Need to open a US bank account by yourself? Need a US Credit Card? Need a US loan? Is Dunn and Bradstreet a waste of money/time for most business owners? Yes. Think a secured card without an SSN can help you qualify for personal credit and eventually get a personal or business Visa/Mastercard? Nope. This is a common mistake banks tell customers.
Speaking from personal experience, if you’re a non-US citizen and don’t have a social security number, you might run into a lot of challenges. A lot of government agencies and private bureaus aren’t cross-trained to private the information you need in many cases, so you might also be unintentionally misinformed.
1) Get a US Visa: (eg. TN/E2/EB-5) – Involves following their instructions on http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1326.html 2) Get an I94 when entering the border to US, typically from US Customs and Border Protection (insist on this being completed and don’t enter your country of origin without this supporting document) 3) Get a US mailing address and I was told the city must match the city where you’ll visit a Social Security Address. Since I tried to get one in New York and was making a trip over to California, I had to immediately use a hotel address I was staying at in New York and then call the Social Security Office in New York later with my reference number to use my California address. 4) With your US Visa and I94, go to the Social Security Number (SSN) office with the US visa, an I94 and proof of address 5) Wait about 4 weeks for the SSN to arrive in the mail 6) Open a US bank account (you might need an SSN to get one unless you physically go in or have ANOTHER US signer on the account) 7) a) Use the SSN to get a secured card (even a brand new secured card might be denied so you need to build a banking relationship). These secured cards cost up to $30/year and claim to report to the 3 big credit bureaus: Transunion, Equifax, and Experian b) Optionally, get secured line of credits through your same banking relationship (You are basically paying interest for the privilege of eventually getting credit) 8.) Ensure the bank guarantees approval on the secured card (eg. Wells Fargo can do this. Capital One told me they can’t.). The minimum deposit is $300. 9) Generate history on this SSN by paying off your secured card. Eventually, banks claim you’ll automatically be offered a non-secured card after successful payment history 10) Use a non-secured card and gradually increase its limit with good payment history.
I hope this post is useful for others who follow in my footsteps. There is a lot of misinformation out there but this is what I found works.
P.S. you can get around some requirements and get corporate credit with a US corporate tax ID to apply for credit (eg. getting a US cell phone with T-Mobile; however, other carriers like AT&T may not budge)
Disclaimer: Don’t use this as legal advice and do your own due diligence