Published on August 7th, 2015 | by William Charles98
Complete Guide To ITIN’s: Applying For Credit Cards, Credit Reports & Credit Scores
- 1 What Is An ITIN?
- 2 Card Issuers That Allow You To Apply With An ITIN
- 3 Card Issuers That Don’t Allow You To Apply With An ITIN
- 4 Credit Scores & Credit History With An ITIN
- 5 Additional Tips For Getting Approved For A Credit Card Without A SSN
- 6 Final Thoughts
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 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).
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 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.
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 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
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.
Used to accept ITIN’s but have stopped accepting them since November 2014.
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 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 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 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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.