You re our first priority.
We believe that everyone should be able to tackle financial decisions with confidence. That s why our helpful tools, researched advice and expert recommendations are totally free.
So how do we make money? We receive compensation from our partners. But, the results of our tools (like our credit card comparison tool) and editorial reviews are based on quantitative and qualitative assessments of product features — nothing else.
Our award-winning editorial staff is serious about following our editorial guidelines to ensure editorial integrity. While compensation may influence the products we review and write about, the order in which categories appear in “best of” articles, whether products appear on our site and where they re placed, it doesn t affect the analysis and opinions of our writers. While we try to feature as many product offers on our site as we can maintain (1,200+ credit cards and financial products!), we recognize that our site does not feature every company or financial product available on the market.
We re serious about matching you with the financial products that fit you best. We re on your side, even if it means we don t make a cent.
How to Apply for a Credit Card Without a Social Security Number
With so many websites offering free financial tools, it can be hard to know whom to trust. At NerdWallet, we spend literally 1,000s of hours researching partner offers and following strict editorial integrity to match you with the perfect choice. We even share how we make money so you can enjoy our expert advice and researched recommendations with total clarity and confidence.
Not having a Social Security number is a serious stumbling block when you want to apply for a credit card. since most financial institutions strongly prefer that you supply one on your application. However, there are ways to get a credit card without a Social Security number.
An alternative identification number
Although credit card issuers almost always ask for your Social Security number on your application, you’re “generally not required” to provide one if you don’t have one, according to the Social Security Administration.
In general, only U.S. citizens and noncitizens authorized to work in the U.S. are eligible for a Social Security number. Others can obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, which follows the same nine-digit format as a Social Security number (XXX-XX-XXXX) and can be used in place of one on credit card applications. You can obtain an ITIN regardless of your immigration status.
You ll need more than a number for approval
Simply having a taxpayer ID number to put on a credit card application isn t enough to guarantee that you ll be approved. Credit card issuers will also look at your credit history, and that creates an entirely different challenge.
If you don t have a Social Security number, it s most likely because you re not an American citizen. Even if you had a positive credit history in your country of origin, foreign credit history can’t be transferred to the United States. As far as American credit card issuers are concerned, you have no credit history at all.
You may need to start building your U.S. credit history by applying for a secured credit card. With these cards, you provide a deposit, usually $200 or more, that the issuer holds in case you don t pay your bill. In most cases, your deposit becomes your credit limit — put down a $500 deposit, for example, and your credit limit is $500. There are also a few companies that offer credit cards specifically for recent immigrants and international students.
Good behavior means good credit
Can you even begin to build credit without a Social Security number? The answer is yes. The credit bureaus will use other information about you, such as your name, address and birth date, to gather information about your credit activity all in one place.
To build good credit, you’ll need to show positive payment history over time. This means making regular purchases and paying off your balance on time every month.
It takes about six months of credit activity for a FICO credit score to be created. Once you have a FICO score — the score most commonly used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness — you may find a wider variety of credit cards available to you. You could move up to an unsecured credit card (one that doesn t require a deposit) and eventually cards that offer juicy rewards .
This post was updated July 1, 2016. It was originally published Dec. 17, 2014.
You may also like