The overall process of obtaining a credit card as a non-citizen in the United States can appear daunting, especially without a Social Security number. However, international students can get credit with credit cards without needing social security information. Here, we’ll provide more on different credit card options for non-citizen students in the U.S.
The key to acquiring student credit cards in the U.S. is knowing which cards you’re eligible for and understanding their requirements. Before we look at the different international student credit cards available, let’s look at the challenges non-citizen students face when getting a credit card!
First, you need to look at the requirements set by the credit issuer carefully and thoroughly because the requirements for each credit issuer vary. For instance, most credit companies in the U.S. require a social security number, whereas others waive this requirement. Holders of F-1 or J-1 visas can apply for a social security number via the Social Security Administration (SSA) to ease the process of acquiring a credit card.
Another challenge international students encounter is the need for a bank account in the U.S. Before getting a credit card, you need to open an account. Obtaining a bank account in the U.S. makes it easier to manage and keep track of personal finances. For example, you can easily monitor what you have and what you owe.
Let’s dive in!
Non-citizen students pursuing higher education in the U.S. can get credit cards without a Social Security number or extended credit history from the card issuers. Below are credit card options you can consider:
Generally, the Deserve EDU Mastercard for students won’t charge any security deposit or annual fee. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, students are also eligible for US$30 in rewards for every referral.
International students with ITIN can apply for Petal-2 Visa Credit Card and begin earning 1% back on total spending. Continued use of the card increases the cash back to 1.25 percent in six months and 1.5% after 12 months of on-time payments.
Petal-2 visa credit card comes with a minimum credit limit of US$300 up to US$10,000, depending on creditworthiness. The credit card is user-friendly as it doesn’t charge an annual or foreign transaction fee. Above that, the company has a mobile app that allows you to pay on the go and keep track of your spending. Petal-e visa credit card is best for a flat cash back reward.
Why consider this credit card:
The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards offers one of the most competitive reward rates on the student credit card. Cardholders are eligible to earn a flat 1.5% cash back. You can choose varying options in which you prefer to receive your cash back rewards. Options available include gift cards, checks, statement credits, or applying rewards directly to new purchases.
Why choose it:
The credit card offers 3% cash back on select categories, including entertainment, streaming services, dining, and grocery stores (excluding Walmart and Target).
Apart from rewards from select merchants, the Capital One SavorOne reward for students integrates unlimited 1% cash back on general purchases. In addition, students can build up cash rewards for an extended time since the cash back rewards generated with Capital One credit cards don’t expire.
Why select it:
International students can benefit from this credit card that features no foreign transaction fee/ annual charge. In addition, Capital One usually reviews the credit card account for credit line increases after six months of purchase activity.
Why choose it:
The Chase Freedom credit card for students charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, unlike other credit cards with free foreign transactions. However, international students can access their credit scores for free with Chase’s Credit Journey program and the card has no annual fee. In addition, you’ll earn US$20 in Good Standing Rewards yearly for the account anniversary.
Why choose this credit card:
Some practices can optimize your chances of obtaining a credit card for international students.
Students studying abroad can garner many benefits from a credit card. Below are some of these benefits;
International students are eligible for credit cards if the credit card issuer accepts Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to substitute Social Security number. Students with limited credit history may need additional consideration for approval for credit card applications, i.e. cosigner, proof of income, etc.
The best credit card for non-citizen students studying in the United States is one that provides high rewards on purchases, charges no foreign transaction fees, and is eligible for students without a Social Security number. Examples of such cards include: Deserve EDU Mastercard, Capital One SavorOne rewards for students, and Capital One Quicksilver reward credit cards for international students.
Yes. Some credit card companies accept ITIN as a substitute for Social Security numbers for international student credit card applications.
Credit card companies such as Capital One, Discover, and Chase issue credit cards to international students without SSNs. International students without SSNs can consider students credit card issuers who accept ITIN instead of SSNs.
Before selecting a particular credit card company, weigh the options available. Different credit card issuers integrate a varying set of requirements and rewards. International students seeking the best credit card can consider companies like Discover, Capital One, Deserve, and Bank of America. Wrapping up, ensure you choose the best option for you!
*Information accurate as of March 2023
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