Great News For Stay at Home Parents Who Want Credit Cards

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Thanks to View From the Wing for sharing the info that things are going to return to the days of “household income” on credit card applications in the near future.  As you may or may not know one of the (at least somewhat unintended) outcomes of the 2009 Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure “CARD” Act was that stay-at-home parents who did not work outside the home were put in a position where they had a very difficult time obtaining credit in their own name. This was due to the shift from credit card applications looking at household income to just considering the individual’s income.  This was bizarre since families generally operate as a unit and “what’s mine is yours, and yours is mine” isn’t just a saying – it is a reality.

Part of the intent of doing away with “household income” was so that college students and others wouldn’t count income that wasn’t really theirs, thus putting themselves in a situation where the could not repay the debt they racked up.  But in the meantime stay-at-home moms and dads were getting shafted as the could not qualify for most offers with zero in the income line.  I did some research on this topic for a portion of my presentation on Family Travel at FTU (since this issue impacted families wanting to rack up points via credit cards for both partners) and I had read that an amendment to this act was being strongly considered, but I hadn’t seen any recent movement until today.

According to this article in the New York Times, the amendment has been submitted for publication in the Federal Register, and becomes effective upon publication (though credit card companies have six months from publication to comply).

I’m very happy for all my friends who have chosen to stay home and take care of the kiddos (seriously the hardest job ever) who can now return to getting the rewards cards and related sign-up bonuses to which the rest of us have access.  When you have a family you need as many points as you can get to book rewards tickets and rooms for multiple people, so this will help make that reality a little easier for those who don’t work outside the home.


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  1. I had no idea that it was ever changed. I’ve always used household income. Oops! However, I also fill out SAHM on the application. I guess no one truly reads that section!

  2. Interesting!

    I just got turned down yesterday (my first ever denial) because my debt to income ratio was out of wack. As a stay at home mom, I reported my interest income…which would never cover our mortgage payment.

    I talked to reconsideration and explained the unfairness of the full household mortgage payment being reported against a fraction of the household income, but no dice.

    I think I’ll call them back and ask them to reconsider based on this.

  3. Michelle, 🙂 Well there are several common property states out there….
    Michelle, sometimes ignorance is bliss.
    Anita, fingers crossed for you and I’m glad that shouldn’t happen to you again.

  4. I have been a SAHM for the past 5 years and never had a problem getting a credit card. I just list my husband’s income and my occupation as “homemaker” or whatever it says. I never even knew I was supposed to be entering “my” income. Obviously they don’t care as long as your credit is good.

  5. They don’t seem to care, and I was doing what LMR, Michelle, et al were doing, and intending to use the ignorance excuse if I ever had a problem (and I did put SAHM or homemaker as my occupation). But the way at least some of the applications are worded makes it obvious they are asking just for individual income, although I can’t remember which companies. So, this is fantastic news for those of us at home who are making a tough decision between fibbing and forgoing new card signups. Not to mention the broader huge discriminatory aspect of basically barring SAH-P’s (mostly women) from having their own credit, yikes!
    Thanks for passing on the great news, MP!

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