Banking and Finance

The Last Guide to Apply for a Credit Card Without SSN You’ll Ever Need

July 27, 2021

The average person uses their debit or credit cards at least four times per day, making it a pretty important accessory to modern day living. However, what are you to do if you’re living in the US and don’t have a SSN needed (in most cases) to open an account?

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of how to apply for a credit card without having your SSN. We'll also be touching on some of the biggest banks in the US that allow you to apply for a credit card without a SSN or even an ITIN.

Read on below to learn more about applying for a credit card without a social security number.

The Easiest Authorized Alternatives to SSN

Getting a social security number requires that you are a citizen of the United States (unless you’re working with the Department of Homeland Security). 

Otherwise, as the Social Security Administration notes, “You need to prove your identity and work-authorized immigration status.” To prove your identity and work-authorized immigration status, you’re required to show your immigration documents and passport. This doesn’t work for most students.

So, what’s an authorized alternative to a SSN that will allow you to do things like open a bank account in the US? The only current authorized alternative to a SSN when setting up a bank account is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

*Note: Other documents such as a Permanent Resident Card and a Resident Alien Card are authorized alternatives to a SSN in certain situations, just not typically when opening a bank account. More on those documents here.

If you pay taxes in the US then you should already have your ITIN. If you need one, click this link here to learn about how to apply for your number.

The Top 5 Credit Card Issuers Allow You to Apply Without an SSN

As mentioned above, certain banks will allow you to apply for a credit or debit card without a SSN. The top two major card issuers that allow you to apply for a card with just your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) are American Express and Citibank. 

Let’s dive into the other credit card issuers that allow you to apply for a card without a social security number. But first, we will mention that the banks to avoid if you don’t have a SSN will be Barclaycard and Discover. Neither will accept an application without a SSN. Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank only accept applications with an ITIN if you’re applying for a secured card.

American Express

If you’re an international student, immigrant, or simply a non-resident, American Express allows you to open a US-based credit card account as long as you have an account internationally. 

You won’t be able to convert whatever card you currently have, but the fact that you already have an open account (and, hopefully, are in good standing), is a good indicator to them that you’re creditworthy. 

Plus, they’ve already checked your information and you’re already in their system as a user, so it’s all good.


Because Citibank is another large, global bank, they also allow individuals with existing accounts to use their account and payment history to sort of “vouch” for them when applying for a US credit card. 

While this is a great option for people without a SSN, you do have to have an ITIN for certain cards. And, they’re pretty strict about the amount of assets and history you need to have with them to qualify for a credit card.

Bank of America

As the name denotes, Bank of America is one of the largest and most widely used banks in the United States. Because they’re such a popular banking option for most Americans, they’ve opened up their credit card application process to those without a SSN, too.

However, to apply, you need to have an ITIN (and you’ll need to show that you have a good credit score). If you meet both of those requirements, you should be able to qualify for either the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card or the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards.

Capital One

Like Bank of America, Capital One is one of the most popular credit card issuers in the country. In fact, it’s the most popular, with nearly 100 million cards in circulation this year. If you have an ITIN, you can apply for the Capital One Platinum Credit Card. This is a great option for those with fair or limited credit history. 

Have a bit of credit history and would like to access some more perks? You’re also eligible to apply for the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards card as long as your credit score is at least average. You’ll get cash rewards, but it does come with a $39 annual fee.


We’ve saved the best for last, simply because this credit card was designed specifically for international students (and that’s near and dear to our hearts). The Deserve EDU Mastercard comes with quite a bit, including no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no need for a SSN or ITIN. Plus, once you get approved, you get one year free of Amazon Student Prime!

The Best Alternative to Credit Card Without a SSN

Not everybody is in the market for a credit card, especially not international students. Having a regular debit card is an easier way to manage your money as a student, for example, and it doesn’t require that you have any credit history for those who have recently arrived in the US.

However, opening up a debit card account in the US is even harder than getting a credit card without a social security number. That is, until the Cheese Debit Card hit the scene. 

With the Cheese Debit Card, you’re able to apply with an established US address, passport, and valid visa. That’s not where the perks stop, though. The Cheese Debit Card acts somewhat like a credit card in terms of the rewards that you’re able to access. That includes:

  • Up to 10% cash back at over 10,000 stores.
  • Up to a 3% deposit bonus.
  • No fees!
  • No SSN required!

Seriously, just check out all of the perks:

❌ No Monthly Fee                                    🧀️ $5 cash bonus    

❌ No ATM Fee                                          🧀️ Up to 10% cashback with every purchase/transaction

❌ No Overdraft Fee                                 🧀️ No SSN Required

❌ No Insufficient Fund Fee                     🧀️ Up to 3% Saving Bonus

❌ No Minimum Balance Requirement    🧀️ Early Paycheck

❌ No Int. Incoming Wire Transfer Fee    🔐 FDIC Insured

Ready to apply for your debit card? Download the Cheese mobile banking app for either iOS or Android to get started.

Cheese 银行卡 美国华人最好的选择
Cheese 银行卡 美国华人最好的选择