoffrey October 10, 2019

      It might be wise to apply for a credit card at a bank’s main office or one that deals daily with foreigners. I took my Migrante Resident cedula to the large Bancolombia branch on Nutibara Avenue to apply for a debit card. The person who interviewed me asked what I did for a living. I said “Nothing. I’m a retired businessman living on a pension from the US.” Her reaction was to adopt a tone of uncertainty and skepticism bordering on suspicion. She needed to go check with her supervisor to see if Bancolombia allowed that.

      The main office of a local bank might have personnel with more experience dealing with foreign full time residents.

      • Since all my income is from investments (Independent Investor), I had a Colombian Accountant certify my income sources and used that letter to open bank accounts

    7. Thanks for the very helpful post. I was wondering how to get in the credit reporting system in Colombia.

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