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Best Credit Cards for International Students, Immigrants and Students without an SSN or ITIN in 2022

Best Credit Cards for International Students, Immigrants and Students without an SSN or ITIN in 2022

With several great options to choose from, the best overall credit card for international students and immigrants is the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card. It has no annual fee and only requires an ITIN.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. Citi is an advertising partner.

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

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There are several options available for international students and immigrants seeking a credit card in the United States, even without a Social Security number or ITIN.

Though it can be challenging, it is possible for non-U.S. citizens living in the United States to get a credit card. One’s immigration status will dictate the number of credit card options available, but it's important to note that you don't necessarily need to have a Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in order to get a credit card in the United States. Many immigrants and international students may be able to apply for secured credit cards or become authorized users on someone else’s account.

Compare the best credit cards for international students, immigrants and students without an SSN or ITIN for 2022

Welcome Offer
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Annual Fee
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
Deserve<sup>®</sup> EDU Mastercard for Students
Up to $59 in statement credits for Amazon Prime Student when you spend $500 within the first three statements0 - 850$0
Apply Now
On Deserve's Secure Website
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
No bonus0 - 660$0
Not available on ValuePenguin
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.720 - 850$95
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Compare all cards
Welcome Offer
Up to $59 in statement credits for Amazon Prime Student when you spend $500 within the first three statements
No bonus
Credit Score Needed
?
0 - 850
0 - 660
Annual Fee
$0
$0
Apply Now
On Deserve's Secure Website
Not available on ValuePenguin

Credit cards for those without a Social Security number or ITIN

Below are our top options for credit cards you can get if you have neither a Social Security number nor an ITIN. These types of cards are great choices for international students and non-U.S. citizens residing in the United States that are looking to build up their credit without needing to pay an annual fee.

Best credit card for students with no credit history

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

On Deserve's Secure Website

Up to $59 in statement credits for Amazon Prime Student when you spend $500 within the first three statements

$0

22.49% variable

0 - 850

  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after your first purchase with your new Deserve EDU Mastercard (Lifetime Value of $59).
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
  • No deposit required. No annual fees.
  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you'll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention™ and Master Rental®.

  • $0 annual fee or required deposit
  • Cell phone protection up to $600
  • Free year of Amazon Prime after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles
  • No SSN required
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases
  • Targeted specifically toward students, so not necessarily a great option for non-student immigrants

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students doesn’t require a Social Security number to apply, which is especially helpful for international students and those with little to no credit history. This card has a $0 annual fee, no deposit requirements and makes it possible for cardholders to earn 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases they buy. Benefits like an Amazon Prime Student membership, cell phone protection, and no foreign transaction fees make this card an even better deal.

Application process: You'll initially be asked whether you are a U.S. or international student. International students do not need to provide a SSN. You’ll need to fill in your personal details and source(s) of income or assets, such as a job, scholarship, grant or family savings. Note that if you do have a credit score, it may be factored into the bank's decision on your application.


Credit cards if you only have an ITIN

For international students and immigrants who have only an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) but no SSN, you still have a few solid options when it comes to finding a credit card.

Best for students without a Social Security number

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

$0

28.49% (Variable)

0 - 660

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
  • Lock your card in the Capital One Mobile app if it's misplaced, lost or stolen
  • Earn up to $500 a year by referring friends and family when they're approved for a Capital One credit card
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Pay for Amazon.com purchases using your Capital One rewards
  • Pay for online purchases with virtual card numbers and keep your actual card number to yourself
  • Get notified via text, email, and phone if Capital One notices potential suspicious transactions on your account
  • Build your credit with responsible card use

  • $0 annual fee
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • No SSN required, just ITIN
  • Decent earning rate for a student card
  • Automatically considered for a higher credit line in six months
  • High regular APR
  • No sign-up bonus

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One lets you apply with just an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), yet you won't pay an annual fee or foreign transaction fees. You earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases; 0.25% Cash Back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time; 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply). You can also qualify for a higher credit limit with as little as six months of responsible use.


Best for earning rewards without a Social Security number

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

$95

18.99% - 25.99% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.

Earns transferable points

  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Excellent travel perks
  • VIP access to events and experiences
  • Travel insurance
  • Stellar sign-up bonus
  • High rewards rates
  • Ability to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • $95 annual fee

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card only requires an ITIN to apply. Cardholders who have the excellent credit required to qualify for the card will earn great rewards in the popular and dynamic Chase Ultimate Rewards® program. These points can be used for travel through Chase, gift cards, statement credits, merchandise, and more, and they can even be transferred 1:1 to Chase's airline and hotel partners.


Secured credit cards for international students and immigrants

Applying for a secured credit card can be a great way for international students, immigrants and people with little, poor or no credit history to build and repair their credit. Building credit is an important step towards upward mobility when newly arriving in the United States.

Best credit card if you have a Social Security number

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

See terms

See terms

0 - 600

  • No credit score required to apply.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200. That means a $200 deposit for a $200 credit line. Or a $500 deposit for a $500 credit line. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit, and the security deposit equals your credit limit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.

  • Solid rewards program
  • Free FICO® Score
  • Reports to all three credit bureaus
  • $200 minimum security deposit
  • Discover isn't widely accepted abroad
  • Need an SSN to apply

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is frequently named the best secured credit card on the market today due to its generous rewards for spending. After you spend the first 12 months earning cash back on all your purchases, Discover will even take the extra step to double all rewards earned during year one as a cardholder. That said, you do need to have a Social Security number to apply for this card since Discover doesn't accept an ITIN for their credit card applications.


Best starter credit card

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

$0

28.49% (Variable)

0 - 600

  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking to access your account from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app

  • $0 annual fee
  • Flexible credit line
  • No SSN necessary, ITIN accepted
  • Automatic credit line reviews
  • Requires a refundable minimum security deposit
  • No rewards program

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is a great credit card for immigrants and permanent residents who have an ITIN or Social Security number. Though this card doesn’t offer any type of rewards program, paying your bill on time consistently will help you build your credit and eventually graduate to an unsecured card. Best of all, there's $0 annual fee and your security deposit can be as low as $49, $99, or $200.

Why is it challenging for international students to get a credit card?

International students may have a difficult time getting approved for a credit card for a variety of reasons:

  • Lack of a credit history: One of the struggles plaguing most students, international or not, is that students often have little to no credit history — this can make it challenging to be approved for a credit card. The most important step for anyone newly applying for a credit card is to establish a good credit history. For international students, the best option for doing this is often by selecting a secured credit card for students.
  • No SSN or ITIN: International students may not have a Social Security number or ITIN — which, as we have outlined in this article, severely limits the options available when it comes to taking out a credit card.

One option for building credit without a Social Security number or ITIN is becoming an authorized user on someone else's account who has a strong credit history.

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Banks that accept ITINs for credit cards

For permanent residents, temporary immigrants and international students who don't have an SSN but do have an ITIN, there are more options available for taking out a credit card, though you still may face some challenges. Unfortunately, not all banks in the U.S. will accept an ITIN as a substitute for an SSN.

Issuer
Allows Credit Card Applications With ITIN
American Express
Bank of America
Barclaycard
Capital One
Chase
Citi
Discover
US Bank
Wells Fargo

The importance of building credit

The number one most important step for being eligible to get a credit card is to establish a good credit history. Establishing a positive credit history is essential for building a life in the United States: From buying a house or renting an apartment, to buying a car and taking out a loan, everything requires a decent credit score.

Unfortunately for international students and immigrants, your international credit history doesn't always follow you to the United States. That's because foreign banks typically don't report to the three major U.S. credit bureaus. Most newcomers to the U.S. will be starting from scratch when it comes to building a credit history, and using credit cards responsibly is a great start.

How to build a good credit history

  1. Once approved for a credit card, be sure to pay your bill on time and in full for the best long-term effects on your credit history.
  2. Consider starting with a secured credit card. Though they may not come with as many bells and whistles as other credit cards, they're a great way to establish a positive credit history that can propel you towards an unsecured card. Secured cards are generally easy to get if you don't have any previous credit history, or if your past credit history is poor. Aside from your initial deposit, they usually won’t burden you with a ton of ongoing fees.
  3. Make sure your credit card reports your activity to at least one of the three major credit bureaus to ensure you're actually building your credit history.
  4. Use your credit card frequently, but avoid making purchases you can't afford to pay off on time and in full. In order to build a solid credit history, you should use 30% or less of your credit card limit.

Beware of predatory lending

Immigrants searching for a credit card need to carefully examine any contracts or cardmember agreements before applying — you should understand all the fees and charges associated with a new account. People with low credit scores and limited credit histories are often targeted with extremely high interest rates and fees.

Some guidelines:

  • Don’t accept credit cards with a purchase APR higher than 29%.
  • If a card comes with an annual fee, it should be less than $50.
  • Other types of fees are not common. Origination, monthly membership or upkeep fees are generally a sign of a card being a so-called fee harvester, and should be avoided.
  • Look out for other surprises in the card’s terms and conditions (for example, the lack of a grace period for interest).
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Becoming an authorized user

Another option for building your credit history is to become an authorized user on someone else's credit card account who already has a high credit score. The way this works is:

  • Someone with an open credit card account can add you as an authorized user on their account (typically for a small fee).
  • From there, you’ll be issued your own credit card with your name on it that's linked to their account, and you'll be able to make purchases on the card.
  • The issuing bank will typically report your name to the credit bureaus, which can help build your credit when the account holder pays off their card on time and in full each month.

The major challenge here is that you'll need someone willing to take on the risk of making you an authorized user. The primary account holder will be solely responsible for all debt posted to this account, even if you’re the one making the purchases. In most cases, authorized users tend to be the primary account holder's spouse or family member.

FAQs about credits for immigrants and international students

Yes, it is possible to get a credit card as an international student. Even if you don't have a Social Security number or an ITIN, there are still options for getting a credit card in the US. One example of a great first time credit card for students is the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students, which is targeted specifically towards students and doesn't require an SSN to apply.

The best credit card for international students depends on whether or not you have a Social Security number or ITIN. If you have neither, the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students is a great option. If you have an ITIN, there are lots of good credit cards for students. The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is another great option for international students.

Yes, non-U.S. citizens can get a credit card, though you may have to jump through a few hoops to make it happen. If you have a Social Security number or ITIN, you’ll have a lot more options available to you. If you lack an SSN or ITIN, however, you might try opening a secured card to build your credit history or becoming an authorized user on someone else's account.

Yes, you can get a credit card without a Social Security number. It's much easier to get a credit card if you have an ITIN, but even if you don't, there are still options available to you. If you don't have an SSN or an ITIN, the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students can be a great choice for you. The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students is also one of the best starter credit cards for students.

The best credit card for immigrants depends on whether or not you have a Social Security number or ITIN. If you only have an ITIN but no SSN, there are still lots of great options for getting a credit card. If you have an ITIN, we recommend the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card to help you best build your credit history.

Recap of the best credit cards for international students, immigrants and students without an SSN or ITIN in 2022

The information related to Journey Student Rewards from Capital One, Discover it® Secured Credit Card and Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).