How do you get a business credit card without a Social Security number (SSN)? Here’s how to do it with an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) or an employer identification number (EIN).
Read on to learn:
- Why most credit-card providers require a Social Security number
- Why you might want to apply for a business credit card without an SSN
- Ways to obtain a business credit card without a personal Social Security number
- How to apply for business credit cards without using a Social Security number
- Where to find business credit cards that don’t require an SSN
Why Most Credit Cards Require an SSN
The federal government originally created Social Security numbers in 1936 as a way to track income and years worked for purposes of administering Social Security benefits. During World War II, the government expanded the application of SSNs by using them as a way to identify individuals in the databases of federal agencies.
Since then, the SSN has become a widespread method of uniquely identifying individuals for various purposes, such as verifying the identity of workers, taxpayers and driver’s license applicants. U.S. credit-rating firms use your SSN to track your credit history. This is why most credit-card providers require you to include your Social Security number when submitting an application.
Why Get a Business Credit Card Without an SSN?
Although credit providers normally require an SSN, you may face a number of situations where you wish to apply for business credit cards without a Social Security number. Some typical scenarios include:
- You’re doing business in the U.S. as a noncitizen and you aren’t eligible for a Social Security number
- You’re applied for an SSN, but you haven’t received one yet
- You have an SSN, but you avoid sharing it more than necessary because of privacy and security concerns
If you’re encountering any of these situations, you may be wondering if there’s a way for you to obtain a business credit card with no Social Security number. The answer is, you can.
How to Apply for a Business Credit Card Without an SSN
To apply for a business credit card without using a Social Security number, you need another form of identification as a substitute. You can then use this form of identification to apply for an Employer Identification Number. With your SSN substitute and your EIN, you can then apply for a business credit card.
Two main forms of identification can serve as an alternative to an SSN:
- An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
- A passport
Method #1: Obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
A standard alternative to a Social Security number is an ITIN. This is a tax-processing number used by the IRS for individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but don’t have and aren’t eligible to obtain an SSN. Examples of individuals who need to obtain an ITIN include:
- Nonresident aliens required to file a U.S. tax return
- U.S. resident aliens filing a U.S. tax return
- Dependents or spouses of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
- Dependents or spouses of a nonresident alien visa holder
- Nonresident aliens claiming a tax treaty benefit
- Nonresident alien students, professors or researchers filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exception.
You can apply for an ITIN with the Internal Revenue Service by filing a Form W-7. You can submit an application when you submit a federal income tax return. You will need original documentation or certified copies of proof of your identity and foreign status.
Note that it may normally take up to 7 weeks for the IRS to process your ITIN application. If you file from abroad or during the peak tax season from Jan. 30 to April 15, it can take up to 11 weeks.
Once you have an ITIN, you can apply for an employer identification number. An EIN is similar to an SSN or ITIN, but it is used for businesses rather than individuals. You are eligible to apply for an EIN online if:
- You are the person ultimately responsible for owning or controlling your business
- Your principal business is located in the U.S. or U.S. territories
- You have a valid taxpayer identification number such as an SSN, ITIN or an EIN from another business
If you apply for an EIN online, you should receive it immediately upon approval. Applying by fax can take up to 4 business days, while mail can take up to 4 weeks.
Once you have your ITIN and EIN, you can use them to apply for your business credit card.
Method #2: Obtain a Passport
Another form of identification some credit-card providers accept instead of an SSN is a passport. For instance, Bank of America accepts passports as identification for certain business credit cards. You can apply for a passport from the U.S. Department of State. You will need to submit supporting documents and a photo ID and pay a fee.
The application process normally takes 6 to 8 weeks. For an expedited fee, you can cut this to 2 to 3 weeks. Applying through an agency or center also can speed up the process.
If your credit-card provider allows a passport, you also may need to submit additional documentation verifying your identity and income.
Steps to Apply for a Business Credit Card with No Social Security Number
Applying for a business credit card without using an SSN involves 5 steps:
- Researching credit-card providers
- Assembling your required identification
- Getting your employer identification number
- Assembling any other required documentation
- Submitting your application
1. Research Credit-Card Providers to Determine Your Requirements
Since business credit-card providers can have different requirements for identification, you should start by finding out what type of identification the provider or providers you’ll be applying to require. In general, a large number of providers will accept ITINs, while a smaller number will accept passports. Alternatively, you can start with the type of documentation you have and look for providers who accept that type of documentation.
2. Assemble Your Required Identification
Once you know what type of identification you’ll need, the next step is to assemble your required identification. If you already have your ITIN or passport, this is simply a matter of getting your information available to use. If you don’t have your identification, you’ll need to go through the application process first. Depending on the type of identification you’re using, this can take weeks or months in some cases, so this can be the longest step in the process.
3. Getting Your Employer Identification Number
If you’re using an ITIN, you will next need to get your EIN. If you already have an EIN, this is a simple matter of getting the information handy. If you don’t have one, you will need to apply. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks depending on the method you use. For the fastest results, apply online.
If you use a passport for identification, your credit-card provider may not necessarily require an EIN. However, if they require proof of business income, you will need to have a business bank account, and your bank will often require an EIN to open a business bank account. Some financial institutions may allow you to open a business bank account without an EIN if you’re a sole proprietor or LLC (per IRS regulations that require you to have an EIN if you operate your business as a corporation or partnership, have employees or meet certain other criteria).
4. Assemble Any Other Required Documentation
Your business credit-card provider may require you to submit additional documentation besides an ITIN or passport and EIN. For instance, you may need to submit recent bank statements documenting your business income. Assembling all necessary documentation before submitting your application will save you time and hassle.
5. Submit Your Application
At this point, you should be ready to submit your application. You can apply at a bank in person, online, over the telephone or through the mail. Depending on the method you use and the policies of your provider, approval may be instant or it may take days or weeks.
Business Credit Cards That Don’t Require an SSN
Not all credit-card providers will approve applicants without a Social Security number. However, some will, including some of the largest credit card companies. Here are 3 examples of business credit cards that don’t require an SSN.
Chase Ink Business Cash Card
The Chase Ink Business Cash Card offers a $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening your account. You can apply for one with just a tax identification number.
American Express Business Gold Card
The American Express Business Gold Card offers membership rewards points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within your first 3 months of card membership. You can apply for one with an EIN.
Bank of America Platinum Plus Mastercard Business Card
The Bank of America Platinum Plus Mastercard Business Card offers a competitive annual percentage rate (APR) with no annual fee, plus a $300 statement credit when you spend at least $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening your account. You can apply for one with an EIN.