How to Get a Debit Card Without a Social Security Number

Article Summary:

Can you still get a debit card though you don’t have a Social Security number? Yes, you can. You can also get a good bank account and a credit card if you want. This article will tell you how.

Table of contents:

When it comes to personal finance, a debit card (or a credit card) is almost a must-have in the 21st century. From establishing financial history to not having to carry cash wherever you go, debit cards can make life much simpler.

But getting debit cards isn’t always easy if you and your loved ones don’t have Social Security numbers. This article takes a deep dive into debit cards and how to obtain one without a Social Security number.

The importance of having a bank account

Maybe you’re looking to open up a business. Perhaps you’re a young adult looking to begin to gain some financial security in your own name. Whatever your reason to open up a bank account may be, it’s important that you’re able to do so. Carrying around a large sum of money is never ideal, and it isn’t much better to keep it under your mattress at home. This is a large part of the reason why so many people like to open a bank account.

Having a bank account can help you later on when it comes to your credit. This is because many credit lenders ask for your current bank account information. They use this information to verify that you are financially responsible before lending you any money.

Not only this, but many businesses rely on direct deposit to pay their employees. So opening an account will be more important as you progress in your career.

Opening a bank account without an SSN

If you are wondering if you can open a bank account without a Social Security number, the answer is “yes.” It isn’t necessarily simple, but it can be done.

To do this, you will need to be able to provide many other documents. Usually, you’ll also need to apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

The bank must obtain other basic personal information if you are opening an account without a Social Security number. This is a bare minimum. You will be asked for things such as:

  • Proof of legal name and date of birth
  • Proof of address
  • Identification number

Because the bank must ask for an identification number, you must provide something even if you don’t have a Social Security number. This is where the individual taxpayer identification number comes into play.

What is an ITIN?

A U.S. individual taxpayer identification number, or ITIN, is an ID number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The number allows the IRS to process taxes for individuals without an SSN. ITINs are currently available to noncitizens in the United States who aren’t eligible for an SSN.

If you qualify for an ITIN, then your spouse and dependents also can obtain one. Having this number can be great for a number of reasons. One of these is that they can be used for credit reporting when you go to purchase large items later in life.

How to apply for an ITIN

If you don’t have a U.S. Social Security number, you will need to get an ITIN before you can open a bank account. In order to get an ITIN for you, your spouse, or your dependents, you will need to do the following:

  1. Complete the required W-7 form. This form is available in both English and Spanish on the IRS website.
  2. Submit the necessary proof of identity, such as a driver’s license, along with a completed federal tax return.
  3. Submit your application. You can do this by mailing it to your local IRS office or delivering it in person if your IRS office is close enough.

Note that applying for this is free when you follow the steps that are on the IRS website (linked to above). You don’t need to pay any fees to complete your online application.

Using your ITIN

Some banks do require an SSN regardless if whether you have an ITIN. This makes it worth calling different financial institutions before going in person. Only go in once you’ve made sure that you can actually open an account. Even at banks that don’t require an SSN, you ITIN alone may not be enough. You might need to provide additional forms of identification to open a checking or savings account.

What documents do I need to open a bank account?

Once you have your ITIN, you can now officially open a bank account without a Social Security number. In order to do this, however, you will need some basic documentation.

DocumentationWhat you can use
Proof of your legal name and date of birthYou can use a passport, a passport number, or a birth certificate. You can also use a government-issued driver’s license, including a foreign one.
Proof of your current addressMost banks and credit unions are going to want to see proof of residency in order to allow you to open a bank account. You can use anything from a utility bill, to a lease, to a driver’s license to confirm this. Whatever you use must show your current residential address. Some banks and credit unions may accept different forms of proof of address. When considering opening an account, ask what forms of proof each place accepts.
You ITINNow that you have your ITIN, you can use it along with your other documents to open an account.

Keep in mind that some banks have additional requirements beyond these. Make sure you call your bank or credit union to check what their specific requirements are.

If you are a student, you also might be able to get help getting a card through your college or university. International students normally don’t have Social Security numbers when they come to the U.S. for their education. And the U.S. government does have some different rules in place if you are an international student. Make sure you keep these facts in mind when going to open your checking accounts.

Why you should open a bank account if you don’t have an SSN

It can help you save money faster

Whether you have a checking account or some other account, you gain certain benefits. These include being able to cash checks, pay bills, and use direct deposit for free. You can also use automated features. Automatic transfers are an example. These let you transfer money into different accounts without having to think about it.

You can also transfer money to other accounts down the road if you decide to set up more accounts. Best of all, most of the features you can use through your bank are free as long as you have an account open.

Establish your financial history

Bank accounts also provide a personal financial history. Establishing this history is a financial essential. For one thing, you’ll need it if you want to make a large purchase in the future. For example, many mortgage companies will ask to see months’ worth of bank statements when deciding whether to approve you for a mortgage. In many cases, you’ll need a bank account to get a credit card or buy a car. Bottom line: establishing your financial history through an accredited financial institution is indispensable.

If at some point you decide to start a business, having a personal bank account open already can save you a lot of time and hassle. Your bank then has your monthly history readily available. This can make getting a business account approved with the same bank a much smoother process.

Personal safety

Obviously, keeping yourself and your money safe is important. Keeping your money stored in a bank account will do this better than keeping it under your mattress at home. (This will be safest most of the time, at least. Society-wide social upheavals can be an exception to the rule, of course. But when things get that bad, paper currency usually isn’t worth much anyway, no matter where you store it.)

Should your bank get robbed, you needn’t worry, since your money’s insured. Depending on what type of account you have, one of two organizations will provide the insurance. One is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The other is the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The insurance typically covers up to $250,000 per account.

What if, instead, you were keeping your hard-earned money at home? In that case, you could lose a large portion of it should you get robbed. Keeping you money in a bank avoids this risk. When you need cash from your accounts, you can always access your money through your bank’s branch locations or an ATM.

Other benefits

When you have an account, you automatically get enrolled in great perks. These include online banking, direct deposit, and ATM access. There may also be other perks, yours free just for being a member. Sometimes you even get rewards for purchases that you make. As you might know, more and more employers rely on direct deposit to pay their workers. This means that one of the free perks, direct deposit, can be especially helpful.

Banks that don’t require a Social Security number to open an account

Below is a list of banks that do not require a Social Security number to open an account.

Open an account at these banks: No SSN required

So, these banks and credit unions don’t require an SSN to open a bank account. Still, you should call to check the requirements to open an account. As noted earlier, an SSN is only one of many requirements for most banks.

For large banks like Bank of America and Chase Bank, the types of documents discussed above may be all you can use. This is typically the case. Self-Help Credit Union, however, accepts more forms of identification to validate your identity. Other credit unions and small banks may also vary from the big-bank norm.

An alternative to traditional debit cards and bank accounts

In the past, you could easily get access to a prepaid debit card without needing a Social Security number. A prepaid card is a card that you can use to pay for things once you have loaded money onto it. You are able to spend the amount that you have put onto it and can reload the card at any time. You can also use your prepaid card at many stores and online retailers. This makes it easy to purchase things quickly.

Advantages of a prepaid debit card

Having a prepaid card can be a great alternative to a traditional debit card and bank account. People who can’t easily store their money elsewhere can use a prepaid card instead. Typically, a prepaid card doesn’t require a credit check to obtain. Yet it gives you all of the same benefits as a debit card through a bank. In the past, someone without a Social Security number could easily take advantage of this alternative.

Prepaid debit cards can also build good money habits. A prepaid card can allow you to pay your bills, shop online, and allocate cash in a simplified manner. Since prepaid cards are accepted at most places of business, you can use them to pay for most purchases. This reduces your need to use cash. It can also help build good budgeting habits. This is because prepaid debit cards only will process payments up to the amount of cash that is on the card.

Prepaid debit cards you can get without a Social Security number

It is more difficult to access a prepaid debit card today without a Social Security number than it used to be. Still, there are a few cards you won’t need a Social Security number to activate:

A prepaid debit card is worthwhile even with a Social Security number

Having a prepaid debit card can benefit many people. Even if you don’t have to worry about trying to open an account without an SSN, you could benefit. They offer value beyond being an alternative to banks. Having a prepaid debit card is safer than cash. It reduces your risk of overspending. And it is easy to use and reload whenever you want.

Sometimes, the prepaid card that you use can even have theft protection. In the event that your card gets lost or stolen, you’re protected. This typically comes with cards from the larger issuers, such as MasterCard and Visa. This kind of protection gives great peace of mind in the event your card does end up missing.

Prepaid cards are popular. Part of the reason for this is that they offer the benefits of both credit cards and debit cards — without having to go through a bank or credit union. Prepaid cards don’t have as much recognition as traditional banking. Still, they are a viable option that you can consider.

Are you unsure if you want to open a bank account with any financial institutions available to you? Having a prepaid debit card could be a great option for you. Just be sure you do your research on the card issuer that you decide to go with. A prepaid card can come with many hidden fees. Watch out for them.

Linking a prepaid card to a savings account

Unlike in the past, you can now also link a prepaid card to a savings account. This is another way to help establish yourself financially. Netspend offers the Netspend Prepaid Visa Card that offers users a savings account. This is just one example. Other companies may offer similar prepaid cards.

A prepaid card that can be combined with a savings account has plenty of benefits. These include promoting savings and helping you budget your money. And there may be another incentive to use these accounts. The savings accounts that come with these prepaid cards can have a much higher interest rate than the norm. This means that you’re making money by just having your cash sit in the savings account.

You should look into all the requirements around this, however. Providers that offer this perk, like Netspend, also can have verification requirements. These can include needing a government-issued ID like a passport to prove you are who you say you are. The monthly fees associated with these savings accounts can also be quite high. Make sure to know what you can expect before opening an account. If you sign up for an account with fees that are too high, you’ll cancel out the earnings from the higher savings rate.

Credit cards without SSN requirements

Just as there are debit cards that you can have without having an SSN, there are also credit cards. You’ll just need an acceptable tax ID (like an ITIN) in lieu of an SSN. Many large credit card companies do approve clients for their credit cards without an SSN.

Like all credit card providers, these large companies will want to check you out before they give you a card. Such things as your credit history and credit score will affect your approval. They’ll also affect what interest rates you’re offered. People who don’t have an SSN often have little or no credit history, so they tend to have a low credit score. Credit card companies are willing to give you access to their cards to help you build your credit. This is despite your not having an SSN. Getting a card when you have a low credit score means paying a higher interest rate, though.

Building credit through a credit card is a great way to help your future financially. This is true even if you don’t have a Social Security number. You can apply to all of the cards mentioned above online, as well. This makes it even easier for you to get your personal card.

Your ability to make large purchases such as buying a home or car often depends on your credit score. If you need to finance a big purchase, your lender will pull your score from the credit bureaus. Establishing a credit history through one or multiple financial institutions is only going to help you.

Key takeaways

  • Yes, you can get a debit card without a Social Security Number (SSN).
  • In addition to traditional options, a prepaid debit card also merits consideration.
  • You can also get a credit card without an SSN.
  • To get a card without an SSN, you need to prove identity and residence.
  • Documents you’ll need vary by card issuer.
  • Documents that prove identity include passports and your driver’s license. These are just two examples.
  • Documents that prove residence include utility bills and bank statements. That’s a couple examples out of many.
  • Bank accounts, debit cards, and credit cards all help you. They do so by establishing your financial history, the basis for your credit score.
  • Establishing a history of responsible financial conduct is essential. It gets you the credit score you’ll need to finance larger purchases later. It could also qualify you for a business or home loan someday.
  • There’s no good reason to let lack of an SSN keep you from establishing good credit.

Bottom line

There are options for people who want to open a bank account and get a debit card, even if they don’t have an SSN. These options might take a bit more time, though. Forms of government-issued identification to replace the SSN can help. These include a passport, a driver’s license, and an ITIN. Applying for an ITIN can certainly be a great thing to do. Are you looking to open one or more accounts through financial institutions? Having an ITIN can mean not having to worry about your and your loved ones’ lack of Social Security numbers.

If you lack an SSN, you also have alternatives to a traditional bank. For instance, you may be able to get a prepaid debit card without obtaining an ITIN. Just be careful to make sure that, no matter what you decide to use, you do your research before signing anything. Make sure you understand the full implications of whatever you decide. Card issuers have to disclose monthly fees and interest rates to applicants. Know what fees you’ll have to pay if you sign up for accounts or prepaid cards. Whether you’re signing up for a prepaid card or a more traditional bank account, you must know the fees.

Not sure what you want to do yet? The best next step is to continue your research. Read ratings and reviews of checking accounts with debit cards to see which of them work for you.

Article Sources
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  3. Is There a Prepaid Credit Card That Builds Credit? — SuperMoney
  4. Revised Application Standards for ITINs — IRS
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  9. How to find my debit card number online — SuperMoney