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I am a stay-at-home spouse or partner without a separate income. I share income and expenses with my spouse or partner. Can I still get a credit card in my own name?

Before giving you a credit card, credit card companies have to make sure you have the ability to make your payments. If you're over 21 years old with a spouse or partner, a credit card issuer can choose to look at your ability to pay either as an individual or as a couple.

It depends on whether a credit card issuer looks at whether you can pay for the card on your own. Before giving you a credit card, credit card companies have to make sure you have the ability to make your payments. If you are at least 21 years old and have a spouse or partner, a credit card issuer can choose to look at your ability to pay in two ways:

  • As an individual, where they look only at your personal assets or income; or
  • As part of a couple, where they look at you and your spouse’s or partner’s combined assets or income.

Example: Let’s say you’re a married, stay-at-home parent who is at least 21 years old, and you apply for a credit card with Company A. Company A turns you down and says its decision is based on your lack of income. Next, you apply for a credit card with Company B and they accept your application. This could be because Company A looked only at your personal, individual income, while Company B looked at your combined income with your spouse.

Warning: If you’re under 21, credit card companies have to look only at your individual income even if you have a spouse or partner 21 or older. In this case your individual income and/or assets could include:

  • Income you earn yourself (such as your salary);
  • Income or assets you earned from a company or property that you own independently or jointly with someone else; and/or
  • Income or assets someone else regularly deposits into an account on which you are an account holder (like an individual deposit account or a joint account).

You can still have someone 21 or older, including your spouse or partner, co-sign with you on a credit card. When you do this, credit card companies will look at both yours and your co-signer’s assets or income.

No matter how a credit card company looks at your ability to pay, they must do so in a way that is fair and does not discriminate against you. 

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