Can You Apply for Business Credit Cards Without a Social Security Number?

Maddie Shepherd

Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!
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It might come as a surprise that business credit card applications typically require your personal social security number. One of the main reasons to get a business credit card is to make sure that your personal finances and your business finances stay tidily isolated. (It’s super important for your accountant to make sure your taxes are squeaky clean!)

So, then, why is it so difficult to get business credit cards without a social security number?

It’s a frustrating reality, but, applying for business credit cards without a social security number will be difficult and involve a lot of paperwork. But if you’re curious about any options available, here’s everything you can do for getting business credit cards without a social security number.

TL;DR: Getting Business Credit Cards Without a Social Security Number

Put simply, getting a hold of any business credit cards without a social security number won’t be a simple task.

No matter which way you choose to approach your applications, you’ll likely have to fill out a lot of paperwork and deal with equal amounts of bureaucracy. And, even after that, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to find a business credit card issuer that will let you apply without a social security number.

As you can see, it’s a super-important part of any business credit card application. And that’s why we encourage you to apply for a social security number as soon as you can.

If you’re unwilling or unable to apply for a social security number, though, your most direct route to applying for business credit cards without a social security number is:

  1. Apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN.
  2. Use that ITIN to apply for an Employer Identification Number, or EIN.
  3. Find a business credit card issuer, like a corporate credit card issuer, that will let you apply with an EIN instead of an SSN.

Why Do You Need a Social Security Number to Apply for a Business Credit Card?

Here’s the biggest question we need to answer before anything: Why do you typically need a social security number to apply for a business credit card? Like, what’s the point?

It’s a reasonable ask, especially if this is for your business, right? Except the thing is that a business credit card application is heavily contingent on a business owner’s personal finances. You are the primary decision maker in the business, after all, and will have the jurisdiction over how the credit card is used and then subsequently paid off. So it makes sense that the card issuer would use your personal credit history as a track record for risk.

As such, almost every business credit card issuer will ask you to provide your personal SSN on your business credit card application in order to run an inquiry on your personal credit score.

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What If You Don’t Have a Social Security Number for a Business Credit Card Application?

First, Consider Getting a Social Security Number

There’s really no way to sugarcoat this: Getting business credit cards without social security numbers will be a tricky, convoluted process. Although it is possible to get a business credit card without a social security number, it’s … a pain. It involves a ton of paperwork, red tape, and a pretty circuitous route that you have to be willing to travel.

That’s why we’re major advocates of encouraging you to consider applying for a social security number if you don’t already have one.

No matter how you approach it, you’ll have to get some kind of identification number to apply for a business credit card, and getting a social security number will be one of the most useful, future-proof decisions you can make. You’re going to need it a lot in your life. If you’re dreading the paperwork, maybe just get it over with, since applying for a business credit card without a social security number involves a lot of paperwork anyway!

How to Apply for a Social Security Number

Any non-citizen who’s authorized to work in the U.S. is eligible to apply for a social security number and social security card for free. Plus, the process to apply for a social security number is pretty simple—you just need a few documents and a bit of patience.

You’ll have to gather some paperwork to prove your identity and work-authorized immigration status. This paperwork includes:

  • A filled-out Application for a Social Security Card, known as Form SS-5
  • Your unexpired foreign passport
  • Current U.S. immigration documents, which will need to be one of the following:
    • Form I-551, which is your Permanent Resident Card with your machine-readable immigrant visa
    • Admission stamp showing a class of admission permitting work
    • Form I-94, which is your arrival and departure record
    • Form I-766, which is your employment authorization document (EAD) work permit

In order to formally apply for a social security number, you’ll have to make a visit to your nearest social security office with your documentation.

Or, Go Ahead Applying for Business Credit Cards Without a Social Security Number

If you’re not willing or eligible to apply for a social security number, then your next move is to access another form of identification number.

Two types identification numbers potentially allow you to apply for business credit cards without a social security number:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Let’s take a look at the logistics of applying for a business credit card without a social security number—but with one of these alternative identification numbers:

Using Employer Identification Number

In some cases, you might be able to apply for a business credit card with an Employer Identification Number, or an EIN. This identification number works much like a social security number for your business. The thing here is that many—if not most—credit card issuers will hesitate to let you apply for a business credit card with an EIN only.

The reason why? Well, applying with only an EIN will not only make it impossible for a card issuer to run a personal credit check on you, but it’ll also exclude them from requiring you to provide a personal guarantee for any of your spending on the business credit card.

As a result, your business will have to have some stellar financial credentials and a robust financial history in order to access the ability to apply for a business credit card with an EIN.

Using Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

If you have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, then you’re another step further removed from applying for business credit cards without a social security number. You’ll literally have to apply for an EIN with your ITIN, and then do the step above.

See, fun! Paperwork! Lots of little, indirect steps! But that’s what you’ll have to deal with in order to apply for business credit cards without a social security number.

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Applying for Business Credit Cards Without a Social Security Number: The Paperwork

Now that you know the avenue you’ll have to take to access business credit cards without a social security number, if you still want to pursue it, here’s what you’ll have to do to make it happen:

Getting an ITIN

Before anything, you need to make sure that you have some form of Taxpayer Identification Number to your name. And if you’re not willing or able to apply for a social security number, your only other option will be a Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

You’ll apply for a ITIN through the IRS by simply filling out an application, called a Form W-7.

Getting an EIN

Once you have a form of taxpayer identification number to your name, apply for an EIN through the IRS. You can apply for an EIN with your SSN or with an ITIN, but if you already have an SSN, then getting an EIN to apply for a business credit card is an extraneous step.

That’s why you should really only apply for an EIN if you need to get business credit cards without a social security number.

The Actual Application Process

You still have the actual application process left before you can secure a business credit card without a social security number.

One of the most difficult steps ahead of you is finding business credit card issuers that are willing to accept EINs instead of SSNs in their applications.

Luckily, if your business finances are in tip-top shape, credit card issuers will be more willing to let you apply for a business credit card without a social security number but with an EIN instead.

For steps beyond the process of applying, consult our resource on getting a business credit card with an EIN only to get more details on your options.

Getting Business Credit Cards Without a Social Security Number: The Bottom Line

The real scoop on getting business credit cards without a social security number, if you haven’t already gathered since we’ve been sort of unsubtle, is it’s pretty difficult. Also, arguably not worth all of the worry, paperwork, and government bureaucracy.

What is arguably worth the effort, though, is applying for a social security number.

Although it takes a bit of paperwork and patience, applying for a social security number is much less of a headache than going through all of the steps of applying for a business credit card without a social security number.

Not only will you use it again in your daily life, it’ll be hugely helpful for you in your life as a small business owner. You can easily apply for a business credit card now, and as you build your business credit, you’ll set yourself up for way more later. For instance, you’ll need that social security number if you ever want to apply for a small business loan, because lenders will need to run a credit check.

So, bite the bullet, get your SSN, build your business and personal credit, and set yourself up for a great financial future.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Maddie Shepherd

Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!

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