An SSN, Social Security Number is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the government to US citizens including temporary and permanent residents. Normally, when a child is born in the US the parents apply for SSN on behalf of the child to the social security administration. This unlocks government and insurance benefits to the child and also gives them an ability to open a bank account, apply for credit or college.
SSN is very important in the US. While it is used by US officials to verify eligibility, it also tracks earnings and benefits and is thus often used to look up an individual’s credit history.
Many lenders use your SSN to look for your credit report and evaluate how good you are with handling money and paying your dues on time. The information generated is often referred to as credit score and is highly valuable. A high credit score could make you appear more trustworthy and give access to higher credit lines while applying for a credit card. It could also deem you to be suitable for auto loans and or mortgages.
Table of Content
- How to get credit card for International Students without SSN?
- 1. Get an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)
- 2. Banks That Offers Credit Card without SSN
- 3. Can I have a credit score without an SSN?
How to get credit card for International Students without SSN?
Not having an SSN, while inconvenient does not bar you from owning getting a credit card. There are few methods you can actually get a credit card without SSN.
But first, don’t forget to see if you are Eligible for an SSN!
For instance, if you are as a student in F-1 visa and got a job on campus or are eligible to work under curricular practical training (CPT) or OPT, your university or your employers can apply for an SSN on your behalf.
1. Get an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)
An ITIN is also a nine-digit number and is used to report federal taxes. This number, unlike the SSN, is available to foreign nationals, non-resident aliens, and spouses on dependent status.
If you are a US citizen, note that by no means can an ITIN be a replacement for your SSN. For others, having one will neither make you eligible to work in the US or nor provide you with Social Security benefits in the future.
The ITIN, in this case, is merely used as a form of identification for those who do not have an SSN, a proof of their eligibility.
How can you get ITIN?
Applying for ITIN can be a quick and easy process:
- You have to complete IRS Form W-7
- Verify your identity through documents such as ID’s, Passport
- Provide a copy of your foreign tax return
- You can apply for your ITIN through the mail; IRS- authorized certified acceptance agents or a designated IRS taxpayer assistance centre.
There are sites available online to help international students prepare for your ITIN application.
Upon completion of your IRS, you should hear from them within seven weeks. The second step is to get your research done and finds banks that accept an ITIN or Passport instead of SSN (Social Security Number).
2. Banks That Offers Credit Card without SSN
There are few banks that offer credit card without SSN, below is the list of popular ones that offers best credit card without social security number.
Some Citi bank cards are targeted usually to the student population such as their Citi Bank Thankyou Preferred card where they accept national ID’s, passport, and government-issued documents instead of your SSN. With no annual cost, the card provides you with thank you points 2x on dining and entertainment and 1x on all other purchases. The points can be redeemed by buying gifts, merchandise, travel, and concerts.
Bank of America
The bank offers two cards that do not require SSN BoA Travel rewards and BoA cash rewards that can work well for someone who does not have an SSN.
The card also does not require you to make an annual fee or having any credit history.
Deserve Credit Card
Previously known as Self Score and now rebranded as Deserve this card is targeted especially at the international student population, application process for the card is simple as you will need documents that most students have at hand which are: your I-20 forms stating that you attend a University in the States, copy of your passport and US visa, and your recent bank statements.
The safest bet here for students would be the Deserve Edu credit card, the card requires no SSN, or annual fee, a 1% cash back on all purchases which is not that great but given the easy application process is worth looking into. This card is great for individuals who have no credit history but would like to build one as your timely payments will be passed to the credit bureau.
Use a Secured Card
The individual could also try for a secured card where the user is simply made to put a deposit when signing up for the card, usually, the credit line is a direct reflection of the deposit put in. This card normally does not offer rewards but can help you built your credit score by reporting your payments to the bureau. For example, Capital One Secured MasterCard is one such card that has no annual fee. A credit line is provided to the customer based on their creditworthiness and deposit. The card also reports your payments to the bureaus helping you built a credit score. The card is accepted worldwide due to its Master card status.
3. Can I have a credit score without an SSN?
Yes, you can, sometimes although banks may not ask for an SSN they may ask for a credit history. In such cases a first credit card applicant could increase their credit history through rent reporting, using a rent reporting service the individual can have his/her rent payment details be passed on the credit bureaus Experian, Equifax and TransUnion include it in the credit report.
Some of the Rent reporting services include:
Rent Reporters: They charge a one-time fee of $94.95 and monthly fee is $9.95 for the service for reporting two years of rental payments to the TransUnion.
Rental Kharma: It reports to TransUnion as well with a set up charge of $25 with month service charge $ 6.95.
The credit bureaus can also use other information about you such as your employment history, personal details. Usually, it takes 6 months to build a FICO score with these tricks but nevertheless, you will be qualified as someone with a credit history as opposed to having none if you try this.
“Can my previous credit history from my home country be transferred to the US?”
Unfortunately, the US only considers credit reports provided by US lenders and creditors hence your past credit history will not be accredited for. You are actually starting with a blank slate which could be taken as a fresh start. Being an international student in the US without an SSN could restrict your choices when getting a credit card, nevertheless choosing the right bank and the presenting alternative identifications to them could be helpful. It is important to remember that each person has their own reasons for getting a credit card hence do not let “accepts ITIN or Passport instead of SSN” be your only parameters when applying for the cards and research well into the rewards and benefits each card provides.