Immigrants living in the United States without Social Security Number (SSN) have experienced, in the past, many limitations to banking and financial services.
Luckily, that’s changing.
Even if there are still a few restrictions, it’s easier now for immigrants to open bank accounts, build their credit history, and also apply for credit cards and some types of loans.
With an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number).
You may have heard the opposite, so let’s make this clear for once.
What is an ITIN?
Foreigners, non-resident aliens, their dependents, and spouses can apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number as soon as they are ready to pay federal taxes (something that everybody in the US must do, regardless of their immigrant status).
If you don’t have either an SSN or an ITIN, it is highly recommended that you get the second one as soon as possible.
This number will improve your financial future in the United States because you’ll be able to open a bank account, create a credit history, pay taxes, obtain a US driver’s license, and to receive a business loan and other types of credit. The benefits form all the above are tremendous.
ITIN vs SSN
SSN stands for Social Security Number.
It is a nine-digit number issued to citizens and permanent residents. It’s used to:
- track your earnings and years employed
- determine the social security benefits you receive when you retire
- open bank accounts
- apply for loans
- file taxes
- obtain a driver’s license
ITIN stands for Individual Tax Identification Number.
It is a nine-digit number issued to nonresident aliens. It’s used to:
- file taxes
- open bank accounts (depends on the bank)
- apply for loans (depends on the lender)
- obtain a driver’s license
Contrary to an SSN, there are not any restrictions or special requirements to apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number, and the process is pretty simple.
Can ITIN be used as SSN?
It depends. You can use this number to file your taxes and open a bank account. But it cannot be used instead of an SSN in situations like receiving social security benefits, or as an ID.
How Can You Get an ITIN?
These are the 5 steps to obtain your Individual Tax Identification Number:
1. Fill out the Form W7 (available also in Spanish). Your form W7 is basically your application to get an ITIN.
3. With your form W7, you should also include your tax return: this may look confusing. So you need both things at the same time? Yes. You submit both documents at the same time, so both are processed simultaneously.
4. Send everything (your form W7, your tax return, and any other attachments) to an IRS office.
5. Wait for your Individual Tax Identification Number to arrive. The process takes four to six weeks to complete.
If you need to know more about the process and access all the information (forms in both languages, documents required, addresses to send everything, etc.)
Learn how to get it: 5 steps to submit an ITIN application
Can I get a loan with an ITIN number only?
The myth: Foreigners with no Social Security Number and only with an ITIN can’t build their credit history or access loans and other forms of credit.
The truth: ITIN holders that don’t have an SSN initially are limited in the type of credit they can immediately access. But like any American resident, there are several ways for non-residents with an Individual Tax Identification Number to slowly build their credit and open more doors to finance their personal and business endeavors.
So, yes, as an immigrant or non-resident, it is possible to get a loan without an SSN and use an ITIN or Individual Tax Identification Number instead.
If that’s your situation, you can also access other types of credit and benefits. Let’s see in detail what is an Individual Tax Identification Number, how you can get one, and how this number can help you access credit.
In summary, the critical steps to affordable business financing are:
- Establish personal credit with it (instead of SSN)
- Apply for an EIN
- Establish/apply for business credit using your EIN with the right lender
Learn it here: What is an EIN and how to apply for it?
How Can an ITIN Help You Access Business Financing?
Building a good personal credit history is a prior step, crucial to obtain business financing. This is how it can help you build your credit:
- The ITIN is accepted by many financial institutions to verify identification when granting loans or issuing credit cards. This slowly adds and builds up the borrower’s credit record and standing.
- There are three giant credit bureaus TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax in the United States. These companies make the credit history and standings of individuals. When borrowers use their Individual Tax Identification Number to get credit, the transaction gets reported to the credit bureaus and helps them collect information.
- The more successful transactions one does with their ITIN, the stronger their credit history becomes. This, in turn, helps one access credit to invest in a business.
- When using an ITIN for a transaction, one should use the same name and initials as any change will create a new identity record, and as a result, the new credit will not build one’s credit history. Also, holders should report any change of address to the IRS.
Learn here other reasons why it is important to have good credit, and how a good credit can help you in the US
Besides establishing a credit history with an ITIN, a business owner also needs to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN), usually required when applying for business credit.
To apply for an EIN, immigrants without SSN can use an ITIN.
How can Camino Financial help you if you only have your ITIN?
Borrowers at Camino Financial don’t need an SSN to apply for a business loan. So, at Camino, can you get a loan with an ITIN number only? Of course, you can! And you don’t need good credit either. We don’t even require collateral! At Camino Financial, we approve business loans up to $400,000 and offer business solutions for applicants who only have their ITIN. And that’s not all: we help you understand your funding options and guide you to select the small business loan that is the best fit for you and your business. If you are ready to take the step and finance your business, simply submit your online application. It will only take you a few minutes, it won’t affect your credit, and soon we’ll contact you with a quote.
No SSN? No problem! At Camino Financial we approve your business loan with your ITIN only
Places to apply for a credit card with an ITIN only
If you feel you’re not ready for a business loan yet, consider the idea of applying for a credit card: it’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to access funds, and something very recommendable to start building your credit history. Check out these two options:
Some furniture and home improvement stores, jewelry stores, and department stores offer credit cards without SSN. Check the stores in your area since the requirements may differ. Also, bear in mind that while your SSN may not be asked for, they may have other requirements.
Opening a store card is an ideal way for someone with a lower credit score to begin rebuilding credit. Getting approval for the credit card increases a person’s credit limit. It also diversifies their types of credit. But it only helps if you use the card wisely. Learn here how.
Banks and credit card issuers
Many banks and credit card issuers ask for Social Security Number on the card application. The good news is that some issuers will accept an ITIN instead. Here’s a quick rundown of issuers and where their policy currently stands on this:
|American Express||Accepts an ITIN, foreign passport, or other government-issued ID.|
|Bank of America||Accepts an ITIN, foreign passport, or other government-issued ID. Requires SSN for online applications.|
|Citi||For certain cards, Citi® will accept a copy of one of the following: passport, national ID card, or other valid government-issued ID. Must apply in person at a Citibank branch.|
|Capital One||Accepts ITIN or SSN only.|
|SelfScore Classic MasterCard||It does not require SSN or ITIN. They will request your passport, U.S. student visa, most recent Form I-20, and latest U.S. bank account statements. Available only to international students studying in the U.S.|
Use your ITIN to Help your Business Thrive
Many foreign entrepreneurs think they cannot build their credit or access business funding without being an American citizen or resident. Although they have fewer credit options, there is still a way for them to access credit and many other opportunities to invest in their business and make it grow.
The answer relies on applying for an ITIN using Form W7 provided by the IRS.
Remember, Camino Financial is always a possibility.
We leave no business behind.