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Can I Get a Credit Card Without a SSN?

Can I Get a Credit Card Without a SSN?
Susan Guillory
Susan GuilloryUpdated May 4, 2022
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It is possible for you to apply for a credit card without a Social Security number. There are a few that allow a specific workaround for this, but for the most part it will be difficult to not just get a credit card but establish a credit profile without using a Social Security number (SSN).If you’re from another country and living in the United States, it might seem like all lenders and credit card companies require you to have a Social Security number. So what can you do if you don’t have one?

Is Your Social Security Number Connected to Your Credit? 

If you have a Social Security number but for whatever reason want to not use it to apply for credit, here’s a reason you might reconsider. Your Social Security number is connected to your credit profile, and it’s meant to keep you safe.Credit card companies report your financial activity to one of the three personal credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax). As you make payments on time and pay off debt, you build your credit and improve your credit scores, which can help you qualify for lower interest on future loans and credit cards.Also, while you may be able to get a credit card without SSN, it’s that number that keeps you safe from fraud. It’s more difficult for someone to open an account under your name fraudulently without this information.If you don’t have a SSN, you may still be able to build credit, though there’s no guarantee that creditors will accurately report your financial activity to credit bureaus without it.

Is It Safe to Give Your Social Security Number When Applying for a Credit Card? 

Maybe the reason you’re trying to find a credit card without SSN is because you’re leery of handing over such sensitive information. Perhaps you’re concerned about the risk of fraud. As well you should be: in 2020, there were more than 1.3 million reported cases of identity theft in the U.S.Most financial advisers say you shouldn’t worry about giving out your Social Security number when applying for a credit card. Credit card companies have plenty of regulations in place to protect you and your data. If they were to abuse the privilege of you giving them your Social Security number, there would be serious penalties to face.Still, only provide your SSN with a creditable company. If you haven’t heard of a particular credit card company, do some research to make sure it’s legit. There are instances of people receiving “phishing” emails where a hacker pretends to be from a legitimate company to get them to click on a link that will capture their sensitive information and use it for identity theft. Make sure the email address is from a legitimate website, and if you aren’t sure it’s real, visit the site without clicking on a link in the email.

Do Credit Cards Ask for SSN? 

The majority of credit card issuers do ask for a Social Security number. This is to reduce the risk of fraud and ensure it’s you–and not someone pretending to be you who’s applying for a card.

Can You Get a Credit Card Without a SSN? 

That being said, there are companies that don’t require a Social Security number. You can learn how to get a credit card without a Social Security number using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN.

Can Someone Open a Credit Card in My Name Without My Social Security Number?

Unfortunately, there’s no failsafe way to prevent someone from fraudulently opening a credit card in your name, and it is possible for them to open a credit card without your SSN, though it may be more difficult.That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your credit report so you can spot any accounts that you didn’t open. If you are the victim of credit card fraud, review your credit report to determine how many credit cards were opened without your permission, then contact the credit card companies to report the fraud.

Social Security Number Requirements

For credit card issuers that do require your Social Security number, you may be asked both for your number as well as one or more forms of photo identification. This could be a driver’s license or passport.

Credit History Qualifications

Whether you have a SSN or not when you apply for a credit card, you still have to meet certain credit requirements that the card issuer has. There may be a certain credit score you need to qualify. While there are cards for good credit, if you don’t qualify for those, you may still qualify for cards for fair credit or cards for bad credit. Whatever your credit situation, there is a card right for you.

Get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number 

Now let’s look at how to get a credit card without a SSN. There is another number called the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and people who aren’t U.S. citizens are able to apply for this instead of a Social Security number. Once you have the ITIN, you can apply for a credit card that will accept it instead of a SSN. Note that not every credit card will allow this, but there are a number that will.

Applying With an ITIN

Before you can apply for a credit card without a SSN, you need to first apply for an ITIN through the IRS. Once you receive your ITIN, you can use it on your credit card application.Know that a creditor can’t deny your application because you have an ITIN and not a SSN. However, if you don’t qualify for other reasons, your application could still be denied.

Alternative Credit Card Options

Another option to get a credit card without SSN is prepaid credit cards. You fund the account with cash, and you can use a credit card to make purchases from that balance.If you aren’t an American citizen and want to build your credit here in the U.S., look for a credit building card that accepts ITIN as part of your application. That way, every payment you make will be reported to a credit bureau, and you’ll begin to build credit that can give you a stable financial base here in the U.S.

The Takeaway 

It is possible to build credit without an SSN even if you’re not an American citizen. By using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number on your application (with a credit card company that permits this), you may be able to qualify for a credit card that lets you build credit over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do credit cards ask for your SSN?
Is your Social Security number connected to your credit?
Is it safe to give your Social Security number when applying for a credit card?
Can someone open a credit card in my name without my Social Security number?
Photo credit: iStock/anyaberkut

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

Su Guillory is a freelance business writer and expat coach. She’s written several business books and has been published on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and SoFi. She writes about business and personal credit, financial strategies, loans, and credit cards.
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