Banking and Finance

How to Get a Business Credit Card Without a SSN

July 27, 2021

Immigrants practically run the small business world. No, really. Even though immigrants make up only 13% of the US’ general population, they make up 18% of small business owners. As well, immigrants made up for 30% of small business growth between 1990 and 2010.

That’s quite the impressive stat given that a number of immigrants aren’t even eligible to apply for a SSN. Yep, that’s right. Not everybody is eligible to have a social security number in the US. While that might not sound like a big deal to you, it has a massive impact on who can and can’t apply for debit cards, credit cards, and therefore business credit cards.

If you’re a small business owner (or someone with more than a few!) and your immigration status prevents you from obtaining a SSN, here is how to get a business credit card without a SSN.

What Are the Advantages of Having a Business Credit Card?

Business credit cards can be incredibly useful, especially for business owners that need to purchase business-related equipment or who travel frequently. 

For example, business credit cards usually offer bonus points or cash back on business expenses like office supplies and business services, which are very common business expenditures. And, for those who travel frequently, you can find business credit cards that allow you to enjoy great rewards programs at certain hotels or with certain airlines.

Likewise, most business credit cards have no preset spending limit, which is very helpful for business owners who want or need access to large sums of funds on short notice. And, you can’t forget that building up a solid financial history as a business and decreasing cash flow issues is always a good thing.

What Are the Requirements for a Business Credit Card?

The requirements to apply for a business card vary from company to company. However, some of the most common requirements include:

  • Your business’ legal name (or, if you’re a sole proprietor, you can usually put your own name as long as that’s what you use for tax purposes). As Fundera notes on this one, “If your business is set up as a C-corp, S-corp, LLC, or limited partnership, then you’ll provide the name under which you registered your business with the state.”
  • The business’ legal structure. You’ll need to ensure that you’re checking the correct legal structure as it could affect taxes down the line. Don’t have it registered and you’re just a freelancer looking to get a business credit card for your own business purposes? Select the “sole proprietorship” option.
  • Your business’ federal tax ID. If your business is fully registered, then this will be your EIN (employer identification number). The issuer will use your EIN to verify your business, but if you don’t have one then you should apply using your social security number.
  • Financial information, which includes your expected monthly spend, expected annual income, and more.

If you meet the requirements to apply for a business credit card then we recommend that you take some time to research the differences between the various cards.

Do You Need a SSN for a Credit Card?

You’ll notice that above we did mention the need for a SSN at least once. If you do not have an EIN, you’ll be required to use your SSN for most credit card applications. However, simply because most card issuers ask for a SSN doesn’t mean it’s the only way to get a credit card for your business.

In some cases, business owners might be able to get away with using their tax ID in lieu of a SSN, but not always. In the case where you’re allowed to use your EIN or even an ITIN,  you’ll still need to be able to provide business credit card issuers with a business address.

In addition, business owners can also choose not to use their SSN or EIN for business credit cards and instead have a cosigner with a solid business credit history apply for the business credit cards instead.

What about the ITIN option? An ITIN is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Who is eligible to apply for an ITIN? To apply for an ITIN, you need  to be a nonresident or resident alien with an ownership interest in a US business and you must have a foreign tax home as well as a US address for the business purpose of applying for an ITIN.

Here is a helpful guide on how to apply for an ITIN.

How to Get a Business Credit Card Without a SSN

For starters, it’s important to mention that even with a SSN or ITIN, if you’re new to the US and don’t have a long credit history, it might be difficult to get a business credit card (or any credit card for that matter!). If that’s the case then we suggest you start out by looking for a secured card first.

Secured credit cards are secured by your own deposit, which means just about anybody can apply for and receive one. After a certain period of time (6 to 12 months) of responsible use, most card issuers will give you your deposit back and switch the card over to a regular credit card. All the while, however, you’re building credit!

If you’re an international student currently and know that, after you graduate, you’ll want to start a business. Look at the Deserve EDU Mastercard. Not only is there no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no need for a SSN or ITIN. But, once you get approved, you get one year free of Amazon Student Prime!

Once you have a good credit history, we recommend getting your ITIN. Follow the step-by-step guide linked above. Then, compare the fees and perks of the business credit cards you can apply for with just an ITIN instead of a SSN. Some of the credit card issuers that allow you to apply for a card with just an ITIN include:

  • American Express
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • Wells Fargo

Other Card Options Without a SSN

Don’t yet qualify for a business credit card without a SSN? Aren’t ready to start your business in the US just yet? No worries! In the meantime, we suggest working on building your credit and your savings. For the latter, we recommend the Cheese Debit Card.

It’s a debit card designed for immigrants and international students who have trouble accessing traditional bank accounts due to a lack of a SSN. With the Cheese Debit Card, you can apply using just an established US address, passport, and valid visa. On top of that, though, you can also enjoy:

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

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