Banking and Finance

What's the Best Credit Card for International Students without SSN?

July 27, 2021

International students, in general, are not eligible for a credit card in the United States. With that said, many international students find themselves needing to pay bills here in America. What a catch-22, right?

While there is a credit card or two that cater to international students, there are actually other options when it comes to banking in the States.

The first step is to figure out what type of card you will need on an individual basis by looking at your spending habits and determining if you want cash back or rewards points as well as whether or not you want to get travel insurance coverage with your purchase. It’s important that  international students (and regular students!) be careful when selecting a credit card because some may have high fees and unfavorable interest rates. 

Read on to discover the best credit cards available for international students who need a way to pay their expenses while studying abroad.

Do You Need a SSN to Get a Credit Card in the USA?

In most cases, yes, including for international students. The same goes for applying for a debit card as well. However, certain banks will accept alternative forms of identity when applying for a card or opening an account. 

Usually, you are eligible to apply if you have an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). And, generally, you will have to at least show proof of residency in the form of a valid US visa if you don’t have any other way to prove your identity. 

Which credit cards can you get as an international student without a SSN? American Express and Citibank are two of the most popular major banks that cater to international students looking for credit cards in the US. However, there are some rules and hoops you’ll need to jump through to apply for their cards.

3 Good Credit Cards for International Students

As mentioned above, American Express and Citibank are some of the most well-known banks in the United States. And, they just so happen to cater to international students. Explore your options when it comes to a credit card for international students without a SSN.


Citibank, like American Express, which we’ll go into more detail below, is one of the only major credit card issuers in the United States that allows you to sign up for a credit card without a SSN. However, you need to be an existing customer. While this might be helpful for international students who come from countries where Citibank is big, it doesn’t help a large portion of students.

American Express

American Express’ credit cards for international students work similarly to Citibank’s. They allow you to open an account in the United States as long as you have an account internationally elsewhere. This means that if you’re an international student planning to study in the US in the future, it might make sense to open an account in your home country well in advance. This way, you’ll qualify for a card once you’re in the coun                        

Deserve EDU

When it comes down to it, the Deserve EDU Mastercard is actually the only credit card for international students (that doesn’t require an ITIN to sign up). Not only are you able to sign up without a SSN or ITIN, but once you sign up, the card comes with other perks such as no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. As an added bonus, every new user gets one year free of Amazon Student Prime!

2 Credit Card Options if You’re Applying with an ITIN

As mentioned above, certain banks will allow you to apply for a credit card without a social security number as long as you have an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). If you do, then these two credit cards might be a good option for you.

Bank of America

As one of the largest banks in the country, Bank of America has opened up their credit card application process to those without a SSN, too. 

While you’ll need to show proof of your ITIN as a standard requirement, it’s also important to note that you’ll need to show that you have a good credit score to be eligible for their cards. The two options (currently are): the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card or the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards.

Capital One

With Capital One, as long as 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, which, let’s be honest, is where most domestic students and international students are at.

Option 3: A Debit Card for International Students

If none of the options above apply to you then don’t worry; you have options! Likewise, not everybody is interested in having a credit card. They often come with high annual fees and interest rates, making them less than ideal for students especially.

If that’s the case, we recommend getting a debit card that’s designed for international students. And, yes, that means that it’s easier to open the account. With the Cheese Debit Card, for example, you’re able to apply with an established US address, passport, and valid visa

Because it’s a debit card, you don’t have to worry about making payments, missing payments, or high fees. 

However, due to all of the cashback offers and perks, 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!

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                                  🧀️ Potential Double Cheese Cashback

❌ 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