Posted by William Charles on August 7, 2015
Consumer Credit

Published on August 7th, 2015 | by William Charles

98

Complete Guide To ITIN’s: Applying For Credit Cards, Credit Reports & Credit Scores

What Is An ITIN?

A reader recently asked me what credit cards they could apply for using an ITIN. For those not familiar ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, these numbers are given to foreign employers by the IRS for tax purposes. When you apply for a credit card, there is a field for your Social Security Number (SSN), some card issuers allow people with ITIN’s to enter their ITIN there instead of a SSN, while others don’t allow people with an ITIN to apply for their cards.

Below is a hopefully helpful list of the policy of different card issuers when it comes to SSN/ITIN requirements, tips for getting approved and how ITIN’s work in regards to credit scores & reports.

Card Issuers That Allow You To Apply With An ITIN

American Express

American Express allows you to apply with an ITIN. In addition if you have an American Express issued card in another country it’s possible to use this relationship and the associated credit history you have with them to get approved (although you’ll still most likely need to call reconsideration to do so, if you’re not familiar with reconsideration phone calls, please read this first).

[Read: Credit Card Reconsideration Phone Numbers]

In addition to this it’s also possible to move existing cards from your home country to American Express USA (and from American Express USA to other countries) via American Express’ Global Card Transfer program. If you do a card transfer you should keep in mind you won’t receive a sign up bonus, and you won’t be able to receive a sign up bonus again on that card (because American Express cards have a once per lifetime rule).

Bank of America

BofA allows you to apply for a credit card with an ITIN, but it’s necessary to go into a Bank of America branch to apply without a SSN. Some people have also been able to get credit cards without an ITIN just by using their passport number as well.

Capital One

Capital One used to offer a credit card called “Capital One Cash Rewards for Newcomers” that was specifically designed for people new to the country and with no SSN. This card has been discontinued and but they are still accepting applications with ITIN’s according to reader Darren.

Chase

Reader, Another was able to get approved by applying using an ITIN online. Keep in mind that Chase has strict rules about the number of applications you can have for Chase branded cards.

Citibank

Citibank allows you to apply with an ITIN. Because Citibank operates in a lot of other countries, they also allow you to use any existing relationship you have with them in another country. If you’re from the United States, then you can also use your relationship here with other countries as well. You can find more about this at Citi’s Global Banking Relocating page.

Card Issuers That Don’t Allow You To Apply With An ITIN

Barclaycard

You’re supposed to be a permanent resident before you can apply for any Barclaycard card’s, although this isn’t always enforced. What is enforced is the requirement of having an SSN to be approved.

Discover

Used to accept ITIN’s but have stopped accepting them since November 2014.

US Bank

Does not allow you to apply with an ITIN. Apparently this doesn’t apply to their secured card, you can apply for this but it won’t graduate to an unsecured card.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo does not allow you to apply with an ITIN. Apparently this doesn’t apply to their secured card, you can apply for this but it won’t graduate to an unsecured card.

Credit Scores & Credit History With An ITIN

If you have an ITIN, then you’re credit is not tracked at the same level as it would be with a SSN.

Getting Your Credit Reports With An ITIN

Experian

Experian allows you to request your credit report using an ITIN, but because their automatic system only recognizes SSN’s it will automatically show an error. You can get around this by requesting your report by mail. Only Experian, must request it by mail (not online). Use this form to request your credit report from Experian. More information can be found on the Experian blog here.

Equifax

Equifax does not allow consumers to get a credit report without an SSN, if you try using an ITIN they will request proof of SSN.

TransUnion

TransUnion does not allow consumers to get their credit report unless they have a valid SSN. Some people have been able to receive their reports when they were subjected to adverse action (e.g denial for credit) but this has been largely hit and miss.

Getting Your Credit Scores With An ITIN

You might be able to get your credit score with an ITIN if the credit score is generated with an Experian credit report. You can view ways to get your FICO score for free here. You might also be able to receive a credit score when you’re subjected to adverse action.

Transferring Your ITIN Credit History To A SSN

If you’re assigned an SSN and previously held an ITIN with credit history, then this credit history is not automatically transferred to your new SSN. Instead this is what you need to do:

  1. Contact any current lenders (credit card companies, auto loans etc) and let them know about your new SSN, asking them to please report your existing and future credit history to your newly assigned SSN.
  2. Contact the three major consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian & TransUnion) and let me know about your new SSN, asking them to please report your existing and future credit history to your newly assigned SSN.

Each letter should be posted and also include a copy of the letter you received from the Social Security Administration that shows your new SSN. It’s also a good idea to confirm that this information has been correctly transferred after a few months.

Obviously you should only do this if you have a good credit history with your ITIN, if you don’t then please don’t port your negative credit history over to your new SSN. You should also make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes again, make sure you fully understand how FICO scores are calculated.

Additional Tips For Getting Approved For A Credit Card Without A SSN

  • Build a relationship with the credit card issuer before applying. The easiest thing to do is to open a deposit account (e.g checking or savings) with them first, before trying to apply. Make sure you check to see if they are offering a sign up bonus for these accounts first.
  • Leverage existing credit cards you have in your home country. Both Citi & American Express specifically allow you to leverage these relationships, so make sure you take advantage of them.
  • Apply in branch instead of online. If you have an existing relationship with the card issuer (whether this is a credit card in another country with them, or a deposit account here) then applying in branch should give the person processing your application the chance to point this out if you’re automatically denied due to lack of credit history.
  • Apply by phone instead of online. This follows on from the above, but it’s sometimes easier to get approved by phone rather than online, it’s more time consuming but it means that if there is an issue with your application you can discuss that issue immediately rather than having to call reconsideration.
  • Apply for a secured credit card. If you have no credit history, it’s often difficult to get approved. In cases such as these you should try to apply for a secured credit card first (preferably one that graduates to an unsecured card) and then you can apply for a regular card after you’ve built some positive history. You can view a list of the secured cards we recommend here.
  • Get added as an authorized user. Getting added as an authorized user to somebody else’s card can help you build credit history, click here to view how being added as an authorized user will effect your credit.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully people without an SSN find the above information helpful, if there is any information that you’d like to see added or corrected then please let me know in the comments below. Feel free to also ask any addition questions you might have as well.

 



98 Responses to Complete Guide To ITIN’s: Applying For Credit Cards, Credit Reports & Credit Scores

  1. Darren says:

    Hi William, I just want to provide you with some date points:
    – C1 still allow apply with ITIN, I helped a friend to apply the Venture last month with ITIN. And that is her first C1 credit card. Instant approve, no question asked.
    – Chase has always been accepting ITIN, and it does not seems to changed so far. Applied Hyatt, SW, CSP for my friend on March, May, July. No issue with any of the applications.

    • Thanks, Darren. With Capital One do you need to apply in branch or is online fine as well? Updated our post to reflect this.

      • Mark Z says:

        I don’t know Darren’s situation, but as I mentioned, online should be fine. Although I used the pre-approval they sent me. But not I’m having trouble accessing the Credit Tracker feature, getting the error saying my info at C1 and that at TransUnion do not match.

      • Mark Z says:

        Oh sorry.. I forgot that I did not mention I applied online..

      • Darren says:

        Hi William, I already menthioned it is the C1 Venture, (spend $3k and get 40k miles).

  2. Vic says:

    Great post! This topic is very relevant to me and I’m glad to see organized post about it. (Other blogs website are at lot of time incorrect)

    First hand experience:

    American Express allow application with passport number.

    My wife holds F-2 visa and does not have SSN/ITIN.
    She was targeted for Amex PRG 50K in 2013, applied, and was approved. (over the phone, result came out in a week or so)
    Before AF hit, she applied for Everyday Preferred (over the phone as well), and closed PRG afterwards.

    She did not have any account with Amex anywhere else, and was not added as AU at the time. Before she was targeted for for PRG she only had chase checking/savings, and AU for my Freedom.

  3. life_is_to_live says:

    Great post, great consolidation – wife does not have SSN and is an authorized user on my AMEX & Chase account.
    I called Amex to see if they want to update ITIN so that she builds history, they simply do not bother and they did not even took the ITIN in.
    Chase – when I applied, I added her as AU – no questions / no request for ITINs or anything, she got her CSP.

    Please update your post regarding Barclays, I am not a permanent resident (but hold SSN through employment) and got approved for Arrival + just this week. So the criteria is SSN and not permanent resident.

    Thanks

  4. another says:

    Thanks for great posts again.

    But I had to say that I have multiple cases where the information about Chase may need to be somewhat qualified.

    Three specific/concrete application cases:

    two different persons’ applications (both Freedom) with ITIN a month ago: both successful
    one case (IHG card) two weeks ago: also successful.

    Not sure whether they already have Chase cards (before this new policy) matters (by the way, I don’t know those three persons already have Chase cards, just my conjecture)

    • Thanks, Another. For this post I did as much research as possible, but I knew some would be incorrect/inaccurate as I don’t have any experience applying with an ITIN myself. I have some follow up questions for you, did these people apply in branch or online? If online did they need to call reconsideration to be approved or was the ITIN enough?

      Thank you for the data points and information.

  5. Mark Z says:

    It’s my turn. Haha! Here’s my story:
    1. Citi Forward:
    Possibly the student version, got in branch via banger when I first opened my accounts with them. Using only passport info.
    2. Amex BCE + Discover
    About 7 or 8 months later, with ITIN. I knew nothing about Credit scores and was not managing the usage ratio. (Tried Chase Freedom around the same time, declined)
    3. Amex Everday + Amex Blue Sky
    With ITIN, after carefully using the three cards above for about 10 months. Pre-approvals from Capitalone started to arrive at about using the three cards for 5 months and Pre-approvals for Chase Freedom and Slate started to arrive a few weeks before I applied the two Amex cards. The Blue Sky was an innocent mistake, but I don’t want to close it because it is my highest line of credit so far…
    4. Chase Freedom
    Using the pre-approval, with ITIN. Sometime after the two Amex cards above, a couple of weeks before the 200 bonus this year. Luckily got matched via chat.
    5. Citi Diamond + Hilton HHonors
    I forgot the time of application for Diamond, possibly sometime after Freedom. Rushed for a Hilton before a travel. Both with ITIN.
    6. Capitalone Quicksilver
    Using pre-approval, with ITIN. Rushed for this one because forseeing huge spending on Uber during my travel.
    7. Amazon store + Chase Amazon + United Explorer
    Tried Amazon store card and got approved with ITIN. Then tried Chase Amazon before travel, got a 7 day notice, and then approval came during my trip. Upon returning, tried United, got the call-us notice, and approved over the phone. Still ITIN.
    8. BoA BBR
    Went to the branch and got it with ITIN.
    9. TJMaxx store card
    In order to buy stuff for a friend. Tried with ITIN, apparently Synchrony do not allow MasterCard with ITIN.
    10. Chase AARP
    After several SCT approvals, the last try before gardening. Still with ITIN, got a 7 day notice, called recon line, and got approved over the phone. Before this one, I also tried Rakuten and Citi Double Cash, both declined.

    For Chase, I probably need to add that I opened a checking account for the 300 with them after getting Freedom and before trying all its other cards.
    Now that I have rather bad-looking HP records and lowered account age, so I’ve started gardening this month.

    • When did you do the Discover application? Thanks for the data points.

      • Mark Z says:

        I applied for Discover on June last year. A vague memory remains in my mind that I might had a problem using ITIN, so I called but they say it should be fine and asked me to do again while on the phone. There must have been something unusual and they finally processed the application on their side and it went through.

  6. Mark Z says:

    I hope I am not acting too innocently and left info that I should not have written. Please help me delete them if there is any. Many thanks!

  7. Mark Z says:

    By the way… Sorry for posting three times in a row… In my case, do you think it good to transfer the credit history? I now have many HPs but also have some cards with older age. If I don’t transfer, will it lower my account age to 0?

    • No need to apologize and no need to transfer the credit limits – unless you want a higher credit limit on a specific card.

      • Mark Z says:

        Sorry if I didn’t made it clear enough.. I meant transferring the credit history on my ITIN after obtaining the SSN. If I don’t transfer and let the lenders report to my SSN, will my account age become 0 and I have to wait for their growth?

  8. JB says:

    I really love these folks here @ DOC. Finally someone taking the time to get things straight for us “aliens” as 99% of Americans probably have no idea how it is trying to live a normal life with a foreign passport and just pass on irrelevant information 😉

    My story in short (all with SSN of course, no ITIN for me): first CC = secured $500 WF in summer 2011, first unsecured CC = Cap1 $300 “Newcomers” card in fall 2011 (I still have it – it’s a QS now but it’s the same account with $6k CL), today total # of CCs = 15 from 12 different FIs, total CL = $140k, FICO scores = mid 700s, all without a permanent residency, all it takes is not owning a home, owning your car, and living below your means (i.e. spend less than you make), take that 99% of Americans lol

    Re Barclay: my wife and I both have BCs in our wallets w/o any issues.

    • Updated the post to make it a bit clearer about the Barclaycard rules. Maybe I’ll do another post that is tailored to resident aliens with a SSN.

      • Darren says:

        that will be a great idea! I can certainly provide you with some data points for that. I have cards from all 9 banks you mentioned in your post. And as a resident alien, I have successfully got approved for Wells Fargo’s Propels without providing false info.(no secure WF CC prior to that)

  9. Andrew says:

    So, Equifax and Transunion won’t provide an annual credit report; but has anyone tried purchasing their score from either of them, directly from their websites, and getting the report along with it? If Experian will give out a report with ITIN, then there must not be anything legally questionable about doing so, and presumably Equifax and Transunion like money.

    • Vic says:

      IIRC, I was able to get free annual report from both Experian and TransUnion for my wife without SSN.
      I did all three through mail of course, EX and TU replied with report directly, and EQ replied with a mail saying that they need SSN verification, basically ignoring what I wrote in the report request.

      • Alberto says:

        I was able to get EQ report back in 2014 when my credit was new. Since then they just reply with a letter asking for SSN.

        I am able to get EX and TU reports by mail with ITIN.

  10. TWoK says:

    After reading this I applied my wife for a Personal SPG AMEX and she was instantly approved with a large credit limit using only an ITIN. She has been my AU for years. I was so happy, but just my luck the next day 5,000 points are available for referral and another 5,000 for the 30k vs 25k sign-up bonus. Drat!!

    Any info on being able to get an AMEX business account with a ITIN?

  11. barn says:

    I have an Itin number and I could not to get a credit report on line with the 3 CRAs,but I called to Transunion and they were friendly and sent me free a credit report by mail. Since I was denied with a loan with Prosper, I asked to Experian my free credit report and they sent me free my credit report by mail, I had send a copy of my itin number and a statement bank as proof of address and identity. When Proper denied the loan,they sent an email with my Experian fico score (720),they said since my credit file is thin (10 months),they can’t approve the loan. I have a Amex credit card and now they are providing a Experian fico Score, I can to see the link “Free Fico Score” when I log online in my account.When I applied for a secured card with Wells Fargo almost a year ago,they accepted my Itin number,but I applied in the branch.Also,I have a capital One credit card secured,but I had send by fax a copy of my passport and the Itin number.

  12. Akshay says:

    I guess if one can get credit card on ITIN then can anybody confirm receipt of prepaid cards like Serve, BB, etc based on ITIN?

    • Mark Z says:

      I bought a temporary Old Blue Serve, but the online system didn’t recognize my ITIN, so I was not able to complete the registration. Called them and was told I had to wait till I get my SSN, even if I have three credit cards with Amex. I’m still not sure about the monthly fee. One representative said the fee only applies to registered cards, another said it applies even if I was not able to register.

      • TWoK says:

        Same deal as mentioned above. I had the old AMEX Prepaid cards with an ITIN, but could not get Redbird, Serve or Bluebird with one. Does anyone know if I can apply for an AMEX business card with ITIN?

  13. htg123 says:

    I’ve got an itin and have been in the game for a while. Question is… When I eventually get my SSN, will I be able to start fresh again at amex to get all the sign up bonuses a second time?

  14. RAJ says:

    Data point- Spouse applied for Cap one Venture rewards card – 2% miles card + 40k miles + 59 $ fee with ITIN. Approved after submitting proof.

    After adding as AU , we got the pre qual offer for quick silver , but applied for venture rewards card and got the approval.

  15. Paul says:

    You can get your credit score with itin if you have an amex credit card , online it should be on botton right after log in on amex account (fico score),
    and if you pay $15.95 you can get full Equifax report online .you will have to call to confirm security information simple task by the way, just ask you what card you have ,limit ,adress phone number easy .

  16. RadhikaPradeep says:

    Inspired by the post/comments, applied for Amex/Citi credit cards. Was approved two Amex cards. Combined limit of 10.5K. Citi card required more information and waiting on their decision. Thanks everybody for their experiences/info. Appreciate the author for the post. Any updates on the list of banks/cards that allow ITINs?

  17. raj says:

    Within 4 months with ITIN applied
    1) Cap one venture – 15k approved
    2) CSP – denied
    3) ATT- Pending documentation process
    4) Freedom – 500 $ limit approved . Will change it to Freedom UL after maxing out gas and groceries bonus categories.
    5) SPG – Pending documentation process
    6) CSP – Will apply after 6/7 months ( will be 5th card)

    • akhere says:

      Raj Bhai,

      please help me..

      which was ur first card on getting itin..?

      did u have any credit history before getting itin..if yes then how did u build it and how old was it?

      how can we know credit score with itin?

      i want to start new credit card and history…so please reply ASAP…

      thanks in advance…

      • milesjjcc says:

        hi akhere,

        did you get any info about your questions? would like to know those things

        Thanks

      • Alberto says:

        My first 2 cards with ITIN were Bank of America Secured card and Discover. Discover no longer issue cards without SSN.

        After 6 months I got a FICO score on my Discover statement.

        I applied for Amex after that. Then Chase Freedom and Cap1 Venture.

        If I had to start again, I’ll visit Bank of America maybe Citi and Cap1 branches with ID, address verification, ITIN and passport. Then wait 6-12 months and try other banks once they can see some history they will approve other cards.

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  19. Crys says:

    First thing is getting a capital one secured credit card ,apply online with itin,
    After 6 moths of good use you will get credit card offers from capital one apply online easy enough,
    Cards that I got with itin,American express, chase ,capital one ,I had to call American express and chase to verify information, capital one seems to be the easiest one.

  20. milesjjcc says:

    After several attempts, got Amex charge card approved for my wife. Thanks folks

  21. Angeluz says:

    I believe us bank allows itins now
    It clearly says it when applying ssn/itin

    I’m getting a secured card with them
    I have banking relationship

  22. Alberto says:

    Capital One is in both lists, they should only be on the list that accept ITIN.

  23. Cris says:

    confirmed citi still accept itins,just got double cash online with itin ,had to email itin copy to them,
    4k approved ,6k capital one one quick silver,10k amex blue cash preferred ,3.2k freedom
    I gave 1k deposit on capital secured cc ,I think that helped really good to get credit cards with more limits
    as my friend gave $49 dollars and just get low limit card when he apply ,he gets 500 dollars or so maximum and they always denied him when asks for increases,my first pre approval from capital one was quick silver on 3k ,that was increased to 6k in 10 moths as my request .
    my amex went from 4k to 10k in a year.

  24. TWoK says:

    So AMEX’s new style site is no longer accepting ITINs, but AMEX still accepts ITINs on their older style forms, IE referral forms.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comments/5cqds1/psa_amex_no_longer_accepting_itin_for_online/

    • Thanks, I’ll contact American Express to see if I can get an official comment.

      • TWoK says:

        I am not sure what the best course of action is. Wife applied for Ameriprise Gold today with ITIN and was approved, but could not apply for regular Gold or Green card because it find SSN starting with 9 (ITIN) invalid.

        • TWoK says:

          Of note, phone applications still work without any issue. Just call up and give the offer code found online and the phone application rep should be able to match the offer. My wife applied and was approved for the green card the same day as the Ameriprise Gold card after applying over the phone.

      • TWoK says:

        William, there’s a new issue now. At the moment the web form takes ITIN without an error, but it is impossible to be approved because something in the back-end glitches out and it doesn’t even show that an application has been processed on the AMEX application status page. Care to reach out to your contact again for an update?

  25. Alberto says:

    I was able to create an account with credit.com with ITIN.
    I’m not able to get one with other online services.

    • Ha_Ka says:

      Thanks!
      I was able to create credit.com account with ITIN. Other online services use TU and EQ, and as DoC mentioned they don’t allow credit report access with ITIN, maybe that is the reason.

  26. VP says:

    Hey guys, I believe this article has been really helpful for a lot of people. After reading through this, I just made an online application for Chase Freedom and awaiting a response from them. Also, below are my past experiences with BofA and Citibank.

    I applied for BofA Rewards CC about 10 months ago and got approved without ITIN… Last month I applied for a Citi Double Cash card and got denial letter in mail after a week… it didn’t have any info on why I got denied, so I called them, they said the letter was sent by mistake and reopened my application. Another letter was sent out to me requesting for additional info, I had to send them a copy of my ITIN and got approved after that.

    I’ll keep you guys posted on my application with Chase.

  27. Tay says:

    I fully agree with the information given above. I have got following cards with the given credit limits at the moment by using itin instead of ssn.

    Chase Saphire preferred: $5000
    Amex Platinum: $15000 (spending limit)
    Amex Blue cash preferred: $3000
    Capital one Quicksikver: $8000
    Bank of America rewards: $2500
    Citi Double Cash: $500
    PayPal credit line: $1700
    Amazon store card: $600
    Macy’s store card: $600

    In my experience, Only cards which I couldn’t get with ITIN were Barclay’s and Discover as they do not accept itin and only require SSN.

    (Note: I am legal temporary resident on non immigrant visa and have 3 years of established credit history started withe Bank of America secure card)

    • Anibal says:

      Hi.

      I am new in this forum and I have to say that is awesome help for the people.

      TAY. I Wanna know the way that you got the paypal credit line. I got a secured credit card from capital one with my ITIN (6 Months).

      Thanks for all.

      • Tay says:

        Hi Anibal,
        All you need to do is, open a PayPal account and link your secure card and checking acvount with PayPal….. try to make payments with your secure credit card whenever you use PayPal accounts medium of payment to seller on ebay etc.
        I guess after 3 months you will be able to apply for PayPal credit line.

        • Anibal says:

          Greetings again my friend.

          Do you add your ITIN Number to your paypal account or you just apply for the credit line without add the ITIN to your account of paypal.

          Thanks.

  28. IH says:

    Very useful info. Thank you.

    I believe wells fargo allows you to get a secured credit card with itin but does not allow you to upgrade without actual ssn.

  29. Sam says:

    Recently I have had issues with Chase credit cards. I already hold a Chase Sapphire with 30k limit and have had the CSP, MPE and SW cards before. But I have been turned down the last 4 times telling me they can’t verify my identity. Even after sending them a copy of my ITIN, they said they can’t fully identify me.

  30. Lily says:

    Does all of this go for opening bank accounts as well or is that an entirely separate thing? Would like to apply online to open a checking/savings account, but not sure which banks would accept ITIN.

  31. Pingback: Banks/Credit Unions That Allow You To Open A Deposit Account Without An SSN - Doctor Of Credit

  32. Francisco says:

    I recently got my ITIN through the IRS. I want to start applying for credit cards although all the online applications ask for a SSN? Including Capital One which seems to be a popular one for people with ITINS. Help what did you put in the Social Security tab so that it will allow you to continue with the application? Also where do you put the ITIN number.

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  34. Kumar says:

    Just a Data point : Referred my wife to SPG card and applied with ITIN number on last day of 35k referral. Got a letter asking for more verification and finally got approved after having conference call with Bank account (joint). Other option they gave was verification with Phone company. Got referral bonus of 5k points too.

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