Regulation changes will once again allow household incomes to be used on credit card applications

In 2009 the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act was passed, which in many cases ended up preventing stay at home spouses from applying for credit cards, as they had to list their individual income (as opposed to household income) on applications. Via The New York Times, this will be changing soon:

Stay-at-home spouses and partners may find it easier to get credit cards under a regulation revised by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The change, first proposed by the bureau last fall, lets spouses and unmarried partners who are 21 or older and don’t work outside the home, apply for credit based on shared income.

It’s worth noting that the regulations are more generous than before as they apply not just to those that are married, but also to unmarried partners. Credit card companies will have six months to comply with the new rules, so keep an eye on credit card applications as they should soon switch from asking for individual income to asking for household income.

(Tip of the hat to Gary)

Filed Under: Credit Cards
  1. sadly, a lot of people lie about their income on their CC apps and this will continue with or without the new CARD Act

  2. I aslo did not know about the change and have been using household income in all my applications over the last few year – OOPS.

  3. Huh? Add me to the list of people who didn’t know that the “annual income” question applied to individual income. Suffice it to say that the applications (at least the ones I’ve applied to) NEVER specify whether it’s individual or household they want. So why wouldn’t one choose the latter?

  4. Great, I can finally start listing household – because, regardless of the “law”, I always listed individual.

  5. Hah, the truth is that stated income doesn’t really matter until they asked for a tax return, which they rarely do if you have a fairly long credit history. So not surprising that most were putting in household income.

  6. What’s to stop a newly graduated student from adding in his parent’s income? I wonder if it will specify spouses and domestic partners only.

  7. @ Haldami — There’s usually a blurb on the application explaining exactly what is considered to be income. That being said there are certainly people that put their entire family’s income on the application. They may get approved anyway, or they maybe asked for verification, though I find it’s fairly rare.

  8. As a student with no income who gets support from parents, applying for a credit card is difficult because while I technically have no personal income, my credit cards get paid because of family support.
    Can I just list household income? Or do I have to keep saying “none” and hope they’ll give me the credit card anyways?

    Any advice would be appreciated!

  9. @ Jones — To be honest you’re kind of in a position where you’re screwed if you’re honest and screwed if you’re not. While you might be able to get some student credit cards, chances are you won’t be able to get a “real” points earning credit card if you list your income as zero.

    Technically you’re supposed to list your individual income, though I do know people that have listed a “reasonable” income and gotten away with it. Keep in mind the credit card companies rarely ask for proof of income, and if they do, you can just choose not to provide it and it won’t really hurt you.

    So while you should be honest, that’s the way younger people seem to get approved without income.

  10. @ lucky – Thanks for the response and advice. It seems like a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. I’ll try to bend the truth a bit without getting too greedy 🙂

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