How to Get a Free Virtual Bank Account Without SSN
Did you know that, since the Social Security Administration started to assign social security numbers, they’ve assigned at least a whopping 450 million numbers? That’s quite a few SSNs floating around in the universe.
However, while most US-born citizens receive a social security number at birth, not everybody is eligible to apply for a SSN. Namely, non-resident immigrants are the most affected by this as having a SSN is often a major requirement for accessing a lot of areas of American life, including accessing banking services.
What do you do if you are looking to get a free virtual bank account without a SSN? Lucky for you, in today’s day and age, you’ve got multiple options. Here’s what you should know about virtual bank accounts and SSNs.
What is a Virtual Bank Account?
A virtual bank account is an online bank account that gives you the ability to transfer funds, request money via check or ACH, and deposit checks by taking a picture of them. How do these types of accounts differ from what some might call a "traditional" bank account?
When it comes to virtual bank accounts, there are no checks or physical money that you transfer. The virtual bank account can be used to make transactions online, over the phone, via the mobile app, etc. Transactions are debited from your virtual account using what’s called an ACH.
Really, though, the major difference is that virtual banks don't have any physical branches you can visit. This means that, if you bank with Cheese, for example, you won't be able to head into a physical location in order to deposit cash or order checks. However, because digital or virtual banks don’t have to pay the overhead fees of running physical branches (employees, rent, utilities, etc.), they are able to charge you less for everything, too! It’s how Cheese is able to offer everything fee-free.
Who is Eligible for a SSN?
Good question. First of all, you don’t need to have a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in order to open a bank account with Cheese. To set up your Cheese Debit Card, we only request a valid US visa, your passport, and a US address.
However, if you would like to apply for a SSN for other purposes, it's good to have one if you're eligible. So, who is eligible for a SSN? The SSA website says that you're eligible for an SSN if you are "a US citizen, or resident of the United States; age 18 or over; not on active duty in the Armed Forces; or legally able to work in the US"
But does that mean you can’t get one if you're an immigrant? Nope. You can still get one if you are an immigrant, but there is one major requirement: "legal permission to work in the US.” And, really, if you’re not working in the US, you don’t need a SSN anyways. SSNs are designed to identify you for tax purposes. If you aren’t working and earning an income that you’ll have to pay taxes on, a SSN might not make sense for you.
Instead, look into getting an ITIN. You won’t need a SSN to apply for other forms of identification such as a driver’s license, for example. You also won’t need one to register for things like subsidized housing, health insurance, or for US universities.
How to Get a Virtual Debit Card Without a SSN?
Yes! Most virtual debit cards don’t require a SSN. They instead require an ITIN number or, in the case of the Cheese Debit Card, just a valid US address, visa, and your passport. You may also consider virtual prepaid credit cards, which allow you to deposit money into your virtual wallet and pay via an app.
Read more on The Best Digital Wallet Apps here.
Depending on the virtual bank or virtual card issuer, they might ask for more than just an ITIN number to open up your account, but few rely on SSNs these days. Why are they able to do that when traditional banks typically ask for a SSN?
Financial institutions in the US have to comply with the Patriot Act, which really just means that they have to verify your official identity to ensure that you are not going to commit fraud or terrorism. However, as we evolve into more of a digital world, verifying someone’s official identity in the States doesn’t always mean looking at their SSN.
As long as a virtual bank is following the correct verification rules, they will be able to request whatever information they like to secure your account.
Next Step: Building Your Credit
What's after you get a virtual debit card? Credit building can be the next step! No matter you are a credit new-starter, or you are thinking of increasing your credit score, rent reporting can be a very effective way. As long as you have rented a house or an apartment, you can get your rent history reported to credit bureaus and give your credit an instant boost! What about ongoing rents? With Cheese Rent Reporting, that can be reported too! Yes, we do both.;)
Any other options? Sure. Cheese Credit Builder Loan will also be launched soon. (What is a credit builder loan? Check out this article.)
With Cheese Credit Builder Loan, you'll be able to save money and build credit at the same time.
- 2-minute sign-up with instant approval: we require no credit check.
- Flexible loan terms & deposit amount: we let you decide!
Sounds good? Stay tuned with Cheese, we'll bring you the best credit building experience soon!