When you work in United States of America, you will be issued a Social Security Number (SSN) for identity, verify credit worthiness, tax reporting purposes etc.. However, not every one is eligible for a SSN. If you are on a dependent visa like H4, you are not eligible for a SSN.
If you are not eligible for SSN, you may be eligible for ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number)
What is ITIN?
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9. IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
How to apply for ITIN?
You can apply for an ITIN number while submitting a US Tax Return. You can find more details in this link.
Can ITIN holders apply for a credit card?
Each bank operates differently when it comes to issuing credit cards for persons with out SSN. Here is a summary by bank.
1. American Express – You can apply with ITIN
American Express being a global organization, lets you leverage your existing relationship outside of USA for issuing credit. Per the Global Card Transfer program, you can transfer your one of the American Express Credit card from India to USA.
American Express will let you apply online for credit cards in USA with ITIN. You can also add an authorized user without an ITIN or SSN, but it needs to be done over phone or Chat.
2. Citi – You can apply with ITIN
Similar to American Express, you can leverage your existing relationship with Citi outside of USA for getting a credit card in USA. You can learn more about transferring your relationship with Citi in this page.
Citibank lets you apply online for credit cards in USA with ITIN.
3. Bank of America: You can apply with ITIN
Bank of America let you apply for credit cards with ITIN number. You may have to apply in branch with additional information.
I know that one of my friend got a Bank of America credit card with out a SSN or ITIN. She got the credit card purely based on the foreign status and existing banking relationship with Bank of America (Direct Deposit Checking)
4. Chase: You can not apply with ITIN
Update 09/27/2015: Reader “Shalabh” informed that Chase credit cards can be applied with ITIN through the mobile app. You must have credit history to get approved.
5. Discover – You can not apply with ITIN
6. Barclays – You can not apply with ITIN
7. US Bank – You can not apply with ITIN
8. CaptialOne – You can not apply with ITIN
Things You Should Know:
- Even though a bank accepting ITIN for applying a credit card, does not mean your application will be approved. You would need to develop credit history to improve your chances of approval.
- American Express will let you transfer one credit card from India to USA without SSN or ITIN.
- You may be asked to provide additional information like Driving License or Passport when you apply with ITIN
- If you are unable to get a credit card from any of the banks mentioned above, you may consider applying for a credit card with Credit Union or local banks.
- All banks will let you know add authorized users without SSN or ITIN
You may be able to apply for a credit card in USA with out a Social Security Number. American Express, Citi and Bank of America will issue credit card for ITIN holders.
You can add authorized users even without a SSN or ITIN.
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