Can You Get a Business Credit Card Without a Social Security Number?

A business credit card can be an excellent tool for managing business expenses, whether that’s paying for vendors, purchasing inventory or booking travel. For a U.S. company, applying for a business card entails providing the issuer with your personal information to verify the organization’s ability to repay debt obligations. A new sole proprietorship or partnership would likely be required to submit an owner’s or partner’s Social Security number (SSN) for a credit check. New U.S. residents, foreign students or non-residents who don’t have these credentials can also be approved for a business credit card they just have to go through more red tape.

In some cases, established businesses may already have some history in the commercial credit realm. In other circumstances, securing a unique identifier from the federal government will help move you one step closer to obtaining a credit card for your business. 

Do you need a Social Security number to apply for a business credit card?

It’s a common requirement to submit a Social Security number with a credit card application, especially when applying for a business credit card. Your Social Security number is tied to personal credit reports that issuers will want to review before handing down a decision on approval and credit line amounts.

If you don’t have a Social Security number or don’t want to provide yours, you will need an alternative method of identifying yourself or your company before any bank will issue you a credit line. With that in mind, here are three identifiers that banks will accept in lieu of a Social Security number:

  • Employer Identification Number. If you already have a few miles under your business belt, it’s possible you have established an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. It’s not a mandatory requirement for one-person businesses, but for owners who have employees and need to report payroll taxes to the IRS, an EIN is required. Some banks will accept an EIN on a credit card application rather than a Social Security number. 
  • Individual Tax Identification Number. For international students, new U.S. residents or non-U.S. citizens without a Social Security number, getting a credit card will require one additional step before applying. An Individual Tax Identification Number, or ITIN, will need to be locked down from the IRS before applying and gaining approval. 
  • Foreign passport. If you don’t want to apply for an EIN or ITIN, the simplest way for a non-U.S. citizen to apply for a card is by providing a copy of your passport to verify your identity with the bank. You’ll have better luck using this form of ID with larger credit card issuers, but it’s important to check their requirements before beginning the application process. 

Applying for a business credit card without a Social Security number

The process to apply for a credit card isn’t very different without a Social Security number. You’ll need to consider banks that will accept an EIN or ITIN for identification purposes and see how you fare. Here are the steps you’ll need to take when applying for a credit card without a Social Security number. 

  1. Check your credit. Even if you don’t have a Social Security number, you may have borrowed and repaid a debt, and that activity could have been reported to one of the three major credit bureaus. You can check your personal credit history for free from each of three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion® – once each year at AnnualCreditReport.com, and the results will give you an idea of which credit card may fit your circumstances.
  2. Consider your options. Not all credit card issuers will accept an application without a Social Security number, so you’ll need to do some research on which banks will accept alternate forms of identification. Randomly applying for credit cards with multiple banks harms your credit score.
  3. Fill out the application. Credit card applications will require basic information, aside from business or personal identifiers. Some banks may require that you apply in person, but an online application will do the trick in most instances.
  4. Wait for a decision. Some banks issue approval decisions almost instantly, but applications containing identification other than a Social Security number will likely take longer to reveal a decision. You can typically check on the status of an application by calling or emailing an issuer’s customer service department.

Credit card issuers to apply to without a Social Security number

Some issuers accept credit card applications that list ITINs or EINs exclusively, and others allow you to use a passport or a student visa as identification. To make your application process a little easier, here’s a list of banks that will recognize forms of identification other than a Social Security number: 

  • American Express. This bank will accept an ITIN, foreign passport or other valid government-issued ID. 
  • Bank of America. This bank will accept an ITIN, foreign passport or other valid government-issued ID, but you’ll need to call or stop by a physical location to submit the application. 
  • Citi. Similar to Bank of America, you’ll need to visit a branch to apply if you don’t have a Social Security number. For verification purposes, only some card applications let you present the required passport, national identifier or other government-issued ID. 
  • Capital One. This issuer will only accept an ITIN in place of a Social Security number. 

The bottom line

When it comes to business credit cards, not all hope is lost for applicants without Social Security numbers. Some of nation’s largest issuers have requirements that aim to accommodate individuals who aren’t U.S. citizens or who may not want to use a Social Security number to provide a personal guarantee. 

To scoop up an unsecured business card, most issuers will want to see some proof of fair credit history at a minimum. If you have the collateral, you’ll get a credit line to match and be on your way to more attractive business financing programs. Yet, that shouldn’t dissuade you from seeking a secured business card that will help build credit — if managed wisely. 

Thom Tracy

Thom Tracy is a writer and consultant with 28 years of experience in the insurance and financial services industries.