Feds Ease Credit Card Qualifications for Stay-at-Home Spouses

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has adjusted one provision from the CARD Act in order to make it easier for spouses or partners who do not work outside the home to qualify for credit cards. It now allows credit card issuers to consider income shared with a spouse or partner as part of the application for a new account or increased credit limit.

The movement for the amendment began with complaints from stay-at-home spouses and was first proposed by the Bureau in October 2012.

A 2009 CARD Act provision mandated issuers look at a consumer’s individual income, rather than their household income, when deciding to approve that consumer for a credit card. The rule originally tried to prevent young adults from using their parents’ income to obtain a credit card and subsequently ringing up too much debt in their own name. The unintended consequence of this provision is that it hurt the stay-at-home spouse that generates little or no income.

Before the regulation, another family member, including a stay-at-home spouse, could get a credit card in his or her own name based on the salary of the working spouse.

“Stay-at-home spouses or partners who have access to resources that allow them to make payments on a credit card can now get their own cards,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “[This] final rule is an example of the Bureau’s commitment to working with consumers and financial institutions in order to ensure responsible access to credit for American families.”

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