A social security number is issued by the US government to US citizen and any eligible US residents. The criteria for eligibility are that the person needs to be employed to a company based in the US, usually, students working part-time on their campus can also be eligible to get their SSN. The nine-digit number on the card holds many purposes, it is often used by government officials to track earnings, benefits, eligibility and even credit scores.
Hence, holding an SSN does make it significantly easier for someone to be viewed as credible and in return get their credit card. But, for an international student who does not have one yet, the road to get a credit card although a little tricky is not impossible.
Here are a few ways an international student can get a credit card without a Social Security Number:
Use other identifications to get the card
This is a no-brainer, although SSN is a widely used identification number in the U.S. international students can use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN to get a credit card. The ITIN, unlike SSN, can be obtained regardless of your immigration status. It uses the same format nine-digit format as the Social Security Number. Credit card issuers such as American Express, Bank of America and Citibank all allow applications to be filled out with your ITIN.
Get a secured card
Usually, people with no prior financial or credit history in the US are issued with a secured credit card. For these cards, you require paying a deposit amount to make you accountable to pay your bills. Usually, your deposit also becomes your credit card limit. For instance, the Capital One Secured Mastercard can be obtained with an ITIN with a minimum-security deposit of $ 49. A secured card can be your first step towards building a good credit score once you have enough credit score you can use it to apply for another open card that has more benefits and freedom.
Use an Authorized Card
If you know of someone who has an open credit card and trusts you well enough to have you use it you can become an authorized signer. The bank will issue a credit card in your name and will report your name to the credit bureaus. You will be able to make purchases with your authorized credit card but the person who allowed you to become an authorized signer will also be liable for your actions. The process to become an authorized user is simple and the banks will only require your name, address and date of birth along with the information of the open credit card holder. This approach to getting a credit card is usually seen between close family members as the main challenge one could face when trying to get an authorized card would be finding a willing individual who is ready to trust you.
Get an immigration-friendly Self-Score Card
Scoring credit card companies such as Self Score are specially targeted towards international students, they usually do not ask for your SSN to apply for the card. The required information you need for this card will be your passport number, US visa, I-20 Form and your latest bank statements all of which are quite easy to obtain. Furthermore, due to its inexpensive nature such as average interest rates and no annual fee it could be one of the best alternatives for people with no SSN. Additionally, the card will also help you build a credit score by reporting your payments to the credit bureaus.
Try out Citi Bank
Although some US banks ask for an SSN, Citibank Is one of such banks that will issue an international student a credit card without the SSN. In fact, the bank has a specific card just for international student with no annual fee, and no monthly fees, as many companies are lurking around to prey on vulnerable immigrants with their high-interest credit cards getting a card from a global brand will provide you with security and transparency as such banks are scrutinized easily by the public. Additionally, the bank policies also make it easy to send and receive money from foreign countries a bonus for international students who usually depend on their family living abroad for allowances.
Use additional information to be more credible
Companies that do not have your social security number are usually looking for ways to establish your credibility, in the process they may ask for your ITIN or bank statements. Therefore, at times keeping your employment pay records to show how much your making and the telephone/ rental you pay every month could also be used to establish your character and make you appear more credible and responsible enough to own a credit card
Getting a credit card can be stressful especially if you are an international student without an SSN. Therefore, it is important to weigh your options and priorities to get a card that suits your personal needs.