Can I build credit with an ITIN?

Yes, many banks and credit unions will accept ITINs as a unique identifier so you can access a number of financial products and services. You’ll be able to apply for some credit cards, and in some cases, access auto and mortgage loans. Your payments on these products will be reported to the credit bureaus so you can start building your credit history! 

While a bank or credit union may accept an ITIN as a unique identifier, it gets a little trickier when it comes to credit reporting. In general, the three credit bureaus will rely on a few different unique identifiers to compile credit reports, like your Social Security Number, your name, and your birth date. While the credit bureaus will not use an ITIN in the place of an SSN, they’ll be able to rely on other unique identifiers to compile your credit history. 

If you’re looking to build credit with an ITIN, consider these options: 

  • Apply for a line of credit with a bank or credit union: Many banks and credit unions allow individuals without an SSN to apply for certain credit-building financial products. While credit unions are generally more flexible and accessible in their offerings, certain larger banks also offer products for individuals without an SSN. Learn more: What financial services can I access with an ITIN.

  • Apply for a secured credit card. With a secured card, you’ll put down a deposit, and this deposit amount will determine your line of credit. Because secured credit cards are less risky for creditors to offer than unsecured lines of credit, these products are generally more accessible. Most secured credit card issuers will report payments to the credit reporting agencies, but not all do. Before applying for a secured card, check in with the bank or credit union to confirm.

  • Become an authorized user. Another option to consider is signing on to a trusted individual’s account as an authorized user. While this might not be a long-term credit-building solution, it can be a great way to start building your credit history. As an authorized user, you will have access to those lines of credit held by the primary user. If you decide to pursue this option, do be sure that the primary user is someone you trust and someone who has good credit. These credit lines will also show up on your credit report. One point of caution is if the account is mismanaged, it will harm the credit ratings of all users.

Join a Lending Circle. Lending Circles is a zero-interest, credit-building social loan program. The program is open to ITIN holders, and all monthly payments will be reported to the three major credit bureaus. Learn more at www.lendingcircles.org.

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