How to Apply for a Credit Card Without a Social Security Number

Sometimes, getting approved after you apply for a credit card can be challenging, especially if you don’t have a Social Security number. Many popular credit cards specifically ask for your SSN when applying. However, options are still available if you don’t have an SSN.

How to Apply for a Credit Card Without a Social Security Number

This post will cover different methods you can apply for a credit card without an SSN(Social Security Number), including getting an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), meeting credit history requirements, and considering alternative cards that don’t require an SSN.

Do You Need a Social Security Number for a Credit Card?

Most credit card companies request your Social Security number on applications to help verify your identity and check your credit history. However, it is not required by law.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that credit card companies cannot deny your application solely because you don’t have an SSN. As long as you meet all other eligibility criteria, issuers are supposed to consider your application fairly.

So in short – no, you do not need an SSN to get approved for a credit card.

How to Apply for a Credit Card Without a Social Security Number

For those lacking the key identity number required by most card issuers, success is still possible.

Alternative credit cards are available using advanced analytics of non-traditional data for approval, along with ITIN numbers serving as valid identification.

Building U.S. credit history responsibly over time further boosts future approval odds. Let’s quickly explore options available:

Get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

One of the best options is to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, commonly known as an ITIN. This serves as a taxpayer identification number for those who do not qualify for Social Security numbers.

ITINs have a similar 9-digit format to Social Security numbers, typically starting with a “9” instead of a “0”. Credit card companies will generally accept ITINs in place of SSNs on applications.

To get an ITIN, you’ll need to submit Form W-7 to the IRS along with documentation verifying your identity and foreign status. Some of the acceptable documents include:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Driver’s license
  • Birth certificate

Expect it to take around 7 weeks for processing. During tax season (January 1 – April 15), it may take longer due to high application volumes.

As long as you have all required documents ready, getting an ITIN is a straightforward process. It serves as suitable proof of identification for credit card applications.

Ensure You Meet Credit History Requirements

Having an ITIN is a great start, but credit card companies will still evaluate your creditworthiness before approving your application. This typically means reviewing your credit reports and score.

The main challenge for non-citizens is that foreign credit history usually does not transfer over to U.S. credit reports. So even if you had great credit in your home country, U.S. card issuers often consider you as having no credit history.

Here are some tips for meeting credit history requirements without an SSN:

  • Become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card: Ask a family member or friend with good credit to add you as an authorized user. Their credit card activity will start appearing on your reports.
  • Get a secured credit card: Secured cards require a cash deposit that becomes your credit limit. It shows lenders you can handle credit responsibly.
  • Apply for student credit cards: Student cards from issuers like Discover are more lenient towards applicants with no credit history.

Building at least 6 months of U.S. credit history with on-time payments will significantly boost your approval odds for top rewards cards down the line.

Apply for Credit Cards That Don’t Require SSNs

If you need a credit card right away and don’t want to wait to build U.S. credit history first, some good options are available that don’t require Social Security numbers or extensive credit checks.

These cards utilize alternative data and technology to evaluate your creditworthiness beyond traditional credit reports.

Here are some of the best ones:

Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students

The Deserve EDU Mastercard is designed specifically for international students studying in the U.S. You can apply using just your passport without any need for a credit history or SSN.

Deserve uses proprietary technology and algorithms to analyze alternative data like your academic records, program of study, school grades, and estimated future earnings to determine approval.

This card offers robust rewards on everyday purchases, no foreign transaction fees, and reporting to all three major credit bureaus to help build your U.S. credit history. It’s a great starter card for international students until establishing sufficient history for other rewards cards.

No SSN required
No existing credit history required
1% cash back on all purchases 0% intro APR for the first 6 months

Petal 2 “Cash Back” Visa Card

The Petal 2 Visa Card is another excellent option that accepts ITINs instead of Social Security numbers. It does not require U.S. credit history either.

Qualification depends on your income, savings, spending habits, and overall financial responsibility demonstrated through Petal’s proprietary underwriting model. Make sure to have your employment and income verification documents ready when you apply.

This is a competitive cash back rewards card with some great features:

No SSN required (ITIN accepted)
No credit history required
1% – 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases
0% intro APR for 12 months

Oportun Visa Credit Card

The Oportun Visa Credit Card is specifically designed for applicants with little or no U.S. credit history. It does not require an SSN or previous credit profile.

Instead, Oportun uses advanced data analytics to evaluate hundreds of alternative data points and information beyond traditional credit reports. This allows them to identify creditworthy individuals accurately.

Some key details about the Oportun Visa:

No SSN needed
No credit history required
Reporting to all three credit bureaus
Credit limits up to $1,000

While it does not offer rewards, it’s an excellent starter card to build your U.S. credit history, which opens the door for premium rewards credit cards in the future.

Tips for Building Credit Without an SSN

Getting your first credit card without an SSN or U.S. credit history can certainly be challenging. But the good news is there are still several legitimate options, especially using alternative data credit cards.

Here are some final tips for building your credit responsibly once you do get approved for your first card:

  • Use the card lightly and pay your bill on time each month: You want to show lenders you can handle credit well without taking on debt. Using 10-30% of your total credit limit monthly is ideal.
  • Avoid maxing out your card: High credit utilization can negatively impact your credit scores. Try to keep balances low compared to your credit limit.
  • Check your credit reports regularly: Review your reports on and dispute any errors with the credit bureaus. This ensures your profile is accurate.
  • Practice patience: Building credit takes time. Within 6 months of responsible card use, you’ll begin to establish FICO scores, enabling access to more credit products.

Getting approved for credit without an SSN requires perseverance, especially when starting with no U.S. credit history. But alternative credit cards provide legitimate options specifically for non-citizens. Follow the guidance throughout this guide and focus on using credit responsibly over time to set yourself up for long-term success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Still have questions about getting credit cards without an SSN? Here are some common FAQs about this process:

Does having a credit card improve your credit score?

Yes, using a credit card responsibly by paying your balances off on time each month can help raise your credit scores over time. Things like payment history, account age, and credit utilization are important scoring factors.

How long does it take to build good credit history?

It generally takes at least 6 months of active credit card use and on-time payments before your credit profile starts generating FICO scores. But the longer positive history you can establish, the better your scores become. Plan for it to take 1-2 years to build a very strong score.

How can I check my credit report without an SSN?

You can get a copy of your credit reports for free from While you may have to answer some additional identification questions without an SSN, credit bureaus will match other personal info to locate your file.

Should I accept the credit limit increases my card issuer offers me?

It’s usually smart to accept higher credit limits when offered. First, it shows lenders you can responsibly handle more available credit. And second, the lower utilization helps your scores. Just don’t let higher limits tempt you into overspending.

How many credit cards should I apply for when building credit?

Applying for too much credit at once can overwhelm your credit reports when new and hurt your scores. Aim for just 1-2 credit cards to start out with while building your profile, then apply for more after 6-12 months of positive history. Spread things out slowly over time.

Is Credit Application Success is Achievable Without an SSN

Yes, it is – getting approved for credit cards without a Social Security number is certainly possible. While most popular rewards cards do request SSNs for easy identity verification, excellent alternative options exist that utilize other technology and data for approving applicants who lack traditional identification numbers and credit files.

Conclusion on How to Apply for a Credit Card Without a Social Security Number

By getting an ITIN, considering cards using alternative underwriting methods, and responsibly building credit history over time, those without SSNs can still access the convenience and benefits of credit cards in the U.S.

Approval success just requires some extra perseverance and knowledge of the best cards to target.

So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have an SSN yet. Follow this process, apply for one of the recommended starter cards, use credit wisely, and doors will open as you demonstrate responsible usage over time.

Credit access and approval is achievable even for non-citizens through leveraging alternative credit card options.

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