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It can be difficult to apply for a credit card if you don’t have a Social Security Number (SSN) because most credit card issuers require it for identification. However, if you don’t have SSN, you can still get a credit card to help you in making online purchases and even build your credit history.

Using ITIN to get a credit card

Some credit card issuers will use the Individual Taxation Identification Number (ITIN) to issue credit cards rather than requiring SSN. Most importantly, the ITIN is a form of identification used for filing tax returns for individuals who don’t have SSN. Those who have worked in the US or those receiving taxable scholarship can apply for the ITIN when filing returns or at IRS accredited locations.

The ITIN is used for identification, and some issuers will accept it as an alternative to SSN. Some issuers will also give credit cards using the passport when an individual applies to a branch. CreditStacks and Deserve offer credit cards to professionals relocating to the US or international students.

American express partnership with Nova

American Express offers international students or US noncitizens credit cards in partnership with Nova Credit without requiring SSN. For individuals with a credit history in the UK, India, Mexico, Canada, or Australia, they can easily apply for a credit card without SSN. Most importantly, you will be able to build your credit history in the US with an American Express credit card because it reports to major credit bureaus. For students, there are numerous credit cards meant for new users, but they tend to charge high rates because of limited borrowing records.

Consider debit cards

If you are not able to get a credit card, you should consider a debit card that might also be effective. However, since debit cards are associated with a checking account, it might be necessary to have an ITIN before applying it. There are also prepaid credit cards using MasterCard, American Express, and Visa payment networks.