How to Get a Credit Card With an ITIN Number

Updated on January 8, 2024

At a Glance

  • With an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), you can apply for a credit card in the United States.
  • Credit card issuers cannot reject your application solely because you have an ITIN instead of a social security number, but limited credit history may restrict you to secured credit cards that require a cash deposit.
  • To apply for a credit card with an ITIN, obtain the ITIN from the IRS, consider credit history requirements, explore cards designed for non-U.S. citizens, and focus on secured or student credit cards.
  • Responsible use of a credit card helps build a good credit history, leading to access to better cards in the future. It’s important to be aware of ITIN expiration and to regularly file tax returns with the IRS to maintain its validity. Managing credit card debt involves timely payments, settling balances, keeping low or zero balances to avoid interest, and being responsible with other bills and debts to maintain a positive credit score.

A credit card gives you instant access to a loan. Although the interest rate and fees on a credit card can be significant, a good credit card is a very important part of a good financial plan. One of the requirements when applying for a credit card is a federal taxpayer identification number. For U.S. citizens, this is their social security number. If you do not have a social security number, read on to learn how to get a credit card with ITIN number instead.

Can You Get a Credit Card With an ITIN?

The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) keeps track of taxpayers in the United States who do not have a social security number.

Applications for a new credit card require you to give a federal taxpayer identification number. For U.S. citizens, their social security number is also their taxpayer identification with the IRS. 

If you do not have a social security number, you can use your ITIN (read more here on the difference between ITIN and SSN). A credit card issuer is not allowed to refuse to issue you a card because you have an ITIN instead of a social security number. 

However, you may still be unable to get many types of credit cards if you do not have a credit history in the United States. Generally, U.S. credit card issuers do not recognize your credit history from outside the U.S.

Although you can legally get any credit card using your ITIN, you may be limited in practice to only getting secured credit cards. These have low or no credit history requirements but require a cash deposit.

How to Apply for a Credit Card With an ITIN

Applying for a credit card with an ITIN is almost the same as applying using a social security number, with a few important things to keep in mind.

The steps listed below outline the process for applying for a credit card if you don’t have a social security number:

  1. Get an ITIN: Unlike social security numbers, ITINs are not issued automatically. You need to apply for one from the IRS before you can use it. Take a look here on how to get an ITIN number. Also, if your ITIN has expired you will need to renew it. 
  2. Check credit history requirements: Unsecured credit cards generally require that you have a substantial credit history in the U.S. These requirements are much lower for secured credit cards.
  3. Look for cards that don’t require a social security number: Some issuers have credit cards that are designed specifically for non-U.S. citizens living in the U.S. These are a good option when applying for a credit card with ITIN number.
  4. Build your credit history in the U.S.: Before you apply, you can spend some time building a good credit history e.g. using a ‘credit-builder’ loan, or becoming an authorized user of someone else’s credit card. It takes about 6 months of continuous credit activity for a FICO score to be created in your name.

Which Type of Credit Cards Are Best for ITIN?

Although you can apply for any credit card with your ITIN, your chances of a successful application vary widely. The types of cards listed below are the most likely to be issued when you apply with your ITIN.

Secured Credit Cards for ITIN

You can increase your chances of getting approved by applying for a secured credit card. This is a type of card for which you must provide a cash deposit. 

The deposit will be your lending limit and will be claimed by the credit card issuer if you fall behind on your payments. You get the deposit back when you close the credit card account. 

You usually don’t need a credit history for a secured credit card. This means your chances of a successful application are greatly increased when applying with an ITIN and no credit history in the United States.

Student Credit Cards for ITIN

If you are a student, you may qualify for a better deal than other people applying for their first credit card. Look for student-oriented offers with zero annual fees. Some credit card issuers offer credit cards specifically for international students.

What Happens After You Apply for an ITIN Credit Card?

If your application is unsuccessful, it will, unfortunately, decrease your credit score. You can look for cards with lower requirements. Some credit card companies offer credit cards that do not require a social security number when you apply.

If your application is successful, you will be issued your new credit card. 

The most important thing to do when you have your credit card is to use it responsibly. Regular and responsible use of your first credit card is an excellent way to build a good credit history.  

Over time, your credit score will rise and you will have access to better credit cards with lower interest rates, lower fees, and more rewards. With a good enough credit history in the U.S., you could eventually get an unsecured credit card, even using your ITIN.

Another important thing to note when using an ITIN to apply for a credit card is that, unlike social security numbers, ITINs expire if they are not used to file a federal tax return for several years. You should make sure that your ITIN does not expire by regularly filing a tax return with the IRS.

How to Manage your Credit Card Debt

When it comes to settling the credit balance, sooner is better than later. You should generally pay the largest amount you can afford towards your credit card debt. 

Keeping a low or zero balance also prevents you from paying interest on the interest payments. This situation can create a debt trap, which is very difficult to escape. 

Paying off any credit card debt quickly often means that you don’t pay any interest at all. Many cards offer a zero-interest period of one month or more.

Keeping a zero balance also keeps your credit utilization ratio low. This number, along with on-time payments contributes to your credit score.

Also, make sure to keep up with your other bills and debts. Unpaid balances on other bills can affect your credit score and erase the positive effect of a well-used credit card.

Read More

Final Thoughts 

You can legally apply for any credit card with ITIN number, but your chances of success are highest with secured cards and student credit cards. The process for applying for a credit card is mostly the same whether you use an ITIN or social security number. However, ITINs are not issued automatically. You have to apply to the IRS for an ITIN.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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