Bad MF despite good credit score for my immigration status / short credit history

Hi, I am a software engineer based in California. I moved here November 2023 and leasing a car for the first time. My credit score is around 740.

I am trying to lease a ioniq 5 and the dealership is offering me a tier 4 interest rate / money factor because of my temporary immigration status (L1B). I am wondering if this is normal? If not, how should I negotiate?

Did they actually run your credit or did you tell them about your status?
How many dealers have you contacted?

They did run my credit as I got notified about the inquiry. I have only talked to multiple dealerships but this discussion came up only after we got into the final part of leasing the car. Should I be looking around more?

They asked about my status. I believe it came up only when I had to fill up information about my address for the last 2 years. I am not sure if that is required for the lease.

You are the definition of a thin file. You have good credit just not a lot of credit history.

You may have better luck financing through the bank you use or even a credit union.


Is there a reason you are looking to lease a car? Do you need a car right now? I am no financial expert, but Tier 4 MF is going to cost you.

If I were in your shoes, I would find a Hyundai broker in the Marketplace. You need to run the numbers using base MF vs Tier 4 MF.

Did the dealer share any lease numbers with you? If yes, can you post here?

What is your monthly budget and the amount you are willing to pay at signing?

When does your L1B visa status expire?

When you apply for credit, some leasing banks require that information when submitting a credit application.

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Can you find a coapplicant with a good credit score?

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If OP were to search, they would find they would be better off choosing a brand with programs geared toward foreign execs, or one that doesn’t really have tiers. HMF fits neither.


Unless you are looking for a specific vehicle I know that Lexus can qualify you as a Tier 1 credit with their Global Professional Program:
@CBrais can provide more details


Pretty much. Credit score is only one parameter that is considered. The minute the lessor runs your credit file, all sorts of flags will be raised due to your very thin credit file - you basically have no credit history nor payment history to back you up. Unfortunately, it is what it is. Search LH for immigration (H1B, GC, etc.) lessees with thin credit files, and this is the most common issue faced. This first lease is the most difficult.

With that said, your best bet is to try for one of the programs that cater to expats/new immigrants like Lexus or BMW and you may have better luck. Be warned, not all dealerships know these programs nor how to deal with it.

One option would be to finance a used car from your local credit union or local bank branch. Good luck!

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If you are ok with Lexus, we have an electric car as well. As long as you have a work visa, I can get you approved for tier 1. Text me at (818) 849-1481 if you are interested. Thank you!

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Unfortunately no family in state for me to help out with this. But that’s a good advice.

I want an EV, that’s something I am confident about. I have looked around - Ioniq and Mach-e are the only ones that fit my budget and features.

I tried the local credit unions and the rates there aren’t pretty either for financing. So it feels I am better off leasing (bad interest rate on a smaller figure) than financing for now. But this is helpful advice for the future. Thanks.

The deal was through a broker here and he was very helpful answering all the questions. The tier 1 to tier 4 transition was costing me around 600 USD more ( and the broker helped verify that there was no funny business going on, as long as the dealership wasn’t making this up entirely ). Just wanted to make sure that I was not being taken advantage of by the dealership.

I decided to go with the lease since I liked the car a lot and the numbers were acceptable, given the circumstances. I will share them on ‘signed’ once I get some time.

I decided to go with the Ioniq for now. But I’ll be sure to direct folks to you who may run into the same issue. Thanks.