Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!

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The CARD Act of 2009 prevented many stay-at-home partners from getting credit cards.  But a rule has changed that!

Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!

Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Their Own Credit Cards Again!

The Card Act

Link:  CARD Act Rules

The CARD Act required banks to evaluate borrowers based on their own income instead of household income or income from others.

This unfortunately meant that stay-at-home partners, graduate students with student loans – or anyone who relied on someone else for their income – were having trouble getting their own credit cards and the sign-up bonus and perks that come along with credit cards.

But this rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has amended the CARD Act.

The new rule says that banks can consider any “income or assets to which consumers have a reasonable expectation of access.

Note that this change applies only to folks 21 years and older.

What Does This Mean?

Let’s say that you’re a stay-at-home partner with a joint checking account or investment account.  You can now list these accounts in the application as an asset because you have access the funds in the accounts.

Or you can list the portion of income from your wage-earning partner’s account, which you can use to pay back your debts.

This could even be your partner’s ENTIRE income!

The banks had 6 months from April 2013 to implement the rule, and to make changes to how they qualify credit card applicants.

Now that 6 months have past, all banks should have changed their policies so that stay-at-home partners & others can apply for credit cards on their own.

Remember that you can double your credit card sign-up bonuses if your partner applies for cards.

Your partner can get the sign-up bonus on cards even if they are an authorized user on your credit cards!

What do Bank Applications Say?

1.   Citi

Here’s the application from the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card which offers 2 free weekend nights after completing the minimum spending requirement.

The Citi application still asks for “Annual Salary and Wages.

But the box below asks for Other Annual Income which says:

…you may include income from others that you can reasonable access to pay your bills

Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!

Citi Application Says That you can Include Income From Others in Your Application!

It doesn’t get clearer than this because the application says that you can include income “from others.”

I interpret this to mean that you can include any income on the application as long as you can use it to pay your credit card bill.

This could mean your partner’s entire income or even an allowance from a parent!

2.  Chase

The screenshots below are from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which is the best card to have if you can get only 1 travel card and want to earn points which you can transfer to different hotels or airlines.

The Chase application asks for Gross Annual Income.

This is defined by Chase as:

 …income you can use to repay your debts.  Salaries, investments, rental property proceeds, Social Security benefits and retirement accounts are some examples.

So it appears that you can mention amounts as long as you can use it to repay your debts.

Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!

Chase Application Includes “income you can use to repay your debts”

But Chase then asks for the source of the income.  If you select the “Other” field, you’re asked for “Your Source of Income.

Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!

Chase Asks for the Source of Your Income

You could just write “maintenance” in the box.

The application also asks for the name of your employer.

Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!

Chase Asks for Your Employer

You could interpret this multiple ways:

  •  You could list employed and then list your family under “Employer”
  • Or you could list self-employed and then list “Childcare” or “Domestic Care” or something similar
  • You could also list “Other” and list “Jones Family”
  • Or you could list unemployed (my least preferred way of answering the question.  I find it distasteful to suggest that someone who slaves away at home is “unemployed.”)

3.   American Express

The American Express application asks for “Total Annual Income.

American Express defines annual income as:

…income from all sources including employment, retirement, investments, rental properties, etc.

And like Chase, they ask you to list the source of your income.

Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!

American Express Application Lets you List Total Annual Income From ALL Sources

Depending on how you interpret your role at home, you could be employed (other), self-employed, or unemployed.

4.   Barclaycard

The screenshots below are from the Barclaycard Arrival Card, which is the best card to have if you can get only 1 travel card and want to earn ~2.1% cash back which you can use for ANY travel expense.

The Barclays application asks for Total Annual Income.”

Barclays defines annual income as:

…all of your sources of income, including income from assets, that you would like considered as a basis  for repayment.

Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!

Barclays Says That You Can Include all of Your Sources of Income

Like Citi, I interpret this to mean that you can include any income on the application as long as you can use it to pay your credit card bill.

This includes your partner’s income or an allowance from a parent.

Bottom Line

Stay-at-home partners, graduate students, or folks without a conventional source of income can now apply for credit cards (& the sign-up bonus) again!

Just list your income as “maintenance” income or in the “other” category on the credit card application as long as you can use it to pay back your debt.

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36 responses to “Stay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!

  1. You mention students. We have a 18 year old daughter in college whom we pay all of her expenses. She is an authorized user on many of our credit cards. What is your opinion of her applying for CC based upon our income….sounds a little shady.

  2. you mentioned that the Barclays arrival card can transfer points to airlines and hotels. however I don’t think that is the case I think it just works as cash value towards a ticket. No? Am I missing something?

    • @Lively -The CARD act was designed to make it hard for students under 21 to get a credit card unless they have a co-signer (in which case you’re responsible for the debt as well) or if the student has sufficient income to cover the obligation. The changes referred to in the post were mainly to allow stay-at-home partners or folks above 21 to apply for credit cards based on reasonable expectation of income. Congressional intent wasn’t to deny stay-at-home partners credit cards, but to make it harder for students under 21 to get cards.

      The rules have not changed for those under 21, so you either have to have income of your own or get a parent to co-sign the application with you.

      @yitz – Typo has been updated! Thanks.

  3. Is there anyway that person staying in USA from last 6-7 years and holding ITIN ( Individual tax identification no ) to get credit card based on this rule ?

  4. Just curious about the Capital One credit cards. Under total annual income it states : Enter your personal annual income from all sources (e.g. full-time, part-time, or seasonal jobs, self employment, interest or dividends, retirement and public assistance).

    Annual income is one of the factors used to assess your ability to make monthly payments on this account. It must be enough to cover these payments, plus estimated living expenses and any other debt you are responsible for.

    The word “personal” is, also, underlined.
    This appears to contradict the new law that was passed in 2013. Thoughts?

  5. Interesting. So let’s say you’re technically unemployed and living off of your investments. Would it be best to put “self-employed” (independent investor, perhaps?) and an amount you’d typically withdraw in a year to support yourself?

  6. Thanks for pointing this out. I had been keeping track of this situation and noticed a change in Citi’s credit card application a couple of months ago, but I’m sure there are many people who may not yet be aware of this positive development. This benefits the many retirees whose spouses’ salary and/or pension provide the bulk of their household income.

  7. @Pankaj

    My wife is on the same boat .. She is on a H-4 visa and cannot get a SSN .. However after unsuccessful attempt applyign online we called the Amex number she was approved instantly for a the Amex Blue Preferred Card with a $6k credit limit .. All they asked for was her passport number and address .. no ITIN required.

    Funny because no banks are allowing her to open a bank account ( even joint) just on basis of ITIN # without a SSN .

  8. I am a currently unemployed student. If I apply for a credit card, then can I include my dad’s total income in the “other income” part of an application? I also have a scholarship that I use to pay tuition. Can I also include that as part of my income on a credit card application?

  9. @Lively .. I have put $120,000 for “income” since the day I turned 18. My second credit card was given a $25,000 limit with Citi, and almost every card since then has issued the same credit line (with the exception of when I am approaching the ceiling of credit an issuer will offer, i.e. 55-65k). I would recommend your daughter, a self employed woman under the business of full time Investor/Investments go for the “credit card bonus” gold.

    • @Pankaj – It used to be possible, but don’t have recent experience.

      @Charles – It does appear to be unclear, but you should be able to include income in the application as long as you can use it to repay the debt (and have reasonable expectation) to do so.

      @Brian – I’d never put unemployed if you’re talented enough to invest well and support yourself from your investments!

      @PSL – Glad to help!

      @Brandon – I wouldn’t include your dad’s income unless he agreed. If you’re under 21, you may have to get your parents to co-sign the application with you.

  10. I would really appreciate if you have some references related to this issue , if we found solution lot of people would be benefited . So if there is anyway we can found out ?

  11. @Pankaj – I just tried using ITIN to apply several cards for my spouse last night. Two cards (NO annual fee) were instantly approved online, a Blue card from Amex, and a ThankYou card from Citi. The Chase Freedom card need to call customer service, so I donot have good feeling. Barclays and Discover seem not recognize ITIN as SSN. I think it doesnot hurt to just try them since you do not have credit history yet. Our situation is similar as you, and we just follow the suggestion in the post. Thank you for good post, Daraius!

  12. So, from what i understand a couple can enter their combined income while applying for credit cards- Is that right?

  13. @bintaurus – Can you provide specific information regarding each of your successful application like what did you enter as ‘Source of Income’ or ‘Employment Status’. Did the applications accept ITIN Number or did you leave it blank? Did you enter your gross salary as the Annual Income for your spouse? Did you get instant online approval for the Citi and Amex Cards? Did Citi and Amex ask for additional documentation?

  14. Will these approach also work for opening checking accounts?

  15. Gotta say, you can put down anything plausible for income and the credit card companies won’t care. I guess I feel a little more comfortable being liberal in my reporting because I’m a small business owner whose income has to be estimated. But I’ve applied for dozens of cards/ limit increases and never once had an issue or been asked for any sort of verification.

  16. I applied for the CSP card for my wife but looks like I might not get it. I chose ‘other’ as the source of income, entered ‘maintenance’, entered our household income under Gross Income. She just got a new job in January and hence added the employer’s name. Before I call their CSR tomorrow, any suggestions as to how to handle them?

  17. Wanted to add my experience. My spouse is not working and has an ITIN Number (She is not eligible for SSN). We have both held Joint Bank Accounts for the last 3 Years with different banks where her ITIN Number was recorded by the Bank.

    Amex and Chase Applications were submitted online and approved. Citi had some issues with Address Proofs as we had moved recently. Otherwise, I believe Citi would have been approved too.

    In all applications, We mentioned our total Household income but also declared that she was ‘Unemployed’ and that Spouse’s income is her ‘Other Source of Income’. Like an earlier post already stated, Barclays and Discover do not accept ITIN in their online application forms. I do not have any experience with Capital One.

  18. I am a stay at home wife (40 something so definitely over 21) with a good credit score in the mid 700s and AAoA over 8 yrs (accounts opened back when I was working and earning my own personal income). Ive recently went back to school to further my education and no longer working. I would like to apply for a Miles earning card (AA, CSP or SPG) to earn some FF miles when paying tuition each semester (I normally pay tuition out of joint checking/savings on the schools payment plan which does accept CC payments, so I would pay tuition on miles earning CC, then pay off CC with funds I would normally pay tuition with to begin with). I figured this might be an easy way to earn some miles for expense I pay every couple months anyway.

    If I use my husbands income, would I list it under “other annual income” or as “annual salary or wages”? I know others who have listed as ‘other income’ and their app’s get flagged for further scrutiny which then leads to calling the recon line and pleading your case (which I don’t want to do). But Im afraid listing his income under “annual salary or wages” is misleading and possibly fraud which is illegal and can carry some hefty penalties? What are others suggestions – do they list spouse income as ‘annual salary’ income – or as ‘other’ income?

  19. so…I just used this option for my daughter, who is a student. She has a job, but not high paying, so I used her income and then in other I used ours. I listed my name only as the other source, and as an authorized user. I did not provide any info on myself except for my name. She was approved and got a 12,500 credit line on the barclay. (used your link) and today I have a hard inquiry on my credit report via citi credit monitoring from barcly thru experian. Why is this? and how without my ss# ?

  20. ^ and I also watch my scores via credit sesame and credit karma, and my score on seseme dropped 4 pts as well today, but not under citi montior (which all have diff scores that are supposed to be thru the same agency’s…odd)

  21. goals^n^dreams

    My mom is retired. Can I apply a credit card for her? and can I use my income on her credit card application?

  22. goals^n^dreams

    Note: my mom also receives SSI benefit. Is it ok if she applies a credit card?

  23. I’m a grad student on student loans, and I applied for a barclay card using allowance from my parent’s as income. I was rejected, and I called barclay recon and was told that it has to be earned income.

  24. @KC can you still remember the exact Amex number that your wife used when she called AMEX to apply for a card? or are you just using the contact phone number that they have online? Thank you.. 🙂

  25. I have applied this year for a credit card in my name alone and I am a full-time student and was turned down both times. I used my husbands income as my own instead of other maybe that is why I was turned down because Chase letter said income verification is the reason I was turned down. Maybe my credit scores are not good enough to get credit on my own. Trans 727, Experian 672 and Equifax 662. But I am afraid to apply for anything else these both were hard hits which I think is BS and won’t start why it cannot be a soft hit to check to be approved for credit. But, my scores will not go up anymore without a major credit card and twice I have been denied. I refuse to get a secured credit card and jump through their hoops to finally be approved for a real card any suggestion would be appreciated.
    Beverly Vest

  26. Thanks for this article and guidance. It helped me build credit history for my wife. Since this article, till now, she was approved for –
    – Capital Venture Card – March 2014
    – Discover IT – Aug 2014
    – BoA Reward Card – Aug 2014
    – Chase Freedom – Aug 2014
    – Credit Union CC – Pre-apporved (no Credit Check) – Dec 2014

    Thanks again.

  27. Thanks for this article. We missed the potential rewards mine for a long time by not having both of us apply fr credit cards.

  28. I was curious on your thoughts on spouses that don’t have an income. I’m a stay at home mom, I’m 37 and have 4 kids. I guess I could apply for a credit card of my own using my husband’s salary since we share all income and expenses? If we both applied for a credit card to maximize our bonus points, would my husband’s points on his credit score go down twice because I’m using his income to apply for my card? What are the chances of me getting approved for a credit card using my husband salary?

    My credit score on Karma right now is excellent but that is using my husband’s salary as household income. I do have a few store credit card (think gap, banana republic, etc.) under my name and two spouse cards (upromise mastercard and Gold Delta Skymiles Amx) But I’ve never applied for a legitimate credit card of my own before. I’m scare to apply and damage my husband’s credit score if I don’t get approved. I would really like to get the Chase Sapphire card. What are my chances of getting approved?

  29. Thank you for this article. I am a Military Spouse and Unemployed/Aspiring Entrepreneur- I am starting a travel blog to share how my husband and I use coupons and discount codes to travel and plan luxury vacations on the cheap. I didn’t know what to fill in for my occupation and income and this article helped me. So I searched for and used your link to sign up for the United card. Hope it helps! You can follow our cross country trip @DreamTripCouple on Instagram,