The two most popular card issuers for applicants without an SSN are American Express and Citibank. These issuers both also offer cards outside of the United States and if you have an account opened with one of the issuers in another country, your overseas credit activity will be taken into account.
American Express Global Card Relationship
For existing American Express customers, the American Express Global Card Relationship Program is a great option for discovering new credit cards. You can access information about the available cards by simply logging into your active international Amex account.
To qualify for the program, you will need to provide your existing international account number. This account must be in good standing and have been active for at least three months before submitting a request for a new US card.
Citibank Global Banking
Although Citibank does not have an online card application for its existing customers, it is possible to call the bank directly and request that any checking account history be linked to a new card application. With a good history this should strengthen your application as it helps the bank verify your identity and assess your current asset level and credit history. Calling or applying to a branch in person is especially good for existing Citibank members with a foreign account, although your asset level and credit history will likely need to be substantial and well-established to qualify for the Global Banking program.
Other banks and card issuers
Bank of America also offers credit cards without the need to provide a Social Security number. With a valid ITIN – a number that’s only available to those who aren’t eligible for an SSN – two great cards you may qualify for are the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for students.* and the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card. Both of these will earn you rewards. In order to qualify, however, Bank of America recommends that you first ensure that you have a good or excellent credit history. You will also need to apply in person at a branch.
Capital One will also accept an ITIN as an alternate identifier on its online card applications. For those applying for a first-time credit card or have a reasonable or limited credit history, the bank also offers a few starter card options. An excellent card for this is the Capital One Platinum credit card. Most new applicants will only receive a small line of credit to begin with, but may qualify for a credit increase after as little as six months of one-time payments. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards credit card has an annual fee, but offers cash rewards to eligible applicants with average or higher credit.
Chase is another bank that accepts online card applications with an ITIN, although it may be more difficult to qualify with a fair or limited credit history as Chase requires a good credit score for most requests. Map.
US Bank and Wells Fargo both accept an ITIN as a replacement for SSN identification, but this only applies to secure cards.
Unfortunately, Discover and Barclaycard are two widely used companies that do not accept card applications without a Social Security number. If you are thinking of a card issuer but are unsure of their policy regarding SSN identification, we recommend that you call a branch directly to find out more before applying for a card online.