Can You Get A Credit Card Without A Social Security Number?

No Social Security Number Means No Credit CardCan you get a credit card if you don’t have a Social Security number?…

The answer to this question can be both yes and no. Allow me to explain…


Is Social Security Number Required To Get A Credit Card?
Typically it’s not possible to get a credit card in the us without having a Social Security number or a similar form of identification. Why? Because not having a social security number means no credit history and we all know how getting a credit card with no credit history goes.  Having said that this is definitely a grey area. On the Social Security Administration’s website, Publication No. 05-10096 you can read this:

“Although many companies, such as banks and credit companies, may ask for your Social Security number, you are generally not required to provide one if you don’t have one.”

Which means that in accordance with Social security administration you are “generally not required” to give your SSN to any institution should you not have one. Then again what’s not really defined in that document is if it actually is lawful to demand an alternate form of identification. For that, we need to go back to the Patriot Act…



(b) STUDY AND REPORT REQUIRED- Within 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary, in consultation with the Federal functional regulators (as defined in section 509 of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) and other appropriate Government agencies, shall submit a report to the Congress containing recommendations for-

(1) determining the most timely and effective way to require foreign nationals to provide domestic financial institutions and agencies with appropriate and accurate information, comparable to that which is required of United States nationals, concerning the identity, address, and other related information about such foreign nationals necessary to enable such institutions and agencies to comply with the requirements of this section;

(2) requiring foreign nationals to apply for and obtain, before opening an account with a domestic financial institution, an identification number which would function similarly to a Social Security number or tax identification number;

As you can see from the last sentence it is obvious that if you don’t possess a SSN, you will need an equivalent form of identification which is Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN.


How To Get A Credit Card Using An ITIN
Needless to say that when you get a new ITIN, essentially you start with a brand new record , meaning no prior credit history, so you are going to in all likelihood have to get started using a secured credit card. Secured credit cards are credit cards that are given to you based on the amount of money you put down as security deposit. That money basically becomes your line of credit.

Of course, like any other kind of credit card, secured credit cards also involve lots of fees. So, be sure to pick one with lower fees and interest rate. But the good news is that secured credit card are mostly guaranteed approval despite the fact that don’t have any credit history what so ever (nevertheless, you are going to need your ITIN to be eligible).

Using your new secure credit card for a year or so and making on time payments, generally you will have a chance to get a real credit card with a low minimum that can increase as you keep your good standing with the account. Be sure to pay on time each and every time. You dont want any negative information on your account as negative information on your credit report is the last thing you need when building up credit.

Should you have an ITIN, a financial institution has the right to reject your application should you have no credit history established on it to date (just like a lender is able to reject people who have SSN but dont have any credit history).

Having said that a financial institution hasn’t got the right to decline approval of one’s application for applying with an ITIN rather than a Social Security number. Should the bank give you trouble because you want to apply using your ITIN, the law is on your side. Here is what you need to tell the bank if they are trying to decline your application based on your use of ITIN…

    • Inform them you have terminated your SSN legally in accordance with 20 CFR 3 A7 404.1905, or you do not have one period.
    • Inform them that the bank can not be held legally responsible by anyone for failing to obtain a SSN from you if other valid identification (like an ITIN) is provided, pursuant to 31 CFR 103.34(a)(1).
    • Inform them that pursuant to 26 CFR 301.6109-1(c) they are under no legal federal or state obligation to specifically obtain a SSN from you, and doing so is actually against federal SSA policy.
    • Inform them that 42 USC 408 makes it a felony to use threat, duress, or coercion to try and force a person by fear or deceit to provide a SSN.


Getting A Credit Card Without A SSN Or ITIN?

Now, what if you dont have a social security and you can’t or don’t want to get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, can you get a credit card in that case?…

If you are looking for a real credit card, then the answer is no. It seems unfair that you can get a credit card with bad credit, yet you can not get a credit card without a SSN. But that’s just how it works.

However, there are some banks that will give you a secured credit card. I would suggest you try to find a lender that is willing to give you a secured credit card and go with that. Be sure to check withe lender to see whether or not they report to the 3 major credit agencies (most do), as that will help you build your credit history one payment at a time.

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