Can I Get a Business Credit Card If I’m a Foreign National?

The biggest obstacles have to do with Social Security numbers and credit histories.
Published
Profile photo of Lindsay Konsko
Written by Lindsay Konsko

Many, or all, of the products featured on this page are from our advertising partners who compensate us when you take certain actions on our website or click to take an action on their website. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

You’re a foreign national living in the United States and you own a business. You want access to quick capital. You want the ability to distinguish between personal and business expenses. You want to rack up rewards from spending. In short, you want a business credit card. But you wonder: "Can I even get a business credit card?"

Advertisement

 
Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card Credit Card
Chase

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

NerdWallet Rating 
4.8
Annual Fee 

$0

Why would you need a Social Security number?

A Social Security number is the prime identifier the government uses to keep record of a person’s taxes, benefits and wages, so it makes sense for credit card issuers to use that number to verify your identity and evaluate your card application. They want to know your business and personal credit history to make sure you qualify for a card, and they’ll most likely request a credit report from one of the national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). But is a Social Security number the only form of identity accepted?

Advertisement
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.8

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.4

/5

Annual fee 

$0

Annual fee 

$0

Annual fee 

$0

Regular APR 

18.49%-24.49% Variable APR

Regular APR 

18.49%-24.49% Variable APR

Regular APR 

18.49%-26.49% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR 

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Intro APR 

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Intro APR 

0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening

Recommended credit score 

690-850
(Good - Excellent)

Recommended credit score 

690-850
(Good - Excellent)

Recommended credit score 

690-850
(Good - Excellent)

The official rule

The Social Security Administration states that “[a]lthough many companies, such as banks and credit companies, may ask for your Social Security number, you generally are not required to provide one if you don’t have one.” This is good news, in theory, but it still won’t be easy to apply. You will need an alternate form of identification.

You aren’t out of luck, though. The Patriot Act calls for “foreign nationals to apply for and obtain” an “identification number which would function similarly to a Social Security number or tax identification number.”

FEATURED

 
The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
American Express

The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Rates and Fees

NerdWallet Rating 
4.7
Annual Fee 

$0

Using an ITIN and EIN

A tax identification number can include a Social Security number, an employer identification number or an individual taxpayer identification number. The last one is available only to certain nonresident or resident aliens who cannot obtain a Social Security number, such as foreign nationals working in the U.S.

You should use an employer identification number when applying for a business credit card. You will be asked to verify your identity and business, and that number will accomplish both. But to apply for an EIN, you need either a Social Security number or an individual taxpayer identification number. So use the ITIN to get an EIN and then apply for that credit card.

Another roadblock: Credit history

Credit card issuers cannot deny an application based solely on the lack of a Social Security number. That said, issuers could deny you based on having bad or no credit history. If that is the case, you most likely will not be considered for a business credit card, and your best option is to build up credit through other means, such as a secured credit card. The best secured credit cards are out there if you know where to look.

The bottom line: Applying for a business credit card without a Social Security number is difficult but not impossible. Determine which business credit cards appeal to you and see which issuers respect alternative identification without a hassle. If this is not the case, you can remind them that an alternative form of ID is legally permissible.

One blue credit card on a flat surface with coins on both sides.
Smart money moves for your businessGet access to business insights and recommendations, plus expert content.
Sign up for free
Best Business Credit Cards
ProductAnnual feeRewards rateIntro offerLearn more
Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card Credit Card

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

NerdWallet Rating 
4.8
Apply now

on Chase's website

$0 1%-5% 

Cashback

$350 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

NerdWallet Rating 
5.0
Apply now

on Chase's website

$0 1.5% 

Cashback

$750 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

NerdWallet Rating 
5.0
Apply now

on Capital One's website

$150 2%-5% 

Cashback

$1,200 
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Get Started
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.