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When a person completes a credit card application, one of the things they have to enter is their Social Security number (SSN). However, there are some people who want credit cards, but don’t have a Social Security number. There are also people who prefer not to provide their Social Security numbers for security reasons.
So how does a person get a credit card without completing that important part of the credit card application? It might be hard to do, but there are ways.
Obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
Not everyone in the United States has a Social Security number. While U.S. citizens and non-citizens who are authorized to work in the country can have Social Security Numbers, those outside of that category can obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is a nine-digit number just like a Social Security number, so it fits perfectly in the SSN field on the credit card application.
If a person doesn’t have a SSN, it’s most likely because they are not an American citizen. For non-citizens wishing to apply for credit, it’s important to know that foreign credit histories can’t be transferred to the United States. American creditors look at a non-citizen applying for credit for the first time in the U.S. the same way they look at someone with no credit at all.
Interested in applying for a credit card without a SSN?
There are some card issuers who accept foreign passports, which means an SSN or ITIN isn’t required. The options are much more limited, but getting a card is still possible. Other forms of identification and proof of income will need to be provided just like with any credit card application.
Another way to obtain a credit card without a SSN is to apply through a creditor that doesn’t require it or an ITIN. A person may be able to get by without a foreign passport when enough identifying information is provided to the creditor. A person who has lived in the United States for a while and has paid bills may have enough information on record to get certain types of cards.
If all else fails, then obtaining a secured credit card through a company that doesn’t require a SSN could be way to go. Once this credit history is established, it can be a little easier to establish credit. It’s best to try and acquire a secured credit card through a major bank because payment information is typically reported to all credit bureaus. Smaller credit card issuers may only report to one or two credit bureaus.
Student Credit Cards
International students may have a better chance of obtaining a credit card without a SSN. Even without a credit history, it’s possible for them to establish credit. In some cases a credit card issuer may require the application to be filled out in person. However, most will allow online applications as well.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
Jeff Gitlen writes about a wide range of finance topics including everything from student loans to credit cards to small business financing. Jeff's work has been featured on a number of sites including Bloomberg, CNBC, Forbes, Market Watch, and more.