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Living in the US, but don’t have a Social Security Number? You can still apply for certain credit cards!
If you’re an immigrant or student who haven’t received a Social Security Number, there are credit card options for you. They aren’t the most rewarding, but they are a good way to establish credit until you receive a Social Security Number.
Emily and I don’t get a commission for these cards, but we’ll always help folks any way we can!
Keep in mind, you should NEVER make up a Social Security Number if you’re applying for a credit card that requires one. Being patient until you receive your Social Security Number is worth the wait!
Apply for a Credit Card Without a Social Security Number
If you want the best miles & points credit cards, you must apply using your Social Security Number. But for folks who do NOT have a Social Security Number, there are still cards you can apply for until you get one! This way, you can build a good credit history, and be ready to apply for valuable travel rewards cards later.
If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you will need other documentation to open a new credit card. For example, most credit card issuers will ask for an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), proving that you are a taxpayer. You can get an ITIN just by working an hour or 2 per week.
Some card issuers will ask for a foreign passport number. And if you are a student, you’ll need your Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (known as a Form I-20).
Note: Some cards are exclusively for foreign students, so be sure you read the terms & conditions before you apply!
Here are a few cards you can apply for with no Social Security Number.
Which Cards Can You Apply For?
1. American Express
Folks without a Social Security Number can apply for AMEX cards. But they are NOT good cards for folks just starting their credit journey. That’s because it’s difficult to be approved for AMEX cards with no credit history.
If you do NOT have any credit history, apply for other cards in this post first, or ask a friend with good credit to be added as an authorized user on their account. That will help you build credit!
Some folks say you can simply enter 000-00-0001 in the Social Security Number box of the AMEX online card application. It should give you a phone number to call. You can then complete your AMEX application over the phone by giving your foreign passport number.
And for folks who lived in a country that issues AMEX cards, like Canada or the UK, you can use AMEX Global Card Transfer to use your previous history with AMEX to apply for US AMEX cards without a Social Security Number. You’ll still need:
- Passport details or an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
- Your American Express account number
- US home address
- US home phone number
- US bank account details
- Employment details
2. Bank of America
There are several Bank of America cards you can apply for without a Social Security Number:
- Bank of America Cash Rewards – $150 sign-up bonus after spending $500 in the first 90 days of account opening. Read my full review here.
- Bank of America Travel Rewards – 20,000 Bank of America points (worth $200) after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. Read my full review here.
To apply for these Bank of America cards, you don’t need a Social Security Number OR any credit history! But you must have had a Bank of America checking account for 3 months, with no overdrafts. And you must have an IRS issued number, or some proof that you are a US taxpayer, like an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
I recommend applying for these cards in-branch.
If you’re a student with no Social Security Number, Citi offers the Citi ThankYou Preferred for International Students.
To get this card you must have:
- Either a screenshot of a Citi checking or savings account balance OR 3 months in bank statements from another bank (translated into English if from a foreign bank)
- Student Identification
- Foreign passport
- Proof of US address (such as a lease agreement, utility bill, US government-issued identification with address, etc.)
- Address verification by a personal Citi banker
Here are the full details of what you’ll need to apply.
Just remember, Citi’s approval rules restrict folks from earning the sign-up bonus from more than 1 card of the same “brand” within 24 months. So if you open the Citi ThankYou Preferred for International Students, you won’t be able to get other cards like the Citi Premier Card or Citi Prestige for at least 2 years.
Deserve (previously known as SelfScore) is a company that caters to international students. You can apply for the Deserve Edu MasterCard credit card without a Social Security Number or credit history.
This card has no sign-up bonus, but you’ll earn 1% cash back. And it will help you build credit, so when you do get a Social Security Number, you’ll be ready to apply for more valuable miles & points cards!
To be approved, you’ll need:
- Proof of the university you’re attending, as well as your major
- An electronic copy of your passport and Visa
- An electronic copy of your Form I-20
- Bank account information (such as monthly statements)
And according to US Credit Card Guide, there won’t even be a hard inquiry on your credit report when you apply for a Deserve card!
Never make up a Social Security Number when you’re applying for a credit card. There are plenty of credit cards you can apply for until you receive a proper Social Security Number.
For example, you can apply for the Bank of America Cash Rewards card by opening a Bank of America checking account and keeping it active for 3 months with no overdrafts.
Or if you have a history with AMEX in your home country, you can use AMEX Global Card Transfer to apply for valuable US AMEX cards, even if you have no US credit history! You’ll still need to provide information like passport information or an ITIN, though.
Have you had any experience applying for a credit card with no Social Security Number? Let me know if you have any tips!