Best Credit Cards for International Students in USA

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Applying for a credit card can seem daunting when you don’t have a Social Security number, and this is especially true if you’re a non-national pursuing higher education in the United States. After all, the lack of an SSN can put you out of the race for most of the best rewards credit cards, and having no credit history to speak of certainly won’t help.

Fortunately, there are credit cards for international students, and some of them don’t require a social security number or a long credit history.

The key to getting a credit card as an international student is knowing which cards you may qualify for, and then determining what information you need to apply.

Bankrate has created this guide to help you find the best credit card for international students. If you’re ready to create credit and access cardholder benefits or earn rewards, read on to find out more.

Best Bankrate Credit Cards for International Students in USA

Earn EDU Mastercard for Students

  • 1% rewards for every dollar spent
  • Get a one-year Amazon Prime Student membership when you spend $ 500 on your card within three billing cycles of opening the account
  • No annual fees and no overseas transaction fees
  • No security deposit required
  • 18.74% variable APR

Why we chose it: The Deserve EDU Mastercard does not require applicants to have a social security number.

The details: The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students does not charge an annual fee or security deposit, but you will get perks like one year of Amazon Prime Student when you spend $ 500 in the first three billing cycles, plus no foreign transaction fees. You also get a flat-rate 1% cash rewards rebate for every dollar you spend, plus $ 30 in rewards for every friend you refer.

Visa Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fee” credit card

  • 1% (or up to 1.5% cash back on transactions when you make 12 payments on time), plus 2-10% cash back at select merchants
  • No annual fees and no overseas transaction fees
  • Earn more cash back rewards at select merchants
  • Variable APR from 12.99% to 26.99%

Why we chose it: The Petal 2 Visa credit card allows you to apply without a social security number provided you have an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). The ITIN is commonly used by international students and other non-citizens for federal income tax reporting purposes.

The details: If you have an ITIN, you can apply for the Petal 2 Visa credit card and start collecting 1% on all your expenses. You’ll even drop to 1.25% with six months of one-time payments on your card, then 1.5% back after 12 months of one-time payments. This card has a minimum credit limit of $ 500 and can go up to $ 10,000 depending on creditworthiness. It doesn’t charge annual fees or overseas transaction fees and has a mobile app that lets you track expenses and payments on the go.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

  • Prequalification without serious investigation
  • No annual fees and no overseas transaction fees
  • Available for fair credit
  • 26.99% variable APR

Why we chose it: You can apply for the Capital One Platinum credit card with an ITIN instead of a Social Security number.

The details: While the Capital One Platinum credit card does not offer any rewards, it is available to people with fair credit or limited credit history. You only need an ITIN to apply, and Capital One will automatically review your account for the line of credit increase after six months of on-time payments. The fact that there are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees is also a big plus.

Capital One’s Journey Student Rewards

  • 1% cashback on all your purchases, or 1.25% cashback when you pay your bill on time
  • Available for fair credit
  • $ 5 credit per month (for 12 months) for streaming services billed to your account (within the first 18 months of card possession)
  • No annual fees and no overseas transaction fees
  • 26.99% variable APR

Why we chose it: Capital One’s Journey Student Rewards allows students to apply with an ITIN instead of a Social Security number.

The details: Capital One’s Journey Student Rewards doesn’t charge an annual fee, but cardholders earn 1% in rewards, or 1.25% when they pay their credit card bill on time. Approved applicants can also get $ 60 in streaming service credits billed to their card in the first 18 months, distributed in $ 5 per month increments. Capital One will also automatically review your account for line of credit increases after six months. As a bonus, there are no foreign transaction fees.

How to get a credit card for international students

If you are wondering how to get a credit card for international students, there are a few good practices that can increase your chances of success. Consider the following tips when deciding when to apply:

Consider looking for credit cards in your home country first. It may be possible to get a credit card in your home country that you can bring to the United States. If you choose this route, be sure to look for a credit card that doesn’t charge overseas transaction fees.

If you want a US credit card for international students, wait until you get to the US. Many US credit cards require a US address before they can be approved. So it may be a good idea to wait until you are in the United States to apply.

See if you can get an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). Without SSN, you are more likely to get a US credit card if you have an ITIN. The US Department of Homeland Security has a page on its website with information for international students who want to apply for an ITIN.

See if you can qualify for a Social Security Number (SSN). Some students, including those with F-1 visas, may be eligible for an SSN. Be sure to check if you are, as having an SSN could open the door to a wider variety of rewards credit cards. Once again, the US Department of Homeland Security has a dedicated web page for students who wish to apply for an SSN.

What to look for in a student credit card

Students hoping to accumulate credit or earn rewards should be sure to compare several card options to find the one that’s right for them.

For example, international students will want to favor credit cards that don’t charge an overseas transaction fee. This way you can use your credit card in the US and when you come home for tours without worrying about accumulating additional fees.

When it comes to credit cards for international students, other key benefits to look for include the absence of annual fees and rewards for your spending. Some international student credit cards also offer automatic credit line increases once you’ve made enough payments on time.

If you’re struggling to get approved for the credit card you really want, you may also want to consider a secured credit card as a first step. This type of credit card requires a cash deposit as security, but your on-time payments will be reported to all three credit bureaus.

A secured credit card can be a great first step in building a credit history in the United States. Not only can a secured credit card help you build credit, it can also help you access higher lines of credit and build credit so that you can get better credit card rewards later. .


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