If you’re an international student, a new immigrant, or you simply don’t have a U.S. credit history, it may be difficult to qualify for a U.S. credit card. This is typically because you might not have a Social Security number (SSN), which many financial institutions require for credit card applications.
This obstacle can often prevent you from being able to build your credit and use credit cards for everyday things, such as buying groceries and paying bills. You also might have difficulty qualifying for a car loan or mortgage if you have no way to build your credit.
Fortunately, not all credit cards require an SSN for approval. Here are seven credit cards to consider that don’t have Social Security number requirements.
7 credit cards that don’t require a Social Security number
|Card||Best for||Application requirements||Annual fee|
|Petal Visa Credit Card||Immigrants with no credit score||SSN or ITIN||$0|
|Deserve EDU Mastercard||International students||Other financial factors such as your bill payment history||$0|
|Tomo Credit Card||Building U.S. credit||SSN or ITIN||$0|
|Brex Credit Card||Registered U.S. business owners||EIN||$0|
|Capital One Platinum Credit Card||Immigrants with limited U.S. credit||SSN or ITIN||$0|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||Immigrants with established U.S. credit||SSN or ITIN||$0|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Immigrants with established foreign credit||SSN, ITIN, or foreign identification||$695 (See rates and fees) Terms apply|
Best for immigrants with no credit score: Petal Visa Credit Card
The Petal Credit Card is separated into two options: The Petal 1 and the Petal 2. When you go through the application process, you’ll see which one(s) you qualify for.
You don’t need a credit score to qualify for a Petal card, though it will be checked if you have one. If you don’t have one, Petal will have you link a bank account to check different factors, such as how much money you make and what bills you pay.
Both Petal cards provide opportunities for earning cash back on your purchases, but the Petal 2 has more robust benefits if you’re able to qualify for it. Either way, a Petal card could be a good credit card option if you don’t have an SSN (you can use an ITIN instead) and your U.S. credit history is nonexistent or short.
For more details, check out our Petal Cash Back Visa Card review.
Best for international students: Deserve EDU Mastercard
The Deserve EDU Mastercard provides an interesting credit option for college students, including international students who are studying in the U.S. You don’t need an SSN to apply because Deserve checks other factors to determine your credit risk potential. This includes seeing how you manage your money and whether you pay your bills on time.
The Deserve EDU offers free year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first 3 months. It also has a $0 annual fee and you can earn 1% cash back on all purchases. This card is likely best for international students because they might not have many other credit card options that also offer rewards.
For more details, check out our Deserve EDU Mastercard review.
Best for building U.S. credit: Tomo Credit Card
The Tomo Credit Card is similar to the Petal cards in that you don’t need a credit score to qualify. Tomo allows you to apply using an ITIN, which is helpful if you don’t have an SSN and aren’t eligible for one. In addition, the Tomo Card has no fees and can provide you with up to a $10,000 credit limit. It also provides 1% cash back on all your purchases.
If you qualify for the Tomo Card, you can start using it to build credit history in the U.S., which will help you qualify for other cards and financial products from lenders. Tomo reports to all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) and offers expedited weekly payments to help your credit score grow faster. If you’re new to the U.S. and looking to build your credit, the Tomo Credit Card could be a good fit for you.
Learn more about the Tomo Credit Card.
Best for registered U.S. business owners: Brex Card
Small business owners who don’t have an SSN still have options for credit cards, including the Brex Card. Brex uses employer identification numbers (EINs) instead of SSNs for its credit card application process. You can typically get an EIN if you have a business located in the U.S. and you have a valid taxpayer identification number, such as an SSN or ITIN.
Brex also requires your business to be organized and registered within the U.S., which includes C-corps, S-corps, LLCs, and LLPs. If you qualify, you can earn up to 8X points on purchases without having to worry about any fees.
Learn more about the Brex Card.
Best for immigrants with limited U.S. credit: Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Capital One is one of a few credit card companies that doesn’t require an SSN for certain card applications. With the Capital One Platinum Credit Card, you can use an SSN or ITIN to apply.
This card doesn’t offer much in the way of rewards or benefits, but it has a $0 annual fee and could help you build your U.S. credit history if you’re just getting started. Capital One describes the credit requirements for this card as “fair,” which includes a limited credit history. Someone new to the U.S. who barely has any credit history might find this card to be an ideal fit.
For more details, check out our Capital One Platinum Credit Card review.
Best for immigrants with established U.S. credit: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase is another card issuer that includes options on many of its card applications for either an SSN or ITIN. This opens up some opportunities for anyone who doesn’t have an SSN to see whether they qualify for valuable Chase credit cards. However, you still need to meet the credit requirements. For the Freedom Unlimited, that’s typically a good or excellent credit score.
This card has a $0 annual fee and offers the opportunity to earn an additional 1.5% cash back on all purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). You can also earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases. If you’re an immigrant and already have an established U.S. credit history, this card might be a good fit for earning cashback rewards.
For more details, check out our Chase Freedom Unlimited review.
Best for immigrants with established foreign credit: The Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express partners with Nova Credit to offer certain individuals with non-U.S. credit histories a way to qualify for U.S. credit cards. If you don’t have an SSN or ITIN, Nova Credit can check your credit history from the U.K., India, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Nigeria, or Australia to see if you qualify for American Express credit cards.
If you have enough established credit in your home country and want premium travel perks, the Amex Platinum is an excellent option. It has a $695 annual fee, but this can be offset with its many benefits, including the potential for more than $1,400 worth of value in annual credits (enrollment may be required). You can also earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months, as well as 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
For more details, check out our American Express Platinum review.
How to apply for a credit card without a Social Security number
You won’t have as many options for applying for a credit card if you don’t have a Social Security number. But you still have a few options, including using an ITIN or another form of verification. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you work toward getting credit cards and building your credit without an SSN.
Double check that you can’t get an SSN
Are you sure you don’t qualify for a Social Security number? Here are a few ways you might qualify for an SSN:
- You’re an immigrant applying to enter the U.S., in which case you have to request a Social Security number card during your immigrant visa application.
- You’re an immigrant and authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to work in the U.S.
- You’re an immigrant and have a valid non-work reason for needing an SSN
Get your ITIN
If you’re a noncitizen who doesn't qualify for an SSN, you might qualify for an individual taxpayer identification number. The Internal Revenue Service issues ITINs if you’re required to file a U.S. tax return, but don’t have an SSN and aren’t eligible for one.
Both ITINs and SSNs are accepted by many credit card issuers on their card application forms. For more information on how to get an ITIN (and who qualifies), visit the ITIN page on the IRS website.
Apply using your passport
Certain card issuers may allow you to use your passport to apply for a credit card rather than an SSN. You aren’t likely to see this option on most online credit card applications, but it could be possible if you’re applying over the phone or at an in-person location.
Start with a secured credit card
Even if a card issuer accepts methods of verification that don’t include an SSN, they are likely to check your credit report and score. For example, if you have an ITIN but haven’t yet built up your credit, you may not qualify for most credit cards.
If you start by applying for a secured credit card, you’re more likely to be approved. If you’re approved, you would need to deposit funds with the card issuer, which would be held in an account to secure your credit card. Because of the deposited funds, secured credit cards typically have more lenient credit requirements compared with other types of credit products. As you use the card, you start building credit history in the U.S.
To see available options, check out our list of secured credit cards.
Build credit by becoming an authorized user
Another way to start building your credit is to become an authorized user on another individual’s credit card account, such as a family member. Becoming an authorized user allows you to build your credit as long as the card is used responsibly. Many card issuers, such as Chase and Capital One, allow you to add authorized users to their credit cards without the need for an SSN.
Once you’ve built up enough credit, you might qualify for certain credit cards of your own. Learn more about how to add an authorized user.
Apply for a business credit card with an EIN
If you’re a small business owner and have an ITIN, it’s possible to apply for an EIN, or employer identification number. This number is used to identify your business, but it can also be used in place of an SSN to apply for certain credit cards.
For more information, read about how to get a business credit card with an EIN.
Can I add an authorized user without an SSN to my credit card?
Certain credit card issuers require a Social Security number to be able to add an authorized user, but some card companies don’t require this information. For example, Chase and Capital One typically require personal information, including name and date of birth. But American Express requires an SSN or ITIN for additional cardmembers.
Can you build credit with an ITIN?
If you don’t have a Social Security number, it’s possible to apply for credit accounts with an ITIN, or individual taxpayer identification number. If you’re approved for a credit card with an ITIN, you can start using it to build your credit.
What credit card issuers don’t require a Social Security number?
These credit card issuers may not require a Social Security number when applying for certain credit cards:
- American Express
- Bank of America
- Capital One
- Wells Fargo
It’s not always easy to qualify for financial products if you don’t have a Social Security number, which is often a big problem for people who aren't U.S. citizens like international students living in the U.S.
Fortunately, certain companies have identified this issue and currently offer credit cards that don’t require an SSN. If you can take advantage of these opportunities, you should be able to start building your U.S. credit history. Once your credit score is high enough, you could qualify for more credit cards with better benefits.
For more information on available cards, check out our dedicated page where you can compare credit cards.