If you don’t have a social security number (SSN) it is still possible to get a business credit card, but it’s going to take some extra paperwork and you’ll have far more limited options in terms of which cards you can apply for. To get a business credit card without a social security number you’re going to need to get an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) as well as an employer identification number (EIN). Capital One and American Express are two companies that allow you to use an ITIN to apply for their business credit cards.
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 separate your business and personal finances—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’ll need to apply for business credit cards without a social security number.
Put simply, getting ahold of any business credit card 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:
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?
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 social security number on your business credit card application in order to run an inquiry on your personal credit score.
While it’s much easier to obtain a business credit card with a social security number, there are some steps you can take to get a business credit card without an SSN.
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 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, keep in mind that applying for a business credit card without a social security number involves a lot of paperwork anyway. So, you might as well take the time to apply for an SSN, and then your future processes will be much simpler.
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:
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.
If you’re not willing or eligible to apply for a social security number, then your next move is to access another type of identification number.
Two types of identification numbers will potentially allow you to apply for business credit cards without a social security number:
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:
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 only an EIN.
The reason? 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.
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.
Like we mentioned, these two options also include quite a bit of paperwork and applications, so they might not be a great option if you’re solely looking to avoid paperwork. But that’s what you’ll have to deal with in order to apply for business credit cards without a social security number.
There are a few select banks and card issuers who will accept your ITIN in order to grant you a business credit card without an SSN, though not all will. Like we mentioned above, applying for a business credit card without a social security number will really limit your options when it comes to what kinds of cards you can actually get. However, these options can help you get a business credit card without an SSN:
Other options for business credit cards that don’t require an SSN include corporate business credit cards. These cards don’t require one specific stakeholder to take on personal liability; however, they are typically only offered to businesses that have significant revenue. However, if your business is producing a few million in revenue each year, then you may be eligible for this type of business credit card without a social security number.
Now that you know the avenue you’ll have to take to access business credit cards without a social security number and if you still want to pursue it, here’s what you’ll have to do to make it happen:
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 an individual taxpayer identification number.
You’ll apply for an ITIN through the IRS by simply filling out an application, called a Form W-7.
Once you have an ITIN, 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. Though getting an EIN has other benefits for your business that you should seriously consider.
That’s why you should really only apply for an EIN if you need to get business credit cards without a social security number.
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 social security numbers 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.
The real scoop on getting business credit cards without a social security number is it’s pretty difficult. It’s worth the time and paperwork to apply for a social security number instead, and then apply for a business credit card through the tradition channels.
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 your SSN again in your non-business 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, if you can, get your SSN, build your business and personal credit, and set yourself up for a great financial future.
Maddie Shepherd is a former Fundera senior staff writer and current contributing writer for Fundera.
Maddie has an extensive knowledge of business credit cards, accounting tools, and merchant services, but specializes in small business financing advice. She has reviewed and analyzed dozens of financial tools and providers, helping business owners make better financial decisions.