Credit cards are issued in the United States without a Social Security number. Requirements for a Social Security number depend on the financial institution. Janna Herron writes on Bankrate.com that Capital One and Chase require a Social Security number on their applications. Discover Card and Bank of America accept a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number, and American Express accepts government-issued identification if neither numbers are available.
Though giving out a Social Security number can be bypassed at some financial institutions, a lack of credit history could still prevent approval of a credit card, notes Herron. Consumers can build a credit history without a Social Security number. "Name and current address are the minimum requirement [to build credit history]" states Maxine Sweet, VP of Public Education at Experian. Sweet recommends using a Social Security number to ensure accurate reporting.
Consumers who lack credit history can build up their credit profiles using several strategies outlined by PurecssiCons.com, though this is challenging because lenders have no way to asses the dependability of the borrower. Starting with a secured card is recommended. After a consumer makes on-time payments for a year, "real" credit cards usually become available. It may also help to apply for store, student and credit union credit cards, which have more lenient standards.