An individual’s social security number (SSN) has, in many ways, become the official identity for people looking for financial services across the US. Without it, your application to activate a debit or credit card may not be accepted.
But that is fast changing. You no longer need an SSN to activate a credit card. That is thanks to the number of financial institutions that accept alternative forms of identity including an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or foreign passport.
If you are a U.S. citizen or noncitizen with a work permit, you are eligible for an SSN. Everyone else is free to apply for an ITIN, which has nine digits just like the SSN. When activating a credit card, you can use your ITIN or foreign passport number.
What Else Do You Need To Obtain A Credit Card?
Before you activate a credit card, you must first apply for it and wait for its approval. As a rule, you must have a credit history in the US to be considered for a credit card from some of the financial institutions. You must, therefore, surmount this huddle if you hope to get a credit card, in the first instance.
For foreigners moving into the U.S. transferring credit history from their home countries is not possible. To the card issuers in the US, such individuals do not have a credit history to speak about.
So start accumulating a credit history by acquiring a secured credit card in which you deposit at least $200 to the issuer as security against failure to pay your debts. For most lenders, the credit limit is set at the same level as your deposit.
With a secured credit card, you pay a cash deposit that usually determines your credit limit. These cards are designed to help you build credit with responsible use, so be sure to make payments on time and in full.
If you are a recent immigrant or international student, you can get a credit card to companies which serve individuals like you. Examples include Deserve and CitiBank.
Bear in mind that credit card issuers will need proof of income before issuing you with one. How else would they know you are able to honor your debts? For people who are 21 years and older, listing your income and that of a spouse is accepted. If you are below 21 years old, the only income you can list is yours.
Credit Cards You Can Activate With Alternative IDs
So long as you have a credit history built over a period of 6 months, you can apply for and activate a credit card without social security number (SSN) so long as you have a foreign passport or ITIN. The following are the credit cards you can activate with alternative IDs:
- American Express Card which you can activate using a foreign passport or ITIN.
- The Bank of America (BoA) Card which can be activated with a foreign passport or ITIN.
- The Citibank Card (select cards only) which you can activate using a foreign passport or ITIN.
- Capital One Card which you can activate using an ITIN.
- U.S. Bank: ITIN (secured cards only)
- Wells Fargo: ITIN (secured cards only)
If you have no SSN and need to activate a credit card, make sure you have a good credit history and an ITIN or foreign passport. The rest of the process is a breeze.