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Very little is written on the topic of applications for credit cards by stay-at-home spouses or partners. The most recent Flyertalk entry I could find was from 2015, where TayoBus, a stay-at-home mother, wrote that her credit card application was approved by Amex even though she listed her status as unemployed on the application.
CARD ACT and 2013 AMENDMENT
Prior to 2013, under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the CARD Act), a credit card issuer was required to consider an applicant’s independent ability to pay. That standard was relaxed by an amendment in 2013, to allow an issuer to consider income and assets to which consumers over 21 years of age have a reasonable expectation of access. This revision was hailed as a step in favor of approving credit card applications by stay-at-home parents (including same-sex partners), provided the applicants have sufficient resources to make payments on a credit card (see, Credit Eased for Stay-at-Home Spouses and Partners, New York Times, April 29, 2013; See also, this Press Release from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau entitled The CFPB Amends Card Act Rule to Make it Easier for Stay-at-Home Spouses and Partners to Get Credit Cards).
So, what should a stay-at-home parent write on a credit card application: unemployed or something else? What response might trigger an application approval or denial? How often are such applications actually granted or denied?
A friend gave me a data point with respect to his wife’s recent application for a Chase credit card. He is employed and receives an income of $XXX per year. His wife is a stay-at-home parent who does not currently earn an income. They together view his income as household income rather than his individual income.
The Chase credit card application asks for:
- source of income, and
The help text for income has language to the effect of any income you reasonably have access to. She filled in the household income, $XXX, in the income box.
In the drop down for source of income, she selected other, and was then asked to fill in details. She wrote “Homemaker, Spouse.”
For her employer, she wrote homemaker.
The husband told me that they fully expected that Chase would not automatically approve the application, but would instead deny it or request further information. To their surprise (and delight), Chase automatically approved the application.
The above leads me to ask many more questions.
If you or your partner stays at home while the other earns an income, has the stay-at-home partner applied for credit cards, and were the applications approved?
In the credit card application form, does the stay-at-home partner write unemployed or something else, and what amount does the applicant provide as his/her income?
Would the above scenario be different if one partner was retired and the other still earning an income? What if both were retired, but only one earned a pension?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.