What is a credit score? It is a three-digit number that provides an overview of a person’s credit and impacts financial matters (such as whether you’ll be approved for a personal loan, credit card, student loans, or increase in credit limit ). You can get a credit score even without a Social Security Number (SSN). Although it’s required in most cases, some financial institutions offer credit cards for those without it. Having a credit card can help individuals build their FICO score, credit history, and other factors that affect a credit score. Furthermore, by taking auto loans, opening well-managed bank accounts, buying a car through a credit card, or availing rent reporting services – you can get a credit score.
Your credit score is derived from various details in your credit report – sensitive details, including your name, address, date of birth, and SSN. A credit score can affect different aspects of your life, even if you’re not a U.S. citizen. Immigrants and foreigners in the U.S. don’t have an SSN, so they often believe that they cannot get a credit score. However, an SSN is an identifier that credit bureaus use to collect your information, but it’s only one of several identifiers.
When Does a Credit History Begin?
The moment you take out a loan is the moment your credit history begins. You will need a credit card to provide evidence in order to build your credit, which means that you can apply for a credit card that doesn’t require a Social Security number to start building a credit score. Applying for a secured credit card is a great option for people without a credit history to get a credit score without SSN. In calculating a credit score, the length of your credit history is one of the major factors that affect your credit score.
How is a Credit Score Tracked without a Social Security Number?
Credit bureaus can locate one’s credit information with name, address, and date of birth. SSN is just one of several identifiers they use to match credit account information to a credit file. SSN does increase the accuracy of the entire process, but in some cases, it is not required to build a credit report. By managing to open a credit account, you could get a credit score without having an SSN.
Lenders are the ones that record your credit payment history, such as whether you’ve paid your bills on time or how much debt you have, and they regularly report that to credit bureaus. If they opened an account for you, they’d use your identification information to compile your credit report. If you decide to get a Social Security Number, your credit history would then be linked to your credit profile.
Ways of Establishing a Credit Score without an SSN
If you are living in the United States, but are not a resident and don’t have an SSN, there are ways to establish a credit score. But why would you want to start building a credit score if you’re not a U.S. resident? Because it can be helpful while you are living there for a variety of reasons – immigrants often need to build a credit score to be able to apply for a car loan, get a mortgage, rent an apartment, or set up the basics, such as the utility bill or cell phone plan. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can establish a credit score without an SSN while living in the U.S.
- Open a bank account
Banks report information about their consumers to credit bureaus (just like credit card companies). The age of your bank account and whether you managed it well are important factors that add to your credit score. If you want to secure a credit score, opening a bank account is highly recommended. Having an overseas bank account means nothing because it doesn’t contribute to your credit score. You will need to open a bank account with a U.S.-based bank or financial institution. To open a bank account, you don’t need to have a SSN, as you can use ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) instead. If you don’t have an ITIN either, you should find institutions that will allow you to open a bank account by using your passport or another government-issued identification number.
To determine what forms of identification credit unions and banks in your area accept to open an account, you should check out with them by visiting their website or reaching out.
- Get a Credit Card
Just like banks, credit card companies are one of the largest sources of customer payment histories. They report that information to credit bureaus, so if you have a credit card account, it will be reported to the credit bureaus. To compile your credit report, credit bureaus will use available personal identifiers, such as name, address, date of birth, and employment history. When applying for a credit card for the first time, you will be asked to provide your SSN because it helps verify your identity. Since you don’t have one but are paying taxes in the U.S., you can again use your ITIN.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the institution that issues ITIN, which serves as your tax-processing ID number. It is a nine-digit number issued to anyone who is not eligible for an SSN but is required to have a taxpayer ID. It helps process and keep track of tax payments and returns and allows them to comply with the U.S. tax laws. To apply for an ITIN, you will need to contact the IRS and provide the necessary documentation.
Many credit card companies accept an ITIN in place of a Social Security Number. Once you get your credit card, you should make sure to manage it as responsibly as possible – make your payments on-time and avoid carrying a high balance by using all or most of the line of credit. If you can pay the balance in full, make sure you do it. Achieving a healthy credit score is possible if you manage your credit card debt responsibly.
- Pay Your Utility Bills on Time
Besides credit unions, banks, and credit card companies, utility companies also report your information to the credit bureaus. Internet, cable, electric, cell phone, and other utility providers will also report your account-related information to the credit bureaus, so if you have an account with any utility provider, you can build your credit score. Just make sure you pay all your utility bills on time and pay the amount due. In case your account is terminated, or you make late payments (or miss payments), you will lose the service and damage your credit.
- Take Out a Loan
Take out a loan to start building credit and develop a credit score. Some financial institutions allow customers to take out a loan even without an SSN. You may be able to use your government-issued identification, an alien registration number, passport number, your ITIN. Just like with opening a bank account, you’ll need to reach out to financial institutions to find out what kind of ID they require.
When you take out a loan, your lender will report information pertaining to your account to the credit bureaus. Once that is done, you will be able to get a credit score. Make timely payments for the amount that’s due and pay it off within pre-set loan terms in order to properly manage your loan and achieve a healthy credit score. Pay the loan off early if you can, because it may improve your credit score. Just make sure to check with your lender since some of them charge fees and penalize for pre-payment on certain loans.
Keep Track of Your Credit Score
While in the U.S., your credit score will significantly affect your financial well-being, as well as the ability to receive certain services. Once you manage to establish credit and build a credit score, you should keep track of both.
Check your credit report regularly to assess your financial situation, as well as to detect any potential issues on time. For example, in case of identity theft, someone can open a credit card in your name and make charges to your accounts. Furthermore, regular credit reports can reflect various inaccuracies, such as missed payments or late payments made on time, which can negatively affect your credit score and overall financial well-being.
The speed of information technology becomes exponentially faster, and identity thieves become more creative, which is a huge reason why you should monitor your credit reports. With solutions, such as Split Credit Monitoring, you will be able to rest easier. You will receive alert notifications of any critical changes, including unauthorized changes and verification of changes that you’ve initiated. That way, you will be able to stop potential identity theft. In case you detect any suspicious changes in your credit history, you can file a dispute with the credit bureaus. Just make sure to have all the necessary documentation to back those disputes. Whenever a dispute is rectified, your credit score will improve.
In order to open a bank account, get a credit card, buy a car, or rent an apartment – you don’t need a Social Security Number. This is important to know because all of these actions can help you build your credit score without an SSN. And once you start building it, you should focus on keeping it healthy. With the help of the Split Credit Monitoring solution, you can make the entire process a lot easier for yourself.