4 Min Read | January 12, 2023

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

Many credit card applications require you to provide a Social Security number, but you may be able to apply even if you don’t have this form of identification.

Credit Card Without SSN

This article contains general information and is not intended to provide information that is specific to American Express products and services. Similar products and services offered by different companies will have different features and you should always read about product details before acquiring any financial product.


Credit card issuers generally require that you share your Social Security number (SSN) as a way to verify your identity.

If you don’t have an SSN, some issuers still make it possible to open a credit card.

You still need to meet minimum card application requirements, even with alternative identification.

If you don’t have a Social Security number, you probably have already noticed it can be difficult to open a credit card account in the U.S. For example, many financial institutions, if not most, will require an SSN on the card application. This can make it a challenge to access credit and build your credit history.


Fortunately, some credit card issuers make it possible to get a credit card, even if you don’t have an SSN.

Why Do Most Card Issuers Require a Social Security Number?

Financial institutions must verify the identity of new applicants. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 “prescribes regulations establishing minimum standards for financial institutions and their customers regarding the identity of a customer that shall apply with the opening of an account at the financial institution.”1  While it’s not required to use an SSN to do so, these uniquely identifiable numbers provide a secure and verifiable way for businesses to track an individual’s financial information.2 Thus, most banks and credit card issuers require that you share your SSN as part of the application process. 


Furthermore, creditors may use your credit history to decide whether to approve you for new credit and, if approved, to determine your credit limit or loan amount and interest rates. SSNs are commonly used by banks to access your credit history through one or more of the three credit bureaus. Which leads us to the question:

Can I Have a Credit History Without a Social Security Number?

Yes, it is possible. Credit bureaus may use more than an individual’s Social Security number to build their credit report. Experian, for example, uses other identifiable information, such as full name, birth date, and known addresses, to access a person’s credit history.3 So, if you are able to open a credit card account without using an SSN, the account should still appear on your credit report and help you build credit


To access your credit report without an SSN, you can use your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), but you must submit a written request directly to any of the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.4 To obtain an ITIN, you’ll need to file IRS Form W-7, which is available to individuals who do not have and are not eligible to get a Social Security number.

Can I Get a Credit Card Without a Social Security Number?

The short answer is yes. Although SSNs are often required when applying for a credit card, some issuers accept alternative identification for someone who doesn’t have one, such as international students, new residents to the U.S., or noncitizens.

How to Apply for a Credit Card Without an SSN

The good news is that the process of applying for a credit card despite not having an SSN might not differ much from the regular application process. It usually entails going to the card issuer’s website, finding the card you want to apply for, and clicking “Apply Now.”


Then, you can fill out the application as instructed, which often requires you enter information such as name, address, and total annual income. You’ll probably be asked to enter your SSN, but it’s possible the card issuer accepts ITINs or other forms of identification. If you’re unsure whether the card issuer accepts applicants without SSNs, it may be helpful to give their application department a call.

Alternative Identification Isn’t Enough to Be Automatically Approved for a Credit Card

If a credit card issuer doesn’t require an SSN, it does not mean the application will automatically be approved. Even with alternate forms of ID, you’d still have to meet the minimum qualification requirements, which could include checking your credit history.


Credit history is an important consideration, since international students and other non-U.S. citizens, as well as new residents, are usually “credit invisible.” This means that even with an alternative form of identification like an ITIN, a credit invisible individual might not be approved for credit due to a lack of information that reassures credit card issuers that they’re able to repay their debt.

However, if you have established credit in your home country, you might be able to transfer your foreign credit history.

The Takeaway

Although it may be more challenging to do so, it is possible to get a credit card without a Social Security number. Some credit card issuers make it easier by accepting an ITIN in lieu of an SSN, and some even help you overcome credit invisibility by allowing you to use third-party services that leverage eligible foreign credit history in your application. Even if a card issuer allows you to apply without an SSN, remember that you still must meet other eligibility criteria in order to be approved.

Megan Doyle

Megan Doyle is a business technology writer and researcher whose work focuses on financial services and cross-cultural diversity and inclusion.


All Credit Intel content is written by freelance authors and commissioned and paid for by American Express. 

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The material made available for you on this website, Credit Intel, is for informational purposes only and intended for U.S. residents and is not intended to provide legal, tax or financial advice. If you have questions, please consult your own professional legal, tax and financial advisors.