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

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

Million Mile SecretsStay-at-Home Partners Can Get Credit Cards Again!Million Mile Secrets Team

Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.

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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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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This post is 4 years old, do you have any more up to date applications? Are these still accurate as far as which ask for an employer?

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,

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?

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

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.

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